Vancouver impact-driven business spotlight: Clearwater Events

 
 

Natasha is the owner and lead planner of Clearwater, a Vancouver based event planning company that has carved out a niche for themselves in the wedding, community and special event space by focussing on local, ethical and sustainable.


I met Natasha at a networking event last summer and we’ve stayed in touch since. Natasha has the hustle of a true entrepreneur, and as well as running Clearwater is planning a super cool and unique retreat for creative entrepreneurs later this year. Read on to learn more!

 
Natasha Thom.  Photo credit: Megan Hemstra

Natasha Thom. Photo credit: Megan Hemstra

 

Hi Natasha, thanks for chatting! Can you share an overview of Clearwater Events and why you started the business?

For sure! Clearwater Events is all about community and connection so we do lots of community fundraising events, galas, and create opportunities to bring donors and charitable organisations and their networks together. We also plan a handful of select Pacific Northwest weddings. We’re strategic with the weddings that we take on as we’re really geared towards working with couples who are into sustainability.

My journey to launching Clearwater in 2016 began when I was working at a high-end digital company in the corporate world. The company was profit-driven, and it was killing my soul a little bit knowing that people were putting half a million dollars into building a website. To fill up my soul, I was doing lots of volunteer work with local non-profits in the healthcare space.

Late summer early Fall 2016, two of my best friends were getting married a month apart and I thought it would be a great time to test drive what running my own events company might look like. The first, one of my dearest girlfriends, wanted her whirlwind wedding in the middle of peak season, all in for under $10k.  We managed to make it work, and it was magical! The second was much more DIY, and had a ton of components - including the groom who catered his own wedding and home-brewed all the beer! Because of the feedback I received at the weddings, I started Clearwater less than 2 months later.


Wow, that’s super impressive! What’s been a pain point for you in growing the company so far?

I deal with imposter syndrome a lot. This industry is so saturated and there are so many talented people. I remind myself daily that I know I know what I’m doing, I know who my people are and it’s that niche I have to speak to. I’ve tried to expand a little bit to people who weren’t necessarily the right fit, and it’s shown in my work.


I think you just recreated a lot of people with that, including me. Trust your gut. What about a lesson you can share in your business journey so far?

I think entrepreneurs always evolve but we always know who our tribe is, so trust that. Trust your instincts - for the most part, they’re spot on. Trust that you know what you’re doing. In this space, people will find you and you will continue to succeed. Especially with impact-driven businesses, which is such a growing space. I’d highlight also tapping into your network and to know the ‘why’ of you’re coming from.

I’ve been lucky enough to have people in my network who have trusted in me. I think that finding a mentor to learn from and bounce ideas off is also really important.

I’ve also learned and grown from wedding industry-specific coaching, productivity & systems coaching, general business coaching and masterminding. People have judged me for spending so much on business networking and coaching, but these have all been super helpful for me in my journey.

 
Natasha giving opening remarks at Cascadia Wedding Show - Vancouver's first locally driven and sustainable wedding show, run by Clearwater Events.  Photo credit: Petite Photography

Natasha giving opening remarks at Cascadia Wedding Show - Vancouver's first locally driven and sustainable wedding show, run by Clearwater Events. Photo credit: Petite Photography

 

You have a lot of affiliations with charities. Can you share about how you work with them and how it ties into your company’s mission?

Yes. For me, the core foundation of the business is using my event skills to give back. Each charity I have on my website is important to me for different reasons, and many of them hold events often:

  • The Cancer Society is special to me because it’s really where I started, and where I’m an ambassador.

  • I was the very first employee for The Lipstick Project. This charity provides free, professional spa services to men, women and children facing serious health challenges in hospitals, hospices and other healthcare facilities.  They bring a sense of dignity to people who are in a really vulnerable space. It is such a tangible, feel good mission because you can see the difference you’re making at the end of each service, not just for the patient themselves but for the family.

  • I helped to spearhead The Living Room Series coming to Vancouver. It’s an initiative that brings people together in real life to dive deep on topicss like chronic illness, vulnerability, identity, and  relationships. I always thought it would appeal more to women, but it’s the guys who have found it most useful.

  • YELL is a really important organisation that helps youth build and expand the critical thinking side of the brain. It’s so cool to meet these youth that are budding entrepreneurs and support them in creating their ideas.  

 
Natasha and the team taking a minute to have some photobooth fun at the 2016 Capilano University Street Party

Natasha and the team taking a minute to have some photobooth fun at the 2016 Capilano University Street Party

 


And around all you do already, do you have any dream partnerships you’re looking to create this year or in the future?

As the business grows I’m looking to build reciprocal intentional relationships. I would love to partner with Vancity - they have a really great network of sustainable and community partners.


What about plans for growth for Clearwater Events? Where do you see the company in a years time?

I think I’ve hit capacity as Clearwater on my own. I’m currently reflecting on what growth looks like, and I see what we offer evolving a little in the next couple of years. I’m always exploring different ways of working on events, for example, offering sustainable event consulting to companies planning events, regardless of whether I’m producing the entire thing or not.  I’ve also been really lucky to connect with other vendors in the sustainability space. It’s motivated me to launch something big! But you’ll have to stay tuned towards the end of 2019 to hear more about it.

 
Natasha putting on our bride's veil for a wedding taking place at Hatley Castle in Victoria.  Photo credit: Meghan Hemstra

Natasha putting on our bride's veil for a wedding taking place at Hatley Castle in Victoria. Photo credit: Meghan Hemstra

 

Awesome. And lastly, can you share any resources you use or podcasts that you listen to?

When I started the business I was never really interested in meditation. I started using the app Headspace and I found it’s really helped clear my brain and I can sit and Ommm for 45 minutes now!

I listen to a lot of the classic entrepreneur podcasts. I’d definitely recommend reading Smarter Faster Better, and I just got recommended to read The Power of Habit which is what I’m going to be diving into next.


Thanks Natasha! Do you have any asks?

I’ve just launched a female creative entrepreneur’s retreat that’s taking place in October 2019 on the beautiful Hollyhock Campus on Cortes Island. I’m looking to partner with impact businesses, and there’s a variety of ways they can take part. Check out more details on our website here.


www.clearwaterevents.org