31 Days of Dreamers & Doers | Anthony Smith Jr.
Anthony Smith JR. is an active duty Air Force member who decided to start his own event planning business 2 years ago around this time, currently making him the Owner/Operator/Lead planner for Everythang's Kosher. He designs authentic events and program experiences that are unique to his client's vision. When he is not doing that, he takes the same passion he has for his events and throws it toward experiences he personally wants to bring to life.
ASJ: My earliest memory of working in this lane is from my church youth group in high school. I was elected to a board of about 6-7 other students and we were the officers for the entire program. The adults who ran it basically empowered our group to design, plan, and execute things for our peers from trips to group discussions. We weren't just coming up with the ideas, we had to call around to businesses and speakers and actually set everything up. I feel like I've been at this for 20 years honestly.
What really set me on this path was the fact that I was doing this job already for every organization I was in. There was a time that a close friend kind of didn't come through with helping me put an event together and I saw him post a FB status about it. It wasn't directly aimed at me, but it hit home. He said something toward the fact of - "No one is going to have the same passion or love for an idea you have except for you!" - and he was right. I couldn't expect someone to care about my vision if they weren't as invested as I was. So instead of continuing to get frustrated at the lack of help I got, I decided to go at it on my own as the first step of starting about 50 other things I wanted to do, lol.
"I like taking an idea from just random conversation and bringing it to life. The part that gives me the most fulfillment is seeing and hearing people describe how they enjoyed something I had a part in creating. You can not live life without experiences and I find joy in giving people experiences they haven't had before."
ASJ: The Omaha Teen Summit has definitely been a highlight of my career. We are in our 5th year of the annual gathering of local high school students who participate in a one-day event that gives the the opportunity to network and be educated on various life skills they may not get in school or at home. It's a highlight because I am very passionate about mentoring our youth because it was done for me. The first year we had 20 kids sign up and I was crushed. I couldn't understand why there weren't more kids, or better yet parents, taking advantage of this free event to give our youth a leg up in life. Since then it has grown every year and as of this interview we are close to 150 sign ups, projecting the actual event to be closer to 200.
The impact we make on the kids there can't be measured by attendance but it is a good start.
What did your journey look like getting here?
Lots of self doubt when it wasn't going as planned because I dream big. I knew it would be slow because this market doesn't know me like it may know others when it comes to the events I am throwing. As for the events I plan for others, I knew it would be really hard because my main audience was the urban community and we are not normally accustomed to hiring/paying someone for services like this. Those who know me well have helped tremendously by referring customers to me. I am also a DJ and that has honestly been more helpful in keeping the business going as well as getting the name out there than that of the actual event planning side. Due to the lack of what I perceived to be "support" by the Omaha area, I started to doubt if any of these "great" event ideas I had were worth it or what I was doing wrong, which is rare because I'm very confident, lol. I was never in jeopardy of quitting, but I started to have some resentment and loss of confidence overall. I took a chance after getting the nudge from a close friend to try one of my events, Rhythm N Brunch, in Kansas City and it blew up! That has propelled me to keep going strong and to open up my notebook full of events and offer what I know will be amazing experiences.
10 years ago I didn't see myself in this position at all. I want to do so many things and this was in no way at the top of the list or even something I considered doing. I've always loved music and dabbled in DJing in the past, but never thought I'd be doing it at this level. I figured if I was gonna talk about those who I saw doing it and how I could do it better/what I would have done...then I might as well jump in to it head first. Looking back, I may have started this business sooner. Other than that, I wouldn't change anything because all the low attendance events, questioning myself and losing money has made me appreciate my successful outings a lot more.
When working with a new client, how do you hope they feel afterwards?
I hope they feel motivated. I hope that I do a good enough job that their vision is exceeded and they go forth with a new outlook on what they can accomplish, then get to living out more experiences they had been putting off.
As for any advice, I'd simply say - if you are passionate about something find out if you are able to fill or even create a market for it. Don't doubt yourself or listen to others, but also, don't just jump into it blindly. Research, read books, take a webinar, find a mentor or shadow someone before you "launch" your business so you can be as successful as possible.