Check out our interview with Famed Celebrity Event Designer Edward Perotti.
Edward has created electrifying events with Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas, and around the world including at the Louvre and Palace of Versailles in France, the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, and the Great Wall of China.
As a fixture on TV across the county, Edward Perotti was just featured on NBC 4 News in Los Angeles to discuss the impact that COVID-19 has had on the event and party planning industry. Edward was also featured on KTLA where he pairs impeccable detail with playful creativity to create one-of-a-kind experiences.
Last year alone, Edward managed more than 2,000 events around the world, totaling over $150 million. No matter how intimate or grand the occasion, Edward imbues each event with a signature vibrant spirit to foster engaging moments in an inviting atmosphere. Through his incorporation of philanthropic opportunities and the latest green initiatives into every production, Edward is spearheading change in the event industry.
Throughout his 30 years of event production, Edward’s central ethos has always been to create an immersive experience. His lifelong love of theater, history, travel, and exploring other cultures inform his event planning process of conducting extensive prior research as he weaves these elements together. Edward lives in San Francisco with his husband of 15 years and has two sons.
Follow Edward at @perottiea
Describe yourself in 3 words?
What’s your background/ when did you start in the business?
When I started almost thirty years ago, I had no idea there was an events/meeting industry. I was working in the publishing world, in the early stages of it transitioning to digital.
The organization I was working for acquired a company and shifted operations to Ohio (and I did not want to move), so I found myself without a job. I tripped over a job at a local hotel, and the rest, as you say, is history.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
“Grit” by Angela Duckworth
I need to preface that by saying for me, books are like wine. Each reader has their own palette, their own flavors that they will connect with. The trick is to find an author who has a message that resonates with you.
What is the key to your success?
What has made me successful is my authenticity, creativity, integrity and keeping a few secrets to myself.
What is fun and rewarding about what you do? And what’s not?
I have the most fun and sincerely enjoy when I’m designing an event for a client who wants to create something special for their guests. Many events are done for ego, for show and don’t carry any true spirt or soul. The ones where the host cares enough about the guests’ experience and realizes that we, together, have the opportunity to create a “moment to remember” are the truly special ones.
Hmmm, what’s not rewarding? (I may get in trouble with that one.) Let’s just say that when a client’s purpose for having an event is to elevate his/her ego, it’s not as rewarding.
How challenging has been to have an event production company in a very competitive market?
Now, more than ever, it is challenging since there are no real events happening right now (during the pandemic). Regarding a competitive market, the beauty of events is that there is plenty of work to go around. I’ve been able to be successful by knowing my skill set, surrounding myself with exceptional talent that will push me, and not let me get in my own way.
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
I have always had a crazy drive and high energy level, but within this past year I’ve had to learn a few lessons. I returned home from a large, multi-day event in Kauai a little over a year ago, took a nap and woke up paralyzed on my entire right side due to suffering a stroke in my sleep. During my hospital stay and work at the rehabilitation center, they discovered cancer in my throat, which need needed to be removed.
Having to learn to be dependent on others and how interconnected we all are was a huge lesson. Having to re-learn to not only hold a fork, go to bathroom and walk – let alone draw and design – was a massive lesson in humility. These are lessons that I am eternally grateful I was given the chance to learn.
What is different from your company to other event planners or companies?
What is the difference to other event planners or companies? The biggest one is that they don’t have me! LOL. Seriously, what I think make me hugely different is that I don’t look at what my team and I do as event planning – the word planning suggests strictly “logistics”. What I do is design experiences and moments – planning is just a part of the whole. So, if you work with me, I will be just as interested in the WHY, the WHAT and the WHO of your event as much as where I can build the catering kitchen.
Can you name a few of the top celebs you have worked with?
I take my client list very seriously, as I do their right to privacy. You will rarely see me or my team members posting any event pictures containing people or logos.
With that being said, I have had the privilege of working with quite a few Fortune 500 organizations. Regarding celebrities, the list is wide and diverse. From musical artists like Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Sara Bareilles, to film/TV stars and A-list icons such as Viola Davis and Carrie Fisher. I’ve even traveled to India to work with Hindi film icon Shabana Azmi.
Now what do you recommend for this 4th of July events and other lockdown events?
