Deslyn Griffith, Managing Director of Extravagant Celebrations, had been doing event planning for as long as she remembers, since high school in fact.
Her prom at the Bishops’ High was what got the ball rolling for her. “Planning my high school prom was the super coolest thing I had ever done at that time. I remember being dressed in my sage green and black dress. The decorations were silver and green. I remember creating the silver and green invitations and burning my fingers from the hot glue-gun trying to put little bows on hundreds of invitations—all handmade,” she said.
Extravagant Creations has its genesis in “a good friend who said, ‘you need to monetize your hobby,’” Deslyn recalled. “I had always wanted a party store; somewhere persons can come and get anything for an event.
“I’ve always been creative. I’ve always had a knack for creativity. I can visualize what I want this to look like. I wouldn’t sit down and see everybody trying to get something done and not do anything about it. So that’s where the whole concept of managing and leading came from.”
In 2015 when Scotia Bank had its Live Pitch Competition, Deslyn found herself as one of the four finalists. “I only entered the competition honestly to have a timeline so that I could finish a small business plan. I never thought I’d be a finalist,” she said.
“The formalization of this business was as a result of Scotiabank’s Small Business Plan Competition – Live Pitch 2015 which was in collaboration with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It was fully supported and endorsed by the Ministry of Business and the Small Business Bureau as encouragement was sought for persons who own and manage small businesses to formalize and learn to grow their businesses.”
As a finalist, Deslyn was exposed to business coaching through Action COACH Guyana. She and the other finalists were able to get their businesses fully registered and functional, taught how to manage and market themselves.
“We have all been featured through a televised competition and several features on Scotia Money Moves following our progress…,” she said.
“So even though it may not appear as if there is a whole lot to Extravagant Celebrations at the moment, please know that we are a growing business that emerged from a corporate giant investing in our growth and development. The exposure and support we as finalists have received have been priceless.”
Extravagant Celebrations, Deslyn explains, does not just decorate, but manages events. “We help you to… execute your event. We work on site until everything is taken care of…
“My team comprises Event Manager/Planner, Onsite Event Coordinators and decorators. We contract our specialty tasks such as photography, catering and florists which we do on small scale.”
Deslyn can barely remember having had an unsatisfied customer and label her satisfied customers as “awesome.”
Deslyn said the toughest part about her job is balancing a “normal” life with that of an Event Manager’s. “Your life becomes a schedule. Every aspect gets penciled into a time slot in order to facilitate other activities. There’s a commitment to growing Extravagant Celebrations to what and where I see it in the future which requires dedicated hours not only to coordinating and executing an event but also developing and documenting systems, understanding the importance of time and resource management among other things. Endless hours can be spent on penning the right script for correspondence or advertising a blog. Balancing what I used to consider normal with what I hope to achieve has been both mentally and emotionally tough. There are moments that I do feel like giving up but I am constantly reminded that this dream is bigger than I am. I now have a team who embraces this also.
“I have a really huge personality. The word passionate describes me best. My approach to business is basically to throw all my energies in what I do. It fuels me and makes me energized, confident and persistent. I need a team of people who can not only appreciate my way of doing things but who see it necessary to understand it, challenge it, be creative with it and add their own flair also while always recognizing that my very nature, will psychoanalyze, test and measure before it gets executed. They needed to be patient people but sprinters once our process commences. I think I’ve found my two main sidekicks in Terrance Steward and Asheena Marks. They’re efficient, meticulous but very flexible, very accommodating and also very passionate about what we do but above all else, they embrace that each and every event. Our experiences are learning experiences and we can only get better when we harness those learnt skills. My team has made this business theirs and that has made it even better for me.”
For Deslyn, the most rewarding part of the job is yet to come. “I try not to anticipate what it might be instead I want to have that overwhelming feeling when it does happen. I’ll know immediately that this is what I have been waiting to experience. However, as we’re growing, every lead that I am able to convert into a customer gives me a heady feeling, that someone else believes in me and my team and is willing to give us an opportunity to create a fantastic memory for them. I think sometimes big businesses perhaps forget and those who’re yet to manage their own businesses don’t yet know how amazing it feels to obtain one sale, one customer, one repeat customer knowing it can only get better with time and effort. Those are small rewards worthy to be mentioned.”
Deslyn’s immediate challenge is advertising and marketing her business; finance is also a basic problem as it’s a young business. Since she doesn’t have a large budget she’s left with finding creative ways to market her business.
In her office are two thoughts she has up as a reminder and encouragement. According to an acrostic, FEAR is: False Expectations Appearing Real. The other simply says: “Eliminate delay in your life.”
Fear she said is what keeps many persons from achieving their dreams; fear of failure, fear of taking risks. She adds, “If you have an idea, overcome the fear. Once you can eliminate procrastinating goals can become achievable. Address or face the fear.”
Mother’s Day saw Extravagant Celebrations making Mother’s Day packages; some of which went as far as the United States.
According to Deslyn, she’s inspired by event wedding planner, Preston Bailey and by watching the Food Network but her biggest inspirations she said are her parents, “They’ve always allowed me to explore whatever I wanted to do. Vishnu Doerga, the action coach is another inspiration; more my mentor.”
Deslyn has a Bachelors of Science in Accounting and Business Administration along with a Master of Finance degree.
In the past she has worked with Demerara Mutual Life and Guyana Water Inc.
At present she is Project Coordinator for a grant between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), which is focused on Improving Competitiveness in Guyana and Strengthening of SMEs to Increase Non-traditional Exports. The project she says focuses on engaging artisans from the Arts & Craft Sector, Agro-processors specifically those who produce sauces and the musicians and producers within the music industry to improve the quality of their products and services to export quality levels.
She’s also the director at the Volunteer Youth Corps.
In her free time she enjoys watching her five-year-old son, plays sports and loves reading, traveling and experimenting with food like pasta or anything that has to do with Guyanese cuisine like bake and salted fish.
When asked where sees herself in the future, she optimistically replies, “I’d like to have my own store so what you can expect from me is that the store will happen… The business will grow and we’ll be a household name.”
Deslyn can be contacted via Facebook @ Extravagant Celebrations.