Ticketbud Tidbits Episode 3 - My-Cherie Haley
Posted in Spotlights on April 5, 2017
My-Cherie Haley's life has revolved around events and entertainment for more than 20 years. She first began as a model, and then moved to Las Vegas to work at Caesar's Palace as Cleopatra. She runs a brand agency for youths to break into modeling and fashion industries. She also happens to be an event organizer, having put on events for her own silk scarf business as well as by contract.
Today on Ticketbud Tidbits, we learn a bit about her life, as well as her thoughts on using social media for events. We discuss how to put your best food forward to get your career started as an even organizer. Also, she talks about how to maintain clients and keep them happy. We also learn about the main 3 things every event needs if you want it to be a success with attendees. We hope you enjoy this episode! Transcript Below:
My-Cherie: Hi, how are you Sean?
Sean: I’m doing well, thank you My-Cherie! And I am Sean Burke, Director of Marketing here at Ticketbud. So today, with My-Cherie we are going to talk about her experience with events, and with running private events. She currently has her own talent agency and she is a former model so she has quite a good repertoire of event related experience. So first thing, My-Cherie, I wanted to ask was tell us. Recently you ran an event for SXSW called Why You’re Here: A Tribute to Austin’s Music History. Could you tell us a little bit about it? You know, what the goal of the event was?
My-Cherie: Well the goal of the event was to merge the sports industry and the music industry and the fashion industry and really give everyone a taste of what Austin has to offer as far as music and do a history of how it all started. And the live music capital got its name, Austin, based on the Armadillo World Headquarters.
My-Cherie: Back in the day, and so there were many many artists that performed from all over. Willie Nelson, Jimmy Cliff, and it was just, you know we wanted to bring back this nostalgic moment to people that were coming in for SX and for sponsors to see that Austin is this amazing place since the 80s, or since the 70s.
Sean: We actually did an interview, for listeners who haven’t seen it, we actually interviewed Bruce, he used to work at Armadillo World Headquarters*. He works at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar now. We actually got to talk with them, they’re a client of ours.
My-Cherie: Oh wow! I didn’t realize that the Christmas Bazaar was a spinoff of the World Headquarters. That’s amazing, I love that. I love that! That connection.
Sean: Yeah, that history. So that was the goal of the event. Do you think that you achieved it based off of feedback from the client, based off of feedback from the attendees. Do you think that’s something you achieved?
My-Cherie: Definitely. Everyone there - first of all, the party was fantastic. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the music, and we had you know different liquor sponsors. 9 Banded Whisky was one of the sponsors.
Sean: Love them!
My-Cherie: Yeah they were great! And then there was Dolce Vita Tequila, which was also a big hit. And so it was a really great event and we had a little bit of blues with Marcia Ball. And then we had some Reggae from I-taweh who came from Jamaica. And then we had Billy Joe Shaver with some country to end the night.
My-Cherie: And so what we heard from everyone was it was just a really well rounded event. eclectic mix to give people a taste of what Austin has to offer. I would say it went great!
Sean: Man, I wish I could have gone, but from what I heard from people - I watched some of the videos - I really wish I had been there!
My-Cherie: I know! You should have come.
Sean: Definitely a case of FOMO coming true.
Sean: Hopefully you will get to do something for next year.
My-Cherie: We will, we already have something in the works. We’ve been talking about it, but yeah, it’s definitely something we want to repeat every year for sure.
Sean: So next thing I wanted to ask, to learn a little bit more about yourself, you had a previous modeling career-
My-Cherie: I still model-
Sean: Oh you do?!
My-Cherie: -laughs- I still do!
Sean: Oh man, my sincere apologies.
My-Cherie: You know, I’m getting up there in age, and I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years, I don’t want to give my age away. But I still continue to work as a professional model.
Sean: Okay then, so maybe I should ask, you still model, and you run that talent agency too. Do you think that this prepares you for organizing events at all?
My-Cherie: Yes! Well I feel that it all started for me when I was still living in Las Vegas and I did a lot of promotional modeling at that time, so I got to see how a lot of events played out and how they worked when I was on the talent end. And I also worked at Caesar’s Palace as Cleopatra and I did that for about 3 years. And for that time we did a lot of special events so we got to see how it all transpired. And I was always very intrigued by it, not just as an artist, but on the other side of things. You know, “I’d love to do this”. So when I moved to Austin I started my own business. I still continued to model. And I started this business where I made hand-dyed silk scarves. From there, in order to get my name out there and to connect with other people and to promote, I had to throw events. And that’s how I really got started with going out there to throw events.
