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Hello and welcome to the Thoughtful Realtor Podcast. I'm Connie Chung.
I'm Cliff Tsang.
And I'm Kenny Gong.
And we are the founders and partners of Willowmar Real Estate. This is a show for those interested and invested in all things real estate.
Every episode, we sit down for inside stories and conversations about what it's like to run a real estate team in California, and as we find our way as leaders and business partners. And today we are talking about what makes a Willowmar event special.
Ooh, what makes a Willowmar event special?
Let's go down memory lane and talk about the events we've had in the past.
Most recently we had our holiday photoshoot.
That was a great event. It was two weekends, back to back. We hosted at a beautiful little studio in Emeryville. What was it called? Clove and…
Shout out to Naomi. Thank you for letting us host there. And it was this really special event. I think each weekend we hosted about 20 friends, clients, and we did a photoshoot. It was optional if they wanted to do a photo shoot. Some people came to do professional headshots. Some people brought their plus ones and families along and it was just a really, really great event.
And then also we had baked goods that we gave out to folks too. So if they didn't wanna do the photo shoot, then we handed out really nice pastries to folks.
I love Sunday Bakehouse. Well, I think that one essential element of a Willowmar event is always having really good food and from local makers and purveyors.
Why is good food so important to you?
I think it's our love language. One of our love languages is being able to feed people. The saying growing up, “have you eaten yet?” was my mom's way of saying, “oh, I love you”. And I think similarly passing that on to our clients and our Willowmar family of just, “have you eaten yet? Have a snack.”
And I love when I think back to our Willowmar dinners and events, our clients are always taking some food. Because there's always gonna be extra, every event, you don't have enough food unless there's extra to take home.
There is a warm feeling inside when you're the host and you know that folks are leaving with their bellies full or eating really yummy foods and then leaving with some extra too.
When I think back to our first photoshoot ever that we did, it was actually downstairs in my home in San Francisco and we had that makeshift backdrop from our friend and photographer, Nate. Shout out to Nate Fong who set that up.
Funny. My distinct memory was actually the kitchen where we had a really lavish cheese board and charcuterie set up where people hung out while they waited for their photos to be taken.
It was just a really good time. And I love events that have programming. I don't really love events that, I mean, I don't mind them, but I don't love events that don't have some kind of interactive component to it. And sometimes the interactive component is just like eating a lot of food, but it's even better if there's some kind of other activity that's going on that gives people something to do.
Because I don't love going to events without having something to occupy my time cuz I get pretty self-conscious. I get pretty anxious around social (gatherings). Especially if it's especially around new people that I don't know.
Says Kenny, who's the most outgoing social person ever.
But I definitely get that anxiety around… if the goal is just to talk to people, I don't love that. Or, talk to people without parameters. Does that make sense?
Yeah. Good icebreaker. Oh, I usually, I think we usually have an icebreaker thrown in there at some point for at least our, our team events. Talking about programming, one event that I love that we did was our floral arrangement workshop.
That was our team bonding event. I think as we were growing, we added some new team members and just wanted to do something really fun and creative. And also, I love that we support local business owners and makers. We had such a fun floral arrangement workshop in Temescal where it was really fun working with wildflowers.
Yeah, seasonal wildflowers. And also I loved it because we got to see everyone's floral arrangement really reflected their personalities. Which I loved. And also some hidden talents because, Cliff, still to this day, I think your floral arrangement was one of the best ones that I've ever seen.
I'm still, well, yeah. I feel like a lot of people have… you guys have mentioned this, so I don't know if I'm being teased or not, but I feel like maybe it's genuine.
Yeah, it was really beautiful. Did you not think it was beautiful?
I did spend a lot of, I put in a lot of effort into it so that, I do know that I tried really hard, but I don't know if the output was all that good.
I thought it was really beautiful. It just is fun because I love events that also give people a chance to do something that they don't normally do in everyday life, and that was something that for many of us, we don't do to have that kind of creative outlet.
I wanna bring up one thing about the Willowmar, I guess the Willowmar way when it comes to events is – Connie had just talked about this – is regarding supporting local businesses. I feel like that is something that I personally wouldn't initially think about doing when hosting events, but I've just love that that's something that we really, really lean into.
And it's genuine. It comes from a genuine place of thinking about, how can we support these businesses that build, that add so much to our community and kind of give back to them in some way?
