Event Superhero Brian Wasser of Electric Events DC
We had the opportunity to interview one of our favorite clients and talented event planners, Brian Wasser of Electric Events DC. Electric Events DC provides clients with a unique, customized experience that makes planning one-in-a-lifetime events fun and stress-free. We know that you'll fall as in love with this company as we did!1. Your website is one of the most engaging that we've seen. The energy of your events comes right through the screen. How do you bring the fun, sophisticated feel that you are known for to your events?
We live for experiences. The event industry is all about the experience and energy helps bring that to life. What makes me and my company so unique is how we understand psychology and thinking. I call it the "psychology of the guest." What are they thinking and why? What causes them to do and feel certain things? How do we bring that out of them? I understand how to evoke emotion and encourage people to act or feel a certain way. This lets me structure events in a specific way. Why should something happen at a specific time, or where do we put something for a given impact. I think being genuine and passionate in your approach is important, especially in today's day where people can see through everything and have information access at their fingertips any time they want it.
At every event we have a few what we call "signature wow moments." It can be something simple or elaborate but it's something unexpected you don't see everyday. From an entertainment standpoint, just playing good music is no longer good enough. Don't get me wrong; the energy/MC portion is by far the hardest part of entertainment, which is why so many DJ's and entertainment companies either don't do it or tell clients "you don't want that." People have this vision of the "wedding DJ" because it's hard to do it well and too often the cheesy and obnoxious way, or none at all, is what people experience. What makes us so unique is our talent and ability to elevate the guest experience from an entertainment and decor standpoint. Once our clients see the difference, there's no going back! But educating them all is hard. By thinking outside the box and understanding guest and event psychology, we're able to bring that fun, unexpected, and elevated experience to make all of our events unforgettable and unique.2. Tell us about a few of your favorite event projects. What do they have in common, and what makes them unique?
One of our largest clients is the University of Maryland. We have become their "go-to" company and me their go-to guy. I love when they come to me with random projects and it's my job to solve them or figure out how to get it done. It means a lot that they trust us. We produced the groundbreaking/unveiling of their brand new athletic facility and came up with some really creative ideas. They wanted a signature moment (duh!) but didn't have the means to actually break ground. I had an idea of setting up a huge video wall as a stage backdrop. We created a video that looked like a concrete wall and brought in huge rubber mallets. The VIPs came on stage with the rubber mallets and at the right time, "smashed" the video wall. The video was set up so at the second of impact, the "wall" crumbled to reveal an artistic rendering of the completed project. It was an outside-the-box way to do something they didn't think they could do and the crowd loved it!
Another favorite project was a recent wedding that wanted to wow her guests. One of the centerpieces was a huge crystal chandelier treatment over the dance floor using a combination of your crystal chandeliers. The hotel, of course, said no rigging points and rigging isn't allowed so I had to Macguyver a way to hang a dozen chandeliers in the exact placement and design I wanted. I created a gerry-rigged loop with various hanging points and clips and found a way to make it work. It looked amazing! This same bride wanted fireworks at her wedding but wasn't allowed. So, I used a combination of video projection mapping and our indoor sparklers to create a digital fireworks show during her First Dance since she couldn't have the real thing! She was ecstatic.
I think these events all have a common theme of basically let me get creative and "figure out" how to do something. I like these events so much better than when a client comes to me with their list of what they want and all their concrete ideas. There are lots of companies that can just "execute." What makes us special is our ability and desire to think outside the box and go above and beyond for our clients. From an entertainment standpoint, I actually had the privilege of MCing a private event that David Tutera was the event planner for. I have done many celebrity events before for musicians, actors, and athletes, but to actually work with a "celebrity event planner" was such a cool experience different than other celebrities because he isn't really a celebrity but he is in our world! He was such an amazingly nice guy too.3. We loved hearing about your starting your firm with gifts from your own Bar Mitzvah. If you had to tell us about one high point and one low point on the road to building a successful business, what would you say? What were the lessons that you learned from each?
I think we have had a few high points! One of them was, after doing a very high-profile event one year in DC, said high profile event was moved to San Francisco for the following year. The client called and asked if I would come out and do the event in San Francisco and basically said name your price! That area has so many great entertainment and event companies that it was so cool and humbling to have made such an impact on the organizations that they would have rather paid what it took to fly me out there and have me do the event than hire someone locally.
I would say another high point was the first time we eclipsed 7-figures in annual revenue. When I started this company in high school, I never imagined it would go this far! I think the overall low point is just the anxiety that goes into producing events. Our industry is so different from other industries. If a plumber makes a mistake, he can just come back the next day and fix it. If the car you buy breaks down, you can bring it back to the dealership to fix it or return it. With live events, there are no re-dos or do-overs. A bride can't just gather her friends and family the next weekend to try again if something goes wrong at her wedding! That added pressure of delivering on a one-time momentous occasion is unmatched because we are doing events that have an emotional component attached to them.
