)Editor's Note: We're very excited to roll out a new post series, "Side Hustle Solutions." In these posts, we'll be interviewing well-respected professionals in the wedding and event industry who identified a need within the industry, and addressed that need with a new product or service. Launching this kind of side hustle not only solves a problem for other pros, but can also generate a viable second income for its creator - something that's especially helpful in an industry that fluctuates as much as weddings and events!
We couldn't think of anyone better to kick off this series than Brit Bertino. As many people know, Brit is one of the industry's most accomplished wedding and event planners, producing events in Las Vegas, Santa Monica, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami and beyond. In addition to the exquisite events she plans in these cities and in exotic locales around the glove, Brit is also the founder of Simply Weddings Las Vegas, a planning firm offering upscale celebrations for Las Vegas couples on a budget. Brit is the four-time event producer of the CaterSource and Event Solutions Wedding Event, serves on the board for the International Special Events Society, is accredited as a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) and is a sought-after speaker and panelist for a variety of industry conferences.
In 2011, Brit invented a truly innovative product for the event industry, the Totty Belt - a stylish, sleek tool belt for all types of event professionals. This particularly interested us, as it's a perfect example of an accomplished event professional creating something to serve the industry at large. We were so glad to catch up with Brit to learn more about her career, and specifically about the process of designing and launching a new product as a side hustle.)
How did you get your start in the wedding/event industry?
I started off working for a radio station and I worked in many different departments but found my niche in the special events department. I really enjoyed working on events for the station. It consisted of promotional events as well as concerts. I then got an opportunity to go work on a cruise line and that's where my wedding background came into play. I planned weddings on a cruise ship and traveled around the world at a young age! I had so much fun! When I finished my contracts I nestled back into California where I decided to open up my own wedding and event planning business.
Please share with us a little bit about your primary business – what you do, who you serve, and what sets your business apart from others.
I primarily run two service-based businesses that specialize in wedding and event production. We serve brides/grooms, grooms/grooms and brides/brides, corporate and social clientele. What set me apart in the event production field is that I have two separate businesses: one is based on weddings strictly under $75,000 (Simply Weddings Las Vegas), in which the couples can choose from a variety of packages, or they can receive full production and design services for any type of event through Brit Bertino, Event Excellence. These weddings or events are $75,000 or more.
Did you decide that you wanted to pursue a side business before you came up with a product idea, or did you form the side business after you conceptualized the product?
The tool belt concept came about as I was trying to find a nifty and unique gift for my staff for Christmas four years ago. I thought a tool belt somewhat like the one the J-Lo wore in her movie the "Wedding Planner" would be the ideal gift. I searched for months trying to find something like this, and nothing was available at that time. I went to Mexico in November, and remembered meeting a leather tailor a few years back, so I decided to contact him when I was in town. I drew out my concept and he made five leather belts for me in four days. I was able to come home and give the team a unique gift for Christmas and they all loved it. We had a large New Year's Eve event and everyone had their belts on, and from there the business just developed, as everyone was asking me for these belts. I made many, many trips to Mexico and eventually I had to move production to a larger city because the small tailor couldn't keep up with the orders.
There is a demand so there is no reason why I can't continue to produce new products to the event industry.
Can you tell us about The Totty Belt, and what need it fulfills for your customers?
The Totty Belt really fills the needs to any hospitality professional. If you visit our website, you can see that we cater to anyone in production and design, photography/videography, catering, restaurant, floral, etc. This product allows them to be hands-free while still having all of their essential tools at their side. And they don't have to worry about where they have left things as they'll be glued to their hips now.
We are getting ready to release one for the travel industry next and we can't wait to show this one off. It's called the "ROADIE."
What have been some of the challenges of managing both your primary business and your side business?
Wearing different hats and making equal amount of time to concentrate on growing both businesses. I know the wedding and event business well, but product development is all new to me. I travel a lot to California to meet with my technical designers to keep me both motivated and educated on developing new products for the Totty Belt. What really get's me excited about keeping the tool belt business thriving is the customers. They always have great things to say about the product, and they love sharing their experiences with the belt. They also always have new ideas for new products, which keeps us on our toes as we continue to develop more options for everyone.
What have been some of the benefits you’ve seen of running two businesses?
I make money while I sleep. With a service-based business you have to be awake and on all the time; with a product people place orders online at anytime, even late at night, and I enjoy waking up ready to fulfill orders. They say an average millionaire has 7 sources of income, so this means I still have more businesses to develop. I will get there. I can feel it!
Anything else you’d like to share?
We are running a sample sale and samples are 50% off - worth mentioning since I hardly run any specials!
We so appreciate Brit sharing her experience with us and with our readers. We'll be profiling more wedding and event superstars with a side hustle in the coming weeks, so keep checking back!