Event Family

As January is coming to an end, the cool weather will also soon be wrapping up, leading us into Spring and the beginning of our travel season. The events that take us away from home for weeks on end, are some of our most challenging but equally rewarding days.

Large-scale catering is largely a game of logistics. Multi-day events set-up in obscure locations with little resources, are where our company thrives. The thrill
of piecing the puzzle together (largely while the finished picture changes half a dozen times) is not only something we are good at, it is where we find the most satisfaction. The level of intimate relationships that must be built with other vendors and clients in order to produce a quality event, leave us with new additions to our families. We watch each other’s children grow up, attend weddings and celebrate life with one another. It’s truly a gift.

I never quite know how to describe what our company does. Sure, we cater and plan events – but there’s so much more to it. Every detail from the time a guest opens their invitation, to leaving the event, must be carefully planned and executed. We anticipate emotions and build a plan to surpass all of our expectations, especially the client.

I love the freedom and constraints an event gives us, equally. It’s an odd juxtaposition of rules, but I think it’s what makes our jobs more exciting!

The Ocean

Since I was a little girl the ocean has always been a source of comfort to me. The continuous movement in and out, occasionally spraying over a rock creating an extra beat in the melody – swish, swish, swish, swosh. The sheer power the water has, always taking my breath away when I’m back in its presence, is both frightening and calming. The salty air and the sun beating on my cheek – no matter the temperature outside – as the wind whips at my clothing, I feel home.

In the coming months ahead we have a few events taking place with the ocean as the backdrop. I couldn’t be happier. As our team finishes planning all the details, my mind keeps wondering to the waves. I feel it is important to think of all 5 senses when planning an event: sight, sound, touch, smell and of course taste! It is also important to stop and visualize every last detail.  When you close your eyes what are you experiencing? How are you turning that vision into an incredible end product?  Having the ocean as part of that picture makes for an incredible event. The bright blue water, sparkling like glitter under the sun and the sound of the crashing water onto the shore. The hot, gritty sand between your toes and the smell of the salt in the air. Those are the types of senses many try to recreate at an event.

But, working near the ocean often means the beach is your work floor.  I’ll never forget my first event in the sand.  The force of which my feet felt glued to those teeny-tiny specs of sand was unreal.  Everything took nearly twice as long to move, build, do. You definitely have to pad your timelines and think outside the box on some things, but I promise you – it’s worth it!

 

Book Club: Present Over Perfect

I just finished Shauna Niequist’s “Present Over Perfect” which felt so symbolic to start the new year off with. It has nothing to do with Catering or events or even business, but has a theme that I think most of us can relate to these days. The first few chapters in I wasn’t sure if this book was truly written for me. While the overall theme applies, her own need for professional perfection and collected outward appearances didn’t resonate. I’m not type A – there’s no real desire for me to appear super woman-esque. However, as I delved in more and really absorbed the depth of her words, I realized the book was me. I’m glad I decided to purchase this copy because the margins are full of underlined sentences, exclamation marks and asterisks now.

“So many of us have forsaken those natural rhythms and stayed at full speed, through the night, through the storms.”

This was the first underline and asterisk mark I made. In talking about the natural opportunities the land and sky give – like rainfall, nightfall and sunrise, she puts into perspective how too often we blind-fold ourselves and barrel past these natural invitations to slow down. Just one more to-do item on the list, one more email to send, one more volunteer position to sign up for, one more commitment, and all the while the sun is setting and rising again before we even take note.

I think we all have to be careful and attuned to the natural breaks we need to give our mind, bodies and souls. It’s hard as entrepreneurs to stop though. I get that. I’m married to the energizer bunny himself. But, as I’m getting older I’m realizing quality of quantity applies to so many things. The number of clients we take on – finding the quality ones that you cherish and enjoy working with. The ones that fill you up instead of depleting you. The number of commitments we have. The number of shoes we own! Seriously.

I’ll never forget the first client I had to say, “no thank you” to. It was hard. Our family had just left town and we were on the road towards Breckinridge for an event we were catering. We had stopped in Pueblo, CO and found the cutest Children’s Museum filled with hands-on exhibits and the coolest art installation made entirely of yarn. As the kids were deep in play I slipped back to check my email. Our office manager had sent me a message regarding an urgent matter – a bride’s mother who was very upset I’d be out of town for several weeks. Her daughter’s wedding was in 4 months. I stepped outside and called her, with no real plan in my head, but a looming feeling in my gut.

