She started with a small consignment shop in Pensacola and now this event planning whiz has gone from retail, to non-profit and corporate. Now she runs Eventions, a multipurpose event planning company.
Felina Martin said she always knew she wanted to run her own company, so as a 20-year-old at the University of West Florida and newly married, she and her husband opened a consignment shop. It was her first taste as a business owner.
Martin said planning her own wedding gave her “the bug” and from there she started an event planning company. The business focused mostly on weddings, but Martin said she soon discovered she did not particularly like that aspect of special events planning.
“It was too much drama,” Martin said. “When you’re helping plan a wedding your first priority is to keep the bride and groom happy, but everyone has an opinion – their aunties and their mamas. It was just too much.”
Although Martin did not necessarily like planning weddings, she enjoyed the flexibility and freedom that owning her own business afforded her. But things took a turn when her husband accepted a job at Florida A&M University. The couple had to relocate to Tallahassee.
Martin’s first job in Tallahassee was at the now defunct Burdine’s where she was placed on the managerial tract. But one day while looking through newspaper ads she came across what she said was the “best education in event planning I’ve ever had.”
It was a job with the local March of Dimes and it was her first experience working in non-profit.
At the March of Dimes, Martin became the community director and was responsible for events taking place in different communities. She was later promoted to division director.
The March of Dimes, said Martin, “forced you to be resourceful.” She credits her experience there with helping her win over the executive director at the University Center Club.
“I went to speak with him about the Wine and Food Festival and a few days later he called me and asked if I liked my job,” Martin said.
So she moved to the University Center Club where she became the director of member relations. Although the experience was valuable, Martin said working nights and weekends during football season reminded her of her days in retail.
“Football season was crazy,” Martin said. “I knew the whole time I was there that I still wanted to own my own business.”
In 2001, Martin took $5,000, which included a bonus check she had earned while working with the University Center Club and started Eventions. Since then she has made a name for herself planning non-profit, corporate events and private parties.
Martin’s advice to anyone up-and-coming is, “Don’t burn bridges, relationships can be very valuable.”
So far, Martin has 12 events on her schedule for this year and two additional events she not only planned but also produced.
“Producing events means that I’m my own client,” Martin said.
In February, she produced the Tallahassee Fitness Festival at the Leon County Civic Center, where she dedicated a whole day to helping others learn different aspects of fitness. The day included numerous exercise classes, activities for children, health-related seminars and presentations given by the areas fitness facilities.
“It was something I had been thinking of doing for a while and I finally had the opportunity to do it,” Martin said. “It was a great success!”
Martin is now working to expand her business. Recently, she started E event staffing, where she will provide event staffing for special events.
“So, if someone has a special event and they need models or bartenders or whatever, they can call me and I’ll look through my inventory and see what I have that best suits their needs,” she said.
Martin held her first casting call a few weeks ago and her first event staffing was the open house event of Salter Mitchell, a local public relations agency at 117 S. Gadsden St., which has given Martin office space in its building. In return, Martin helped the agency with its open house by providing a maid and a butler to greet and serve guests as they came through the doors.
Martin said the next casting call for E event staffing will be March 20. She is looking for ways to reach out to the FAMU public.
“Our first casting call we saw a lot of FSU people, and I would love to see some people from FAMU come out.”
Over the years Martin has worked with a wide variety of people. FAMU alum and television anchor Shonda Knight has worked with her for more than three years.
“In my opinion she is one of the most innovative and phenomenal party planners this area has to offer,” Knight said.
Martin is constantly learning new ways to grow her business.
“I’m learning from and watching the big wigs,” Martin said. “I see they rent out equipment, and when I look at how much I spend renting equipment I figure I might as well own my own inventory.”
There is no doubt Martin has come a long way, but she said she is just beginning.