From Bad Girl to Event Planner, Karleen Roy Achieves Career Success

Young leader talks expanding her brand and importance of great relationships

Karleen Roy, founder, The Vanity Group (Image: Roy)

We have good news for you. You can have a cool career and make a good living. No need to choose between loving your job and paying your mortgage. The following profile, part of the BlackEnterprise.com Cool Jobs series, offers a peek into the nuts and bolts, perks and salaries behind enjoyable careers.

Karleen Roy is living her dreams. After graduating from Howard University in Washington D.C. she landed an internship at Def Jam, which eventually led her to getting a coveted position as senior executive assistant to Sean Combs at Bad Boy Entertainment. Inspired by Combs’ leadership and entrepreneurial savvy, Roy decided to turn her fantasy into reality as this vivacious innovative mastermind struck out on her own and founded The Vanity Group, an event production, talent relations and luxury concierge company. In only a short time, she’s already secured high-profile clients like Idris Elba, Ne-Yo, Zac Posen and Kobe Bryant.

Roy talked to BlackEnterprise.com recently and shared her tips for making any event a success, while also revealing a little more about the business of a corporate event planner.

What inspired you to start “The Vanity Group?”

It developed quite organically. That’s the beauty of it all. After I left my post at Bad Boy, I took some time off, and over time, friends and colleagues I knew in the business began to hire me for a variety of projects such as managing guest lists, securing talent for their red carpet events, planning events, and just assisting with their requests or needs. Then the lightbulb went off, and I said to myself, “Hey this is a business!” It just made sense. And that’s how The Vanity Group was born.

In the early stages of starting your career, you’ve already worked with top names such as Ne-Yo, Trey Songz, Adrienne Bailon and Sean Combs. How did you establish these relationships?

My professional background is rooted in the music and entertainment business, therefore a lot of my clients have come from relationships I’ve cultivated over the years. Other clients such as Ne-Yo and Mr. Combs are my former employers, so I’m beyond grateful to have their continued support and the opportunity to still work with them under my own company.

Celebrities are known for wanting the VIP treatment. What’s been your most difficult request to fulfill?

That’s a tough one, and we’ve had plenty of difficult requests … We love a challenge. We had a private client that wanted to go shark diving in Mexico in less than 72 hours. We’d never done it before so it was a learning process for us with no time to fret. The planning  usually takes months, as there’s a lot of red tape, policies and procedures before you’re permitted to dive. Everyone told us no and that is was not possible. Agents quit on us, didn’t return our calls and wanted nothing to do with it because they knew it was a tough request for such a small window of time. Long story short, we still made it happen. The client swam with sharks. Success! I’m still in shock that we pulled it off!

What have been your biggest challenges in building your brand, and how do you work to overcome them?

The biggest challenge is that it can be unknown territory, so you’re learning as you go. I’m not afraid to say I made a lot of mistakes, but that’s how you learn what to do and what not to do. I’m thankful for leaders like Mr. Combs. Working with him, I learned that in order to succeed you must work diligently and only with the best in the business. I consulted with the best, most seasoned advisers, attorneys, business managers, creatives, accountants, etc. Their guidance is what led me through the process. And as a new business owner, I’m still experiencing challenges every day.

What’s next for you and your brand?

We’re still in the early stages and building, so I’m looking forward to the days when we have an ultra-chic New York office buzzing with a great staff and a phone with clients that never stops ringing. That’s my dream.

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