Today, we’re giving you a little peek behind the curtains here at The Planning Society. Our founder, Dena Cohen, is the brainchild behind TPS, and below she will give you some insight into why and how she started a digital concierge service platform that is changing the event planning industry as we know it!
Why did you decide to create The Planning Society?
Planning special events has always been my creative outlet and something that I truly enjoy doing. Four years ago, I was working at top digital fashion & lifestyle publisher in Los Angeles. As a wife and professional mom of three young kids, I had limited time to plan my daughter’s first birthday. I had the idea for the overall look and theme of the party, but I found myself endlessly scrolling through Pinterest, Instagram and Etsy (partly because I enjoyed looking at the inspirational images, but also because I wanted to figure out where to purchase all of the products). I thought about hiring a planner to pull it all together, but I had no idea where to find that perfect vetted professional who would work within my budget. How could I plan this party with a click of a button? I thought, “If I’m in this position, there has to be many more people like me.”
Working in the digital space and watching the convergence of weddings and online services, I knew there was a need for high-quality services and the convenience of making things happen without face-to-face interactions. When you’re embarking on a life milestone or special occasion, we’re short on time and often high on stress. Imagine having access to a top Hollywood planner on the smartphone. Or the ability to effortlessly multitask important details from your sofa. I created a modern event planning online platform to give you a one-stop destination for all types of events. TPS is your direct link to the best experts, and you can now access them in person or remotely, even if they’re in a different city. Party planning can be easy, streamlined and fun for those wanting Pinterest and Instagram-worthy parties. Whatever your budget may be, you can have access to a vetted event planner to create your dream celebration whether remotely or in person. Our remote planners will help you fine-tune your style and inspiration, access vendors, and negotiate contracts with ease. You’ll have a seasoned professional to hold your hand and guide you from start to finish (and everything in between) with our in person packages.
Whether you need to plan a fete on a shoestring or have more flexibility with your budget, we have event planners who can help you. We’re a resource for weddings and events of ALL budgets, locations, sizes and styles!
What’s your background and why do you love weddings and special events?
The Planning Society encompasses all that I have learned in my 20-year career and incorporates my passion for planning parties and events. Growing up in Los Angeles, I naturally started my career in the entertainment industry, and I fell in love with party planning leading up to my own wedding. From the talent agency world, I worked as an entertainment publicist, attending press junkets, premiere parties, the Emmys, Oscars and Golden Globes. Between the high profile events I was attending and the magazines I was pitching for my clients (this was before social media), I would absorb all the event inspiration for my own dream wedding. I loved creating the vision and planning all the pretty little (and big) details that would eventually be brought to life on my special day. From PR, I segued into the publishing industry and at a top luxury lifestyle network of publications where our team helped to plan cover parties, in-store events, charity event tie-ins and client product launches. Eight years ago, I pivoted into digital publishing and have since worked at notable wedding, lifestyle and fashion websites where I have encountered countless breathtaking weddings and events (each one with its own originality, creativity and beauty) and knew this was ultimately where I wanted my career to land.
What are iconic events that come to mind for you when you think about events people will never forget and why?
There are so many incredible iconic events that come to mind from New York, Milan and Paris Fashion Week, to the Cannes Film Festival, the Kennedy Center Honors, White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, Kentucky Derby, The Academy Awards, Emmys, Grammys and Golden Globes, Jazz Fest, Coachella to an even grander scale like the Super Bowl and the Olympics. The iconic events that come to my mind as the most inspirational to me are the Fire and Ice Ball in Los Angeles and the Met Gala in New York.
Not only did the Fire and Ice Ball in Los Angeles raise over $25 million for cancer research, it also paved the way for the Revlon Run/Walk which raised $50 million for the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program and other cancer related charities like Stand Up to Cancer and the United Cancer Front. The Fire & Ice Ball was THE event to attend in Los Angeles. From the fashion shows to the gorgeous decor and ambiance, it encompassed all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with its grace, elegance and sophistication. I had the privilege of attending and saw how the Hollywood community supported this cause to make a difference in the fight against cancer in LA and around the world. Bringing this full circle into 2019, Lilly Tartikoff-Karatz just launched the #DanceToDonate campaign with the UCF, furthering the mission of delivering targeted and immunotherapy treatments to help find a cure for cancer.
The Met Gala is “fashion’s biggest night out,” and raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. How the annual theme of the gala translates to every aspect of the evening, from the decor to the way you dress, makes this event iconic and as influential as the celebrities, creatives and fashion attendees it brings together.
What’s one thing people often overlook when planning a wedding or event?
They make assumptions. Never assume that the cake has been confirmed or the flowers or entertainment will show up at your event just because the contract has been signed. It is better to follow up and reiterate than assume someone understands the answers or the details. It is better to check your boxes twice than to be stuck with something that is wrong.
What are a few things you know now about starting a party planning site that you wish you knew when you started?
Be creative, be innovative, take a chance, and start talking to people early on in the process. Don’t be afraid someone will run off with your idea. If your idea is great, there is room for friendly-competition and competition validates the space.
Be pleasantly persistent. You are not going to get anywhere by sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. If you are going to start your own party planning or lifestyle site you should be networking daily, meeting influential industry people and getting your name and brand out there. And while you are presenting yourself and your brand, be passionate about your niche and know your pitch.
Like all event planners, if you are starting a party planning website, it is important to stay organized. Starting a business has so many moving parts that in order to get it all done, you need to create a helpful system.
What advice do you have for women who want to start a lifestyle site of their own?
I know it sounds cliche but “it takes a village.” It is important to align yourself with a team of trusted advisors, collaborators and mentors, whether they are friends, family or business associates, who you believe in and who believe in what you are doing. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly smart group of (mostly) women who have helped guide me through this process.
Love the business you are entering into because you will be spending countless hours in it. Do not just start a business endeavor because you think it will make money.
Think ahead and have a 5-year plan. It is important to be thinking about what is coming up next in the pipeline. Also know that your plan may change direction so be able to adapt. Just because you think something will be a success, you do not know until you test it and see the results.
If you can dream it, you can do it. You will not know if your idea is the next big thing if you don’t try. You can do anything you set your mind to.
Learn to be a great multitasker. You will be juggling multiple projects at once.
Which women do you look up to when it comes to the company they’ve built and why?
I have been incredibly blessed to have strong women in my life. From my grandmothers, to my mom, aunts, sister and friends. They have taught me perseverance is key to getting anything accomplished. My grandmothers taught me to overcome hardships, that no matter how tough things may be, you can get through them with a smile on your face.
I have also been very fortunate to have worked for extremely influential women like Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty and Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, the founders of Clique Brands (WhoWhatWear). These women have really helped to shape my own vision and career outlook. I am inspired by their stories and incentivized by the revolutionizing platforms they have built and how they have impacted the digital space in their respective fields.
What’s coming up/what’s next for The Planning Society?
We are very excited to be launching the TPS Preferred Vendor Guide this Summer. The Preferred Vendor Guide will highlight up-and-coming, as well as established, talented and vetted event vendors around the world.
As we have rolled out our remote planning option nationwide and our in person planning in select major cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Beach and Miami, we will be expanding our in person planning packages to additional key US markets later this year.
We are also excited to be partnering with various influencers and experts to provide even more inspirational party content, planning stories, Ask the Expert interviews, and real event and wedding features in the TPS Magazine.
Clothing: Blush pink Ruffle Sleeve Sweater: A World Curated // Black Lace Joggers: A World Curated // Black Lace Camisole: A World Curated // Skirt: Balenciaga // Heels: Louis Vuitton and Manolo Blahnik