The suburban Philadelphia area known as the Main Line is home to some of the country’s wealthiest neighborhoods, homes and residents. One can imagine the kinds of parties thrown around these parts.
It takes a certain kind of person to bring together the many (and often expensive) details that go into creating a special occasion for highly discerning tastes, and Sue Jacquette is on track to become the go-to event planner in the area.
Since founding a.muse events in 2010, Jacquette has added an assistant and corporate clients, while developing a consistent stream of clients for weddings and other events. She got her start as a book publicist in New York City in 1998 and her ability to devote total focus to each of her clients has aready set her apart in another tony and competitive market.
What was the inspiration behind a.muse?
After working for another event planner and seeing her business model, I saw an opportunity to set myself apart and give a unique experience to clients with a service based high end business.
What was the biggest challenge in getting a.muse off the ground?
This is such a word of mouth business, and an already quite saturated market, so starting on my own without wanting to step on the toes of my former employer was a challenge. Trying to get my name out there and develop my own client base was the initial hurdle, but one event came after another and with each one I grew my reputation both within the industry and among the pool of potential clients. I’ve found that from every event I do alone, I get two more.
How is a.muse growing?
Faster than anticipated. I exceeded all of my goals and projections last year so I had to bring on an assistant to help me manage. I also have a number of other planners that I can call on to subcontract parts of my work when things get really busy.
What resources did you take advantage of to launch a.muse?
I really relied on many friends, both within the industry and those with small business experience. Sonya Weigle, a business development expert helped me with a lot of advice, as did my attorney, Chris Ezold, and my accountant, Betsy Joyce. Each of them really gave me great insight on the logistics of starting your own business.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome, personally or professionally?
I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease about a year and a half ago. It took a very long time to come to that diagnosis so for many years I suffered with symptoms ranging from severe brain fog, fatigue, weight gain and depression. Coming out of that feeling healthy and strong again has really inspired me to take control of my health. I just ran in the Broad Street Run this year and am planning on completing my first half marathon in September.
Talk about the moment where you knew you made the right decision in starting this company?
While I’ve done very large conferences and multi day events many times in my career, when I booked my first one as a.muse and exceeded the clients expectations, I knew I had a winning model.
How can we stimulate small business to be an engine for job creation?
Because my company really focusses on staying small and high-end, I’m really concerned with training the right people to follow my lead in customer service and client focussed work. As a.muse grows and I take on more clients, I’m hoping my well groomed staff will be ready to take on the work. Slow and steady growth is my goal.
What key partnerships in your region or state have helped a.muse grow?
I have a great relationship with top notch vendors, they really help me to pull off successful event after successful event. We really form alliances to help each other succeed every time.
What advantages does being in your region hold for entrepreneurs?
I find that Philadelphia and the Main Line are really about relationships, and the more I’ve expanded my network, the more I’ve found that to be true. The relationships I’ve built have given me some great opportunities.
What’s the big differentiator for a.muse?
Customer service. Without question. I truly pride myself on exceeding client expectations every time and have a 100% customer satisfaction record. I expect each client to think they are my only client.
What’s next for a.muse?
I’ve really been expanding my corporate business, which was a surprise to me. I thought weddings and non profit fundraisers would be my real focus, but after several successful corporate events, I’ve seen that part of my business grow quite well. I’m currently focussed on grooming my first event manager to take on some work on her own. Once she’s filled that role I plan to hire us another assistant. I would really love to have a business where my staff is with me for decades.
— by Joe Petrucci
PO Box 1309 Malvern, PA 19355