Although she looks every bit the stylish and red carpet-ready business diva, don’t be fooled by Darice Goodwin’s outward appearance because she will get down and dirty.
That is, get her finely manicured hands dirty in order to give you the best service as a successful event planner through her boutique firm, Perfect Success Event Management. She’ll unblock a sink and move tables if necessary, all in the interests of client satisfaction.
Founding the company in 2001, Perfect Success provides logistical support for all types of events — from meetings, training workshops, weddings and film festivals. According to Goodwin, the bulk of her work is for clients in the nonprofit sector; whether it’s after school programs preventing gang violence or organizing a debutante ball for young girls in the foster care system.
However, though the two professions might overlap, Goodwin noted that her work is not the same as public relations, which she said is about getting the word out, while event planning is “all about logistics.”
“My business is about your comfort level from the moment you get out of the car to the moment you get back in the driver’s seat,” she explained. “I’m concerned about everything; how the valet treats you or how your parking experience was. From the person who greets you, to what you feel and hear. I’m in control of all those things. Is the color palette to your liking?”
She added: “Last year we did a gala for the Hollywood Black Film Festival. We put on an old school college night and encouraged people to dress or wear Greek paraphernalia. If you joined a fraternity or sorority in college you had a lot of fun [that night].”
But don’t call her a party planner.
“We hate that,” she shot back. “Any professional event planner refuses to be called a party planner. A party planner is someone who goes to Costco and grabs a few balloons and some trays from Ralphs. An event planner will know all the contract language to deal with hotels, know about catering, décor; we wear many hats behind the scenes. I don’t wait to get things done, if the event is going to open in 15 minutes and I can’t find the man who’s moving the tables and chairs then I’ll move them. I’ve done private events in homes before and the toilets blocked up, and guess what I’ll be in there with a plunger. Putting out fires is my job.”
Born in Orange County, but hailing from Arkansas country folk, Goodwin is a first generation city girl who attended Loyola Marymount University, where her membership of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the oldest Greek-letter organization in America by Black college women (at Howard University in 1908), ignited her skills and passion for organizing.
Then while working in the legal industry providing litigation support for attorneys for a number of years, Goodwin delighted in throwing ornate parties at her swish apartment in Westchester.
“They were kind of over-the-top,” she recalled. “I’d have a bar tender and themed food and my friends used to tease me about ‘we’re just getting together for a party.’ Maybe at your house I said, but here we are going to do this whole thing. I liked to see people smiling and having a good time and liked putting in the effort.”
Goodwin recalled that led to a transition moment when she looked deeply at her life and couldn’t see herself committing the time and energy to finish her LSAT and work towards becoming a law partner.
“I saw these women making sacrifices, not getting married or being married and barely being home or having children they don’t know,” she replied. “I knew what I wanted for myself — a well-balanced life. I was just thinking of all these scenarios and in a deep moment God revealed to me that I’m an entrepreneur and I love throwing events. That’s your career choice.”
Thus, in the next three to five years, Goodwin sees her broadening her appeal with a goal to have an international business doing events from California to Paris. “You call and send me a plane ticket and of course I’ll come,” she said.