By Macy Yang, Sacramento Valley SBDC Business Advisor
Sonya Wilson has always enjoyed coordinating events, fundraising, and planning parties for family and friends. Her creative passion for transforming an idea into life is what has driven her to love planning for over 30 years.
At the onset of the pandemic, Sonya and her grandson, Andre Wilson, 13, wanted to start a small business. Sonya encouraged her grandson to think about entrepreneurship as an opportunity and an option that he could explore. Teaching Andre about business management, how to make money, and how to operate a business from behind the scenes was the inspiration she had for Andre.
In October 2020, the Wilsons launched Events Remembered 4U. The Wilsons found a creative way to help boost celebrations in a safe and fun way that kept families together for those special moments, and some of life’s most important milestones—during a time when family gatherings were banned.
Events Remembered 4U offers and installs carefully tailored yard greeting cards for any occasion or event. The giant-sized greeting cards display unique, colorful, fun messages in a customer’s front yard, storefronts, and even hospitals to showcase special events. Events Remembered 4U memorialized birthdays, gender reveals, baby showers, graduations, anniversaries, retirements and so much more during the pandemic.
The signs get installed early in the morning and stay in the yard for 24 hours. “At the start of the business,” Andre said, “it was a little difficult to get up so early in the morning at 5:00 am on the weekends to install signs because I have school all week. I kept pushing myself to do it, and it became easier. Now, I’m excited to get up, because I see that my hard work is really paying off.”
The following morning, the Wilsons return to remove the signs. Customers enjoy the yard greeting cards because they do not have to assemble the display themselves or purchase the creative artwork signs.
Customers love sharing their special events on social media which inevitably brings customers to the business. “Individuals are on social media now more than ever, and the yard cards provide a unique sense of celebration,” said Sonya. Adding that “customers enjoy posting pictures to their social media page so that others can enjoy their celebration along with them.”
The Wilsons’ artwork and design structure are what really sets their business apart from other yard card businesses. The yard cards are made of corrugated waterproof plastic and can withstand all kinds of weather.
“Andre has been instrumental,” Sonya said, “in taking the lead on suggesting new inventory. He has a good understanding of the types of themes kids his age are interested in and provides input—a unique ability of his.”
Challenges that lead to learning experiences.
“I originally applied for this program to be considered for a grant for assistance with business expenses, however, we ended up getting so much more than simply monetary gain,” Sonya said.
Sonya was challenged with developing the initial business plan for the Dream Fund. “I had a boilerplate, but I was unsure of the many facets of a business plan, therefore, I was unable to complete it,” she said. Having a business advisor like Macy helps give direction and structure.
“When things are written down, it helps to know where you are going, like a map or a guide,” she adds. “Macy’s advice was spot on and allowed me to think outside the box when structuring our business plan.”
The mentorship that SBDC advisors provided is advantageous. The classes also helped Sonya because other participants asked varying questions, had different areas of knowledge, and were instrumental in helping Sonya understand the dynamics of a business.
She received essential technical assistance from SBDC and the one-on-one session made Sonya feel comfortable. The advisor reached out and asked individualized, probing questions that are unique to her business that helped Sonya “think” and “be accountable for completing the program and business plan.”
“I was then able to take what I learned from Macy,” Sonya said “to educate my grandson with this knowledge. Most of all, Macy made herself available to me, and I felt supported throughout the process. Also, I can’t thank the training team enough for their knowledge and insight into all the nuances of being an entrepreneur.”
The next phase for Sonya and Andre is to improve their marketing structure. They want to revamp the business website and increase their customer base. Currently, Events Remembered 4U has a presence and followers on Facebook, Instagram, Google and Yelp, and other platforms where they are generating their customer leads.
“Me and my Grandma work really hard installing the yard signs, but we have fun doing it together and the best part is that I am a business owner,” says Andre.
Events Remembered 4U serves Yuba City, Marysville, Plumas Lake, Olivehurst, and Wheatland areas.