And I also think there's a level of curation with our events. I still remember this was at the photo shoot. We were delivering pastries to folks who couldn't make it in the last month. And I remember Kenny, you sent me a message or gave me a call and you're like, oh, I forgot to include the little pamphlet.
We had made this really nice pamphlet that shouted out the local pastry or the local bakeries and it was on nice cardstock. It was just a Willowmar touch of like, how to enhance this experience when you open up the box. Getting some background in all of that. And I remember you really sounding defeated of just like, I forgot the card!
And that is part of the Willowmar way that even on the pastry delivery, we want it to be so great for our clients and also give recognition to the folks who made the pastries too.
Yeah. And shout out to Deb for that one, for creating that little flier because it's true. I mean what I love about supporting local businesses is that we could tell their story. Like so much of what we do in real estate is about telling stories and being part of communities.
You know, I really see real estate agents as community stewards – how are we part of community? How are we taking care of our communities? And how are we really supporting our neighbors?
And just in the way that real estate agents are so embedded in our communities, vendors, entrepreneurs… All of these amazing people that have small businesses are also just so integral to the wonderful communities that we have. And I love being able to support them and I love that we get to do that as part of our job.
So many of our clients come to us through word of mouth, which is really incredible and fun to see. And I think that's how we find a lot of our partners that we collaborate with. Because I think of our floral workshop, we asked one of our clients and good friends who's a floral designer (Sammy, if you're listening, hello!). But he actually connected us to Veronica at Orange Moon Floral.
That’s right. So much of it is just relationships and referrals. Now Let's talk about how we tangibly go about planning events. How do we start? Where do we start
I think the first thing we do is think about a location, just like in real estate, it's all about the location, location, location. And it being accessible and very easy to get to, welcoming. It’s kind of gonna hold the space for folks that we're looking to bring together.
Yeah, I think so too. And I always love thinking about when choosing a location, what is the purpose of the event? Like what's the driving purpose of what we're trying to do? Are we just trying to bring people together? Are we trying to celebrate something? Are we trying to create an experience for people?
Sometimes events do a lot of these things. Sometimes it's very, very purposeful and sometimes it's only one of those things. But I love choosing the location based on something that feels deeper. What's the deeper beating behind why we're gathering?
I'm always very, very inspired by this book called The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. And it just talks about, how do you bring people together intentionally and with real purpose and real intent? And do so in a way that feels like there's a real motivation, that there's a real commitment to understanding, why are you actually bringing people together?
And I always love having that then lead into and inform how we make every other decision that goes into the planning process.
Yeah, that makes me think of our Willowmar launch. When we launched Wilmar and having that be a celebration itself, to have a gathering to bring folks to launch this new chapter of our business in the Bay as Willowmar Real Estate. And gosh, Roses’ Tap Room was such a great venue to host that celebration because it has this intimate yet open and warm feel. The design and decor is so fun.
If people haven't been to Roses, it's such a great spot to have a glass of wine, a really great cider, a beer, and the noshing that you can do there. I still remember the bread and the chunks of butter that they laid out for everyone.
So say we've got our location. What's our next step?
I think it usually then comes down to thinking about the menu. And going back to the food and going back to the drinks and making sure that that's in line with the vibe that we want to create and making sure it's a top-notch experience for folks.
Yeah, and for everyone I think we are very thoughtful, even with the food, to make sure that there are options for everyone coming. So we'll have vegetarian, hopefully some vegan and even some gluten-free options, which I think makes it just so that everyone can enjoy a little bit of something when they come. And that it's not an afterthought or a side thing, but it's something that feels super hearty and wholesome too.
Cliff, do you wanna mention our last tasting yesterday?
Oh, yeah. I didn't know when we wanted to drop the mic.
What did we eat yesterday, Cliff? What didn’t we eat?
Well, yesterday we had a pretty fabulous tasting menu at True Food Kitchen, in Pasadena. Sneak peak, we might be going back there in a couple weeks. But no, this was in anticipation of our launch event for LA that's coming up Thursday, February 16th, 2023 5:00 to 7:00 PM if you're in the area. Would love for any and all, come one, come all to True Food Kitchen for our Willowmar LA launch.
But we did a tasting menu there yesterday and it was a really, really good spread. But for me, one of the takeaways – well a couple – was the level of curation of just like… I think there's a level of thinking about how substantial the food is. Is there a variety of, hey, this is easier to pick at, or kind of grab. Less substantial to, Hey, will people feel this is a hardy meal at the end? And balancing it from different tastes and also adding a couple desserts at the end.
