No one told me how quickly the world could change and affect how businesses would be forced to adapt and shift in ways they never would have expected. In order to succeed and have a successful business one must be able to adapt to changes. The coronavirus pandemic is a perfect example of this.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewingLoni Paige.
Loni Paige is the Founder of Mixology Mixer, a company that was born out of the Coronavirus pandemic at a time when the hospitality industry was hit with a force no one could have predicted. From event management to marketing and non-profit work, Loni Paige knows how to provide entertaining and enjoyable experiences and in 2006, Loni branched out and created her own consulting business, Loni Paige Events. Then in 2020, as a result of the industry shifts that COVID brought, event planner, Loni Paige, had to pivot and found a creative solution that both created jobs and allowed organizations to host virtual events that could bring employees together amidst a global pandemic that found many working remotely.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I am originally from Long Island, New York. I grew up with a pretty normal suburban life. All my siblings and I graduated from the same high school and lived in the same house for 18 years. My parents got divorced when I was a little girl and I was raised by a bad ass single mom.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Collect Memories, Not things.” This is the motto of my life, it has guided me through everything and pushed me to spend money on traveling and life experiences opposed to stuff. I think of this a lot when I am planning events, I want to create a memory for people that will last a lifetime.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The How I Built This Podcast, this changed my life. It inspires me everyday to do more, be more, work harder and believe in luck.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Prior to the pandemic I was an event planner with my company Loni Paige Events, which I launched in 2006.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
I founded Mixology Mixer at the height of the pandemic in 2020. We host virtual cocktail mixers with our expert mixologists for companies and their employees. We offer cocktail kits for all employees or groups to enjoy at home and a live, virtual tutorial by award-winning bartenders. Since its launch, companies nationwide including Nike and Amazon, have hosted virtual mixology events.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I was working as an event producer in my own company, then March 12, 2020 hit and just like that a three day “Hearts and Stars Gala” to raise money for The Little Lighthouse Foundation was postponed, then the launch of Virgin Voyages Cruise Lines was scaled down, then it was scaled down again and then the launch was cancelled altogether. So then I remember thinking that a 500 person 500,000 dollars gala for Carnival Cruise Lines that was scheduled for May 2020 surely would still happen.
There was a liquor promotion that day happening in Boca Raton, FL for a friend of mine and I was staffing the promotional model to work. At that point, I had my three dresses from Rent the Runway that I had for the “Hearts and Stars Gala” weekend and no income insight, so I said well there is money to be made lets do a liquor tasting — which I had not done in over 10 years, mind you I started as a promotional model for the launch of Smirnoff Ice in 2000.
Well I got dressed in my rental and drove up to Boca Raton, FL and sold 18 bottles of some unknown brand of whiskey in a parking lot of a liquor store.
Following that I talked to my best friend of 35 years who said, ‘you should find another career,’ I laughed it off thinking she was being so paranoid and that the event in May would happen.
She suggested finding something virtual. Well I also suffer from pretty bad depression since I was about 18 years old and it affects me mostly when I am not busy, idle hands syndrome. I decided that I needed to do something to not only help myself but anyone else who was struggling. Like bartenders whose bars were no longer open, chefs whose restaurants were closed and event planners with no events to plan.
Slowly I began to put together packages to send out with all the items you would need to make cocktails in your home and feel somewhat connected to the outside world, and that’s how Mixology Mixer was born.
How are things going with this new initiative?
I am still shaking my head each day seeing how fast this business took off and how many people we have hired and interacted with. I started speaking to some groups back in June and they are either just booking a mixer or coming back for their third, fourth, or even seventh mixer. We have groups from Amazon, Nike and some of the worlds largest law firms booking with us.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Kyndall Jaffe — There was a day in September 2020 that I found out that Art Basel was officially cancelled, I felt so deflated, that was a big event for me and that put us on still no events now through December 2020. I posted on Facebook that it was cancelled and got a call from a young woman who had been my intern and then right hand over a year earlier, but she had left me to work for Deco Drive Productions.
She called one morning and said, ‘Hi, I wanted to check on you. I bet no one checks on you, you check on everyone but no one ever thinks to check on the strong ones.’
Well I asked her if she could help me out with a new program and, well now she pretty much runs Mixology Mixer. She has been my rock, and my inspiration to keep going with this company into the unknown.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
We almost missed a deadline for the Nike Corporate holiday party. It was now 11PM the night before the mixer and all the kits were sitting in one FedEx location in Oregon when their mixer was the next day. I actually looked at a flight and rental car to attempt to go there and pick up all the kits and hand deliver them myself in fear they would not arrive on time. Turns out FedEx does not allow that, the next day we sat on the phone with our amazingly kind contact at Nike and watched each kit, which were located 30 minutes from each house, get delivered. At that point all the employees were taking pictures of the FedEx truck and cheering him on to the delivery! Long story short, every single person received their kits on time.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- No one told me how quickly the world could change and affect how businesses would be forced to adapt and shift in ways they never would have expected. In order to succeed and have a successful business one must be able to adapt to changes. The coronavirus pandemic is a perfect example of this.
- No one told me that nothing I learned in school and college would be applicable to anything in the real world! School teaches you the basics, but it doesn’t prepare you for the real world with its challenges and ever changing laws, rules, and overall consumer behavior.
- No one told me really anything, I went to the school of Google, YouTube, and ask your wiser friends. Everything I learned I did in a very scrappy way with little to no formal teachings. Experience and trial and error are the best ways to learn, to adapt, and to become well rounded. These things cannot be taught in books.
- No one told me success comes with a whole new set up challenges. Success is not easy. It is not a luck of the draw. Success is hard work and dedication. The more you grow in your business the more challenges you face.
- No one told me to find a mentor! Mentors are an incredible asset to have. Mentors have gone through what you are currently experiencing and can direct you in the right path.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I have always done yoga and hypnotherapy
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
For all companies to try and give a little something back to the less fortunate. And be a mentor!
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Richard Branson, I am in awe, of how with all of his success he has managed to always give back.
How can our readers follow you online?
www.Lonipaige.com and @LoniPaigeEvents on Instagram
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!