Wisconsin native, Cassandra Michler, moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue her dreams in the fields of fashion and event production. A 2010 graduate of The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Cassandra brings with her six dedicated years of both domestic and international event production experience. Mentored and recognized by leading industry professionals, Cassandra holds unparalleled knowledge related to concept design, production scheduling, custom fabrication & installation, AV & lighting, talent & crew management, graphic production and logistics coordination. Cassandra’s positive and calm demeanor is the key to successfully directing projects. Her experience includes trade-show exhibits, live broadcasted events, corporate events, V.I.P. lounges, corporate training tours, award-season parties and personalized celebrations, including productions at E3, CES, Gamescom, MTV Spring Break and The Golden Globes. Read our interview with the lovely Cassandra below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
It all started in 5th grade when I threw a party in my backyard for over 100 kids. Backyard parties turned into themed parties and before you know it, I was hosting concerts at my house during high school. I developed a reputation for throwing some pretty legendary parties so I would constantly try and out do myself. You might think I drove my parents nuts but they were actually very supportive and encouraged me to be creative. My career path was rather clear from a young age! My grandmother was also very instrumental in encouraging me to follow my dreams. After she passed away in 2014, I decided to take the idea of MoonLab and make it a reality in her honor. Within the same month my grandmother passed away, I started my company and met my fiancé Peter. Grandma Michler always said I “hung the moon” and when she passed away there was a full moon. When I went on my first date with my fiancé, the wine he picked was called “Alta Luna”. The moon connections validated that my grandmother gave me these gifts in her passing, which later inspired the name of MoonLab Productions.
Tell us about your business.
MoonLab Productions is a full service event production agency that specializes in corporate & social events, tradeshow exhibits and brand activations. Our client list includes Uber, STILA Cosmetics, Society6 and Roberts Cosmetics & Containers. I am the Executive Producer for MoonLab and my fiancé Peter manages our operations. As a two person team for the time being, we rely on a dedicated network of freelancers and vendor partners to help alleviate the workload until we think we can expand, which we are on track to do in 2017.
I have an Associates Degree in Visual Communications from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, CA. I was also part of the team that won “Best Booth” at several tradeshows domestically & internationally.
Where is your business based?
Los Angeles, CA.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
First, I quit my former job as an Executive Producer at another events agency where I had worked for four years. At that point it was do or die so I had to focus 100% on developing a business plan, website content, branding, and setting up all business and legal matters for several months. I was able to supplement my income with years of savings and by consulting for other events companies from time to time. Fortunately, I also received a lot of support from my colleagues and mentors from within industry. Whether it was a project lead, a congratulatory call, or plain old business advice, many people went out of their way to offer up some type of assistance to help see me succeed. I’ve found that people help raise each other up within the events industry and its very rewarding because of that.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Word of mouth – If you’re good at what you do, and you work extremely hard, people take notice. A good portion of our business comes from the referrals of people I’ve worked with on projects in the past.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Finding a balance between managing multiple projects at the same time, a business and my personal life.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Whenever I hit a roadblock, I buckle down and work through it since I know something good will come out of it at the end of the day. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason and that a good lesson usually comes from a bad experience. Making mistakes, especially early on, helps develop a sense of personal confidence that can carry you through seemingly daunting situations.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I think about all of the good that has come out of difficult situations and how far we have come thus far. I work through it, stay confident, inspired, and strong. I know I was created to create and nothing will get in the way of that.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I am fortunate to have experience with many types of events. From award season events, to live conferences, to managing multi-million dollar tradeshow exhibits, I’ve been involved in a little bit of everything. I think what sets me apart may be my ability to take what I’ve “quasi-” mastered about trade show production and apply it to different event platforms. For example, our first project was a brand activation for a major tech company. I was so nervous because I had never led a brand activation before but was confident in my capabilities & experience. I simply approached it like I would have otherwise to produce a tradeshow or event: get a sense of the vision, sketch out that vision, develop and follow a budget, and execute. The event ended up being a great success and they went on to become one of our biggest clients.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
As long as you’re happy then who the hell cares.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to take a risk. If you aren’t willing to take a risk you probably shouldn’t be in business. Also, place yourself in a creative environment and surround your self with influential people to stay inspired. Travel often, stay open- minded, collaborate when the opportunity presents itself and don’t ever stop looking up.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
I love working with DropBox to store our information. It’s great for internal organization and for our clients to utilize as well. Clients can comment directly on the documents in DropBox, which helps eliminate unnecessary communication and increases productivity. This sounds like an ad, but what can I say? I am obsessed.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @moonlabprod @cassandramaria
Hashtags #moonlabproductions #eventproducer #girlboss
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“Islands of Genius” by Dr. Darold A. Treffort, MD. Dr. Treffert, (who happens to live in my hometown in Wisconsin) takes a look inside the condition known as Idiot Savant Syndrome, which became popularized by the film, Rain Man, on which he was a consultant. Idiot Savants can possess unparalleled genius while at the same time, lack basic social or cognitive skills. The book interestingly highlights several case studies where the person was born with the abilities and another where the person developed a mathematics skill set after a head injury. MoonLab is currently working with Dr. Treffert on some upcoming projects to help bring awareness to the study of savants at his recently opened Treffert Center for Autism.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am currently looking for alternative ways to market ourselves to get knew clients.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goal for the next few months is driving in new business for 2017. We were able to exceed our sales goals for year one and would of course like to do it again!