You Have to do What You Are

 

Kenesha Hylton didn’t start out knowing event planning was her calling. In fact, her life path could not have been more different. As she began college at Cal State Long Beach, she set out for a career in the medical field because, as most people believe, such a career contains job security and sustainability for a lifetime. However, Kenesha’s journey drove her to an entirely new definition of sustainability. One of self-discovery and true calling.

Becoming a residential assistant, or RA, Kenesha began to feel an excitement, a spark of sorts in planning student activities and organizing various orientations.

“I really started loving that, said Kenesha.  “And I really saw that it was something I could do as a profession because it was a full time job. Everyone kept saying you’re really good at this.” She soon changed her major from kinesiology to journalism and public relations.

Graduation provided Kenesha with new opportunities to explore her new love of event planning in a corporate environment. A job offer from a software education company in account management was the perfect stepping stone. She excelled in her new role, coordinating educational conferences. Soon Kenesha accepted a new position in legal marketing and thereafter with United Business Media in event management and marketing with emerging technology.  Though with each step, she craved more.

“At that point I really felt that I had reached a level that I really loved. I was doing all types of different conferences focusing on technology. And I really found that I was a lot more analytical than I could have ever believed that I was.” Kenesha found herself working with the latest up and coming technology, providing more and more opportunity, giving her a chance to marry work with passion.

“I really fell in love with the challenges that come up with event planning. You never knew how things would turn out with a client. You could be trying to plan a conference, and want to try to change up a track and introduce something new, like a video segment. So now, we have to look at how we’re creating a video. You never knew what was coming up next. It allowed me to use my creativity. That’s also what became my strength.”

Winner of a prestigious company award for outstanding event management pushed Kenesha to delve into design.

“I found that I really loved design. I started doing a little SEO on the side because it was popular at the time. So I started getting more complex.  Designs aren’t just to look pretty, but to have a message. And that’s my goal.”

As Kenesha’s story unfolds, her drive became the thread to continue on her destiny track, even though the road ahead was rocky.

“A lot of people don’t know that this idea of starting my own company started as early as 2007. I started this company and it didn’t take off right away, I had a couple of partners but no one wanted to put the work in initially. The following year I met a young woman, who had also started an event planning company focused on ‘going green’. We had a lot of similarities and wanted to make something out of the company.”

The two joined event planning and “going green” and formed a company fit for the environmentally-conscious climate of southern California. When there weren’t any events to plan, Kenesha and her partner took initiative and created their own events for the community. Though they partnered on several events over the next few years, it wasn’t until 2010 when things really began to shift.

All pieces were hand crafted with recyclable materials including chairs, tables and table decorations.

“This past year we did an event together called The Taste of Summer which featured sustainable restaurants in the San Diego area. We went everywhere from North County to Chula Vista, discovering about 73 real sustainable restaurants within San Diego. And when we talk about sustainable restaurants, people are like ‘what does that mean?’ Sustainable restaurants are restaurants that use locally grown produce. It’s all about support of locally grown food. And within their own facilities have taken a recycling or conservation effort which could be anything from monitoring water usage or furniture they’ve built.”

Kenesha proves that living green is a lifestyle. So when she made the decision to branch out on her own, her projects further displayed her talents and how she lived.

“I have to explain how I see sustainability. This is what then caused me to change direction and cut ties with that event planning company. When I started thinking about true sustainability and what sustainability really meant I didn’t think sustainability was just about the environment.

“My definition of sustainable is something that really gives back and educates people why it’s giving back. For instance, this last event that we just finished for the new children’s museum – the whole premise of this event, which was based off of the museum’s exhibit, Trash, addressed the global problem of trash in the world and how it affects everybody from people to animals to the land. We wanted to make this a sustainable event, “Sustainability Through Transformation.” When we were designing this…we went out to the community and used the community’s trash that was accumulating and creating, and made these beautiful pieces which were then sold and auctioned off.”

A cocktail bar was created out of all recyclable materials, creatively named the “Landfill Bar”.

“When I look at sustainability, we created a true sustainable event in a whole different way. Not only did we teach people about the obvious, recycling and how trash is affecting you but we made the community become part of something greater than just themselves.”

Kenesha has no plans of deviating from eco-friendly event planning. She finds herself even more passionate about it, though in every twist and turn, there is a lesson.

“I think I will always stay eco-friendly. I’m passionate about it. I love education just for myself and for other people as well. I’ve always been a very avid reader. I always love learning about something new. So when I look at sustainability, I look at it from an educational perspective. I’ll always continue to want to provide events that have a message. That’s what I love. I love giving people that aha moment. That’s priceless. I don’t know what the new project will be.”

“The project itself became a person of its own. It was strange. I think the best way to keep yourself from becoming consumed [by work]is to start having that divide. In doing that, I have to create limits. I was so passionate about this and I also fell in love with this. Setting limits, knowing when to say no and knowing that saying no is ok. That’s what I really learned in this project. That’s the biggest thing I could tell somebody, the only way you’re going to have balance is learning that it’s ok to say no.”

Kenesha acknowledges that over the course of her life since college, she is now doing what she was called to do and speaks freely, encouraging others to do the same.

“I guess I’m like everybody else. Some people tell you about their moments when they, if they were going to have coffee with themselves, would ask – ‘Are you doing the right thing?’ or something like that. I definitely have those moments. And I do believe, even when I sometimes doubt myself, that when you’re called to do something that it does fall into place.

“Clearly, who would have thought from the beginning how I got into this industry? And I did it because there’s this feeling inside of you that it leads you and tells you that this is the right way to go. It’s this voice.

“I have a strange story about how I found out I was right. I never knew my older sister, but then when I ended up meeting her she was doing the same thing that I did, and my mother had done the same thing that I did. So it ran in our family and as they say, you have to do what you are. So it came to me even though it was not what I planned to do. It became its own path and I knew it was the right path because I was always able to get work in it and not only that but when I got to it, it never felt like work and I was successful in it. Getting up in the morning, I would be so excited in the morning like I can’t wait for the sun to rise. That’s when you know that you have truly found your passion because it feels like breathing air. There’s no thinking about it. And that’s when you’ve truly found what you’re supposed to do.”

To contact Kenesha, please visit www.ecoeventspr.com or email her at Kenesha@ecoeventspr.com

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Comments

  1. Very inspiring! Love the sustainable focus you have. We need more people in this world like you!

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