By Ronnie Wendt

Planners are the wizards behind the curtain, pulling the strings to keep an event moving and exciting for all. But though the work lights a spark that keeps planners on their toes, over time, the hyper focus on logistics started to dull Deanna Nwosu’s day.

The Ohio-based event strategist explains that planning alone lost its appeal because as a planner, she says, she “never got to collaborate with attendees and enjoy the experience. I was too focused on logistics.”

Though planning had lost its luster, it wasn’t always this way. Nwosu found her passion for planning in college while planning events as a member of various clubs and organizations. She has known, since those alumni and sorority events, that it was what she wanted to do.

After graduating college, she worked with a small association in Cleveland and then transitioned to the corporate sector with a B2B events company. Later she worked for a construction software firm as their in- house planner and coordinator for industry events.

But over time, a new dream took shape, and Nwosu began planning events outside of her full-time role. She says she originally just started her business, Deanna Camille, as a side hustle, but it quickly transformed into something bigger.

“I knew I wanted to do more speaking and facilitating. I get the best of both worlds with coordination of logistics, content creation and strategy, figuring out platforms and creating a holistic experience for attendees. This is my niche,” she says. “It’s the intersection of where I’m a speaker, a facilitator, an emcee and an event professional creating a holistic experience.”

There is something to be said about those who have the bravery to chase their dreams, no matter the obstacles that stand in their way. Nwosu pursued her business full time when she found herself at work wishing she could work on her side project. “I realized I needed to follow that passion because it was what was keeping me up at night,” she says.

Thankfully, Nwosu had resources available that made her more secure in her decision to leave, and it was the perfect time to take the leap.

Nwosu realizes starting a business can be frightening, and that everyone has different financial responsibilities. She advises those who dream of going out on their own to reassess their finances, make sacrifices and follow their passions. To create a financial cushion, she moved out of her apartment and began splitting her time between the homes of her parents and her partner as she built her business.

“It is definitely a sacrifice. I am grateful for my family and my partner. If I didn’t have them, I probably would have downsized to cut expenses,” she says.

She encourages anyone who wants to follow a new dream but worries about finances to “be bold… If this is something you really want to do you can figure it out,” she says.

Nwosu also advises giving yourself the grace to learn as you go. “Give yourself freedom and space to make mistakes and change your mind,” she says.

The pandemic presented many challenges to business owners, herself included. When the pandemic started, Nwosu still worked for her previous employer. She found that with her own business, she was better able to cope with COVID-19 concerns because she controlled her destiny.

Diversity and inclusion also emerged as top priorities during the pandemic. Nwosu says she addresses this by taking risks on new vendors and speakers that she hasn’t worked with before.

“Planners need to increase the diversity of their pipeline; too often we rinse and repeat our programs,” she says. “If you want to diversify your supplier opportunities and panels, look beyond the places you’re used to. As professionals, we have to get creative about where we are sourcing from.”

Deanna Camille arranges events that run the gamut from virtual networking to bar crawls. The company’s sweet spot, however, is micro events and experiences, such as team building events and networking activities. Nwosu also hones in on speaker selection and overall event strategy. Her new role keeps her on top of trends within the event creation space. One trend she has noticed, and hopes will grow, is getting attendees more involved in event creation.

“Have attendees vote for what’s on the agenda, submit ideas for networking activities or select the location,” she says. “So many times, especially in associations, we rely on the executive team to make all those decisions, but I would love to see a shift where the attendees make the decisions and planners carry them out.”