I just thoroughly enjoyed connecting people and networking and building relationships and that’s how it all started for me. So now I’m doing brand development for youth and for kids who want to pursue modeling, entertainment, musicians. I really want to help with that. I really love doing the event part of it.
Sean: That’s perfect. So tell me, when a client reaches out, especially when you first got started, tell me what you brought to the table. Why would they reach out? For example, for the Why You’re Here event.
My-Cherie: Yeah, well that was really interesting how that happened. It’s because another Sean who is part of 9 Banded Whiskey, where we went to an event together that was for my birthday.
Sean: Oh great! That’s a really good way to make that connection.
My-Cherie: Yeah and we were at this concert and this reggae artist was playing. And he was like I’m throwing this party for SXSW and I would really love this artist, like, do you know his manager? And I said, “I can introduce you to his manager and I would also like to help you throw this party”.
My-Cherie: And so that’s how that transpired. We just really ended up working well together and we brought in some other sponsors like Loop & Tie. Sarah of Loop & Tie, she’s awesome, so we worked with her. And Arlyn Studios, Lisa Fletcher, who is the one over there, she was so great to work with and the space over there was just amazing. So I think it’s about being at the right place and the right time when it comes to these things. And just being well connected and just staying in touch with those relationships that you do have. And say hey this is something I’m really passionate about. And the reason we had it at Arlyn Studios is because this is something we’re all really passionate about. Good music. And so to do it in the recording studio with Willie Nelson, Gary Clark Jr, all the best of the best who performed and recorded it was like a no brainer.
Sean: Seriously. You kind of strike on something that I personally believe. I think that, like, I do definitely believe in luck. But you can definitely, if you work your connections and what you know, you can make luck work for you.
My-Cherie: Oh sure. For sure. They say, I don’t know who the quote is by, but luck is when opportunity meets preparation. So if you’re prepared it’s gonna happen.
Sean: Yes, I think that’s a great thing to touch on. So tell me also about being in the right place at the right time. But if you’re reaching out to clients, what do you offer as a sort of value proposition, for why they’d want to work with you.
My-Cherie: Well I think that it has to do with maintaining professionalism, being professional, customer service is being key. Coming from Las Vegas, everything is about customer service - it’s a hospitality industry. I learned that every client is VIP. Every client is very important, If you treat them with professionalism and respect you will have a great relationship. And it’s also about your connections, knowing if a client reaches out and says hey I’d like to have this particular brand there, this particular artist there, I know oh well I know this person so let me reach out to them.
So it’s about who you know and it’s so important, the relationships you do have, keep them flourishing and continue to network. So that you can get more people. Because I met more people doing this event, and you can stay in touch with them and develop more relationships.
Sean: So speaking of brands, I did want to ask, how does working with a client with a brand differ from someone who is holding a private event?
My-Cherie: Ok, so in terms of, for example, when I think about this question I think for example a brand, an artist or musician. When I want to throw a party for an artist or a musician, to promote maybe their new album coming out, well it would be done a bit differently versus a private event. For an artist you want promotional materials, CDs so you can give it out to to everyone there, you want a promotable hashtag, really push it even beforehand. Send out artist bio, send out info so they know what to expect. You really want to push the brand in that way. So you know once people come to the party even if they don’t know much about the party they are going to know by the time they leave. They will know.
A private event, similar to the one we threw at Arlyn Studio, well we had a bit of a mix of artists who wanted to promote their brand as well but we also had sponsors. And the sports industry we wanted to promote them as well. We wanted to do things a little bit different. With a private event you can do a theme party. So we initially decided we were going to do a 70s throwback. We ended up not really have people dress up in costume. But if you wanted to, I did, I wore velvet bell-bottoms.
Sean: Now that’s awesome, I wish I would have seen that. -both laughing-
My-Cherie: And then you know you have your photo booth that you can set up so you can get your swag thing going on, so that you can give it to guests after the party. And also it will continue to know the brand. I definitely think the photo booth is all the rage now.
