It takes guts to start a business with no prior experience and to do so in a totally new country, culture and language is gutsier still!
Imagine you are an Egyptian, you meet an Australian, fall in love and make that big decision to move to a new country. You leave your family, friends, culture, and language behind to move to Australia. Naturally, you suffer from severe homesickness in the first year and after several years of trying to find your place in this new society and culture, going through numerous work experiences, finally, finally, you decide to start your very own business. Yes, that’s gutsy alright. It takes determination, perseverance and not to mention, lots of money. But you do it anyway! That’s what I’d call bucking the trends!
Meet Marwa Rida from End2End Events. This is her story.
Last year I hired Marwa to organise my book launch event at the Lobby for Canberra Success Stories, and she did an outstanding job. Creativity is about seeing what others do not see. (Writers get that.) And this is the greatest asset an entrepreneur can have too; this is Marwa’s talent. She can transform any space into something magical.
Her business is truly unique, because of her talent and flair for design, and in the way she creates experiences others could never even imagine!
The daughter of engineers, Marwa started her early life in Kuwait, and at the age of 11, she spent her formative years in Cairo and then worked at a private American, International School, where she loved mixing with other cultures and languages. Her parents came from Port Said (a rival town to Alexandria in terms of tourism), and her dad started his own engineering business there, where Marwa worked in her school holidays. Her mum had an absolute flair for interior design and although she was an engineer, she also taught college students. These influences all flowed through to Marwa, and when she first arrived in Australia (although she was an accountant by profession), she used her flair for languages to work in the United Arab Embassy where she tells us her homesickness abated.
“It finally made living in Canberra that much easier,” she told me.
From embassy work, she progressed to the ANU’s John Curtin School, where she took an Admin and HR role in looking after the PHD students. From there, the School of Music was another job she enjoyed for a while, looking after the talented, creative music students. Marwa found the event planning she had to do in relation to organising “The Finishing Touch” event especially enjoyable. Having realised that she loved organising events, and wanting to reinvent herself, Marwa studied Event Management and tapped into interior design at CIT. She worked for a time in the Exchange Office at ANU too, where she was in charge of “The Exchange Fair” – another successful event she organised for them.
Marwa soon realised she wanted to run her own event management business and when she broke her wrist in a biking accident, it came to her that life was too short to wait. So, in June, 2014 she said to herself:
“Now is the time. It’s now or never!”
And her event management business was born. Working from home initially, she wanted to call her business “Exotic Event Management” until someone pointed out to her that this may be misconstrued! She quickly changed it to “End2End Events”.
Three years down the track, Marwa admits that she has learnt so much about running her business. Some of the key lessons learnt are:
- If it’s not profitable, don’t do it (eg. kids’ parties were not profitable.)
- Corporate clients are easier to work with than private clients.
- You don’t give away too much – especially, value your time!
- You should give yourself a fair price for your work and value your worth.
- Staff are key – having the right people is vital in running a successful business.
Marwa believes that you have to have a passion for the things you work at. Weddings are not one of these so she doesn’t do them. However, she does do other celebrations like gala nights, awards nights and milestone events. High Teas are a particular passion and a cultural tradition for her.
“I am a wedding planner for corporates,” she tells me.
Of the future, Marwa is looking to grow nationally and then eventually, internationally. Her dream is to have talented leaders as area managers; people who understand the boutique style and will deliver the highest quality service with flair, like she does for her clients.
It’s all about the experience for Marwa and if you have an event in mind, it always starts with a consultation. The website will tell you their signature package involves design, management, style, execution and post evaluation. But not everyone wants end2end event management, so they can just use Marwa’s incredible creative flair to style events or consult Marwa for ideas and then run their events themselves, if they wish.
As we finish our interview, I am sipping on Persian tea, infused with cardamon with a saffron sugar cane and carved teaspoon. We are surrounded by the most luxurious, creative decor – you should visit the showroom in Fyshwick to experience such elegance first hand.
Bucking the trends is all about giving your customers an experience they won’t soon forget and End2End Events does just that!