Whether she’s wheels up to her next destination or boots on the ground installing an activation, Lauren Chitwood, President of Olio Event Group, lives her life on the move. Yet, she still finds time to head up her ever-growing businesses, continue to be an entrepreneur, act as a creative lead… the list goes on. Want a peek inside Lauren’s mind? Read on for our Q&A.
How did you get involved in the event industry?
"Since college, events are what I’ve done. While the variety of events have evolved and grown, my natural inclination all along has been to find holistic solutions that directly touch a consumer. It's how my brain operates, so a career in hospitality was a natural route to take."
What’s been the most challenging part of building a company from the ground up?
"How do I pick just one?! Everyday the learning cycle of business is very real. Finding the courage to continue on despite adversity and hard times has always been something that is true to my journey. Ultimately, we have been successful and overcome adversity because I’ve built great teams, but also because I’ve persevered."
"The most rewarding part has absolutely been the team that I have been able to cultivate. I truly love the people that I work with, and I take it personally that our collective work supports peoples’ families. To be able to share success with your team even sometimes before you share success with your customer is a special feeling."
What’s your event style?
"I’m never somebody that thinks small. I tend to have a grand plan, and I spend a great deal of time trying to facilitate that plan. My personal aesthetic is definitely clear in that regard; I'm naturally inclined to produce events with highly-detailed finishes. High quality craftsmanship and inventive and curious design is something that I’m always looking for and trying to place in our events."
What trends are you seeing in the industry as of late?
"Although experiential marketing is alive and well (it’s a key to success these days!), and finding a way to touch a consumer that is new to the marketplace is something that brands are continuing to explore, we’re finding that it’s even more important to put metrics around that experiential marketing. People have had this mentality of, “let’s just do it — it’s flashy,” but finding ways to make ROI meaningful and data-driven is something that we are trying to achieve."
What inspires you?
"When I’m presented with a new event idea, I usually try to find my inspiration by understanding and exploring the problem at its core. What question are we answering? What is the ultimate solution that we’re looking for? At the core, it may be an event, but I also may be able to offer a variety of other solutions — like digital marketing — that the customer may want to consider. If I don’t know the true problem that we’re trying to resolve, it would be really hard to respond in a meaningful way."
With a new generation of events on the horizon, what’s one piece of advice you’d tell someone who wants to pivot in their career?
"One piece of advice that I can give any entrepreneur is that 9 out of 10 times, your instinct is always right. Spending your energy and investing in being true to acknowledging your instincts is the most important thing that any of us can do in our careers. As you’re looking for new opportunities or pivoting, staying true to your gut is only going to help guide that in the most important way."
What do you hope to see from Olio Event Group in the future?
"Oh gosh! I hope that Olio continues to be a partner for passionate brands that are looking for truly engaged providers. I also intend for Olio to continue to grow its portfolio of events that we own ourselves, and I see us remaining lean but very mighty for a very long time!"