I'm also a perfectionist and believe details matter, so when you combine all of this, some of the anxiety can be overwhelming! But the reward for executing is well worth it. I learned that we're all human and things happen, but how you take care of and address them is what matters. Be kind to people, get excited for them, and genuinely care about the success of the event and you can do no wrong.4. Your dream client is walking in the door in 5 minutes. What will he or she say to you that will let you know that your creativity is about to be unleashed? What ideas do you offer to let this client know that you're his or her dream event designer, too?
I am a personality-guy, which probably even comes through in these words! I love people, but more importantly, I love bringing out the best in people. My dream client lets me do that. They are outgoing and excited for their event like I am, have some ideas, but are also totally open to direction and creativity. My style is certainly modern/contemporary/sparkle/flashy whatever you want to call it. That is where I excel, so my dream client would want that style and vision. Don't get me wrong, we have bistro lights, wine barrel bars, and farm tables with the best of them LOL! But the innovative and modern feel is way more what excites me.
I like clients that aren't afraid to step outside the box and be bold. I am so glad we are starting to see that trend fade. No more ivory and blush every weekend, please!! Color isn't going to kill you, I promise ;) I am also very glad that purple is the Pantone color of the year because that's our company color, so a client that wants to incorporate color always makes me happy. I can tell right away if we will hit it off personality-wise. There are a lot of talented designers out there and DJs and photographers, but if you have a personality and style mesh, the event is just going to be that much more successful.5. Your website shows so many modern, sophisticated event designs. We're kind of delighted to see that our chandeliers, lighting solutions, and event décor play a part in many of your featured events. What are your favorite ShopWildThings event décor pieces, and why do you love them?
I love ShopWildThings! I like my favorite piece is the Mirabella Chandelier
. It's beautiful and modern but can also be adjusted to fit different design styles. I like the shape and the size because that also makes it versatile. We own tons of your chandeliers, Crystal Curtains
, centerpiece risers, etc. etc. I think your pieces offer a visual elegance and sparkle that is needed to enhance some event spaces. When lit correctly as well, the crystal reflects light and looks amazing in photos. I love to have different pieces that both work together but also independently. It allows for not only creative design, but let's face it, I am a business, so it lets me re-use pieces in various ways to keep my costs down and thus allow my clients' budgets to go further. Lastly, your customer service is great! Everyone I've ever spoken to at ShopWildThings has always been so helpful and accommodating.6. What advice do you have for aspiring event designers who want to build successful businesses? Are there common pitfalls for up-and-coming designers, and if so, what advice do you have for avoiding those potential mistakes?
I by no means think I am an expert. Let's start there. I LOVE what I do and like to think I know what I'm doing, but what's unique about me is that I have never worked for another company, never been trained by anyone else, I have always just done things I way I thought they should be done. So, take all of my advice with a grain of salt!
My biggest advice is to make sure you get excited about event design and execution, sitting down with a client, and delivering on the experience. If you "dread" being at work on a Saturday night or don't want to meet with clients after-hours because it's too much work, this is not for you! I genuinely get excited to design and produce events, so much so that sleep doesn't always happen because my brain won't shut off. If this feels like work, you are doing it wrong. So first advice is love what you do.
I would also encourage you to start small. You don't need to be doing $100,000 weddings at the Four Seasons right away to be successful. Let it take time. Maybe donate your services to a local non-profit to gain experience, or do some events for friends at a discounted rate. I started this company DJing basement parties for $25/hour. We now do 7-figures in revenue and over 400 events a year. It didn't happen overnight! And that's OK. I think you need to have a passion for this and really love making people happy. I lost my dad sort of unexpectedly 2 years ago on a Thursday. I was booked and contractually obligated for an event that Saturday, 2 days later. My client of course understood if I needed to be with my family, take time for myself, etc. But I did the party. Why? Because doing what I do makes me happy. It was one of the best parties I have ever done. I got a hug from a crying client when the event ended. Unbeknownst to me, she had recently beaten cancer and this party was partially her celebration. I was able to deliver a memory she and her friends/family will never forget and it would not have happened if producing and entertaining at events was just a job and not my passion.
Love what you do and you never work a day in your life. Speaking of which, my dad taught me my favorite quote that I still use all the time in my industry. He attributed it to the Waldorf Astoria in NYC but who knows. "The difficult I can do immediately. For the impossible, give me a few minutes." I live by that and love making magic happen at our events! I hope to instill that can-do attitude into my 2.5 year old son Dylan and 10-month old daughter Eliana.