Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; Word of Mouth Carries Event Planner to Success 'Nurturing' Experience at Disney Prepared Her to Strike out on Own

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; Word of Mouth Carries Event Planner to Success 'Nurturing' Experience at Disney Prepared Her to Strike out on Own

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

Before Kim Schnepf started KIS Events a year ago in Jacksonville, she had just about the best training for the business that helps people plan events for everything from weddings to conventions.

Schnepf worked for Walt Disney World Co. in Orlando from 2006 to 2010 and ended her time there as a group entertainment manager.

She said the recession and corresponding corporate belt-tightening caused her to leave the company and move back to her hometown of Jacksonville, where she worked for a defense contractor for a couple of years.

But then Schnepf decided to strike out on her own and opened KIS Events in 2012. The KIS stands for Kimberley Imbach Schnepf, her name.

She manages events from small family gatherings or weddings that start out at $5,000 for initial planning to large events such as conventions that start out at about $10,000 for planning services.

Schnepf has no actual employees. But she deals with multiple contractors and vendors. She's also looking at hiring marketing personnel.

One of Schnepf's more prominent jobs was the First Coast Defense Expo, which was held in the Cecil commerce area this month and had 70 exhibitors and about 300 attendees from the Southeast United States.

How complicated is it to be an event planner? What's that like?

Event planning is one of those careers that sounds very, very glamorous but it takes a very specific skill set to execute well. I find that communication is really key and my background in leadership and organizational development is really helpful in this. Really, you're leading a bunch of different teams whether it be the client's team in getting their message across, or just your vendors in terms of a tent or a table on one end. ...

How about getting your message out? What do you do for marketing? This doesn't sound like a typical business. You're not selling ice cream. It's not a general masses type of business.

Right now, we're taking advantage of Internet listings. ... There's a lot of word of mouth, absolutely. That would be my primary mode of publicity right now.

You got one of your first jobs with Disney and by necessity you had to leave the company due to the recession. …

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