Last week on Real Housewives of New York City, we got a taste of who the real Jennifer Gilbert is — remember her comment, “I have never met a bunch of women who have more fucking issues”? And, from her work with Jill Zarin as a party planner, you may be aware that she’s the CEO of event management company Save The Date. But did you know that she started the company on her own in 1993 when she was 25 and she won an Entrepreneur of the Year award for her revolutionary business model at the age of 29? The company quickly expanded to five offices in five cities, and now Jennifer, 41, oversees the whole operation while also managing a family life that includes her husband Bennett and their three kids, daughter Blaise, 5, and twin 2-year-old sons, Saxton and Grey.
As we gear up for (hopefully) more zingers from Jennifer on tonight’s episode of Housewives, she took a moment to talk exclusively to Crushable about launching a company in her 20′s, dating in New York and her dreams to launch a non-profit in the future.
How did you launch your own business?
When I was 22, I came back from [living in] London and I was living in New York. I knew that I wanted to be around people celebrating. I think life is about the moment and that it’s important to be present and I’m a really good manager and a really good organizer, and so I tried to find work as an event planner. And after a couple of years at a very traditional event planning company I was hired to cultivate a corporate market, and it was the 90s, so it was very much like the temperature [of the economy] right now when people said, “We don’t have the money for this.” So there were all these people and all these corporations that had no money or had to cut back their human resources and their budgets. And on the flip side you had all of these venues — night clubs, event spaces — that had just spent tons of money to renovate and had to fire pretty much all their event staff. So I thought, “You know, there is a business in this.” So I left and I flipped the business model. And while everyone calls me an event planner, and I actually say that because it’s an easy terminology, I did not start my business technically as an event planner. Yes, I know how to plan events, but I really started my business as a matchmaker between event spaces and people wanting to throw events. And this is the business model that I won the Entrepreneur of the Year award for.