When the pandemic put a stop to events, Carole Saad wasn’t going to take it sitting down.
Instead, she immediately started thinking about what was next for events, if and as gathering restrictions eased.
The owner of Ottawa’s Chic + Swell Event Designers and LouLou Lounge Furniture Rental has devoted her entire career to designing and staging large and medium size events for corporate, association and public sector clients.
“We quickly realized we wouldn't be going back to normal events for quite a while,” said Carole during Re-Eventing Ourselves, an online session recently hosted by Ottawa Tourism. “So, we put on our creative hats and tried to imagine how things might unfold.” And out of her hat she pulled Ottawa Pop-Up Events. The result of a collaboration with select event venues and suppliers across the city, Ottawa Pop-Up Events started offering safe, ready-made, all-inclusive (venue, décor, catering, entertainment) events for smaller groups as allowed by public health authorities.
“It really was a collaborative undertaking, with three great venues coming onboard almost immediately, along with other partners and suppliers. We started with Ottawa Pop Up Weddings, which wasn’t a traditional market for us, but it was a market coming back much more quickly than business events,” said Carole. “We took what we learned about packaging and safely staging events from the weddings and started packaging it into more public events.”
The first of these is a series of small (as gathering limits allow) pop-up dinner and entertainment offerings at the Westin Ottawa’s rooftop Venue TwentyTwo space, called Dine in the Sky. “The beauty of what we’ve created is that these events can be safely staged while respecting current protocols, but are designed to easily scale up as gathering limits are eased by public heath,” noted Carole.
At the same time, she realized that for some people, the idea of gathering with anyone outside their home or bubble just wasn't going to be an option for the foreseeable future. “Here in Ottawa, gathering limits were starting to ease over the summer, but then case counts rose in early fall,” recalled Carole. “So that led to our third offering, Ottawa Pop Up Events in a Box.” Personal events for two that could be shared virtually, Pop Up Events in a Box offers a series of experiences: Let’s ParTEA Box (a tea party), Skinsational Disco Box (spa in a box), and Menage a Trois (you, your partner and your party in a box)! The boxes include food, beverage, activities, a curated DJ list and a virtual photo both. As with Carole’s first two offerings, this one is also a collaboration, with a network of Ottawa companies participating and contributing the different elements.
“No one is going to save the events industry single-handedly,” concluded Carole. “Even during these challenging times, we have to look for and seize opportunities. Working together with others in the industry is now more important than ever.”