#BlkWomeninBiz: Adrienne Ruff

Adrienne has always had a passion for fashion, but her creativity and love for design is used in what some may consider a nontraditional way.

Originally from Central New Jersey, Adrienne’s family relocated to Columbus where she spent majority of her childhood. She attended Northland High School and after graduation, she briefly attended Columbus State Community College (CSCC) and later transferred to University of Cincinnati (UC). She studied business marketing, but after three years, she knew that fashion was her purpose. After spending so much time in her major, she was hesitant to change it so she chose to stick it through.

During her junior year of college, she decided to take some time off as she was preparing for one of her biggest challenges; becoming a mother. Later, she pursued a career in real estate and successfully obtained her license.

Adrienne always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. She had come up with a lot of business ideas, but had to figure out how to monetize them. Her first idea in 2001, was a mobile spa party business for young girls. A great idea that was short lived.

Her current business, Adrienne Ruff Event Co,, was right under her nose all along. Adrienne’s family has been in the catering business for over 20 years. She would always work at the events assisting in any way she could; from serving food, to rearranging and offering suggestions on the set up. One day it clicked! She could use her passion for fashion and design, to create extravagant event set ups. Adrienne would become an event designer.

The first thing she did was research and practice. Secondly, she started volunteering her services to friends and families to gain experience, display her talents, and build her portfolio. Then, she created a website and started booking a few events throughout the year. At first it was a hobby, but she knew that corporate America was not where she wanted to spend her life. Eventually she started networking and forming relationships with other event planners to gain exposure. She also had a mentor who would tell her the ins and outs of the industry and helped her think strategically about her business.

Some of the challenges that Adrienne had to face were within. She had to be more comfortable networking and creating relationships that were outside her inner circle. When she first started, naturally she was intimidated by those who had been in the industry for some time.

“I was intimidated by the veterans who’d been doing this for years. I never thought I would get hired for an event because there were so many that were better than me, who had more exposure than me, and more experience.”

She soon realized that was far from true. She began to study some of the successful people in the industry and created her own niche.

Seeing other female minority business owners be successful lets Adrienne know that she can do it too. She also wants to become that example for those coming after her. Whether she believes it or not, she is already doing that flawlessly.

One dose of advice from Adrienne for those looking to launch their own event planning business:

“Just do it! Don’t be afraid to ask to volunteer for the experience. It’s never too late to start, and my number one piece of advice is: network!”

Adrienne, thank you for setting an example and being amongst a beautiful tribe of #BlkWomeninBiz. Your resilience and positivity is what drives and motivate many young entrepreneurs, like myself, to keep pushing until we reach the top!

Know another #BlkWomeninBiz killing it in her field? Send your submission below.

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