She answered the phone and I immediately apologized for my absence. I assured her even though her daughter’s wedding wasn’t the only event we had, we had the resources to fully devote the time needed. I remember how I immediately felt like I was failing her, by being with my family, out of the office. It didn’t occur to me that I was allowed to take a natural pause – to let my mind rest. For five years we had been pushing ourselves, our entire family often the collateral damage, to be the best in our field and grow our company.

She then began asking about the pricing we had quoted based on the menu selection. Followed by asking to borrow props and decor from our warehouse. Just an extra table here or mirror there. Maybe if we had a few extra flowers we could add them in. I’ll never forget the burst of strength that seemed to form out of nowhere, perhaps those nerves mutated into power somewhere deep in my gut. As she kept asking for more and wanted to pay less, I felt empowered. I looked at my children’s tiny faces through the window I said the first “no thank you.”

I once again apologized, because that’s what you do in customer service, and then explained we wouldn’t be able to meet her needs. I wished her the best of luck planning the details of her daughter’s day. I kept it short and sweet and could tell I caught her off guard. I think I caught myself off guard.

This was nearly eight years ago and it was the first wake up call (of many more to come) that it’s ok to say no. And being present is far more valuable than being busy.

The Mountains Called

Every year the mountains call our name (or rather, the producer of The MusicFest trip calls the office – but you get the idea).  A week in the snow, catering for our Texas Country Music family, isn’t exactly a bad gig!

As I write this, our event production team is packing their bags and tidying up the house one last time (seriously guys, please don’t forget to clean!) before making their way to the open road or sky. Since 2004, Global has started each and every year at the base of Mt. Warner – and we couldn’t be more honored.

The new year brings about a lot of change for many people – new routines, more exercising, less wasted time, better eating habits or more spiritual time.  It is the fresh start that we often need to pull ourselves out of a rut and start again. I have some friends who don’t “do resolutions” and I get it, I truly do.  They feel it’s a cop-out of sorts and as if change can start anytime, which is true, but I say use whatever motivation you need and if that is the dawn of a new year ahead, great! I feel the needed change for the company every year and Steamboat has been that fresh start – the reset we all seem to need after a very busy fall season. Our team comes together in one house, working together, spending down time together and breaking bread, meal after meal, for a week.  For over 15 years we’ve been serving most of the same Texas Country Musicians and their crews and the familiar faces, friendships and gratitude we receive in return remind us each each why we do what we do. We put the hours in, the hard-work, the commitment to our clients because of THEM.

 

I love that as our team journeys back to Texas today, they have grown closer and more excited about the year to come. Off-site, large-scaled catering is not the line of business for those who need extreme routine or quiet downtime during their work day – it is fast paced, unpredictable, long hours. It is making the perfect plan only to abandon the timeline and start from scratch, during the event. It’s high energy and high expectations and customer service first – always. But, it is our passion.  Our team is committed to their work, to providing the best of themselves each and every day for each and every event.  They lean on one another and catch their teammates before they fall. It truly is remarkable how fortunate we have been over the years to work with so many passionate, skilled and dedicated people.

Now hurry home guys – we have a lot of events to plan!

In Between Moments

We talk a lot about in between spaces at events and our venues. It’s all those small details that help bring a project together. Using those discrete spaces to continue to tell a story. Whether it’s a purposefully placed vase of flowers or small unobtrusive fountain to help fill a void between box hedges, the small details matter. Much like a beautiful taffeta ribbon is tied delicately around a package, those in between spaces can often act as the finishing touches.

Looking at the new year ahead, I am realizing how important in between moments are as well.  I am currently reading “Present over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist and her chapter “Stars” echoed these very thoughts I had. It was impactful to see my own thoughts in black and white on the pages in front of me. As she talks about the bass players her husband is so fond of, how the most beautiful thing about their music is the space in between the notes, I know how vitally important the in between moments will be for me and our family this year.

For 15 years now our home life and work life have been so intertwined it’s nearly impossible to separate the two. To be honest, that’s why it felt so right to create a blog that chronicles both in the same space. Our successes at work are our successes at home. Our children are well versed, too versed actually, in the ins and outs of the company: our next projects and what we are excited about or struggling with. I had to remind our 10 year old today that we will never be a 9 am to 5 pm family. That’s why we travel as much as we can with our kids. That’s also why we carve out odd weekends or late nights to spend time together. We’ve always had to be creative in making our time together count and for the longest time I carried guilt in this. Missing school functions, being away for several nights or forgetting something one of our children deemed important – it’s the hardest parts of running a company sometimes. But, our non-traditional work hours have given us far more than I ever could have dreamed. It’s put us on the road for 50 days with our entire family (touring 15 states and 2 countries!) as well as introduced us to hundreds of new friends, some who have become an extended family for us. It’s taught us more about life and friendship and hard work and disappointment and pride and humility and selflessness than I can imagine any other work doing.

