Tribe Thursdays: Attia Events (Rana & Theresa)
Theresa Dang and Rana Attia are not only partners in business but partners in life. I had the opportunity to sit down with them and chat about the vision behind Attia Events, a Wedding and Event Planning Company. We talked about their values and mission for the business, learning opportunities they experienced as Entrepreneurs and their pride and support for the LGBTQ community. They share their inspiration behind their unique designed and executed events and photoshoots and why they chose the non-traditional wedding aesthetics.
If you’re thinking about getting into event planning, but not sure of what direction you want to go - this interview just might help you make a choice. What is the name of your business and what do you guys do?
R: We're Attia events and we're a Wedding and Event planning company. We also are involved in the design and decor aspect of the planning. T: Yeah, Design is something we’ve added recently since it was something I'm more focused on, but overall it's weddings and events.
What’s the story behind the name “Attia Events”? How do you pronounce it? R: Attia (AH-Tee-yah) after my last name. A lot of people thought It was just “Tia”, so I’ll have people come up to me, thinking it’s my first name and say “Hi Tia.” And I'm like, “No, it’s AH-tia, but you know, close enough.” In the end, I want this to be MY company. Before me and Theresa were partners in this, I knew I wanted this to be my “legacy” you know. In that sense, I would be able to die knowing that my name was under this company. Just from its name alone, it creates its own identity.
I commend you both for creating such creative campaigns, reaching out to other business owners and executing collaborative projects. What made you want to initiate these projects?
R: We’ve always thought about it, even like from the very beginning. It's always been about collaboration over competition for me.
T: There's enough to go around for everyone. Why not support each other and grow together, you know, in this little tiny industry that we're in.
Tell me something about yourself.
R: I guess a fun fact would be business-related. When I was doing my post-grad at Humber, I told myself and everyone around me that I was never going to touch weddings in my life ever because I hated it. And I remember telling myself “I don’t know too much about weddings - it’s not my forte. This is just not what I see in my future.” But something switched in me. I guess as I got more experienced in the industry and left school, it helped me become more open minded to weddings. Now! I can't see myself ever NOT doing weddings. Even if, even if it's a small spectrum of the company in the future. I will always have a little piece of my heart attached to weddings.
B: That's great! And I love that! It just really comes to show that you've come a long way. You've completely evolved and established who you really want it to be. It's not even just weddings that you weren't going after. It's those relationships that you were establishing. I feel like that really shows throughout the world you both have created.
Okay. Theresa, your turn!
T: Before joining this business, and even before meeting Rana, I was a very insecure person.
Like, I don't think it showed that much, but inside, I just never knew what I really wanted. I was confused about who I was, who I wanted to be with in terms of my sexuality and stuff. I realized after meeting Rana, she was the right person for me. She helped me become the person who I was meant to be. I'm so much more confident in who I am now, what I want to do. Also, joining the business helped me realize how creative I actually am. All of my previous jobs were very corporate and behind a computer screen. She gave me the opportunity to explore my creative freedom with her. She’s always supporting me, even when my ideas are really ridiculous. She's like, “Why not! Just do it! And let's see where it takes us.” For the first time in my entire life, I just feel 100% good. I've never felt like this in my life and I'm actually happy with where we're going and with who I am.
What is the best lesson you've learned from being an entrepreneur?
T: I think one of the major things is that you shouldn't be afraid to put your work out there. In the beginning sometimes you have to kind of do work for free. Especially when you’re trying to get more exposure and get your name out there. We did a lot of free work and helped others; wedding planners, and other photographers. We even put our own money into producing photoshoots to shoot content. That was our way of networking and developing more partnerships.You just have to do free work sometimes. Yeah, it sucks. but it's not like you're putting less value on your work. I think at the beginning that's like the best way to make connections. That's what helped us grow the most. I don't think it's devaluing yourself, but then once you know your worth, then you better price your services right.You just have to get your name out there.
R: I think one lesson we both learned. Well, when I started the company on my own at first, I was just playing by the rules and thinking about what my audience will like, or what kind of content should I create? What kind of website should I have to satisfy the market and what I think other people will like in order to come and join us.
T: Yeah like what a typical wedding planner should do
R: Yeah! It was all based on what I think other people would like. But as we progressed throughout the years, I realized that's not the way I want to go and I'm not going to be happy because that's not who we truly are. We're trying to actually show who our true selves are. A lot of people are always going to have something to say about you, regardless of how much you try to please the world, they're always going to have something negative to say about you. So why not just do what you want to do and just BE HAPPY.
What is your mission behind Attia Events?
T: I guess you could say that our real mission is to just connect authentically with art, with people while having fun. We just want to celebrate all love with no judgment and have fun while doing that.
