Joe Mineo was supposed to have a career in the theater.
He had all the bona fides, including a degree in theater from NYU. But after graduating, "I realized that living in New York and being a starving artist was not going to allow me the kind of control over my life that I was seeking," he recalls. So, he came home—to Youngstown, Ohio—and started working as a floral designer. Despite the fact that he had no formal training in floral or event design, "Within a year and a half, at age 23, I owned my own business," he says. "And I have never looked back."
Mineo's business—Something New Floral and Events—has bloomed over the years. It now employs 20 full-time employees and 10 part-timers, who oversaw nearly 200 events last year.
Clients come to Something New for a wide range of event services, from event management to transportation and venue management to on-site staffing to daily floral delivery. In 1999, the company moved to its expanded location, which not only offers a showroom for clients and warehouse for rental inventory but creates work space for the company's team of designers.
Something New has stayed abreast of changes since its founding in 1987. "Technology has my attention right now," Mineo says. "I am amazed by the powerful tools that are available for me to use in customizing, branding and creating messaging during the event experience. In my own business I have incorporated a media department, which includes employees that have photography, photo editing, graphic design and video-editing skills. This has allowed me to have a lot of control over how these elements are presented in my designs. This new medium is exciting because its possibilities are limitless."
But even as Mineo explores new media, he makes the most of traditional event elements, including his own theatrical training.
"My theater background has given me skills that I draw from when creating events," he says. "I approach events as though they are productions. I feel that my background gives me a feel for timing and flow, which allows me to infuse an element of drama into my events."
And the event industry agrees that Mineo's events have plenty of drama. Mineo and his team won a Special Events Gala Award in 2010 for their remarkable décor for a Fashion Week-themed bat mitzvah. He still regards the event as a career highlight. That event " that was the largest and most complex event that I had done up to that point in my career," he says. "I could not have been more proud. Because of how much it challenged me and how much I learned in making that event come to life, I think it will always be my favorite."
Although the explosion of media coverage the event industry has received has brought in a crop of new clients, this can be a double-edged sword, Mineo says. On the minus side, "They are all over the place wanting everything they have seen. Sometimes it can be challenging to design a party that represents those clients because they are influenced by so many events that they have seen."
But on the plus side, Mineo says, "It has created interest and brings clients to the table who know what they want, are aware of what is available, and respect our expertise as designers."
Something New 4500 Boardman-Canfield Road, Canfield, OH 44406; 330/702-8777; www.somethingnewflorist.com
• MAJOR MENTORS
"As I first became aware of the greater community of event professionals (thank you, Special Events magazine), Cheryl Fish inspired me. I remember aspiring to do work that was as good as her photos in the magazine. When I first attended The Special Event conference, I saw John Daly creating tablescapes live during his lecture. I’ll never forget the giant bow he made of chicken wire covered in fabric. I thought it was the best thing I ever saw! Today I am most inspired by David Stark. I am thrilled by his events. His unconventional approach to design reminds me to think outside the box."
• TO NEWBIES: GET EDUCATED
To those entering the event industry: "Absorb everything. Your clients are looking to you to be an expert in every element that affects their event. You need to be at the cutting edge of everything that is going on in catering, wines, fashion, invitation, calligraphy, audiovisual, performers and more. You must work as a team with all of those vendors that help to create your events but ultimately if one of them fails, it all falls on your shoulders. Your client is looking to you to make sure the entire team is on point. In order to do this you have to constantly educate yourself."