So, I am committed in 2018 to find those special in between moments during the fast-paced days ahead. I want to take our messy life and busy event schedule and never-ending dreams for new ventures, and I want to tie a beautiful taffeta ribbon around it all and place it to the side to make room for the quiet and the car rides to school and the small conversations that I too often gloss over. I too quickly jump from one action item to the next. I too often forget how beautiful those precious small moments are. What a true gift. A gift none of us should squander anymore.

Paper + Posy

When we set out to start a catering business 15 years ago, it honestly was a feast or famine type of situation.  Matt had been involved with a restaurant that was on the brink of shutting down and had happened to start a catering division around that same time.

We weren’t married yet, but we both threw ourselves into those first few catering under the name “Global: Catering & Event Planning” – Matt knew he could take the name Global and create any business with it, the ultimate diverse name.  That has always been Matt’s mindset – diversity. Which is why it shouldn’t surprise me that now, fifteen years later, our portfolio is extremely diverse!

Over the years we’ve become more than just caterers.  We’ve planned and produced some amazing events from start to finish. Some of those events we’ve hosted at our own venue in Downtown Bryan, The Kyle House.  Others, we’ve been tasked with the floral, custom paper products and linens in addition to the food. We’ve won National awards and worked with amazing vendors from all over the country.  Through all of this experience we’ve been able to see where our true passion lay, and where it doesn’t.

This has been the beauty of Matt’s plan for diversity.  As the industry changes, so do we. As our life changes, so does Global. We’ve been blessed to be able to ramp up or down with our work load based on our family and employee needs. Our oldest kids are now able to dream along with us and it is truly amazing to watch their own little entrepreneur minds whirl around new ideas.

The development of Paper + Posy has been a fun dream of our oldest daughter’s and mine for a year now.  We’ve had fun dreaming up how the shop will look and what all we will carry.  The retail side of business being a little foreign, there’s been a learning curve for sure. But, we are nearing the end of construction on our cute little shop, right across from The Kyle House, and launched the online store last night! To be honest, it’s both exciting and terrifying, but we are jumping in feet first.

The ability to show our kids how dreaming, planning, and lots of hard work – can turn into some truly special adventures, is such a gift. They have also seen us fail and get frustrated, but they watch us get back up and keep going.

 

2018: Merle’s Southern Market

PawPaw Merle and Granny Bobbitt spent New Year’s Day the same way as most every other day – cooking. Perhaps it was in higher volume than other days, but it was still spent in the kitchen with family.
If I let you in on a little secret, don’t hold it against Granny.  She isn’t a real fan of black-eyed peas.  She much prefers lady creams or purple hull peas, but on New Year’s Day she conceded and let Merle and the boys cook up a big pot of blacked-eyed peas. Her real favorite is lady creams. These smooth, creamy cowpeas have a bit sweeter flavor than black-eyed peas.
Matt grew up in that very kitchen that turned out those black-eyed peas every New Years as well as the lady creams.  He canned hundreds of veggies like pickles, green beans and chow-chow. He lights up a little bit when he talks about the mayhaw jelly they’d make every year.
Every morning, on the other side of that tiny kitchen, sat all the ranch hands.  The table was set with large portions of Southern favorites and the front door was always open to anyone in need of a hearty breakfast.  I assume this is where Matt’s heart took shape – his desire to welcome anyone and everyone.  To cook twice as much as needed, incase someone else walks through the door.
Paw may no longer be alive, but his spirit was with us in our kitchen this morning. He never had the pleasure of knowing his great-grandchildren, but they sure do tickle Granny so I think he would have enjoyed them too.  Listening to Matt’s stories over the years is why Merle’s Southern Market has been on our hearts for a while now.
While there are many layers to this new venture – catering, front-porch delivery, even a restaurant one day – we know the most important thing is to honor the name, Merle. To make sure whatever comes of it all, it is rooted in true Southern hospitality.
In the coming weeks we will announce more, but we hope you all start off the New Year with your black-eyed peas, cabbage, smoked ham and all the family favorites you grew up with. Most importantly, we hope you are with your friends and family, ready to take on a new year!