And then there's also a moment there where we were trying to think about the fourth item to add. And we had found one that was pretty good. And Kenny looked at us and we're like, are we good with just it being pretty good or, or good enough?
And again, I think it was a simple question that really answers the question that we started this podcast with of like, what makes a Willowmar event special? And it comes down to that level of curation. And we all looked at each other and went, no, we're not okay with it just being okay, good enough. Let's taste, let's taste some more items and, and figure out, how do we make sure that this is just a great event for everyone?
We tasted many things for you all. On behalf of you. We struggled. I was stuffed! I was so full. So full and yet still had to be like, we're so full, but can we try another?
We had a nice to-go bag too.
Yeah. The trials and tribulations of our job.
Gosh. Yeah. Life's hard.
In addition to taking home some food and leftovers, we also love to have a little takeaway for folks as a memento. But also something fun and practical and beautiful to take home and remember the event.
Yeah. Good old Willowmar swag. An event is not complete without some swag. We've had some handmade soaps put together for folks to take and I would say a lot of our products tend to be very, all natural, good, good, quality products.
We also have done some room sprays, very fitting for Willowmar real estate to have some fun scents. This upcoming launch event, we're gonna have those room sprays and I'm really excited for some of the scents that we've put together.
Our events are a way of seeing Willowmar, the team, in action in all facets. So whenever we have an event, we want it to be just put together in all aspects. And so Aryn, for example, puts together some really incredible FAQs that lists all the details. If anyone were to have a question of, hey, where do I even park? Or Can I bring my dog? It's all answered in there.
Yeah. The pet policy will be in the FAQs,
Yeah, it comes down to the details and you're right, it's showing our team in action. It reminds me of this thing.I remember my dad, I remember I came home for a restaurant once and I brought home the baked potato as a to-go item. And I remember my dad looked at it and he said, I know that you went to a really, really nice restaurant.
And I still remember that to this day because in other words, what he was saying is like how you do anything, even down to the baked potato and the quality of the baked potato, which is a to-go item, you can tell that the restaurant was high quality.
And I think that's kind of like the FAQs, a little bit of just like, maybe not everyone's looking at it, but for those who look at it, every question is answered. And even down to that detail we're caring about the FAQs.
Yeah, and it really is the way that we do events, from the choice of location to the choice of food, to the FAQs, to the swag, all of it feels very important to think about because it’s like a reflection of Willowmar that is a direct application of the ethos of Willowmar. Which is that we care for people in a way that feels detail oriented. In a way that always thinks about, how are we making people feel, cared for, feel supported?
We pay so much attention to the way that we serve clients, and we also now, because we have a team, we're able to then extend that level of detail to everything else that we do as a business. And I think that is really, really special. It's like I feel part of this Willowmar universe that is so far beyond me, so far beyond any of us as individuals .
I feel the same way. I think so much of it is thinking as a creator, but also learning. I'm learning as I'm part of Willowmar and our team. I learn from everyone every day. And for example, in planning our event, I love that Aryn asked, are there stairs? And that got me thinking. Wow. To be so thoughtful and to think about accessibility in so many different ways. It's so comforting knowing that there's something to learn and grow from each time.
Yeah, it's pretty amazing. What I've always loved about our events is that our events feel bespoke and customized and curated, right? And it comes out from a party, right? It's not just a party. It's so much more.
I love our brainstorming sessions and planning for the events. Those are really fun too. It's kind of, when you mentioned bespoke, that's the first thing that came to mind of it is us just chatting about it and kind of spitballing ideas, and you just see this evolve from a fledgling little idea to being like, oh wow. This is really exciting. This is really fun. Thinking about all these different angles, and then everyone contributes their little piece to the puzzle and ends up being a, a nice puzzle.
It's so fun and so natural. I think as natural hosts, we love bringing people together, caring for people in this way. It's another way of extending our thought for others and having a good time and being in the moment together. Especially in today's age, where the art of gathering and just gathering in general is so sacred because it doesn't always happen.
And there you have it. Another episode of The Thoughtful Realtor. We'd love to hear, have you been to a Willowmar event, and what was your favorite part? What did you take away?
What is your favorite Willowmar scent?
Let us know. You can find us on Instagram at @willowmar__. Leave us a comment, leave us a review. We read them all. And if you haven't already, hit that subscribe button and if you know anyone who would love to hear this, feel free to share and until next time, bye!
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