Design Fees

A few weeks ago, I posted the following statement to my social channels:

“There must be a collective movement in our industry that educates consumers on the use of design fees and why as designers we must be compensated for our ideas, creativity, imagination, technical skill, and production expertise.  We are not selling products, we are providing professional services, art, and an experience.  This movement begins with us -the Industry”.

I cannot stress how integral design fees have become in the advancement of the event design profession.  I began charging a modest design fee five years ago, continually re-evaluating my rate as my experience level increased.  I had made the realization that my ideas were my art and that my clients were coming to meet with me and seek my expertise.  What I found difficult at the time was finding the courage to charge a design fee when no one else in the industry was (in fear that I would lose potential customers) and building my self confidence to fully communicate the value of my service to my clients.

A design fee communicates to your clients that your ideas are your asset and the basis of your core service -not just your physical warehouse of inventory or event elements.  Your ideas, creativity, imagination, and expertise are your true ‘product’.  Making this distinction to your clients is integral in helping them to understand the importance of your role and its many facets in relation to their event.

Here are some examples that can help your clients to understand the difference and make your service tangible:
-It’s how the designer uses the linen, not the linen itself that embodies the service offering.
-It’s how the photographer captures the moment, not the paper it’s processed upon.
-It’s how the cake artisan uses the ingredients, not the ingredients themselves that produce the art.

Many have asked me, how do you determine your design fee?  What has worked for me is a flat fee that takes into consideration my years of experience, my company’s overhead expenses, and my personal involvement and expertise over the span of the design process.
In your regional market, you may choose to determine your fee based on other factors and what you feel your market can handle (remember: don’t underestimate yourself or your market).  You may choose to start at a lower rate, but commit to making this change.

Over time, once implementing a design fee and operating a service focused design firm, you will notice an air of exclusivity in your business, increased respect and value for your art by your clients and peers,  increased sustainability of your business model (that you should re-visit often), and self gratification and fulfillment.

This week, evaluate your business model and operations.  Are you billing your clients based on your inventory or selling a service that uses your inventory?  The two are completely different.  Only the latter rewards you for your ability to design.  Think about it carefully.

How many of you charge a design fee?  How do you determine your design fee?

Have an eventful weekend!


Next Week:  Your First Office Space, Taking the Big Leap!

Re-Igniting the Passion

It has been unusually quiet in our offices these days.  What is usually a busy time of year for us here at PARAS Events, has become somewhat lukewarm, but fortunately, very steady. As I write today’s post, I am sitting at my desk reflecting upon the immense changes that have occurred in my business and personal life over the last three months.  It has been a tough ‘reality check’, but a much needed catalyst for change in my business, operations, and client relations.

Earlier this year, I made the tough decision to part with two of my key staff, put a temporary hold on publishing my book, and experienced the breakdown of two of my most cherished friendships in the industry.  I was harbouring feelings of resentment and betrayal and experiencing exhaustion and developed symptoms of depression.  I was at the point of giving up the business I had worked so hard to create.

My business was becoming cookie cutter.  I was in consultations where ‘design’ was no longer existent.  I was now engaged in bidding wars and meeting bottom lines.  The value for good design was diminishing, but more severe, the enjoyment that events once brought me was on the decline.  Where had my passion gone?

It was quite simple actually:

-the business and operations had exhausted me
-the constant chase had exhausted me
-the bidding wars and bottom lines had exhausted me


I was experiencing burnout.  For the first time in my career, I felt like I had lost complete control of my business.  To my detriment, the commonality between all three was it had affected my ability to design, create, and ‘imaginate’ -the core of my breadth of services.  It was time for a ‘transition’ in my business.  A rude awakening, but one that fuelled a series of changes that re-ignited my love and passion for all things design and faith in my business.

1)  Reflect upon why you started out in the wedding or events industry and constantly remind yourself of what brings you the most joy in this profession.

2)  Forget about what everyone else is doing and focus on yourself and your business.  Do what makes you happy -it’s the best ‘fuel’ for your business.

