Today we’d like to introduce you to Cindy Smartt.
Cindy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
At the tender age of 6, I took my first dance class and loved it! When it came time to select a college I enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi as a Dance Major. I enjoyed everything about college and quickly became involved in student government, sorority life, numerous honor societies and campus clubs, but at some point, my heart changed. I was drawn to the leadership and business structure of these organizations and received a BS in Speech Communication and a Master’s Degree in Public Relations.
My first job was with Bristol Myers and for 10 years I worked for some of the biggest corporations in the US in sales and marketing. Corporate life was good, but I needed a change so I set my sights on Nashville. I networked my way through Music Row and met some of the music industry’s top managers and executives including the head of Sony Records and Garth Brooks’ manager. This led me to a company that produced major concert tours and corporate entertainment. My sales and marketing experience, along with my dance and theater background landed me a job as a producer of entertainment for corporate and private events.
I worked with huge headliners including Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Jay Leno, Kenny Loggins The Temptations and Donna Summer. After I experienced numerous success as a producer, my company asked me to go to San Diego to open their new office. I agreed to stay for one year… that was 22 years ago! After a few years in San Diego, I once again took a leap of faith and started my own company. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but God is good and the shows continued to flow in.
Bon Jovi in Maui, Andrea Bocelli in Rome, Keith Urban at the Sydney Opera House, Carrie Underwood for the Ryder Cup and Foreigner on the Midway Ship and Alabama’s last corporate show are some of my most memorable events.
I never aspired to do this type of work; in fact, until I was hired I didn’t even know this job existed! You often hear “do what you love and the money will follow”. For me, money was not the driving force. I didn’t go into this business because it would make me rich, I did it because I loved it. My parents, both with Master’s Degrees, questioned my choice of becoming a Dance Major but they trusted me and let me go. Who knew that my background in dance…. campus leadership… and corporate sales experience would lead me to work with some of the biggest stars in the world!
Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been a fun road… but there have been challenges. When you’re a company owner there may not be a recurring paycheck…. no safety net when things get tough. 2008 was a hard year for everyone, but the meeting industry really suffered. Huge companies were going out of business and the others couldn’t handle the perception that they could have a “fun” convention when they were laying off employees. Meetings canceled and our world of big concerts disappeared.
Fortunately, I had just met Mary Murphy from “So You Think You Can Dance” and Brian Malarkey, a “Top Chef” finalist. I thought that featuring reality stars from the dance and chef shows would be perfect for the corporate market. I started my own corporate programs featuring “Dancing with the Stars”, “Top Chef” and “Project Runway”…. all San Diego connections. Not only did my clients love it, other entertainment producers began coming to me for their talent. This is how I survived for the next three years until the convention industry rebounded. These programs continue to be a large part of my business today.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Smartt Entertainment story. Tell us more about the business.
Smartt Entertainment produces headline shows for corporate and private events worldwide. We negotiate artist contracts, handle travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, backstage catering and on-site production. Hootie & the Blowfish, Gavin DeGraw, Vince Gill, Goo Goo Dolls, Dana Carvey, Michael Bolton, Huey Lewis and the News, Three Dog Night and the Beach Boys are just a few of our corporate concerts.
Our productions also include new product launches, upscale mall events (for thousands of guests) and high-end birthday parties featuring celebrity talent. Next month we’re bringing Nick Lachey to a 50th birthday party!
We are most proud of the level of detail given to each show. In fact, I once drove all over LA to get guitar picks for Rod Stewart and made sure that Diana Ross, referred to as “Miss Ross”, was happy with the carpet she walked on backstage. You never want the client to worry about what the talent needs, especially at the last minute. They should be able to sit down, relax, and enjoy the show! It’s so rewarding to see the audience’s reaction to our celebrities and hear all the positive comments after the event.
What sets me apart from others? Passion. You must have a passion for your work, your life, and your dreams. It is the most important factor in succeeding in your business.
When you love what you do, work is easy. Who wouldn’t want to spend the majority of their time doing things that bring them joy? That’s what happened to me. I found my dream job.
My path that started as a baby ballerina led me to where I am today. My university inducted me into the Hall of Fame, I was named as one of the top female entrepreneurs in the country and was featured in the book “The Sleep Giant” about the awakening of the self-employed entrepreneur.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see less of the big flashy concerts and more socially responsible programs. For example, a company may not bring in big entertainment, but they may want the “Dancing with the Stars” pros to teach a dance class or have celebrity chefs conduct healthy cooking or team building events. Guests can have fun and learn new skills with some exciting celebrity interaction.
- Our celebrity acts range from $3,000 – $3,000,000
- Website: www.GetSmartt.com
- Phone: 858-488-6868
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Smartt Entertainment