Who says event planning can't be fun? That's the whole reason Moshe Aelyon started his Westport, Conn.-based Mosaic Event Planning & Catering four years ago. "I was having more fun planning parties and entertaining friends," he says, "than running my fashion-accessory business." So he decided to make a career switch.
At first he considered becoming a storefront caterer. But after studying the industry, he found that "you have to go through 743 transactions a day just to break even." Instead, he formed Mosaic, a full-service event planning company catering to a corporate, social and nonprofit client base.
The biggest obstacle to building his business was educating his social and nonprofit clients about the value of hiring Mosaic. Some clients were suspicious of markups, Aelyon says, and questioned where the real value was in hiring a planner. So he did his homework. He got to know his target market-his local community. What he found was that his potential clients were mostly "Wall Streeters" who live in Connecticut but work in New York.
As a result, he decided to "talk the talk and walk the walk" of his clients. "We put the word 'consultant' in our vocabulary and on business cards," he says. "We also began charging a daily rate instead of a markup. We educated clients that our job as 'creative consultants' is to manage their time and checkbook and still create incredible moments."
Aelyon views his company as a collection of "the best of the best." He wants staff integration for seamless operations-so a client never knows who is an employee of Mosaic and who is a subcontractor. One of the boldest steps he's taken is to hire executive chef Mari Isaacson. It means that clients get one-of-a-kind menu planning and culinary presentation from Mosaic's exclusive chef as part of every event, he says.
What's next? Aelyon says it could be anything-as long as it's a project with a twist, something he considers "superbly different."