Sean: Yeah I’ve seen a ton of those, there’s also these ones that produce .gifs
My-Cherie: Yeah where you are just like, moving
Sean: I’ve seen a ton of those too, they seem to be really big as well
My-Cherie: They’re also huge.
Sean: One thing I was kind of curious about was did you ever use the Snapchat filters?
My-Cherie: Oh yes!
Sean: You like those?
My-Cherie: Oh yes, I love those! I’m a huge Snapchat fan . It’s probably because I have kids. And so I’m always putting them on it and sharing it with my friends in my group. And now they’re doing it on Instagram. Instagram has kind of pulled whatever they did on Snapchat. I don’t like it as much but eventually it will be as seamless as Snapchat. It’s not as fun. Snapchat is fun.
Sean: Yeah it has all of the different filters and features, I feel like Instagram is right now just proto-Snapchat.
My-Cherie: Yes, I know! -both laugh-
Sean: Yeah, they have some work to do, but it could definitely be a competitor.
Sean: So tell me, what are some challenges that you face when you planning event, like when there’s a client, what are some things you find you might run into?
My-Cherie: Well I think that it’s really important that you meet the client’s needs. I really don’t know what those are until we’re actually starting to put everything together. One of the obstacles you will definitely face is dealing with the budget. When you’re throwing an event, you have to make sure that it’s within the budget. If you’re over, if you start planning all these things and want to meet their needs, the goal is to stay under budget. Not “okay this is how much, and I’ll meet it”. Go under - and everyone’s happy! Y’know?
Sean: That’s smart.
My-Cherie: I think making sure that the budget - it’s very important - because the money is just like a huge part of how an event is going to flow and how it’s going to happen.
Sean: Great, great. So one thing, you did this event for SXSW, I was just curious - we’ve talked about using Snapchat, and Instagram. I was wondering if you noticed any other trends related to organizing events, like if there are any cool new innovations you saw at SX.
My-Cherie: Oh there’s so many cool things. First,I just want to say the trend for any event- music, booze, and food - it’s the perfect combination!
-both laugh loudly-
My-Cherie: It’s true, think about it, if there’s music, booze, and food, everyone’s going to be happy. You don’t have to worry about that. I mean, the guests are going to be happy. There’s other things going on behind the scenes. They have to be worked out, but if that’s flowing, everything is kosher. Everything is good, yeah.
Sean: It is funny, you think it’s such basic stuff, but so many people don’t realize it.
My-Cherie: It’s basic. It’s so simply, y’know? It really is, when I was thinking about that question I’m like, you know, music booze and food people are going to be happy. Especially during SXSW, people come here for that. There are also so many layers of SXSW. There’s film, there’s interactive, there’s tech, so we planned our party during the tech on Friday. Which was perfect timing, because that’s when everybody is getting ready to RAGE, I guess.
My-Cherie: But it doesn’t really matter if it’s film, everybody still loves music. So what I found, throughout all of SX, I did all 10 days even with my kids on Spring Break. We did stuff at Fader Fort, yeah I just decided that I was going to immerse in it all because for the last 11 years I’ve been doing sX. For the last 11 years I’ve seen it grow exponentially.
Sean: Yeah seriously, it’s gotten huge.
My-Cherie: It’s just crazy how much it’s grown and what I’ve noticed more than anything, we’ve talked about the photo booths - everything is super interactive. Very hands on, they even have these, I think it’s called V…
My-Cherie: Yeah, VR, so it’s the new thing where you put these things on and then you’re actually in this whole, thing, and it’s just 3D and it’s really amazing so I think that tech has grown so much, and also, people’s attentions span have decreased a lot too.
My-Cherie: yeah, everyone is like, -she snaps - what’s next what’s next what’s next. They’re all moving on to the next thing. But I just think, the trend I’d just say for the 11 years of SXSW, the biggest trend is just to have music, booze and food. And we had Maudie’s Tex Mex, shout out to Maudie’s
Sean: Oh man that’s awesome
My-Cherie: Yeah because they represented! We had Maudie’s at that party and everyone was like, happy!
Sean: It’s hard to imagine how they couldn’t have been!
My-Cherie: So true.
