When Hanan Hafez started coordinating office parties at the Lake Zurich bank where she had been working for more than two decades, she realized her savvy mind for business transcended the workroom.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Hafez maintained her position as vice president of the community bank and opened an event planning business on the side.
Events with Style officially launched in 2010. Hafez started out by taking full control of all office-related events and planning weddings for friends. She gained further experience by coordinating small events free, and in 2012, she earned certification in Professional Meeting and Event Management from Harper College in Palatine.
Her first paying gigs came in 2011 when Events with Style coordinated two weddings. Since then the business has steadily picked up steam with weddings, private parties and corporate events.
"It makes me happy to take all of the pressure and stress away from my clients," Hafez said. "This is something I'm excelling at, and I enjoy it."
Her largest event -- and most challenging -- came this past January. She managed to pull together a re-grand opening for Midwest Motors in Lake Zurich for 300 guests with only one month to plan.
She believes it's her energy and dedication that make her a successful event planner. "My brain moves at 600 mph," Hafez said.
The host of the Midwest Motors event wanted "the best party," "the best band" and "great food." Within hours of the initial phone conversation, Hafez conceptualized a "Winter Wonderland" theme, secured the perfect band and decided on a date.
"90 percent of my clients agree with my plans," Hafez said. "My goal is to make them feel like a guest at their own wedding or corporate event."
Rich and Peggy Politowicz used Events with Style to plan and execute their wedding. The couple described Hafez as a "top notch event planner."
"From the early stages of the wedding planning process, she recommended reputable, high quality vendors arranging interviews with each potential vendor ensuring that we were getting the best value for our money," the couple said.
Hafez employs a receptionist to handle incoming calls and inquiries as well as on-site staff to assist throughout an event. She also utilizes an extensive network of vendors. The bulk of her business comes by word-of-mouth and client testimonials, said Hafez who is also working as general manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Lake Zurich.
"You can reach your dreams if you really want to," Hafez said. "Believe in yourself, believe in your dream and do it."