Graduate Profile: Alex Mack
We get all sorts of people coming through our doors, all sorts of people with all sorts of aspirations. Most want to secure the best job they can in the event sector of their choice but there’s always one or two from the very beginning that just want to get out there and do their own thing—the emerging entrepreneur!
So, we were super excited when we heard from graduate Alexandra Mack who excitedly informed us of the news that her college major project was actually becoming a reality. Bingo! Another entrepreneur is born.
Bred in regional city Wagga Wagga, Alex made the decision to come and live in Sydney for six months to study the full-time Diploma of Events. She worked hard, achieved some pretty great results and made her way back to country NSW only to find that her city was a little smaller than she remembered. Sure, Wagga has more than 400 events on its annual calendar and has the reputation of being ‘Australia’s regional capital for events’ but still. Alex explained, “There were a few event management companies in Wagga but I didn’t want to go and work with someone if my long term goal was to start up my own business. Wagga is just too small for that.”
So, in true enterprising fashion, she decided to open her own business, Riverina Event Solutions. And this is where the story gets interesting because a few weddings and parties later, Alex realised that to grow her business, she had to do something a bit bigger, a bit bolder to get noticed by the big players with the big budgets. Alex thought to herself, “I’ve got this great document from my time at college that I’ve thought so much about and put so much research into. The event idea is still very relevant for the needs of Wagga, so why not try and get it off the ground?”
She approached Wagga City Council with her idea and accompanying document, “The events team had a look through it and were blown away by the work I had put into it.” All the docs needed for a council application were there; waste management plans, risk assessment plans, traffic management, security plans, emergency response plans, site plans. “City Council were super open to the idea. They thought it completely relevant and feasible and potentially a great addition to their calendar.”
So Spring Street Festival was born. And the real work began.
Time was of the essence and a marketing plan of attack was formulated based around messaging with a strong community focus: an all inclusive event, a celebration of local produce and industry, an event based on the region for the region, all with the ultimate purpose of bringing together the Wagga community.
Being a start up company and event, sponsorship was a big challenge. But Alex lucked out with media interest from local and far reaching publications. “Agri-tourism is a hot topic in the local pages and our event was aligned with that.” The Forbes Advocate wrote, “Riverina Event Solutions has planned the free event designed to showcase and celebrate spring, local produce, and promote tourism to the area.” Another media worthy element of the event was a charity component; gold coin donations from attendees that went directly to the ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign helping farmers in need. This again, encouraged further publicity for the event, invaluable exposure for Wagga’s new kid on the block.
“For me, it’s a good foundation to grow on. With the festival being incident free, I now have the runs on the board. Plus confidence in my suppliers, and good relationships with the media and the council. We’ve already set the date for next year’s festival.“ – Alex Mack
Some of the features of the Spring Street Festival included food and drink stall holders selling local produce, live music from local artists, cooking demonstrations, design and decorative elements and the main feature of the event; a 250 metre communal dining table that stretched down the main street of central Wagga Wagga, an inspired choice for an event whose purpose is to bring together a community.
Alex asked (begged) in favours from friends and family to muck in wherever needed. Another CoEM graduate, Naree drove from Sydney to Wagga for the day just to help out and Alex’s father seemed to take quite a liking to the role of waste manager! “By 12 o’clock it was pretty packed. Kids were drawing on the main road with chalk and braiding the fabric strips in the trees, it was a really cool vibe.”
Alex was exceedingly happy to report that even with certain challenges; competition from other local events, insurance issues, lack of sponsorship funds, limited power, minor injuries – a fall from a jumping castle – the inaugural Spring Street Festival was a huge success. Attendee numbers were much larger than expected, media coverage was positive and abundant and most importantly, the event was incident free. “For me, it’s a good foundation to grow on. With the festival being incident free, I now have the runs on the board. Plus confidence in my suppliers, and good relationships with the media and the council. We’ve already set the date for next year’s festival.“
And as a flow on effect of her bravery, Alex has seen an influx of of business (the right kind of business too) coming through her company. When asked if she had any doubts while organising the event, Alex smiled a knowing smile, “It was about half way through and I thought, is this really going to work?” I suppose the thing to note here is that even though she did experience doubts, she went and did it anyway. Just like the true entrepreneur she is. Congratulations Alex!