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Make That Party Float! ~ Part 2

Posted by Penelope Mohoto-Sebilwane on October 1, 2014
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The illustrious Monaco Yacht Show Summer Party is the perfect backdrop on which I have the pleasure to paint this second installment of “Make That Party Float” against. What an honor! It has certainly provided the spark needed to ignite inspiration for me to take you into some of the best suppliers and vetted service brands to produce the ultimate yacht-based event – and then do it again…and again.

With creativity, generosity and that extra 20% of pure passion, we’re all capable of transforming the average into the extraordinary, the mundane into the magical, and the time we have on this planet into a remarkable ride. Such have been the words of celebrity event planner and owner of Colin Cowie Weddings. Ready to take sail? Let’s roll! (See “Make That Party Float” Part 1 – for the beginning of this how-to guide)

WHAT IS VENDOR VETTING? (hands in the air anyone?) Well, since the role of any premier event organizer or yacht event producer deals with the world of affluent persons, it would be a fatal move to pick any available service provider or vendor at your disposal. You will therefore apply the vetting process which simply requires you to research your vendors, their reputation, their capacity and capability to add value to an event of this magnitude and clientele. You would also take into account their portfolio of similar events they have previously serviced, and obtain exceptional reviews from their previous clients. Exceptional being the operative word in this instance. All that data is best populated onto some kind of a format – like a vetting checklist. Please note that Google may be the modern day Mr. Knowitall but it will not serve you to pull a template off a search engine. We have the unfolding of a luxury specialist event and only a specialist can be trusted in this regard. So speak to a celebrity assistant or celebrity lifestyle manager or simply contact a leading event specialist in this field (hopefully you subscribe to their service blog) and know them well beyond their business name.

When I began consulting on yacht events, Samantha Sackler Productions, Sundance Film Festival and the biggest event planner open house in New York – The Event Planner Expo were my guides and inspiration to navigate specialized events. Well nurtured relationships in this trade prove repeatedly that no bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. Feel free to form your own beliefs from experience! Every type of supplier or service brand you enlist would need to check every box before they sign a contractor’s agreement to partake in your production. This event is your Rolls Royce – those you signoff to come along for the ride will shape the success of the journey and mark the outcome of your destination. Choose well and rely on a vetting system.

TRENDS & TIPS FOR VETTING YOUR TEAM OF SPECIALISTS – Let us say you use the expertise of luxury event producer, April Luca for the supply and management of your entertainment needs. Given her track record planning events for celebrity crowd pulling nightlife joints, film premieres and fashion week – this is the type of vendor who has an extensive pool of reputable service brands you can reach out to. Research relevant businesses you can use from her little black book. Bringing together service people who have previously worked on the same projects is a super bonus. They are known to bring harmony to operational teams since they are familiar with each other’s modus operandi. Their service ethos is likely to be the same.

Remember to acknowledge April’s efforts for recommending her trusted partners with a gesture of gratitude post event. Etiquette is key. This method of acquiring services is my number one trend to follow when seeking a team that will rock that luxury boat. Well curated vendors enhance any yacht event experience. You want to align the event with like-minded brands & services who not only reflect April’s ethos, but also the style and culture that you and your client/ boss adhere to. That is the sort of tip that builds brands and a profitable future. Once you have established that connection, repeat service is the best way you can say to someone – thank you for the outstanding job you did on my last project. Who has your client/ boss used in previous occasions? Look into that too.

Once again if you are not already the celebrity assistant in charge of this project, then you may want to get to know the one behind the person you are being of service to. They are and always will be the most important persona and ally behind any public persons or business. Their power is subtle, organically cultivated and the best CEOs and Entrepreneurs use it strategically to advance their objectives. Follow that lead. From this method of choosing a specialist, very little vetting is required. Be mindful however, of previous relationship history between your client/ boss and the specialist. Not knowing the existence of bad blood or not so impressive details that have stained past projects would either endanger your own reputation to get this job done, or get you fired – instantly.

SHALL WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE FINAL VETTING METHOD? Think – who are the top 5 lifestyle industry magazines (print and digital) who cater to your client/ boss’ demographic profile? Know them. Subscribe to them. Build a rapport with the editors and their assistants. They are your other BFF and trusted source that will conduct vetting on your behalf. Through their publications you have access to the who’s who of the celebrity and luxury lifestyle. Don’t just read up on possible specialists to bring on board, engage the journalists and editors in the verification of brands and services they have featured. They could even lead you in a different direction that still achieves what you aim for. Do that and you may well have landed valuable PR for your event. Celebrity publicists will love you for it and in time you will be the person they too can consult with for similar projects or challenges that expand your footprint beyond luxury event production. Remember, you are birthing your own brand by virtue of how you weave elements of this event together.

Once your team is curated and assembled, bring out the service contracts, sign on the dotted line and get to work. Your primary role is more a hands on managing director or head of operations – and chief of staff. Be sure to follow your team on twitter and facebook. Doing so will not only assist you to keep up with them, it will serve as a secret doorway to people and businesses in the same trade. Your plan B could be born from that, although that rarely happens since those you have chosen will greatly value their place in your project and come with a solid reputation. Their next project and overall reputation depends on staying in your plan A. For purposes of networking, it helps to know who else operates in these close knit circles. Chances are they are all very well acquainted. Hollywood and the luxury services are niche markets. Everybody knows everybody via the niche networks that run within the trade.

