Friday, January 25, 2008

Scarlett O'Hara

Photography: Cary Pennington ~ Cary Pennington Photography
Makeup styling: Sarah Price ~ Couture Makeup Artistry

Yes, actually. Yes, it is. Yes, that is her real name. Scarlett said the number one question she's asked is "Did your parents do that on purpose?" Yes! Scarlett's mom knew that the last name "O'Hara," meant a little girl named Scarlett -- nothing more complicated than that. Her mom collects Scarlett O'Hara memorabilia, and took Scarlett to Atlanta for her seventeenth birthday.

Two cool facts: Scarlett went to high school with a boy named Rhett Butler, and while on a trip to Europe, she met a girl named Vivian Leigh! Less cool was often having her name erased from lists and sign-up sheets when administrators thought it was a joke. It's also kind of a drag that her name is always taken already in e-mail programs and other online forums.

So, now that your most pressing question has been answered, you can get to know the real Scarlett, who is great.

Scarlett grew up with her mom in San Mateo and received a degree in communications from the University of California - Santa Barbara. She stayed on in Santa Barbara after graduating and got started in hospitality and events, in the catering department at the Santa Barbara Polo Club. She worked for the event manager and was involved with everything from surprise birthday parties to weddings and corporate events. That position -- one of her favorites -- led to her interest in event coordination.

Scarlett had always wanted to live in San Diego, and eventually moved here on her own, not knowing anyone. She said the first nine months were really tough, but things got better, and now she's doing great. Those first months really were an adventure. She was a banquet server at the Hotel del Coronado and did substitute teaching. And she also lived and worked at Sea World for three months as a residential camp counselor, teaching kids about the animals and taking them behind the scenes. That is so cool!

Travel and education are themes in Scarlett's life. She's been teaching since she graduated and currently works as a substitute teacher in San Diego. The flexibility and variety are just right for her, since she loves traveling and can rearrange her schedule to accommodate trips or events.

In addition to her work experiences, Scarlett's friendship with a wedding photographer in Santa Barbara piqued her interest in coordinating events. So after getting settled in San Diego, she contacted numerous event coordinators as she began building her knowledge base. This included attending the Wedding Party Bridal Show, where she took the opportunity to continue learning about the business.

Following up that industry research, Scarlett e-mailed the coordinators in San Diego Style Weddings . . . and Bek called in response to the message. Scarlett was impressed that she received a phone call rather than just a return e-mail, and even more impressed when she met with Bek and Mia in person and learned about the company.

As she built rapport and trust with Bek and Mia, Scarlett began working events for them. She met the other women of Red Letter Days at one of the first social and educational soirees. (Read about a recent soiree.) Scarlett was impressed again, this time by the level of dedication to training and mentoring everyone involved with the company.

She said Bek and Mia are excellent communicators, very receptive and responsive, and welcome information from everyone to continue excelling: "They always ask, 'How did you feel about working this wedding today? What was your experience?' They really value my input. Most companies are 'What can you do for me?' not the other way around."

As Scarlett continues working with Red Letter Days and receiving mentoring, she's really excited about the future and enjoying each opportunity. "Working events with them is wonderful." With her drive, optimism, and willingness to learn, she is a force to be reckoned with!


Behind the suit . . .

Scarlett is very close to her mom. She goes up to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas (although she traveled to see her dad's family in Milwaukee this December), and her mom comes down to San Diego in May or June. She's hoping her mother can start spending more time here, and maybe even move.

Scarlett loves to travel and has had a blast on trips to Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Europe. Pacific Beach is her home base right now, and she plans to continue living by the ocean for the rest of her life.

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