When Jennafer Manetta-Knauf happened into the job of running the Alexander Street Festival a few years ago, she realized that every role before that had prepared her to be a leader and organizer.
She dived head first into the event planning industry as owner and event planner for Bella Weddings & Events. Manetta-Knauf, 36, oversees the planning, designing and execution of weddings and wedding-related events, baby showers, corporate events, fundraisers and festivals. She has been planning events since 2001 and opened her shop, Bella & Co., on Park Avenue in 2011.
"We offer everything from full planning to day-of coordinating for weddings," she says. "We also offer rentals and custom-design pieces for the girl that might be planning her own wedding but wants a few unique or special items."
Most of the business at Bella Weddings & Events comes from planning and designing affairs for corporations, organizing fundraisers for non-profits and creating events at festivals. Manetta-Knauf has worked with a range of clients in the Rochester area, including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Inc., Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester. She also has worked on the Park Ave Summer Art Fest and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.
Bella Weddings & Events has planned for occasions that serve anywhere from 10 to 3,000 people-not including the Jazz Festival, which draws upwards of 200,000 visitors.
"My favorite event is the Jazz Festival, but I love my bridal clients," Manetta-Knauf says.
Bella & Co., the storefront, which markets itself as a one-stop shop for the discerning host, sells and rents party and party-planning items. It also functions as an office and meeting space for Manetta-Knauf and her clients. Once Manetta-Knauf began wedding planning, she needed a stable office space and relished the idea of having a storefront for brides to come find beautiful items like paper lanterns or painted vases for their weddings. Things will change in October, however, when Manetta-Knauf moves her office to Pittsford. While she will have an office space, items from the store will be sold online.
Manetta-Knauf works closely with three to five contract workers, who assist her in customizing packages to meet clients' unique needs.
"We do a lot in-house because we have access to an amazing designer, Andrew Sloane," she says.
Sloane handles almost all of the design requests. Depending on the size of the event and particular contract, Manetta-Knauf can work with her clients for varied amounts of time, ranging from a few weeks to a year.
Between meeting potential clients for consultations and planning with current clients, Manetta-Knauf stays busy, with five to eight meetings a week. She has about 10 major events lined up for the rest of the year.
Manetta-Knauf is currently collaborating with a few organizations that have unique locations available for wedding ceremonies, photo shoots and receptions, which she plans to offer to the public.
Ideas keep coming to her.
"The curse of an entrepreneur is that you always want to expand and you always have ideas on how you can offer something new, so I am always toying with new ideas," she says.
Katie Burgstrom was a Rochester Business Journal summer intern.
Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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