WHO’S ON MY VETTING CHECKLIST? I have personally gone for The Yacht Company (@YCOyacht) and how I met them was through an opulent lifestyle publication online I have been subscribed to for 8years. They are the world’s leading yacht sales, charter and management company. There were ofcourse highly recommended yacht management specialists I did have at hand. I was keen to build alternative relations and I love that their ethos is one I recognize and recommend to others. I keep up with the entire yachting trade through them – from media owners to trade events (like the Monaco Yacht Show) to new vessels and features to take advantage of on my next project.

Because there’s always a reason to celebrate: POPS ( makes the world’s first champagne popsicles. Each popsicle is made using natural and organic ingredients, with a percentage of champagne. They are popular at the biggest summer events from music festivals to sport games and at London’s best private parties like the recently held Vogue Fashion Night Out and Topshop SS15 London Fashion Week.

Because you want guests to arrive in style: A private taxi boat or super-sleek boat is the way to get to a floating board meeting or event on the French Rivera. Alen Yacht is part of the heritage of the St. Tropez Motoryacht scene. Their models are built bespoke and their charter service offers options for customization.

Because no charter is complete without an awesome soundtrack: Founded by international DJ – Natalie Earp, Sound Purpose provides bespoke music experiences for any occasion. With personalized playlists and individualized iPods, Sound Purpose services include DJ and Artist bookings.

Because you have specific entertainment in mind: Music producer and songwriter, DJ Cuppy (formerly known as DJ Cupcake) was already a household name at age 17, playing at some of London’s top nightclubs, events and various London Fashion Week fixtures. Her 2014 playlist brings the house down in Paris, New York, Dubai, South Africa and frankly, the whole world. Chosen as the official resident DJ for the MTV Africa Music Awards 2014 and currently a brand advocate fuelling the ‘Fascinating Nigeria’ campaign, she also spun the wheels at this year’s prestigious Tatler UK Magazine/ Christie Inc. Art Ball. She is @cuppymusic on twitter.
Because the way to your guests’ heart is through their palette: Composed of talented chefs, artists , creative craftsmen and sophisticated event producers, we often feature the innovative ideas of Creative Director, Peter Callahan (@peter_callahan) and his culinary design studio team.

Because the floral equivalent to haute couture captivates all senses: Jeff Leatham, writer of “Visionary Floral Art & Design” which will be available at Rizolli on October 13th, is also Artistic Director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris – and has been creating a sensation with his floral designs since he first began working with flowers at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Voted Best Hotel Florist in Europe for consecutive years. Known for his floral installations that are often compared to contemporary art, his collaboration with international luxury brands (like Givenchy, Dom Perignon and Tiffany &Co – among many) and the Royal Wedding in Qatar make him a specialist of note.

Now that – is what a glam squad is in order to meet the demands that will “make that party float”. Your team is officially assembled.

Remember that through just 5 great specialists lies a network of golden little black books just waiting to be booked by you. Ok – maybe not so much waiting since these are top-tier service brands with throngs of high-profile public figures, business moguls and celebrity persons whom they service all year round and many have bookings 1 to 3 years in advance.

Did I mention that your event doesn’t have to take place on a single boat? Yep! When you have a 500+ list of patrons to cater for, especially in projects such as a trade show or the summer party behind the Monaco Yacht Show or New Year Eve parties and Academy Award Winner’s After Party – build a yacht village as a venue concept or create a private onboard residence with dedicated butlers, onboard apartments (yes, really), a dining restaurant experience on deck and use nature (sunset and sunrise) to help you creatively. A yacht village comes together with a fleet charter (identical vessels or a newly launched range). Guests would then have a multitude of aspects to experience from one boat to another. One or two yachts could serve as an exclusive VIP zone within the village cluster experience. Imagination. Creativity. Attention to detail. Marry these three paramount elements for an event that will be tattooed to memory. Carve out your own signature brand with each yacht event you produce. Be mindful of that. Be ground-breaking. Be an expression of your client/ boss’ wishes through your own style.

Take these last words from Oprah Winfrey: “as you become really clearer about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you – the first time around”.

Sparkle and Dazzle!

Penelope Mohoto-Sebilwane


Her work life spans 15 years.She has called many executives in different corporate sectors boss; developed great skill at the birth of privately owned enterprises alongside founding investors; supported a newly appointed board of directors; to coordinating the successful sale and acquisition of her own established online business.

Knowing the ins and outs of celebrity life from working with PR & Talent Management Agencies earlier in her career, and successfully applying into mentorships and mid-career intern programs in the creative industry for 3 consecutive years, she became well-poised to initiate projects where she consults independently as a celebrity assistant, talent coordinator & lifestyle manager to a host of media personalities, celebrity talent, celebrity managers, publicists, stylists and entrepreneurs they work with in film, TV production, casting directors, studio facilities, advertising agencies, fashion and women's magazines.

Determined to grow the list of international celebrity talent she supports; coordinating talent for bigger headlining projects; engaging emerging talent and using herself to change the face and perception of assistants worldwide;- Penelope is fiercely growing her personal brand as a coach, public speaker, author, career stylist, contributing writer, entrepreneur, and THPH: the highly paid help (an evolved and ever enterprising top-tier assistant)

For reviews on her service and brands she has worked with // Visit .za

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