Our Unconventional Indie series shines a spotlight on members of our community who stand out with their unique, curious, and distinctive careers, as showcased on their Indy profiles. For a chance to be featured, create your profile for free.
Today’s Unconventional Indie is Adrienne Leah, a Long Beach, CA-based digital marketer and virtual event planner. Yes, you read that right, a virtual event planner. More on that later.
Adrienne grew up in Weatherford, TX and went to school at TCU in nearby Fort Worth, but she dreamed of heading out to California. Though event planning was her passion, she took a job at a PR agency first and learned many of the skills she would later use in her digital marketing career.
Her ability to adapt to new circumstances served her well after she scored a job as an executive assistant at an event production company.
“It was quite small and I worked up very quickly. I naturally fit very well in terms of learning how to produce events. I very quickly switched from executive assistant to event producer,” Adrienne says. “The VP of the company actually left so I became the full lead event producer for that company.”
From executive assistant to being the lead event producer in only a few years, Adrienne was finally doing what she really wanted to do, but working for a company planning events had its drawback, too.
Event planning takes a special kind of person who can be highly organized, deal with stress, and make sure that every person is doing what they said they would do to make the event go off without a hitch. Even though Adrienne enjoyed many of the aspects of this job, the pressure eventually got to her.
“Anyone you speak to who does events will tell you that it’s quite taxing and it drains you because you are working nonstop,” Adrienne says. “So I had a new opportunity that arose for one of my current clients at that time to come and run events for them solely and to also oversee all their marketing communications.”
It was while working for this client that Adrienne was introduced to the unique world of virtual events. In fact, this company was developing a virtual event software called V-Unite before the COVID-19 pandemic caused everyone to start looking for similar solutions.
“So a few years ago, pre-pandemic, they worked on building their own software for virtual events. Lo and behold right when COVID hit we were actually launching that product and we had already done a first global conference for the esthetic industry the year prior. So it was good timing,” Adrienne says.
Considering the stresses of a physical event, one would think that planning events in a virtual world might be easier. You’re not having to worry about whether the catering van got a flat tire or if the guest speaker got sick. But Adrienne actually thinks the virtual events actually cause her more stress in some ways because so much is out of her control.
“When I produced physical events I had control over everything. I knew when my vendors were coming, I knew who was setting up what, if something happened I knew who to grab to go fix the issue,” she says. “But with virtual I am not a web developer, like I don’t know how to do anything in terms of fixing stuff like that. I am very tech-savvy and I know this platform better than anyone at this company but when I need something fixed there’s a process to send it off to the developers and pray that it gets done quickly.”
That said, working as a freelancer allows her to use both her digital marketing skills and her event planning skills to do great things for her clients.
Adrienne loves the freedom that being an indie provides her. Not only the freedom to use all of her different skills for her clients, but also the freedom to work whenever and wherever she wants.
“I love the flexibility, I love being able to work from home or coffee shops and being able to choose who I want to work with and how and when,” she says.
As an experienced event planner she also knows what it’s like working for clients that are not great. When she was at a company doing events, she had to work with whoever the company said to work with. This is an experience many freelancers recognize. A huge benefit of freelancing is the ability to pick and choose the people you do business with.
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“There’s so much more flexibility working for yourself than working for a company,” Adrienne says. “You don’t really have a choice with those types of clients that you get brought into when you work for a company. I am working on really nailing down who I want to work with and what my industry and niche is.”
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