Milestones: Amanda Ruddy

“Life’s too short.”

That is the sentiment that gave Amanda Ruddy the push to move from working as an employee in the event planning industry to starting her own business, amanda julie events.

According to Ruddy, event planning is an industry that she just “fell into.”

“I was working at the National Art Center foundation and started there,” Ruddy says. “From there I got to learn about events, how they work, who donates to what, why they donate to what. I came to really enjoy events.” Part of what makes her ideally suited is that she enjoys planning the little details that are a source of stress for others.

“I left the National Art Foundation and moved over to Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group,” Ruddy says. She worked there on partnerships teams for a while and then moved to bigger events, including the Grey Cup festival and the NHL Classic for Canada 150. Working with such huge events reinforced the fact that not only did she like event planning, but she was really good at it.

Not only that, but she was working under intense pressure and stress because of her personal life.

“Three weeks before the festival began, I lost my mom,” Ruddy says. “It was like this terrible dichotomy. I was going through the worst thing in my life personally that I could go through. Professionally, this was the highest moment of my career and I needed to perform and be there for my team.”

The event was a success. That was when Ruddy had her ‘aha’ moment.

“I think I always knew that I wanted to start my own business,” she says. “I never knew what it was going to look like or how it was going to come to life, but that kind of thing gave me the push I needed. Life’s too short. So here we are.”

Ruddy started her business at the end of October 2019, five months before the Ontario shutdown.

“Business is not my forte,” she says, “so it’s been a big learning curve. The biggest obstacle has been COVID-19. How do I grow my business, how do I keep my name out there and relevant in a time when people aren’t planning events? It’s been a struggle to try to identify my market.”

Ruddy’s focus is on finding milestone events. She has held virtual birthday parties and, in the summer when people could safely gather in backyards, she organized private parties. She’s also organized virtual fundraisers for organizations such as the Snowsuit Fund.

These virtual events have become more elaborate than just a Zoom call. During one milestone birthday, Ruddy had packages delivered to houses so they could celebrate properly.

“For one milestone birthday, we did an online cocktail class,” Ruddy says. “ Everybody got a cocktail kit with everything they would need so they didn’t have to leave the house. Then we also did a party box to go with it with different party accessories like noisemakers and headbands, napkins, plates, straws, all of that.

This works because, as Ruddy says, “everybody’s got the boxes and they open them together as part of the experience. They’re all doing the same thing and celebrating the same way.”

When Ruddy started her business in October, she was “hooked on the concept of just corporate events.” But now that she has hosted social events, and seen how meaningful they are to those celebrating them, she wants to go forward with hosting both corporate and social events.