CHARLOTTE RICARD-QUESADA – FOUNDER OF LA FÊTE
Tell us a little about yourself and your career background?
For over eight years, I worked for brands such as Dior and Tom Ford, in sales and merchandising respectively. I’ll forever be grateful for these opportunities, which allowed me to hone my people skills, enhance my creativity and learn to deal with challenges and high-pressure situations.
As for my personal background, it’s extremely varied: I was born and raised in Switzerland but am a French and British quadrilingual. I’ve always been around different cultures, languages and religions and can definitely say that I thrive in those environments. I’m also recently married to my wonderful husband, who, incidentally, is Spanish, so I’ll let you imagine the mix of languages at home!
What led to the decision to start La Fête?
Working in fashion, I witnessed first-hand the sometimes-difficult process of organising boutique events, shows and cocktails, particularly abroad, whether it was because of language or cultural differences. And it’s then that I realised that I could do something about that, not only for large companies, but also private clients, thanks to my international background and languages, particularly with the exponential growth of destination weddings and celebrations.
Tell us a little about your business and what makes it different?
My company specialises in fully bespoke wedding and event planning, but I like to think that what we do is so much more: my end goal is to solve problems, create experiences, but most importantly, contribute to the memories of each and every one of our clients.
As well as our language skills, we pride ourselves on being extremely approachable and personable, which definitely contributes to building long-lasting bonds of trust and respect with clients and fellow suppliers. We are definitely boutique in size, with a core team made up of myself and my sister, something that we’ve come to realise makes us extremely special in the industry, but approach every event with a highly open and multicultural mindset.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve come up against as a female founder?
I’ve been fortunate that my gender has so far never impacted my relationships in the industry or the jobs I’ve secured. I have, however, noticed that my attitude and behaviour have changed over the past three years: I’ve had to become more confident in myself, my decisions and my ideas. I’ve become more assertive and more straightforward than ever before, and I’m so grateful to my mentors and peers for pushing me towards greater self-confidence, and not being afraid to ask for what I deserve (something which as a woman, can be very hard).
I’ve also learned to remain cool and collected when I’ve been on the receiving end of verbally abusive and/or confrontational behaviour, which is of course challenging, but is a great lesson to learn from.
And the biggest highlights of your career as an entrepreneur so far?
The greatest pride for me, other than working with my clients on creating their dream event, has to be recognition from my peers. Getting their positive feedback on not only my work, but my company name, brand, ideas etc. is extremely encouraging. Hearing that you’re headed in the right direction by reputed industry colleagues is an amazing feeling.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Work hard and don’t worry so much. I still have to tell myself that now sometimes, a decade on! But also, be patient: it’s tempting to want to rush ahead, but take it slow and consistently. Rhythm is more sustainable than speed, so don’t neglect the laying down of strong foundations. And work those contacts: people are more willing to help than you might think.
Any tips for those wanting to make it in the wedding and events planning business?
My key pieces of advice would be:
- Accept the support and help of your family and friends. Their input, fresh viewpoint and love will help you every step of the way.
- Prepare to feel lonely: I wasn’t ready for this and it hit me hard. Whether it’s because you’re working tirelessly and neglecting your social life, or because you’re working from home and aren’t in an office environment, just be aware that it will happen.
- Don’t be afraid to invest financially from the start. Curating your image and setting up your business framework properly will not only be better in the long run, but also make you look more elevated right from day one. This will also work in your favour in regard to getting the right opportunities and knowing how to confidently deal with them.
- Learn how to say no to the opportunities that aren’t right for where you need to be. When you start your business, it’s hard to refuse an opportunity that comes your way as you feel so desperate for experience and to prove yourself. It’s absolutely vital though to make sure that the opportunity is right for your business and the image you want to project.
Finally, do you have a career motto or mantra you live by?
Our grandmother always used to say, “If you try you might, if you don’t you won’t.” And trying your best at anything is really all you can do!