We had the good fortune of connecting with Patricia Zutman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patricia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve really been drawn to event planning since college; although, it was a hidden dream. My studies revolved around Business Administration and Human Resource (HR) Management and upon graduation I took a job as a Human Resource Information Specialist. The job was quite boring, but I quickly moved into the position of Hiring Specialist. This role was a lot more fun as it allowed me to meet new people and network with staffing agencies to find candidates for open positions in the corporate office. Yet, I found myself unmotivated in this role as I was drastically underpaid by market average.
In an effort to supplement my income, I decided to attend classes at the local bartending academy to become a Certified Mixologist. My thought was I could work my corporate job Monday through Friday and then bartend on Friday and Saturday nights. I felt I had to get this certification in bartending since I didn’t have any experience working in restaurants and didn’t want to have to start as a server somewhere to then work my way up to the role of bartender.
After graduating from the bartending academy, my mother asked me to move to Arizona to help her care for my grandmother – so I did. I applied for 3 HR jobs in the Phoenix area and was offered 2 of them. One position would have required a lot of travel (3-5 days a week) and the other was for a laundromat. Neither really felt “right”, so on the way home I decided to stop by a local bar for a cocktail – a chocolate martini. The bartender working the bar had no idea how to make my request, so I told them how to make it. After a few sips, I then asked if they were hiring.
I worked my way up the ladder bartending becoming the weekend / heavy volume bartender, to a shift-lead, bar manager, and trainer. I loved bartending and was extremely good at it. I had a knack for speed and for remembering “regular’s” (guest’s) and their drink / menu preferences. I worked in the bar industry for 18 years and moved from Arizona, to California, Washington, and finally home to Colorado, but recognized that at some point I would want a family and working late nights wouldn’t be helpful while also being a wife and mom. So, I began thinking about what I would want to do after setting down the mixing tin (bar reference) for the last time.
While organizing my office closet in 2015, I came across a box filled with papers and books from college and began sorting what I would keep or toss. Mixed in amongst the term papers I found a hand-drawn wedding client intake form that I had written in pencil on college-ruled paper; it brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart. I knew then and there that I wanted to become a wedding planner. I wanted to be a part of the happiest day of many people’s lives. Just as I knew I had to become a Certified Mixologist in order to become a bartender, I felt that it would be best if I could become a Certified Special Event and Wedding Planner, so couples would trust me with their wedding day. So…I did just that and obtained my certification later that year.
I explored a couple of event planner positions with other special event and wedding planning companies, but I was often overlooked since I didn’t have any actual experience. Their oversight spurred me on to start my own company – All Four Seasons Events (AFSE), inspired by the 4 seasons that Colorado is blessed with – spring, summer, fall, and winter. Even though I had started my company, I knew I still needed to gain some event planning experience to ensure future clients that I DID know how to plan and execute a wedding. I ended up taking a job as a Sales and Event Coordinator for a local catering company. The pay was really low, but I was using the role to gain experience more than anything. In fact, I booked my first client for my own company in 2017; they hired me as their Day-of Coordinator.
In 2018 I was pregnant with my son. I ended up being let go from the role with the catering company once the owner found out about me owning my own special event and wedding planning company. The owner really missed a great opportunity because I would have naturally encouraged clients to book their catering with this company to benefit us both. I then tried applying for various positions – in a variety of fields, but felt odd applying with companies when I knew I would be taking time off and/or resigning with the due date of my son’s delivery drawing ever closer. I also realized while pregnant that I wanted to be able to work from home so I could be there for my family. And so, I really began focusing on my own business. I figured the growth process would be slow, but I was determined to provide clients with the best service possible and have my reputation speak for itself to attract future clients. Much to my surprise, in late summer 2018, I (my company) was offered the opportunity to become the sole contracted event planner for a new event center opening in Golden, CO. Business has grown exponentially ever since – starting with coordinating 99 events in the first year of the event center’s operation.
I still smile to think that this dream of being a wedding/event planner actually began years ago on that hand-drawn client intake form in college; and even though the path to this dream had many detours, it helped prepare me for the very demanding role I now have as an experienced Special Event and Wedding Planner.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
All Four Seasons Events (AFSE) is a small company, I’m the only employee, responsible for the coordination thus far of hundreds of events. As the solely contracted event planner for The Rose event center in Golden, CO, I oversee all events from intimate affairs to large celebrations such as birthday parties, celebrations of life, rehearsal dinners, post-wedding brunches, non-profit fundraising galas, corporate events, and weddings – while also being able to plan/coordinate other events when hired by clients directly.
If you read the reviews of AFSE, you’ll see repeated praise for being extremely responsive, organized, professional, and dedicated. These are attributes I pride myself on providing to clients, so it warms my heart to see that this is what clients appreciate and acknowledge post-event. AFSE’s services span from full-service event planning on down to day-of coordination. Regardless of the service that you choose, AFSE’s strives to couple your dreams with our talents in an effort to remove the stress so that you can enjoy every moment of your special day or event.
When faced with challenges I try to focus on the positive while also reminding myself that God won’t let me be tested beyond my strength. I always find peace in those two things.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my friend were visiting and assuming we wanted to get up early, I would want to start the day by heading to Lookout Mountain in Golden to watch the sunrise. We could then head into downtown Golden to enjoy some homemade goodies for breakfast from any of the local eateries, such as Café 13. We would then head out for a nice hike along Mesa Trail – just south of Boulder; I just love the views along this trail. For lunch we’d grab some Vietnamese from Pho Duong Huong in Arvada – and be sure to order some Shrimp and Pork Spring Rolls and Beef Pho. While the place isn’t much to look at on the outside, their flavors are amazing! For dinner, we would return to the newly opened Golden Mill food hall with five food vendors from which to choose, two tap walls (with over 50 drink options), and two outdoor patios before heading to The Rose for a concert – assuming one of my private events hadn’t booked the venue for that night.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be where I am today were it not for the following influencers:
God: While I have been able to participate in the process, my ultimate success is from God through Jesus Christ. My ability to provide guidance to couples, be calm under pressure, and multi-task is a blessing from God and I am happy to share those abilities with others.
My mother, Pam: My mother reared me to be a strong, independent, self-motivated, confident, hard-working professional. She’s my champion, mentor, confidant, motivation, and has given of herself countless times to help me. Through good times and bad – she’s always been there for me. I love her for everything she’s done for me.
My husband, Adam: My husband believes in me and is a great sounding board as I grow as an event planner. He works with me to meet ever changing schedules with our son, an increasing number of events, and life in general. Although the stress of solely overseeing over 100 events can sometimes seep into home life, he’s the one I want to share my day with – be it good or bad.
Every client who books with AFSE: I am truly honored with each and every client that books with AFSE. Every event is an opportunity to grow and learn. Every event is unique…and while there are commonalities, there’s always something just a little different making that event unique. The relationships I’ve made over the years with each couple/ client amazes me and their praise inspires me to continue doing what I’m doing.
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