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Conversations with the Inspiring Megan C Tinio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan C Tinio.

Megan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am the owner of Magical Moments by Megan – a Wedding & Event planning company that was founded in San Diego in 2017 but currently operating out of the OC/LA area in Cerritos, CA. I would like to say that my professional story starts with me moving to San Diego in 2005 for college. I decided around 6th grade that I was going to school in San Diego. I didn’t know too much about it but my aunt had gone to the same school and I liked the thought of being far away from home but not out of California. My dream came true and I went into the University of California – San Diego completely undeclared and with no prospects in sight. The last thing I had said I wanted to be was an oceanographer but in high school, I had already decided I didn’t like science. After spending K-12 in the High Desert, what I knew when I graduated high school was that I wanted to be away from home to explore the world. My heart was open but looking back now, I had no idea what I was doing.

Fast forward to my junior year where I needed to declare a major. I had many conversations with my roommates and friends about what major I should declare and what I wanted “to do when I grew up”. It was after coordinating an epic birthday party for myself that included 45 people and a party bus to TJ, that a friend said: “Why don’t you be an event planner?” This was in 2007/2008 and “Event Planner” as a profession was an unknown field. I spoke with my counselor, who directed me to a duo of ladies that she met at a coffee shop that had just started a website about tourism and activities in San Diego. I met with these ladies and they helped me brainstorm different people that might be able to help me learn more about “event planning.” I was introduced to Carolyn Wormser who was, and still is, the Director of Special Events for the City of San Diego. Carolyn didn’t have a job for me but a lady named Allison Rynne did. Allison was in charge of planning the City’s largest community event: Balboa Park December Nights (formerly known as Christmas on the Prado). If you don’t know, this free community event draws over 300,000 visitors over a 2 day period and is one of San Diego’s longest-standing traditions. I met with Allison and asked if she needed an intern. She kindly said yes and invited me to her office a week later.

One of my first tasks as an intern: organizing business cards. I didn’t know what this was supposed to teach me at the time but I was eager to learn and if there was anything I knew how to do, it was being organized. I sped through this task quickly and a short time later, Allison asked if I would be interested in handling a task for December Nights. She said she needed help with Vendor Management and shared a spreadsheet with me and explained what I needed to do. From 2008 to 2013, I worked as the Vendor Manager on Balboa Park December Nights. By exploring new event areas, reconfiguring existing layouts and evaluating the vendor booth fees and expenses, I increased the vendor revenue by 138% over my 6-year tenure. With this experience, I went on to work on some of San Diego’s most well-known events including the Adams Avenue Street Fair and the North Park Festival of Arts redefining the vendor management process on these events for years to follow.

After doing contract event work for almost seven years, I wanted a “desk job.” Events were so sporadic and I wanted something that was stable so I made a shift into a full-time admin/event position with the YMCA of San Diego County. While the organization was great and the mission fulfilling, I had a desire to be back in the vast world of events. In 2014, I took a sales position with one of San Diego’s largest rental companies. In my two and a half years there, from tabletop items and linen colors to tenting covering over 10,000 sq. ft., I produced and executed hundreds of public and private events all over Southern California.

In 2017, I was evaluating what I had done in my 12 years in San Diego – since my undeclared, undergraduate days until that point in life. What I ended up feeling at that time was a calling to relocate to the OC/LA area to be closer to my family. I felt I had done everything I wanted to and had accomplished the “to-do’s” on my life list. I felt that I hadn’t dreamed in a long time about what I truly wanted like back when I dreamed of attending UCSD. In that transition, with my mind full of ideas and a heart ready again to explore the next chapter, Magical Moments by Megan was born. Before moving, I allowed myself time to sit still and reflect on my life in San Diego. At that point, I had lived in the same North Park apartment for eight years. This decision to move and start a company was not a small thing – it was a gigantic shift in my life as I knew it – but I was excited about the adventure!

I took a lot of time to reflect and to do some self-work. I recalled a pivotal moment that had occurred just a couple of years before: the passing of my grandma. My paternal grandmother was sick often. Since I was young, I remember her having a variety of ailments and illnesses. Many times she almost died but it wasn’t her time yet. Since I was down in San Diego, it was always my personal prayer to at least be able to say bye to my grandma when it was her time. In August of 2014, she had been sick and in the hospital for over a month. This wasn’t her first extended stay so while we were worried for her, the family was confident that she would overcome and be home soon. I got a call on a Tuesday evening that she had gone into the ICU and I felt it in my heart that I needed to drive up to see her that night. She passed early the next morning.

An hour after she was pronounced dead, I was already on the phone with the mortuary and was working to find out what we needed to do to take care of her body and plan her funeral. As things would have it, we had family coming into town for a cousin’s wedding that next week so it was the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate her life together. If I remember anything from my grandma, even in her hard days with her health, she always wanted the family to be together. She always wanted people to come together and enjoy and make joyful memories. Her home was a safe place where people always knew they would be taken care of and would have a good time. I knew that nothing would make her happier than to have people come together. We buried her on my 27th birthday.

