Marinda Freeman, Event Designer
I am passionate about creating community and connection – the true purpose of every event. I design events that bring people together – where they feel comfortable, inspired and at ease in connecting with others. My role is to Create the Container that allows this to occur. Many clients come back year after year, some for over 15 years. My passion for creating community is what drives me to help my clients start or improve their events.
I have a passion to feed and take care of others. It all started when I was five years old. I baked my first cake for my mother’s birthday. At age 8, I started cooking dinners from children’s cookbooks. More fun! I’ve come a long way from tuna chip casserole.
Growing up, I always helped with our family holidays where there could be 18 to 20 people around my grand mother’s dining table. I learned about formal entertaining, how to set beautiful tables, and prepare food for these special celebrations. My grandmother, my mother and her friends were all fabulous cooks, seamstresses, decorators and artists. Understanding how to put everything together from a delicious several course meal to a beautiful room setting is how I learned look at events.
While in high school, I studied Mastering the Art of French Cooking, learning how to properly cook everything from vegetables to entrees. I had lots of practice as I cooked dinner every night for my family. During this time, I made my own clothes with inspiration from fashion magazines. I would adjust the patterns to reflect the fashion looks I wanted.
My interest in fashion became my first career – fashion retailing and buying in New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo and back to NYC. In 1980, I decided to make a change. The expertise I had developed to forecast fashion trends and buy accordingly was becoming less important in the industry. Stores were moving to using computer spreadsheets to determine what to buy. That was buying from history – not what was coming up next on the horizon.
Because I was trained to assess and forecast fashion trends, I recognized food as the next trend. Joyce Goldstein’s book, Inside the California Food Revolution, brilliantly explains this shift. So I moved to food and started a business selling desserts to restaurants, food stores and caterers, and began teaching private cooking classes. My next move was as Executive Director for Martha Stewart’s catering company in Connecticut bringing organization structure to the business plus hiring and training staff. Besides working with clients and coordinating their events, I supervised events for the books, Hors D’oeuvres, Pies & Tarts and Weddings, and assisted with photo styling. I contributed my family’s mincemeat pie recipe for the book, Pies & Tarts, and baked the pie for the photo shoot.
What I discovered is that I really love putting ALL the pieces of an event together from the space, the décor, the music, to the menu, the flow of the timing and more. I could teach chefs to make 200 of something, but I didn’t want to do that. So I started my event management business in 1986 working with clients in the New York City metropolitan area. During this time, I also started a barbeque sauce business with a friend, developing the recipes for production. Our second year at the New York Fancy Food Show, we introduced our hot version of the sauce and it was voted Best Condiment.
I moved to Marin County in 1991. I continued my event planning business with projects that included large conferences, nonprofit galas, weddings and other special celebrations. Fast-forward another 5 years and I was planning and coordinating a large 3-day corporate event in San Francisco for 2500 guests each night. As I was heading over the Golden Gate Bridge to set up my office on site, I had the thought that I could approach this event from a bigger perspective. I could apply universal principles to this event. This was the beginning of my exploring and discovering the principles that operate with every event. I have proved these principles over and over to myself with many events so I know they work. I have taught these principles in classes at Sonoma State and in talks and workshops for organizations and nonprofits.
For me, it’s all about creating beauty – what the event looks like, and more importantly what it FEELS like. It doesn’t matter what kind of event it is. I love helping my clients think differently about their events for greater ease and success – and to create not just results but the memories. I feel blessed to have been doing what I love for almost 30 years.