By Kaitlyn Krasselt The Stamford Advocate, Conn.
Turning a talent or passion into a successful career is no small feat.
For Greenwich resident Madalene Benoist d'Etiveaud, it was the last thing she expected and now she's opened the second office for her business, Bash Wedding and Event planning, in Greenwich with dreams to expand further into Westchester County and eventually New York City.
"I never considered this as a career until about seven years ago -- it wasn't a business I took seriously," d'Etiveaud said.
"I did it so often for my friends who would get stressed and call me for help and people would comment that I should do it professionally but I never really thought about it as something I could do professionally. Then I decided to go for it and I tried it like going gangbusters, like going crazy, doing everything and it really took off. It really surprised me how many people in this area are willing to pay for services like mine."
d'Etiveaud started Bash in 2011 when she purchased a commercial kitchen in Darien and hired a chef. She opened a small showroom there and began wedding and event planning for clients throughout Fairfield County. But d'Etiveaud's penchant for organizing and planning events started long before then when she was planning events for her children, helping friends throw their own parties and getting involved in helping plan community functions in Greenwich.
"I went wild for my kids' birthdays, like all out," d'Etiveaud said. "I loved the creativity involved with planning something really fun and spectacular."
Now with her daughters grown and moved out of the house, d'Etiveaud is focusing on growing her business and planning events for other people. Her new office, located at 34 East Putnam Ave., is now her main location and showroom, though she's kept the commercial kitchen in Darien for the catering arm of the business. D'Etiveaud is a 21-year Greenwich resident and grew up in Westchester, so expanding her business to Greenwich seemed like the perfect fit.
"I've found wherever your bricks and mortar are is where your clients are, even if it seems like everything is so close and I wanted to reach further out to Greenwich," d'Etiveaud said. "I really know the community well and think my business suits it."
Part of what has enabled d'Etiveaud's success is that event planning doesn't stress her out, she said. Her advice to other small business owners and future entrepreneurs is to maintain control of a schedule and avoid feeling overwhelmed or burned out.
"What's key to maintaining your love for what you do is ... not to take on too much," d'Etiveaud said. "I really try to limit the amount of events I do and if I start to feel overwhelmed or have a lot going on I'll cut myself off."
D'Etiveaud plans and organizes events ranging from children's birthday parties to weddings to bar mitzvahs, graduations anniversaries and corporate functions. She assists with just finding vendors or planning the entire event, and likes to meet with people to be clear on what they want. She describes her style as elegant and chic with touches of fun, modern flair.
"I want people to know the design aspect is a big part of what I do, and I customize events based on their preferences and style and use materials that suit them," d'Etiveaud said. "I feel like I listen well and I never try to push something people don't want but I love it when clients give me a lot of room to really be creative."
A quirky flair is something d'Etiveaud said she tries to add to every event, whether it's oversized balloons, a pop of color or homemade games she's constructed herself for a children's carnival party. She said it's not about going overboard with being different, but adding small elements that are fun or unusual.
"The results are just awesome because people are so fascinated and it highlights the fun in simplicity," d'Etiveaud said.