Sean: So, just kind of bouncing off of that, you said people’s attention spans have decreased, I would totally agree with that. I think that’s probably the biggest challenge. How do you find - do you just think that the music/booze/food, that sort of “holy trifecta”, do you think that’s enough to keep people’s attention?
My-Cherie: I think that, I think that it is enough, I think that if you give them, the showcase that we did at Arlyn, we didn’t keep everything the same, we mixed it up, we went from oh - Playing For Change, which was this amazing band, they’re from all over, and the organization is a nonprofit, and Whitney who founded it, it’s just mind blowing what she did, I think you just have to mix. it up and keep people entertained. So we threw in people with the world music, and then we had the blues, then reggae, then we ended with country so I think that aesthetically meeting all of the needs of the guests is like really important, you know, like drinking, food, music, and switching that up. Feeding all the senses, then they can move on to the next thing.
And there’s so many events that are happening at SXSW, you’re never going to get bored there because there’s constantly things happening in the city the entire ten days.
Sean: That’s the trick!
My-Cherie: For sure.
Sean: And then, just one last thing, do you have any advice, we have a lot of newer event organizers who listen to Ticketbud Tidbits - what would be your biggest tip for retaining clients, and also, I know you have a lot of connections and stuff, but like, when you first got to Austin. You wanted to do an event. How did you actually make that first step, y’know, the first step is kinda the hardest.
Sean: How would you recommend to newer event organizers to make that first step.
My-Cherie: I think that because I am a fearless person, it’s like, oh yeah it’s easy you just go up to the person so I want to look at it from the standpoint of someone else. Honestly I don’t think that you can’t be in this industry unless you have a personality. You have to have some personality, you have to have some charisma. So you need to be able to go up to someone and say hi, my name is My Cherie and this is what I do and I would love for us to connect. So it’s really just taking the extra step to introduce yourself to someone that you know is in the industry.
And when you network, pick what your genre is, you know, like if you really want to throw events that have to do with music, then you network with music people, you network with the entertainment industry. And you go to those meetups and you go to LinkedIn and you find those people on LinkedIn and match up. If you wanted to do nonprofits, like I did an event for New Milestones Foundation so that was really great it was a nonprofit that deals with mental health. And I volunteered with Fims for Sims before . I’ve done the nonprofit side before. So if this is really what you love to do, you connect with those in the nonprofit industry. So you pick what genre you’re really passionate about, and then you connect with those people. How you find those people you gotta do your research, go to those meetups and Linkedin. You say I’d really like to meet this person, find them and meet them for coffee, or go to where they’re going to be speaking or to an event that they’re having. It takes being proactive, you need to take the step, the actions toward making that happen which I think is so important. So I was thinking about what really inspired me, and I read a lot of books, but I really love Malcolm Gladwell-
Sean: Oh yeah he’s awesome.
Sean: Have you listened to his podcast?
My-Cherie: Nooo, I don’t listen to his podcast!
Sean: You should check it out it’s super cool.
My-Cherie: I need to do that.
Sean: I know, promoting a podcast within a podcast is so meta, but Malcolm Gladwell, his Revisionist History, is really great, you should listen to it.
My-Cherie: I’m going to do that, I’m glad that I brought up his name, because he really changed my life, and Seth Godin. They both changed my life in terms of in terms of action, and well, Malcolm Gladwell, with the Tipping Point, and Seth Godin with Tribes, and who’s in your tribe, and when you think about that and you think about authors who are successful and worked and been in this industry and been around these people, and you see how these things start to happen. But you can’t unless you’re actively involved in reading this information and doing these things.
Sean: Ha, yeah my mom was always like, “A turtle only moves ahead by sticking out its head”
My-Cherie: Yeah, you gotta do that, you know, I grew up in a small town in South Carolina, and to even be in Texas, to even be in Austin, which is kind of small. But I’ve lived in Las Vegas, I’ve lived in LA, I’ve lived all over. And at a certain point, if you don’t ask, you will never know. So it’s just being bold and fearless and taking that step into something that you’re passionate about.
Sean: I think that that’s an awesome ending point. Thank you, My-Cherie, for speaking with us on Ticketbud Tidbits. I really appreciate it.
My-Cherie: Thank you so much Sean, this has really been awesome. I really appreciate it as well.
Sean: Alright, well thank you all for listening, and we’ll have another one next week. Thank you. Bye!