3)  Go through the several thank you cards/emails/testimonials you have received over the years and reflect upon why these events were successful.  What made each event self gratifying? Reconnect with the notion that as wedding professionals, we play an integral role in one of the most cherished milestones in a person’s life.

4)  Evaluate your current operations.  Make a list that clearly outlines what you love about the business and what could be better.  Align yourself with the right team that supports you and always has your best intentions at heart.

5)  Eliminate the drama and those that invite drama into your life.  This goes back to one of my previous posts on ‘Going At Your Own Pace’.

6)  Connect with family and friends.  They keep you grounded and remind you of what’s most important in life.

7)  Change things up!  If you’re like me, I get bored very quickly.  Keep your business fresh and exciting.  A stale business stunts innovation.

8)  Be grateful for what life has brought your way and make the best of it.

I would love to know, how do you stay passionate and motivated?  What encourages you to keep moving forward?  I know there are many of you out there that have experienced this before.  It can be difficult.  It forces you to make the tough decisions. Please comment below and tell us how you overcame it.  We are each others support system.

Have a wonderful week everyone!


Next Week:  The Importance of Charging Design Fees

It’s Okay to Be Different

I am so excited to be back with ALL NEW content on our weekly blog!  This week, I write to you from beautiful Panama, on location designing four stunning events for a wonderful couple.  I am working with a great team of local wedding professionals who truly understand teamwork and collaboration, but moreover, are completely dedicated to their craft and the success of the event (follow along with us in Panama at

I am so glad to be back on the blog and sharing with all of you, enjoy this week’s instalment -It’s Okay to be Different’.

Every week, I look forward to another episode of my favourite television show -Modern Family.  I have seasons 1-3 downloaded onto my tablet and have probably watched each episode 3-5 times.  It’s an obsession.

I was watching an episode recently and a specific narration caught my attention -”We spend most of our childhood and adolescent years desperately trying to ‘fit in’, but as adults, all we want is to be different and stand out”.

As an event professional, artist, and/or entrepreneur, being different is a key component to the success of your business.  The ability to stand out amongst your competitors, gives you a competitive edge.  How you choose to be different is up to you.  Is it your product offering?  Service offering?  Marketing methods?  Whatever it is, the overall objective is to be unique.

Over the years, I have worked very hard to ensure my company, my brand, and my creative ability remained ‘different’.  Unknowingly, however, I was doing the exact opposite.  Being different was not so ‘different’ after all.

Every business decision I was making, every design I was creating, and every client I worked with conformed to a ‘template’ of what I thought was the ’norm’ or ‘accepted’.  As an emerging designer, I watched what others in the industry did and felt compelled to do it the same way as I thought this was a foolproof path to success.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that conforming to the ‘norm’ was compromising my ability to design and establish my signature.  In my quest to fit in, I altered my design style to what I thought media (magazines, websites, blogs) or industry was looking for.  I had completely lost my identity as a designer.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I embraced who I really was as a designer and what made me different.  After all, being a designer requires you to design.

Everyday, I take on a greater understanding of who I am as a designer and what I want my company to stand for.  This year has been a transformative year for me as I finally began to really introduce myself as a ‘real’ person and not only a business owner.  I wanted to make the personal connection between myself and my prospective clients.  (Next week, I will discuss how I transformed this approach into my signature ‘Concierge’ service).

Clients are very savvy and should never be underestimated.  Most of my clients know good design and those who don’t, trust me and my team to deliver the best possible design solutions for their wedding and/or events.  Our clients come to us for different/unique, trendy, cultural, colourful, contemporary, eclectic, elegant, and forward thinking.  All descriptors that sum up my design aesthetic and determine my signature as a designer.

This week, think about what makes your business unique.  Are you really unique?  Or just a version of something that already exists or someone else?  Making this distinction is a step in the right direction towards making your mark and encouraging business growth.

Remember to share your feedback below.  This is an open forum for exchange of ideas.  We can all learn from each other.  Have a wonderful week!!


Next Week:  ’When It Seems the Passion is Dying’

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