Local event planning expert launches a successful business during the pandemic.
Edina resident Kari Gronseth took a bold step during an extremely volatile time and launched Gather Event Group in 2020. While events were being postponed, cancelled or recalibrated across the world, Gronseth saw an opportunity to make her mark in an industry that would surely experience a comeback led by the most creative individuals. Her bravery is paying off with expanded bookings and very happy clients.
Gronseth’s background includes a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and design from the University of Minnesota and corporate experience in space planning, logistics, organization and budgeting. She also loves interior design and would often redecorate her home and help friends with redecorating projects. Enter her affinity for gardening and setting a beautiful table, something inspired by her grandmother, and Gronseth decided to go back to school for floral design. “I thought I knew a lot,” says Gronseth, who credits her added education for “learning a ton” on topics like purchasing florals in large quantities, how to pick and process flowers and how to select the best florals for specific needs like bridal bouquets. She says, “Florals used in bouquets need to look good out of water for a few hours. Hydrangeas just don’t work.”
Word of mouth led to growth in Gronseth being tapped for everything from baby showers to weddings under the banner of her small business Pink and Green Floral Design. The success led to Gronseth being recruited by a larger local company to specialize in weddings, where she spent seven years at what may have been considered her dream job, collaborating with great mentors and working on weddings as well as corporate events and even a Super Bowl. “I loved it,” she says. But then, the pandemic hit, and her event planning employer was forced to lay off staff. When others might despair, Gronseth, who still had close relationships with vendors, brides and corporate clients, viewed the timing as an opportunity to step out on her own. It wasn’t easy, and it was definitely scary. “I had to plan and replan events sometime three times over,” says Gronseth, who constantly monitored changing health guidelines “But I still loved it. The day I ‘set an event’ is always the best day and gives me the sense that ‘I did it!’”
The experience of creating events for clients during a pandemic has ratcheted up Gronseth’s creativity. Although she would prefer to never hear the term “pivot” again, the success of her Gather Event Group is likely due in part to Gronseth’s inventiveness and ability to coach people through the learning curve of being flexible and imaginative. She’s helped clients reimagine events like company picnics and holiday parties. Personalized to-go employee gifts that are shipped to homes and safely handling food distribution at gatherings when buffets no longer made sense are just some of her ideas. Even as we head into another holiday season, continued social distancing protocols mean larger tents for outdoor venues and even requests for backyard igloos, ice bars and s’more stations.
Gronseth says, “Smaller guest lists means there is more budget to spend on things like food and drinks, floral arrangements, rented China place settings and beautiful centerpieces. People want to spend time together and enjoy a beautiful presentation of food and bubbly.”
- Always walk a space pretending to be the guest.
- Where will guests park? How will snow and ice removal be handled to ensure a safe path to the home or venue? Valet parking may be priceless on a cold, snowy night or in places where parking is tricky.
- Will guests enter through the front door, or, for a tented event, how will foot traffic flow?
- Know where any hostess gifts should go.
- Where can guests place jackets?
- Where do guests get a drink? Does the bar placement make sense? It should not be in a crowded corner. People want space.
- For outdoor events in winter, consider bringing in appropriate heaters or fire pits.
- For outdoor events in summer, make sure there is shade and plenty of water, and don’t forget the bug spray.
- When it comes to food, Gronseth says, “I am seeing more grazing boxes that people can grab and eat, custom designed mini food boxes. The charcuterie box is huge now!”
- “In place of buffets, we are seeing food stations with small plates and pre-plated courses that people can grab and go … Hand-passed small appetizers are still popular. I am also working on custom take-home late night snack boxes like donuts, cookies and milk, and french fries with dipping sauce,” Gronseth says.
Some of Gather Event Group’s trusted partners:
“Partnering with amazing vendors is the key to a smooth event,” Gronseth says. “I trust my catering vendors are always up to speed with current food and catering trends and can recommend amazing menus and ideas.”
“Chowgirls Catering (chowgirls.net) is amazing. They are the most creative catering company with fabulous food … I’ve worked with many food trucks this past summer, the Rusty Taco (rustytaco.com) and Little Blue Food Truck (littlebluefoodtruck.com) are my top favorites,” she says.
“To add some extra personalization and fun to events, I love working with Claire Ward Illustration (clairewardillustration.com) or North Mallow (northmallow.com),” Gronseth says. “Claire will draw a beautiful sketch of your guests that they can take home and always have a memory of your fun event, and who doesn’t love roasting s’mores any time of year? North Mallow brings a beautiful setup with the tastiest treats and the most creative combinations of goodies.”
The vendor Gronseth usually calls first for an event is Katiee from Après’ Party (apresparty.com). She says, “She is my tent and decor go-to. I trust them, and I know whatever I order will be perfect, set up on time, and my clients will be happy.”
Balloon garlands have been huge for the past year, and Gronseth does not see this slowing down. “Corner Balloon Shoppe (cornerballoonshoppe.com) is my balloon go-to vendor for all things balloons.”