By Holly Hammersmith | Photo by Gery Petrof
“It’s not something that you learn overnight,” she says. “You can be successful and have a family and be happy.”
Hlousek, who grew up on the east side of Cleveland, found her career calling as a teenager, helping plan and coordinate events for high school fundraisers. She studied at Bowling Green State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education, with a specialization in events. Her career took a short detour, and she worked in sales for a few years, but it didn’t take long for her to return to event planning.
“People noticed my passion and my drive to help other people,” she says. “You are part of that special day, really it’s an honor.”
Today Hlousek is an event planner at Marigold Catering, a full-service catering and event planning business located in Cleveland. The company employs more than 50 individuals on a full-time basis and more than 200 part-time and contract employees.
Marigold Catering, which was founded in 1997, serves multiple venues and events, from small dinner parties to special events attended by 1,000 or more people. Some of the larger events take place at the historic and constantly bustling Severance Hall, a concert hall venue that opened in 1931. The venue was added to Hlousek’s book of business last year – despite it only being her first year with Marigold Catering.
“Overseeing events at this historic Cleveland venue is an honor, and every day I strive to create events that I know would make Adella Prentiss Hughes and John Severance proud,” she says.
One of those events was an annual gala for the Musical Arts Association for which Hlousek oversaw the coordination of all logistics, staffing, and bar service. “What makes this event, and really Severance Hall in general, so challenging is that all of this setup and tear down must occur seamlessly and completely around the schedule of the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra,” she says. “On top of that, every department within Severance Hall is involved with the gala. Managing all of these personalities and keeping everyone on the same page and appeased was an amazing feat.”
From serving multiple courses to offering butler-style service to bringing in an elephant for an ethnic wedding, Hlousek helps coordinate and plan the many finer details that make an event unique and memorable.
“She is brimming with fabulous ideas and her attention to detail is superb. Everything she has done for me has been perfectly executed. I have complete faith in her ability to make me look like a great hostess,” Ellen McCarthy, an attorney and partner at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, says. Hlousek helped coordinate a Caribbean-inspired event at McCarthy’s office, and in the process literally transformed the office into a tropical paradise.
In order to offer such personalized service, Hlousek points out the value of building strong relationships with vendors, such as florists, chair rental companies, and linen providers. In addition she uses trusted connections to build and maintain the Marigold Catering clientele, many of which are repeat customers.
“Networking is important because there is always something new and upcoming, there is always something trendy you want to provide to your clients,” she says. “You have to have vendors that know the building, they know what I like. You build that repertoire with them.”
Hlousek is one of five event planners at Marigold Catering, but her schedule is bursting at the seams. Many of the events Hlousek oversees take months to plan and coordinate. Still, she finds flexibility in her busy schedule to tend to last-minute “panic calls” for rush events.
With so much going on, how does a woman who is also a mother of two juggle it all? “If you’ve made a commitment to have a family, you need to raise your family,” she says. “I always told myself I will not be the mom who is not around because of work. Work is important to me, but my family is still No. 1, and it’s very important to find an employer that also has that same belief.”
As weekend and evening hours ramp up in the summer, communication with her children, ages two and eight, and with her husband, is essential, she says. “Sometimes the hours can be tiring but that’s what you get in the business,” she says. “The biggest thing is when I’m home, I am there 100 percent.”
Hlousek says she uses her commute home as a transition period. Once with her family, Hlousek focuses her attention there. Sometimes an urgent work call or text will come through. She tries to respond quickly and effectively so she can go back to focusing on her family.
“Finding the balance is not easy,” she says. “I take it on a week-by-week basis, looking at my work schedule and at the family schedule. I love what I do but I also make time for them.”
For more information: marigoldcatering.com