After all the celebrations were over, I had a torn feeling in my heart of joy and sadness. Sadness for the obvious loss in our family’s lives but also, extreme happiness knowing that she lived her life to its fullest and that we celebrated her how she would have wanted. Something from deep inside me felt that this was it. This was my calling. All the jobs I had done and events I had worked on, this is what I was supposed to do. Everyone looks for enjoyment on special occasions because the memories those occasions create, stay with you for a lifetime and even beyond our time on this earth. With such vast experience, I felt it was my calling to start a company that would help ease up the planning process for others so that all they need to do, is enjoy the moments they have been waiting for.

Fast forward back to 2017 when I am in the process of uprooting my life. A friend asked me to coordinate her wedding that coming summer. With the memory of my grandma still rich as I prepared to move back to the city where she used to live and knowing I had a friend that wanted to trust me with their big day, I felt that it was time. I found myself creating an email account and buying the URL for I was signing up to register my business name and get my business license. Suddenly I was a business owner, I was moving to a new city and I had no idea what I was supposed to do next.

After the first wedding in 2017, I had two San Diego weddings in 2018. In February of 2019, I left the clutches of the part-time restaurant world and decided to pursue MMM full time. By May, I had done three weddings and two styled shoots and had many other things upcoming. Here, I sit filling out this questionnaire because someone felt I had a story to tell. I am honored to be living my life’s journey to its fullest day by day. I don’t always know what I am doing but I always know I am going to work hard to figure it out.

Has it been a smooth road?
I struggle with self-doubt and I think a lot of people do but it’s hard and scary to talk about it because you want everyone to always think you are ok. I have had to do a lot of self-work and self-discovery to get to where I am. I did contract work for years and friends and others told me time and time again to start my own company. It wasn’t until 2+ years of therapy and a decade of learning that I finally made it through my own issues to realize that what I wanted was under my nose the whole time.

I am thankful for the people that I have met and have been able to work with along the way. So many people have shaped and encouraged me in different areas that the list of names is too long to put here. I like to say that I am blessed because there have been very particular moments of my journey that could have gone in any direction with the risks that I took. However, YES. It was hard. It IS hard. Every day has its challenges but I make it my goal each day to overcome what I need to so I can get to where I want.

My advice to other women is to have faith and be confident. Just trust that if you feel deeply about something and want to go after it, that there is a REASON you feel deeply about that thing. Follow your heart. You will know when you don’t feel right about something or where you are and it’s your responsibility to do something about it – no one else will. Explore those feelings, don’t be afraid to fully discover yourself and what you are capable of. Once you figure out that thing you want to go after, go after it confidently. We are each on this earth for our own particular reason and if you don’t go after what you are feeling called to do, then the world is missing out on your contribution! KNOW that we are each called for something and its the journey of life to work to figure it out.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I specialize in event coordination, planning, and logistics. I have a gift of being able to visualize processes from start to finish and use my organizational skills to translate that across vendor teams and to my clients who don’t speak “event language”. It doesn’t have to be a wedding or a birthday because essentially, all events follow a similar process and timeline. I have worked in restaurants and hospitality for almost 14 years so my customer service skills and personality always stands out when working in high-stress environments. I am an executor and nothing makes me feel more complete than fulfilling a task from start to finish. Events are stressful and require a lot of moving parts that other people are not equipped for. It brings me joy to alleviate those pressures and to help my clients experience life’s most memorable moments.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I ended up in an industry that is strongly driven by women and on my journey, I have been inspired by a lot of powerful, female role models. I think I was lucky in getting to be surrounded by so many strong women early on in my career. However, this has not always been the case and I have come across many female supervisors that I cannot say the same thing about. I have encountered more than one female supervisor on more than one occasion that belittled me because of what I can only assume was out of their fear that I was capable enough to do better than them (aka, they felt threatened). Comparing these two types of women (the confident role models vs. the threatened type), I would say that this is a barrier we face.

Women can be emotional and sometimes can have a hard time separating personal from business. When this has happened in my past, it always ended up being a clash and it caused me to have to leave those workplaces or positions because, for me, it was a dead end. I think in those situations if those women were confident enough with themselves, they would not find it necessary to put down others and there would be an opportunity to grow. I think we have enough obstacles in life and in the world of business and being “catty” does not need to be one of them. Women need to support women and the more I see that happen, the more I witness amazing things being accomplished.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
@AnzaFotoFilm, @MiaAlyssePhotography, @OhLovelyWedding, @PerpixelPhoto, @SessionsbyAnneSalas, @SweetDayStudio, @TruePhotography

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