At NR Events HQ we are celebrating the company’s 10 Year Anniversary and have decided to delve back into the history of how Natasha, the founder, came to setting up her business. Have you ever considered going freelance or setting up a business in the events industry? We sat down with Natasha to find out how she achieved it and some top tips for creating a successful career.
First of all, how did Natasha come to discovering her interest in the events industry?
“At university I did a placement in Hannover during Expo 2000 and that was my first taste of events, although I was quite naïve to what it was and that events was even a career. During my first job after university I did a secondment to a charity which cemented that my then career was not for me and all I could think about was how much I enjoyed my job in Germany.
I went to work for Cancer Research UK and really loved the events part of my fundraising job, which led to me moving across to the Race for Life team, which was a great job to learn about all aspects of events, from marketing to PR, health and safety to customer experience and crowd management.”
Starting off within a well-respected charity gave lots of opportunity to gain experience from many knowledgeable professionals. But what made Natasha take the leap to going freelance and setting up NR Events?
“It was never really a plan. I always admired people who made brave moves and did things like going freelance but I was too worried about financial security etc. I had been working my way up the fundraising events career path, but was moving away from operational delivery and enjoying it less but couldn’t seem to get a break outside of charity. Then I did a short contract at the Olympics in 2012, and whilst I was there a friend of mine introduced me to promo work.
I decided to take some time out rather than rush for the first job, as long as I could pay my bills. A few weeks later I was offered a freelance role for 20 days, then I found another short part time freelance contract. After that I had 4 months of not a lot of work coming in but understood then the experience and contacts I had meant a quite seasonal offering and decided to stick it out. So really it was very accidental.“
After braving the freelance world, was it all that Natasha had hoped for or expected?
“In some respects yes but I think people see successful freelancers and think it’s great to pick and choose and have time off when you want but reality can be very different.
I do enjoy the freedom and have learnt to not take work that I don’t think is a great fit for me, or to at least not take the same job twice if I decide its not a good fit. I also have enjoyed having some flexibility in my days and schedule over the years.
At first I worked really hard never turning anything down as I tried to build a client base, and missed lots of social occasions etc. Prior to covid I was in a good place with a nice level of work but changed to limited company as that suited my contracts better. I was at the stage of thinking of growing the business but not really knowing what was best!
Covid changed everything and coming out of that time I fell back to accepting everything again but also I have come out of 2021 with so much more work, I decided to employ someone and ended up with 2 employees which was great, but there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes that people don’t see, the accounts, the payroll, the admin and also the worry!
10 years of hard work has clearly paid off and goes to show the patience you must have to build a freelance business, especially during the difficult times of Covid. We asked Natasha what her stand out job has been over the past decade…
“There have been a few, the Evening Standard Film Awards were fantastic and I thought I really have delivered something big, although the event wasn’t huge numbers of people, the prestige of the venue and the client made it great.
My dream had also been to work in music events, and I had worked in various festival roles but being part of the licensing team a few years ago at leeds festival and then T in the Park, felt like I ticked off a goal.
There are so many pinch me moments though and I am always grateful I get to work on amazing events.”
What part of the job makes it so enjoyable though?
“I love seeing people enjoy your event, whether it is a conference or a party, seeing people having a great time is amazing and then hearing the feedback.”
NR Events have taken on many great events with prestigious brands over the last 10 years, however, what is one event that Natasha dreams of one day being able to work on?
“The Brits – I am sure I have it built up to some unrealistic expectations in my head and I know the reality would be very different. That said Eurovision is coming to the UK…”
Times have changed since 2012, technology has progressed immensely and people’s entertainment consumption habits have changed also. What differences can be seen in the events industry since then?
“I would say more people seem to know its a career! Although many people don’t understand what it is, my friends still think I am doing glamorous things – they have literally never seen me on site in steelies in the rain!
I think we have got better, more professional and we continue to deliver outstanding experiences as an industry.
Some elements have changed and some remain the same but it’s vital to keep exploring new technologies. I think even where your role doesn’t change you have to keep up with what is going on in other areas of the industry and world, you can draw inspiration from anywhere and we need to continue to be resilient and able to respond as customer expectations change.”
For those looking to embrace the world of events but aren’t quite sure how to get there, what advice does Natasha have for budding professionals?
“Work hard and be nice! No one cares what degree you have and I certainly don’t care about your social media presence. Get experience, try everything, don’t get fooled into thinking it’s glamorous and certainly don’t think any job is below you. Start with that and you can’t go far wrong!”
On the flip side, what advice would she give 2012 Natasha?
“Be brave, go for it, but it’s not all work – enjoy life too (I should still give myself this advice).”
And finally, looking ahead to the next 10 years, where is NR Events destined to head?
“Hopefully continuing to grow and continue to get the opportunity to work on amazing events but still being approachable, friendly and honest. It’s easy to get swept up in hype but I hope I still stand by work hard and be nice.”