Thank you Voyage Chicago for featuring Art Room Events and our story in your January edition of Chicago's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Aly Udartseva. Thanks for sharing your story with us Aly. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Inspiration to start Art Room Events came with combining things I love the most-art, coffee, hospitality and events. It was back in July of 2016 when I used to own and manage a coffee shop and a speakeasy event space in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods of Chicago – Wicker Park.
Coffee Paining & Coffee Tasting class was our first experience that we introduced. Over the years I learned a lot about coffee and noticed a high interest in community to learn more about coffee culture. Plus everyone loves BYOB art classes! Our goal was to bring those classes to another level – make them educational and unique in their format – a morning tasting experience.
In late 2016, together with my former co-founding partner we have produced Dil Pickle Club Speakeasy Murder Mystery cocktail party game and wrote its characters based on the personas inspired by the actual historical figures at the time the Dil Pickle Club was open in Chicagoan 1920’s .
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We are still at the startup stages and having a store front or our private event space is not in our plans until 2019. Being a popup event planner today, there are 2 major difficulties we have to face and overcome. First of all, the absence of a store front limits our exposure to public. Our presence is 99% online and requires a distribution of sufficient (higher than usual 30-35%) budget on digital marketing and advertising. Given the competition among event planning companies in Chicagoland area, our tickets are priced very reasonably. This makes it challenging for us to meet a profit margin required for a desirable growth (after expenses on digital marketing are built into the prices). In order to stay profitable and grow, we have to work extremely hard to make up for it by increasing the number of events organized and hosted per month.
The second problem is also associated with the absence of our own venue with a catering liquor license. The challenge is finding a right one and 100% relying on our venue-partners. Our main goal is to always deliver a top notch, exciting experience and there are a lot of factors and elements that influence and determine success of each event. Unfortunately, by not having our own space, we are not always in control of each of those elements; especially when we host the event a very first time at a new venue.
However, given the amount of the events we’ve hosted from the day we started, I can confidently say that we have been very lucky and our venue-partners been great majority of time.
Art Room Events – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Today Art Room Events specializes in both public & private unique social opportunities beyond the typical Wine & Painting nights as well as private events and celebrations. Our experiences are very popular among people who are looking for a unique idea for a bachelorette party, birthday and engagement celebrations, corporate events/outings and team building activities. Among our signature experiences are Speakeasy Murder Mystery Cocktail game; Coffee Painting & Tasting; Bachelorette Party With Painting, Laughs, Champaign & A Nude Model; Pumpkin Carving & Beer Tasting (Halloween season only), as well as various team building games. I can proudly say that each of these experiences is definitely one of-a-kind.
No one offers painting with an actual coffee (not a paint) art class, furthermore with coffee tastings and educational workshop included. Our Speakeasy Murder Mystery is not a boring sit down dinner with a predictable story line. It is an interactive cocktail party with no hired actors. It is almost like a live version of game Clue, where each guest has an assigned, prior to the event character and is encouraged to act on it for the span of the game. We have established a strong partnership with one of the best beer stores in Chicago – Beermisquous, where we annually host historically sold out Pumpkin Carving & Beer Tasting events. IQ Wars allows our clients to choose from the menu of unique team building games, challenges and activities and create an unforgettable experience for their work family.
Some historical information behind Dil Pickle Club Murder Mystery game:
The Dil Pickle Club was a site of cultural interchange, full of radicals, activists, artists, and even hobos back in the Prohibition era, between 1917 and 1935. The Dil Pickle was known as a speakeasy, cabaret and theatre and was influential during the “Chicago Renaissance” as it allowed a forum for free thinkers. It was founded and owned by Wobbly John “Jack” Jones and was frequented by popular American authors, activists and speakers.Characters of this murder mystery will take on a persona inspired by an actual historical figure at the time the Dil Pickle Club was open in Chicago. Guests receive character descriptions and rules prior to the event, and are encouraged to dress (and act) the part for 3 hours.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me, personally, success starts and ends with one and every single one of the experiences we produce for our clients, whether it is a private or a public one. I have very high standards on how each event/experience should be organized and delivered. This comes back to those elements that determine a successful event – starting and ending each event on time, making sure that venue is clean, spacious enough, ambience is nice, lit appropriately, music not too loud, servers/bartenders are professional and quick, drinks & food are delicious, event coordinator knows how to feel and manage its audience and much more.
If all those requirements are met, 99% out 100% guests will enjoy their time and will have fun. Let’s hipotetically say, we only host 1 event a month but if it went accordingly to our standards, feedback from guests is excellent and everyone had a great time, I can proudly say that I run a successful company. Of course, it has to stay profitable and generate revenue to assure its growth. But what happens after 1 successful event? Referrals, reviews and a power of word of mouth marketing that assures the growth; and I can proudly say that we have succeeded in all of the above.