R: Yeah! Just letting others look at us as a whole and know right away that this is a company where they will automatically BELONG into. Knowing that we're partners not just in business, but we're also partners in life. Just seeing that and knowing that, they’ll say “Okay, this is the company I want to work with.”
To be honest, the wedding industry STILL has a lot of growing to do. This past summer, there was an article that came out about a videographer who didn't accept the same-sex couple client because they didn’t support same sex marriage. There was a lot of backlash from that. That article helped companies realize that they should be changing things around and making things more inclusive to others. We want to make sure that everyone feels represented. We want to show that you’ll have a great time with us and we're going to have a really great time planning your wedding or your event.
B: This is why I believe event planning companies like Attia Events need to be amplified. We always need to think of ways to get your name out there in the transactional world. I always think “What can I do to get this brand, or my friend’s brand OUT THERE?”
R: I honestly completely agree with that. Especially with us. Especially when our friends are just starting out, even something really small. For example one of our friends just started a spice blend company Moms Masala. He's leading a kickstart. You want to support your friends and you want to support somebody that is doing something really good. Even if you can't financially support them, just spreading the word is just as impactful. In the beginning, when we started, it felt so nice to get such positive feedback from the people that you knew. You remember the people that supported you from the very beginning and it's such a nice feeling.
Next question. Do you have a morning routine? If yes. Describe it?
BOTH: *laughs* Um, not really.
R: We kind of just get up. We're doing this new thing where we're intermittent fasting and don't eat until 12 and just have water. But most of the time, we have no routine. We know what we're doing throughout the day. Sometimes we'll sit together and plan out the day, especially if something important is coming up. Then we know we have a lot to do and need to work together. We'll think of a to-do list for the day and keep ourselves and each other accountable. Other than that, honestly, not really.
T: We like to go with the flow a lot and if we do plan something, we like to do it at the beginning of each week and write it in the calendar day by day. Then as long as we achieve our goals during that week, then like, we're fine. We don't need to keep to a tight schedule.
R: We're very flexible in that sense because I like to work more in the daytime whereas Theresa likes to work at night. So sometimes we don't have the same schedule. Sometimes we work at different times.
What do you do on days where you feel like you're stuck?
T: At that point we just don't do anything. We don't ever want to force ourselves to work if we can't think of something or if we're not in the mood, because that's when we start to dread it and it's not fun anymore then what's the point right? So if we ever had a day like that then we just chill out and watch TV and relax a bit until we feel like we're ready to relax your brain and then get our thoughts together and then start working again.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
R: Truthfully, I was thinking about this. I don't know if I have any specific ones. For me at least. I look a lot at wedding planners around the world that are not just in Toronto. I like to look at what else is going on that's not in my own bubble and what we know here in Toronto, because what we have here is so different from a big wedding planner let’s say in Australia, or even Vancouver. I look at other countries for inspiration, to force myself out of my own bubble. When I look at Toronto, our trends tend to blend in together and we all seem to have the same stuff.
T: For me, I never really followed the wedding industry, so I don't have much inspiration from there. But honestly I really like art. Viewing the variety of different pictures. I love their use of colors and design. I use that inspiration and apply that to what we're doing when we're designing. Even like, when we watch movies and TV. The other day we found inspiration from Rihanna’s Fenty fashion show, Savage, on prime!
B: I always find that your content always stands out. There’s something about your style of events and design that makes your audience want to vicariously live through it. It's like a temporary escape.
T: I never just want to blend in because that's not who we are. I think we're quite quirky as a couple. We want to show people who we are. So it's nice when people notice that we are a bit different in a good way.
B: What is the one thing you would share to those who want to become an event planner? Or event planning company or a design company.
R: This goes a little bit back to what Theresa was saying before, how it was like a lesson learned. One of the lessons learned is working for free, if you can, in the beginning, build up your portfolio, build up your experience. I went to Humber College to do a postgrad in Event management, but then I also did my WPIC, which is the wedding planning certificate. To be honest, I don't know if both of them are necessary. It depends on what you want, which spectrum you want to go into, if you want to go into weddings, definitely get your WPIC. I think this is the kind of industry where experience overtakes education. It's the kind of industry where you can't really learn it from books. You have to experience something and to be able to talk to people in an industry and shadow them. From there, the people you’ve assisted and worked with, they can start to recommend you to other wedding planners that need assistance. From there, your name kind of gets thrown around a lot.
I’ve also met up with a lot of event planners as well. I feel like that experience really shows what kind of execution style you're going to be able to do for your own company when you finally start it.
What is your social media handle and available contact information? @attiaevents
416 949 7747
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