I will go on record saying that I am working on some events now, however, none of them are slated to begin until end of Aug. I do not want to encourage anyone putting themselves, me, my team and their guests in any situation that could cause harm.
But, you still can (and should) do something to celebrate, if you like. The 4th of July can still be fun. Here are just a few thoughts:
- Create seating, separated by household
- Host outside so you all have plenty of room
- Avoid potlucks. Maybe have each family bring their own food, but you set up a few grills. Instead of BYOB it is BYOM (bring your own meat).
- One family or person owns the fireworks so you can create a fun, spacious, socially distant viewing area.
Which project/event is still on your bucket list?
There are three events that are on my bucket list, so if anyone out there reading and listening, pass the word (LOL)
First: I want to create a new “Legends Ball” for Oprah Winfrey. They are such inspiring events and I would love to opportunity to take them to the to the next level, by building on the exceptional work that has already been done but weaving in how people connect today.
Second: I would love to design an Inaugural Ball. I love my country, but I feel that we have gotten lost in our messaging. Creating an evening and experience for our nation’s leadership that would re-inspire them and remind them who we are and what we stand for would be a dream come true.
Third: The Vanity Fair event at the Oscars. No reason other than I love the brand, I love how they think and know that we could create magic. This one would be so much fun!
Branding and identity are key. How do you advertise your business?
Fortunately, I have name and brand recognition by word of mouth – I have been very lucky. I don’t think any of that would have happened if I did not stay true to myself, my creative voice, my ethics, etc.
What other projects are you working on?
I have been in development on a television show. I am exhausted watching how my event world is portrayed as heavy drama and no real substance. I want an audience to look at events as uplifting, creative, thoughtful, and bringing people together â€“ and of course, with great takeaways.
After all. events are meant to a positive. I want to show the world what can be done when you put your heart and creativity to work.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Having people in my life to love and love me back, along with doing what I love for a living. When you find that, nothing feels like work.
What is next for Edward Perotti in 2020?
World domination… lol, kidding.
Between, work, family and public life, the plate is full. I have no idea what will come tomorrow, however, if I have learned anything from the stroke to cancer, and now to covid and SIP, there are no guarantees. I will keep pushing forward in my career, I will keep pursuing my dreams, but I will always be mentally prepared to pivot when life shifts gears.
Something people don’t know about you?
Ok, don’t judge me. I love sitting back after a long day, putting on a good horror movie and eating a chili-cheese dog with a root beer float.
And then obsessing the next day if my McQueen slacks still fit!
Who was your role model as a child?
Hands down, Walt Disney. He dreamt it, created it, and left behind billions of moments to remember. Plus, as a child, I also recognized he had the BEST toys to play with (otherwise known as Disneyland).
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
If I was given the opportunity to meet someone who is deceased, I would have to go against convention and say my grandmother. She was the most important person in my life growing up, and the chance to sit down with her for one last meal would mean everything.
In five years from now, where do you see yourself and your career?
I see myself having afternoon tea and scones with Martha Stewart discussing our 3rd book collaboration.
In all seriousness, I see myself still doing what I am doing, I love it and I can’t imagine a world where I am not able to do what I do. I hope that my voice will have traveled globally, and that what I leave behind is a legacy of creativity and inspiration that others will use as their own foundation to create.
Do you support any charity?
I don’t support just one.
I try and support as many as I can within the local communities around the world where I travel with events. Weaving in some form of social responsibility in my event designs is very important to me. Showing the organizations along with the individual hostess or host what we could do in conjunction with the event is my way of giving back, leaving more then I take.
3 things you can’t leave home without?
My phone, My coffee and my sense of humor
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Oh, this one is easy.
Wake up, take the dogs for a walk, grab a cup of coffee then jump into the shower, then car and held to Berkeley, Ca, to go to Saul’s Deli for breakfast. Besides Nate and Al’s in Beverly Hills it is the only place I know where I can get a real salt bagel, and true deli hash.
From there it is a short ride to wander the shops, boutiques and galleries of 4th street. Maybe a stop for some local cheese and fresh baguettes, then home to sit in the garden with the pups.
Where we can follow you?
My website is www.edwardaperotti.com, or just google me.
Quote: “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death”
Actor/Actress: Montgomery Clift / Helen Mirren
Movie: Without question “Sunset Blvd”