For the ever-bubbly Kathy Mirian Sakyi, event planning is not merely an occupation; it’s an actual love affair. I can tell by the blushing of her cheeks—the dreamy sway of her head when she discusses the industry, and the fast-blossoming Crystal Haze Company (which she is CEO of). Also, her husband, whom she constantly describes as “number one fan.”
Sitting in a couch at the reception of ENews’ Taifa offices, Sakyi radiant behind funky white sunglasses, a purple kimono, and Alicia Keys-style braids, a soft-spoken Sakyi recalls always being drawn to events and extracurricular activities—both as alumnus of Mfantsiman Girls and the Ghana Institute of Journalism (from where she holds a BA in Public Relations).
As with everything truly worthwhile, her path to Crystal Haze was not straightforward. After school, a frequent question by her mum was “when are you going on TV?” And so, she tried to get into media work. It didn’t take long for her to conclude that “this is not for me!”
“I like communication,” says Sakyi. “That was my reason for applying to the Ghana Institute of Journalism—but not to go into the newsroom. She would communicate for sure—just not in the manner people expected.
Then, two years ago, her aha moment arrived. A mother of two, Sakyi conceived the idea of planning her kids’ birthday party. The decision triggered something in her for sure, for she remembers being weirdly ecstatic.
“I set the date, done some research, and decided on a theme. I was so excited; I would lay on my bed and daydream about how the event would pan out. I was like a little girl on her way to Disneyland. I couldn’t sleep.”
That feeling is how she concluded that “this is something I would love to do.”
After pulling off her kids’ party, she went to Mr Sakyi, her husband, as well as other members of her family; her mum, uncles, etc. She was met with glowing feedback—never mind that it was her “first gig.”
The intention with Crystal Haze, Sakyi explains, is to “give clients the very best—for clients to sit back and reminisce about their event forever.” It actually what informed Crystal Haze’s tagline: “forever lingering memories.” The partnership with clients is long-lasting.
“At Crystal Haze, we don’t just execute your events. We create experiences based on a bond with our clients.” Sakyi believes that this principle duly sets her company apart from everyone else. The relationship doesn’t end after the event. “You are part of the family,” she stresses softly.
“I hold my clients close to my chest,” says Sakyi, lifting up both hands over her heart.
Crystal Haze—the name—came about after extensive contemplation. She toyed with her favourite colour: Purple Haze, Purple Glance among others. Suddenly, the word “crystal” called out to her. That was it.
The second part of the name came from her observation of the event planning industry as a misty place. In the midst of all that fog, Sakyi sees herself as the shining element in it all.
The industry is choked, she concedes. It made her wonder if she could ever break through. This is how she purged herself of that fear: “There are so many doctors, but some come highly recommended. So are schools, but the one who expresses something unique always stands out.
Sakyi notes that another core motive of her company is to “communicate who my client is—the event is about my client.” Therefore, what are a client’s personality traits? Are they conservative or frolicsome? An event, Sakyi holds, should be an extension of a client’s personality.
My next question is one that can only honestly be answered privately. And when I do ask it, I half-expect Sakyi to pass: Between the introverted client and the fun-loving client, who would she rather cater to?
There’s a pause.
Sakyi laughs and does tackles the question—much to my surprise.
A fun-loving person herself, Sakyi leans more toward the latter, as it “allows her more room to explore.” She also prefers planning parties over other events—some of her most successful events have been parties. As she expounds, there’s additional excitement on her cheeks. “Everyone is relaxed,” she says. They don’t have to worry about arriving at the church on time, or fuss about tuxedo accessories that are centimetres out of place; or if both families are ready for the group photo. Even breakages are not that bad. “I like planning weddings, but not as much as parties,” Sakyi laughs.
Before she utters this next statement, Sakyi assumes a serious look that impresses upon me how seriously she does take weddings. A sucker for love herself, Sakyi holds weddings sacred—a ceremony she describes as “a rare celebration of love and bringing together two different people together as one. At weddings, we get to experience love, and why we cannot deny the existence of love in the world,” she sermonizes, adding that wedding planning entails “making sure your couple gets the best throughout the process of their wedding; from the very day they hired you until, or sometimes even after the wedding is done. You are the perfect person in the room as far as the couple is concerned. So you must make things happen. You are their ‘one-stop solution centre’.”
Do events always go as planned? Short answer: no.
“There’ll be hitches here and there. You can’t get everything perfect. You arrive at the event ground, and you expect the lighting to be a certain way, but it’s different. Technical challenges can hamper the success of an event; a malfunctioning air conditioner, breakage of glassware […] but your ability to contain it all is what makes you a professional. You need to be on top of your game all the time. You always have to keep your composure.
“Your clients cannot see you distressed, because they gauge what’s happening behind the scenes from your body language,” she adds.
A perfectionist whose job it is to “fix,” Sakyi notes that planning events are a delicate mandate; much like motherhood. It’s a delicate balance between “standing your ground,” in the management of adults, and “sweet-talking clients into what is best for the party.”
And does she always get her way?
She says nothing, instead, offering me a bright gummy smile. It’s all I need to know.
All photos courtesy Kathy Sakyi