Part V: Que´ Sera´ Cira
There was something special about Cira. I didn’t know what it was at first. She wasn’t your typical department store sales associate. Something in her aura, her quick smile, the way she carried herself. You knew there was a lot more going on in her life than selling furs at The Broadway. She had a unique quality. Maybe it related to something her husband later said. He said that if Cira began walking from downtown Los Angeles and walked all the way to the ocean (the other end of the city), by the time she got there, she would be completely covered with green bills. :-). Looking back, I think Cira did have a prosperity consciousness. More importantly, she had a good heart.
Cira was married to a Beverly Hills international caterer, who specialized in high caliber social events. She saw something in me that day and said she wanted me to meet her husband.
Giovanni Bolla was a true Italian and began his catering career on cruise ships. Cira was so funny at times, like when she told me how she met him while he was working a cruise. She said in those days he was an “Adonis” and she couldn’t take her eyes off of him. Well, it was funny because here they were - married with a young daughter - and Giovanni was still only in his 30s (Cira was older). But “those days” seemed so ancient. She really was funny. Or maybe marriage to an Italian does that to you. :-)
I met with Cira, Giovanni and their daughter and I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse (no, not THAT kind of Italian offer). The couple wanted me to represent Giovanni to bring in more business to their catering company. This association included…
Freedom. I had complete freedom and my time was my own. Complete autonomy, working when and where I pleased. And I never had to get up early.
Self Expression. I had never before thought of the party and events industry and never imagined the creative and unique components that go into first class and quality events. I was exposed to the most highly creative elements, which are required by discerning Beverly Hills and Los Angeles clients.
Social. I did say I wanted to be in a field that had a social as well as business side, didn’t I? Well, let’s just say that this was a field that had a business as well as social side. :-) I attended many of the sophisticated receptions and parties in town – both social and business oriented - and certainly wouldn’t run out of places to wear that Calvin Klein. Speaking of which…
Wardrobe. Giovanni would introduce me to people as his “PR” and even said that I was Vice President of the company. Well, anyone in that position must look wonderful at social events, yes? Cira was constantly telling me to come into The Broadway to try on this outfit or that outfit that she put aside for me. And she would buy me these beautiful clothes. I recall two Grecian style gowns she bought for me to wear to formal events. And one day she even surprised me with a real fur jacket – I don’t remember what kind of fur it was – it was rather unusual. Definitely… furry. I told you Cira had a good heart.
Money. Giovanni offered me a percentage of all business that came as a result of my efforts. I don’t even remember having to call on people to get business. I would just go to the receptions and parties that Giovanni catered and talk to people and give them my card when appropriate. A dirty job but someone had to do it.
Yes, it was a commission arrangement but it gave me freedom and I was fine with that. I was never one to run from a challenge anyway. What on earth could be more difficult than selling a Brancusi that no one was supposed to want?
But there was more to it than that – that Giovanni didn’t know about. He never knew that Cira would give me money on the side. She told me to keep it our secret. Cira wanted to make sure that I had what I needed. Cira and I may not have related to the term “prosperity consciousness” back then, but I realize now that she had one. And I was certainly growing one to attract this.
Challenge. So my challenge was to book parties for the Bollas. And how did I do? I ended up bringing Giovanni the largest corporate event that I believe he had ever booked. And I ended up coordinating aspects of it myself (clue). It was a six-figure formal holiday party with 400 guests at a rented Beverly Hills mansion (clue). The party photos ended up as the centerfold section of Celebrity Society Magazine (thanks to Cira’s own pr and social skills).
The centerfold photos also included an historical moment: There I was with my son David (he was living with me at that time) – I in my Grecian gown and David with the first tuxedo that he had ever worn as an "adult". (He did wear one at age thirteen but that was another lifetime.)
He looked so relaxed and handsome in the photo. What didn’t show up in the photo was the ridiculous brouhaha he created when he refused to walk out the door at home because he was wearing a ruffled shirt! He thought he looked like a “sissy”. Thank God I was allowed to invite my good friend Heidi and her husband to this grand affair. It was only after Heidi’s husband spoke with David on the telephone and assured him that he also was wearing a ruffled tuxedo shirt, that David agreed to leave for the party. But it wasn’t over. He then made it quite clear that I was not to hold his arm as we entered the party. He did not want anyone to think I was his girlfriend.
Teenage son. Sheeesh…. Talk about a challenge.
P.S. I think I will get that photo scanned and post it.
Preparation. I didn’t realize while representing the Bollas that the Universe was giving me the exposure, knowledge and awareness to carve a distinctive niche for myself in the business world that would last two decades (big clue).
To be continued…
Private Reply to Marilyn Jenett (new win)