Mia Lopez – Ivory & Oak Owner – Shots by Smith Photography

This is a new face among the forerunners for the millennial entrepreneurial generation.

Mia Lopez, Afro-Latina born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, has laid the ground work for her future as a woman business owner, cultural influencer and securing a legacy for her family name. Driven by fulfilling a call by her late father, accompanied by faith and laser sharp vision, put her on a conduit that lead to launching an event planning business and a wine label all before the age of 20. I eagerly attempted to land an interview with Mia quite a few times. When we were able to meet, I became privy to her world; overseeing businesses, being an independent woman and a college student, mastering all this simultaneously. A profound influence, Mia Lopez has a robust balance of blossoming youth and rising entrepreneurship. Below, Mia so delightfully shares with me the sincere breakthrough story of the launch of her first business, the journey and joy of special occasion event planning and the catalyst that she is for young, diverse women claiming their stake in the marketplace.

  1. WBM: What lead you into special occasion events services?

I&O: My introduction to event planning started with my own quincenera, I had an idea in mind for creating one of the biggest events in my life so I took it upon myself to coordinate and decorate my event. I found a passion for turning an empty room to a gorgeous and full design so I started planning events for other people. Here is where Ivory & Oak was birthed.

2. WBM: What the business philosophy that sets the foundation for how you service clients and drive the direction of your business?

I&O: What continues to inspire me are the clients themselves, taking out the time to get to know them and hear their stories, creating those bonds with those clients and seeing their dreams come to fruition is what I strive and set a company standard for. I am in the business of making dreams become a reality, to get to know these people, learning different cultures, having these experiences not only pushes me to make my client as comfortable and cared for as possible but is also a repeating cycle of a learning experience to pass on to someone else.

3. WBM: What services do you provide that make you unique to other competing event service businesses?

I&O: I can definitely say I am not the best event planner because there are people who have been in business longer than I have and are extremely successful, my top priority is to make sure my clientele are well taken care of almost like they are family, they have given me the responsibility, the opportunity, and the privilege to put the biggest and most important day of their life in my hands to cultivate and make it a reality. because I experienced myself how important it is to make sure everything is done right and done well so all they have to focus on is each other and their family.

4. WBM: Describe the clientele you attract and what criteria you use to accept the call to serve them.

I&O: The biggest clientele I service are what are called multicultural weddings, anywhere from Arabic to African, Indian, Hispanic, Latin, and American weddings, conferences, galas, for profit and nonprofit organizations, etc.  My philosophy is everyone deserves to have a wedding no matter how big or small the budget may be, everyone is different.

5. WBM: Share one key proven practical business strategy.

I&O: Never do packages, every client is different and will want different things. Placing packages feel like its a limitation to their creativity and dream, so I refrain from doing so.

6. WBM: Post the global health crisis, how have you adjusted your business model/practice to respond to the current changes in the industry (such as people using their personal spaces to host events)? 

I&O: Due to Covid 19 and its complications with holding events in venues and public places, I pivoted my business to include what we called “micro weddings” Many places would often hold limitations on the amount of people that were allowed in event spaces, many venues I have been to would hold anywhere between 200-500 people at max so we created a business plan to help formulate an acceptable deal between the venue and my client to still make their events possible as well as following the [CDC] guidelines within the state. I’ve also had clients who have taken their nuptials and mini events in the comforts of their own homes or backyards for more intimate celebrations between immediate family. Many of my Arabic clients have done these pre covid 19, it was just a natural progression. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response that there were venues who have shaped their policy to go along the guidelines of our business plan to help clients who still wished to have their events be held in these public spaces and still respect and follow the [CDC] guidelines.

7. WBM: What advice can you offer our subscribers who are looking to ‘create an experience’ for their special occasion needs?

I&O: It is of upmost importance that you treat your clients with the best service you can provide and that they are well taken care of, as event planners we wear a lot of hats from a therapist to hospitality, accountant, and many more, however, it’s the experience and the way the clients feel when they finish talking to you is what is the most important. I’ve had many clients say to me that they feel an entire weight be lifted off their shoulders after talking to me solely because of how I take care of them and solve their concerns and questions.

8. WBM: What specific advice can you offer young people of diverse ethnicities who are looking to venture into the event planning market?

I&O: Advice that I would give to youth planning to going into the event planning business, is if you find a mentor you have one that not only teaches you but uplifts you, and the most important is that there is always a room you can learn in, if you are the smartest person in that room, leave, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your business. Create standards and not goals, goals are flimsy and can change at any moment, even when you’re close to reaching it. Standards are always a constant and influence you to strive and meet that standard every day.

Ivory & Oak has been in over 11 publications throughout the US, UK, Canada Hong Kong, China, and Australia to name a few. Mia recently touched down from a successful intimate event in Paris, France. WBM is thankful to highlight influencers and societal catalysts like Ivory & Oak that brilliantly and creatively showcases cultures from around the world within the display of event planning. As your destination and resource for luxury lifestyle, our experiences in global travel and authentic interviews with elevated companies help you stand out. We are able to present you curated product and services for a bespoke event in a class of its own. For your planning season, check out our vetted vendors at WORLDBRIDEMAGAZINE. For more information on Ivory & Oak; Mia Lopez and her unique custom services, visit www.ivoryandoakep.com and be sure to mention World Bride Magazine.

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