Very excited to sit down with you! I know you have a busy schedule juggling many hats so we always like to start off with the basics three W’s for those that may not know you.
Who are you? Where are you from (born)? And what do you do?
My name is Amber Mayfield and I am an Event Planner. My events company is called One Nineteen Events and I am the Founder of a pop-up dinner series called TO BE HOSTED. I am originally from Rockland County, New York and currently based in Brooklyn.
What does your business represent?
When I started TO BE HOSTED in 2017, I wanted to create an experience for young professionals and creatives to connect and fellowship in a comfortable space. I make these spaces comfortable by bringing in delicious food, wines, live music, and art. Then, I seat everyone based on their shared interests or life goals (to help break the ice of dining with strangers). In bringing these like-minded people together so intentionally, TO BE HOSTED also became a platform for multicultural chefs, artists and musicians. So for me, TO BE HOSTED represents how magical it is when you get the right people in the right places. I use this same highly personal, diligently curated approach to events in planning for One Nineteen Events clients, as well.
How do you determine or find specific information about your TO BE HOSTED Dinner Series attendees before each event?
We have a TO BE HOSTED diner profile on our website. We use that information to learn about our guests and figure out who they might enjoy sitting next to at dinner.
Although these experiences are magical, we know not everything is magical when it comes to building a business. What are the struggles that come with building One Nineteen Events and the TO BE HOSTED Dinner Series?
For me the biggest struggle is scale and marketing. My dinner experiences are very intimate, I only host about 20-30 people at a time a few times a year. So I am constantly torn between wanting to do the mass market flashy Instagram stuff and wanting to focus on just producing really great events. Like they say "if there is no photo it didn't happen," but if my guests want to be on their phone all night that is also not a win for me because I want them to be engaged with the people and the experience that's IRL.
Besides marketing, scaling the business in general is a struggle. Right now I am the CEO, the event producer, the new business account specialist, the entire finance department and administrative assistant (lol). So having everything organized and streamlined enough to keep up with myself and all my events is a challenge I am continuing to chip away at!
What are the joys that come with building your business?
So many joys! Of course there is the joy of happy customers and clients after my events that make everything worth it. Then, on the day to day you have those small victories: learning a new software, pitching an idea your client loves or just organizing your desktop. Because it's for your business, every little thing becomes this joyous reminder like "hey, you can do this!"
Yes you can and you are! What do you do to celebrate those wins, big or small?
Oh no over the top celebrating for me. I just do a little happy dance in my apartment (or wherever my makeshift office is that day), give the glory to God and keep it pushing. And then sometimes I have chocolate cake because why not?
That is so precious! Now let’s switch gears a bit. What does being Black mean to you?
Everything. We are a people so rich in history and culture, it is sometimes hard to fathom all the complexities. And to be so uniquely positioned for triumph and resilience, it makes me sad, mad, happy and motivated all in the same breath.
Dope! Now, what does being a Woman mean to you?
Well there's a loaded question. It depends on the day, but on most days, and especially as a black woman, it means I can do anything.
Interesting that you stated it depends on the day; Can we dive deeper into that statement and discuss what that could mean on other days? And to take it one step further, what does being a black woman mean to you?
Well on "other" days I think being a woman is a little annoying to be honest. I wouldn't trade teams or anything, but sometimes I think our society is so unforgiving of women. We just deal with a lot of unnecessary pressures to be the ideal woman and subscribe to different gender expectations. Those expectations seem to double when it comes to black women. For me, there is immense responsibility in being a black woman because all eyes are really on us, and those eyes are very critical. They want to know how do we speak, what do we wear, how do we do our hair, what are we up to, so I try to just give them something to marvel about.
We had an overwhelming amount of love, it feels like, this past International Women's Day especially from Black Men. Would you agree that you noticed a shift this year? If so, what do you think attributed to the shift? If not, why?
I think there is a rumbling, not yet a roar, but at least a rumbling of more men being conscious of the black woman's narrative. I'm particularly fortunate in that the men who surround me seem to get it when it comes to different women's rights and social issues. I think we are moving toward a place where we will have more of our black males in a position to listen, and that's when things will really get interesting.
That is super important as well as making sure we are having the conversation with our allies to ensure they do understand the “black woman’s narrative” - I think it essentially helps in these liberal metro cities. Which brings me to my next question; What does being in New York/Brooklyn mean to you?
I am from the suburbs so growing up, New York City had this glow. When I would think about my adult life and my career, I would always say, "I'm going to live in the city, be a powerful publicist and have a super cute, industrial-looking duplex loft in DUMBO." Now obviously this statement had to evolve a bit once I got older and learned about the rent here, but New York City was always the setting for me. I'm past the honeymoon phase with this city, especially in becoming a freelancer and a business owner here, so I know for certain I am in the right place.
Do you think you are going to stay in New York or are you looking for another challenge in another city?
HA! I'm New York or Nowhere. I'm open to traveling for client events and pop-up dinners in other cities for sure, but I'll always have a home in New York.
As we are starting to close out, what are some tips or tricks you are starting to learn about organizing yourself that you could share with someone starting out, especially if they are still balancing a 9-5 job?
Folders and Files and Guidelines. Even if you are a one person show right now, the goal is to not be that way forever. So everything you do should begin with a process you have written down or a template of some sort that if you were to hire someone tomorrow, they could follow along and get the job done. If you treat yourself like a full business from the beginning, you won't feel like you are playing catch up once the customers and clients really start flowing in.
You are just dropping so many insightful gems - Thank You! Now, let’s have a little fun with word play. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear these words?
Culture -- Is everything
Influencer -- Overused
Ambassador -- A glorified influencer
Michelle Obama -- QUEEN
New York -- Home
Entrepreneur -- Me
Side Hustler -- God bless 'em
Dinner -- My kind of self care
Self Made -- The goal
Creatives -- Pay them!
Events -- My love
Black -- My people
Minority -- The clique
unconventional -- Seek it
Underdog -- Me
Millennial -- We are what we are
Business -- Support your local businesses!