In Conversation with Brett Galley of Hollywood POP

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Describe your business in a few words?

A full-service Event Design, Destination & Planning company offering clients a comprehensive selection of Decor, Entertainment & organizational services. Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s, Private/ Corporate & Destination Management with Entertainment & Name Talent booking as our specialty. HPG Events are designed and produced at the highest level. From creation to installation, our team of professionals is skilled at developing innovative ideas to reflect your style! (Click here to learn more)

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

My mother started it on a whim as a Pop Art gallery in 1993. Clients would ask to rent our magical, eclectic space for parties. In the beginning they were bringing in their own decor and entertainment. After a few months I said to my mother, “We can produce the decor and book the entertainment ourselves!”

She was a fabulous artist and I always had an eye for great entertainment. The landscape of the world has certainly come a long way and in turn our industry has become a hot commodity and an integral part of how we all network, celebrate our milestones and conduct our businesses. I took the HPG reins around 1999/2000 and the rest is HERstory!

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

My mother is an internationally acclaimed artist and I was going to art school to study becoming an art dealer. In a unique way I did become an art dealer, just more of a “Live” art dealer representing name talent and other great forms of entertainment, design & decor. I was raised in New York City and was fortunate enough to travel the world with my journalist/artist mother and explorer father. 

She opened her first art gallery in Greenwich, CT over 20 years ago. In between art openings she would rent the space out for parties. My grandfather had been a movie producer and owned theaters, therefore my mother thought the word “Hollywood” should be in the name. Specializing in Pop Art at the time, Hollywood POP gallery was born. Following my time at art school, and after a stint as Entertainment Director at Tavern on the Green, I decided to join the family business full time and see how I could enhance HPG clientele’s experience. As the gallery became a hot spot for social events, we made the decision to satisfy the demand for full service event planning, design, and entertainment bookings by taking HPG to the next level.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes! I was born for entrepreneurship. I live by the phrases, “No risk, No gain!” and “Go Big or Go Home!”

Take us back to when you first launched your business. What was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

There was honestly not a substantial plan. More of a philosophy that great customer service goes a long way and to cherish and nurture every client relationship as that is the best marketing strategy there is!Yes, it definitely worked as we still have many of the same clients we had when we just started out all those years ago… plus a few thousand more! 😉

We always learn the most from our mistakes. Share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

To quote Arianna Huffington, “Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” I can attest to the fact that some of my greatest failures have taught me the greatest lessons. Making mistakes is part of the process in almost anything you learn to do well. So always having a plan B and learning to communicate a clear picture of what the client will be experiencing. Over a period of  many years and so many ups and downs the greatest lesson I have learned is to be myself. What we sell is not exactly tangible. It’s an experience. If you can convey your philosophy, vision and work ethic and it connects to your clients then you will hit a home run every time. 

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of to date?

There are many accomplishments and opportunities I am grateful for and proud of from designing events for US Presidents to designing charity events that have made a great difference to those who have benefitted. But my greatest accomplishment that comes to mind is the team I’ve built over a period of years. “Team work makes the dream work” has never been so true. From our creative director Christine Gavin to our graphic design wizard Jenny Kawa, our financier Alex Stroud and our in house choreographer Tamara Schrader, we’ve all been a part of the Team POP magic since the company began.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

In March the largest event featuring name talent we had ever designed (and we’ve designed quite a few!) was canceled due to COVID. We were scared and at a loss as was the rest of the world how to proceed, survive and thrive. We wondered if we could ever come back from a situation so severe that the world had quite literally shut down. By April we had re-emerged in a smaller way by designing two instagram and facebook live concerts for the health heros and their children. By May we reinvented our services as bespoke party packages called The POP up Party~ from micro Weddings to mini Mitzvahs, Children’s events, thematic corporate drive in movies, Virtual events, etc. It was a framework for what we do best but for smaller groups of guests.

By June, July & August we were getting busier and busier and by October and November we along with our clientele had become used to the new normal of continuing the celebrations for very small groups of people based on cdc guidelines. The key to our success was remaining flexible and becoming even more innovative than before. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Besides the great events and weddings  we design and produce on a regular basis, we have a bespoke venue in NYC great for events, movie & photo shoots as well.

We are working on a POP up coffee table book design series for adults and children plus a POPcast (podcast) is in the works. Always something POPing and coming to life. Looking forward to creating some monumental experiences for all in the coming years!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

RESILIENCE! “If you build it, they will come”. In an ever evolving world fraught with competition from the internet to more popular social media accounts, your business which was once the toast of the town can sometimes feel like you’re being left behind. Then add in 2020 and the year of COVID and it might feel like the nail in your business coffin. But that does not have to be the case! We’re far more innovative and flexible than we often give ourselves credit for – never give up on your  dreams! 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

Where do I begin? That I know a hell of a lot more than I ever gave myself credit for. Trust your instincts and that will get you anywhere you want to go. Optimize, outsource and automate whatever and wherever you can. Entrepreneurs have the mindset that they have to do everything on their own. Not only is it a one way ticket to burnout, it’s just bad business. If you can’t design a logo or loathe accounting why would you put energy in those tasks? Your time would be better spent doing the tasks that you enjoy and are capable of handling. A majority of these tasks can now be outsourced and automated.

Do you believe in a work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I absolutely do! Unfortunately, it took me years of not embracing this philosophy to really appreciate it. To quote Arianna Huffington, “we think mistakenly , that success is the result of the amount of the time we put in at work, instead of the quality of the time we put in.”

  • Schedule time for family and friends
  • Stop at least one day a week to “smell the roses”
  • Think about all you’ve accomplished the week, month, year before. This will give you an even greater incentive to accomplish more!
  • Prioritize your time
  • Express gratitude for what you have
  • Have more fun!

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I was a child/ teen model. My grandfather was a movie producer so entertainment & showmanship is in my blood!

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Paying it forward! I cannot imagine my life without my business. The people who have inspired me on my “job journey” have helped mold my perspective on a personal level as well as a competitive one. I hope as an Entreprenista I can help inspire the next generation of uber event creatives to reinvent and innovate a whole new group of fun loving risk takers!

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