Meet Lara Smedley- an Event Producer, Entrepreneur & the Founder of Smedley Events, an agency that focuses on community-building through unforgettable experiences.
Ms. Smedley calls herself a serial entrepreneur, owning businesses in the events and tech industries. With over 15 years of event production experience, her passion lies in connecting communities together through meaningful experiences that uncover our commonalities. Probably, her love for community building is a result of her wonderful childhood- she grew up in a loving family and was lucky enough to attend a public school where she was exposed to a variety of cultures and people. It truly shaped how she approaches her businesses and shows up in her community to support others today.
Talking about her professional life prior to starting her own ventures, she says, “Prior to starting my own business, I worked for over 15 years in the sports industry for both collegiate and professional organizations. That experience gave me the tools to create my business with community and service at the forefront. I believe that sports have the power to bind communities together through passion and camaraderie.”
However, according to her, working in sports as a woman, especially in public-facing roles, can be difficult. There were barriers and obstacles she faced being a woman but it never stopped her from raising her hand in a room and contributing where she could. Even though some of those challenges still exist for her at present as an entrepreneur, she doesn’t let them stop her from pursuing her dreams and providing the best service to her clients.
Her organization, Smedley Events, is a full-service event production, experiential marketing and fundraising agency with the goal to bring communities together through unforgettable experiences. Be it providing full service event production combining strategic planning with an innovative guest-centric approach; developing a marketing strategy that engages event guests and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand while creating memories and emotional connections; and organizing modernized fundraising events, connecting communities with non-profits through unforgettable event experiences- Smedley Events is a unique entity in itself that motivates people to come together for genuine reasons.
Coming to the current scenario, where almost the entire world has been directly or indirectly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lara too has had her own set of challenges and this is how she dealt with them- “I am in the ‘service first’ industry. The pandemic taught us that we must serve our clients first and find solutions even through the most difficult times. I was lucky enough to not lose any clients over the last year and that was because we made adjustments and figured out how to continue our clients’ work regardless of what resources and budgets were available at the time,” she says. As a result, she has been able to bounce back more quickly than she could have ever imagined because she dedicatedly got down in the trenches with her clients even during a situation like the pandemic. For her, their needs came first and discovering how she could serve their communities was her number one priority. Thankfully, her business is now growing back on track and she feels utterly grateful for the amazing experience she has had with her clients.
“My community has been so supportive of all of the projects we have launched and the initiatives and events our clients have created. During COVID, we launched a second business, My Fan Seats, and have over 22 clients that have launched fan-cutout programs in their venues. That venture was featured on platforms like The Hustle, CNBC and Inc Magazine,” she exclaims.
To all the passionate and visionary entrepreneurs of tomorrow, she wants to convey that in order to succeed in life, one must find their authentic, ‘true’ self and life-calling in order to pursue something. We must dig deep and uncover what lights us up and makes us happy from within. Then once we are satisfied with the way things turn out, we must not forget to share our story because someone may be in the need to hear it and get going. The very fact that our story can have the power to change someone’s life, can be our driving force to follow and work towards our dreams right from today- and who knows, it may lead us to unfathomable destinations!