Owner, Leslie Scotto Events, LLC
Owner, Leslie Scotto Events, LLC
Among the hundreds of events that Leslie Scotto has planned in her career, a recent bat mitzvah party literally takes the cake as her favorite. The event was planned for Dana, a super-shy yet secretly sassy fashionista who loved bold colors and all-things art. As she does with all of her clients, Scotto aimed to create a celebration of Dana that truly reflected the teen’s fun-loving personality.
Scotto’s vision of a colorful and wacky art-themed party was brought to life with 24 x 12-foot reproductions of Warhol and Lichtenstein paintings and a larger-than-life pop-art likeness of Dana, herself, on the walls. Dana and her guests were delightfully surprised by an army of glamorous drag queens dressed as human tables who appeared to serve cake on their wide skirts. Scotto even replaced the white toilet paper in the restrooms with rolls of bright toilet tissue for a fun pop of color in an unexpected place.
“For me, it’s not about one-upping the Joneses,” she explained. “Instead, it’s about creating an experience that’s all about the client and pouring myself into the teeny details that make it fun and authentic. If I can have guests walk out saying that party was so Dana, then I am happy; I’ve done my job. I was thrilled when Dana told me that night, ‘This is literally my dream.’”
Scotto, a social person by nature who has always enjoyed hosting themed get-togethers in her home, left a career in marketing in 2004 to launch her first business, Budding Gourmet as a boutique flower and cheese shop providing party planning and items needed to entertain in the home and hosted more than 200 events in her first four years. But success was fleeting. In 2008, the economy dried up and with it, the demand for parties.
She took a job at Westport-based hedge fund Bridgewater as their Event Planner. “I had never before hosted an event for more than 75 people at a time,” she said. “Within weeks, I was throwing super-fun parties for thousands. But I always wanted to get back to my roots and coordinate the kind of creative, themed, smaller events that I love.”
Three years ago, she left the fast-paced corporate world to launch Leslie Scotto Events, a Fairfield-based party planning service that she says “is for people who don’t think they can afford a party planner. My brides and hosts are normal people with normal budgets who are dealing with normal things.”
Scotto has more than doubled her revenue this year with coordinating customized weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversaries and birthday celebrations. It’s an achievement she credits to much hard work, dedication, and to a Stamford-based non-profit who was with her every step of the way.
“The Women’s Business Development Council has always seen potential in me, ever since I owned the Budding Gourmet. They continued to support me even when I needed to close its doors,” she said. “It’s reassuring to know that they have the back of every single woman who walks in, whether it’s to reassure them that they are doing something right … or point out what they could be doing better.”
Scotto recently approached business counselor Janet Siegenthaler with concerns that her business was growing faster than she could keep up. “I was getting busier, but feared I wasn’t growing smart. Janet looked at my numbers and told me what I needed to do. It was scary feedback, but it was something I needed to hear. She reassured me that I could do it, but that I’d have to work my butt off to get there. They helped me in the way I needed to be helped, not necessarily in the way that I thought I should be helped.”
The solid advice, she explained, took her business to a point that she could never achieve alone. “I rarely asked for help with Budding Gourmet because I was too proud. But now I understand the value of saying okay, I can’t do this myself or I don’t understand this. Not every entrepreneur is good at everything … and that’s okay. I have to remind myself that even Bill Gates hired people to help him!”
“I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am without the Women’s Business Development Council!”
For more information on Leslie Scotto Events, visit www.lesliescottoevents.com.