What I wish I had known the first time I secured a sponsor over $10,000 for HFR’s event (Part 2 of 4 - The Making of a Business)

March 3, 2018




This is part two of a four part series I’m writing about my biggest successes and failures in my business. After my first year in “business”, I was flying high from the feeling you get when you pursue your passion. What I didn’t realize is that passion alone isn’t enough. How in the world was I going to fund this passion which included producing very expensive events???? Well, that's when sponsorships came into the picture, except I was clueless about them! 


So, before I got on, let me break down a few terms before I give you tips that will SET YOU FREE if you're looking to get an event sponsored. 


What in the world isSponsorship? Simply put, it's when a company provides a financial or product contribution to your company in exchange for value. This value could be press impressions, contact with influencers, increased social media presence, or an opportunity to support a cause the company cares about. 


I spent $3,500 of my own money to produce the first HFR event and another $3,000 to produce the second event! It gets worst, because I spent even more. I was running out of money, but not out of vision. I had my first real sponsorship meeting after a marketing agency reached out to us. Before then, I had only gotten product sponsorship.


We met with the sponsor and I told my truth, shared my passion, and I think he saw that I was being completely vulnerable. When you're honest, people can read it and they connect with it. We definitely connected. Somehow, he saw a glimpse of what I saw for designers of color. He got it. 


That meeting eventually led to that company coming on board as our first sponsor. After that, they came on board a second time in a huge way to sponsor our first show at Jazz at Lincoln Center. So, how in the world did this all happen? Here is what I wish I'd known.


1) Brands come on board with events that have traction, followers, influencer presence, and press 


2) You need a sponsorship deck and it needs to be beautiful. Your sponsorship deck is what provides the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. 


3) Your "WHY" is what's going to sell sponsors. They want to know that you have a purpose. 


4) You need to know everything single thing you have to offer a sponsor. This is not a one way street. It needs to be an amazing exchange. 


5) Brands will expect professionalism every single step of the way! So, be on top of every single detail and OVER communicate.














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