Blame it on cute boys

Yvette Audrain, CSEP, CPCE, was a young advertising major on summer break from Southern Methodist University in Dallas when she applied for a waitressing job at a popular new restaurant in town. “Word on the street was that they had hired several hot, young servers,” recalls Audrain. “At 19, that lined up with my priorities!” Unbeknownst to her, the restaurant — Pappadeaux, of Texas-based Pappas Restaurants — would serve as Audrain's special events training ground.

Over an eight-year span, she would hold just about every position in the restaurant, moving up in the ranks from server before ultimately becoming general manager of its catering division — a job she would hold for more than 10 years.

While at Pappas Catering, Audrain received a slew of awards for her events, earned her CSEP and CPCE certifications, and served on the Dallas ISES board. “The skills that I learned in the trenches along the way have served me well,” she says. “If I had skipped any steps, I know I would be missing a piece of the puzzle.”

In March 2009, Audrain added another piece to the puzzle when she started her own company — Premier Special Events, a full-service boutique event planning firm based in Dallas. “Pappas is so good at volume,” she says. “I wanted to explore the other side — to do every last detail for a smaller group of clients.” The fact that she started her business “in the middle of the financial chaos” is not lost on Audrain. “Many businesses had to alter the way they did business and cut back to survive,” she says. “I just created the way we do business around the current environment.”

The way Premier does business means no markups, kickbacks or commissions. “We use transparent pricing, which means that our fee is included as a line item and our clients can see any invoice or vendor proposal at any time,” Audrain explains. “Clients want value, not necessarily less cost. They appreciate knowing that there is no funny business behind the scenes.”

Her newest venture — From Now to Vow — fills a void in the wedding market by offering a half-day planning seminar designed to teach brides to plan like pros.

Audrain is seeing more client-driven creativity, which she attributes in part to the steamroller that is reality TV. “I'll have a client come to me with 200 ideas and photos,” she says, “and I have to be the bad guy and explain why we can't use them all.” Sadly, reality programs have given the world an unrealistic vision of event planners. “On TV, it's all about high heels and headsets,” she says. “In real life, we have been on our feet for at least 15 hours before the event even starts!”


Premier Special Events/From Now to Vow 25 Highland Park Village, #100-746, Dallas, TX 75205; 972/306-0459; www.premierspecialevents.com

FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

“So many graduates want to start a company right out of college. I think they miss a big piece of life education by doing that. Everyone should have a job where they don't always get their way and get reprimanded on occasion. I learned just as much from those moments as I did from the glory moments.”

CHECK YOUR HEAD

“Someone once taught me that if you don't feel stupid part of time, then you aren't trying hard enough. I've had to give myself permission to step out of my comfort zone and embrace it. That's when the great stuff happens!”

SUPPORT GROUPS

“My boss at Pappas, Debbie Kadlubar, was a huge influence on me. I am a total type A; I dig in and get it done. Debbie is a little more methodical. It took us a few years to see our differences as a good thing, but once we did, I learned so much from her.”