At 20, we have our whole lives ahead of us, and all our tomorrows are filled with promise. Who remembers? Who recalls that delectable euphoria? Imagine, then, what it’s like to hit the 20-year milestone in business! For just that occasion, our founder and creative director will be providing us with a window onto her story, which, memory by memory, makes up the very DNA of our agency.
“It’s unreal,” Mirella laughs. At the same time, I remember all the highlights and all the faces I’ve seen at Lulu. There are many beautiful memories from the human side. Anyone who passed through Lulu’s doors, whether customer or collaborator, was inevitably a human person with a heart “this big”.
I’ve worn many hats during my career, and it’s been interesting this year to stop and take stock. I think my overflowing imagination has been most helpful to me. Let’s call it my superpower! Being in my own headspace means learning to deal with multiple different scenarios, anticipating things down to the smallest detail, and this is a great strength that has always been with me. Come to think of it, I might say I began my career at the age of five!
As a child, I already had both an artistic side and a sharp business sense. I would organize shows in my parents’ garage. I would use the traditional costumes they brought back from their trips to dress up my friends, and charge the whole neighbourhood 25 cents a head to attend our performances. I was only ten years old! Looking back, it’s funny how the entire world of entertainment has always been with me. I remember that, at the age of five, I could just sit on a stool all evening and sing. Years later, I still sing on stage whenever I can, it feeds me.
The stage also taught me that I had a voice, and so, while writing my book “Premenopause: A Survival Guide to Staying Zen”, I had the feeling that I was carrying all our voices – mine and those of all the warriors who “stand in the face of adversity”.
This is an aspect of my career that goes hand in hand with my role as a public speaker. When I was teaching at LaSalle College, I would tell students about an epiphany I’d had, which is that everyone is overflowing with talent! I think we often make the mistake of believing that talent must be recognized – on a global stage – and yet… Talent is something that comes to us naturally. Sometimes we even believe that others should be able to do things as easily as we can, and it is only when we realize that this is not the case that we see what we are capable of. And what a joy it is! That’s what happened to me with events!
“I have two loves, my country and Paris”
I worked for years in the world of fashion. When I returned from Paris, I realized that I had a sense of observation worthy of Enola Holmes. I found it very easy to project myself into spaces, locations. I might say I think my life in Paris honed this ability. I was perpetually awake, every second, because that city is a veritable museum.
Consequently, I had it in mind to find work in the film industry. I wanted to be a location scout, a sort of hunter of places. But instead, I was called by La Senza Girl to work as a purchasing manager. In the end, all this was just a minor detour to eventually creating Lulu Events with my best friend. As an aside, the agency was previously called Lulu & Castagnettes, as those were our nicknames! A year later, we realized that we were both extremely similar, and so I purchased his shares in the company. Important note to all business partners: it is sometimes better to be complementary rather than identical!
Could we talk a little about the risk-taking that is at the heart of entrepreneurship?
I would say that I acted the dilettante during the early years of Lulu Events. I felt the need to evolve at my own pace rather than attempt to bite off more than I could chew. This is advice I would gladly give to entrepreneurs starting a business today: take the adventure one step at a time.
In the beginning, I worked from home and I didn’t have the team I do now. The first risk I took was signing a three-year lease, which represented a certain level of commitment and was of real import.
For eight years, Pierre, my partner and spouse, has joined us as Director of Operations. He managed to structure the company by building a game plan, seeing the big picture, and creating the marketing department. His presence has generated complementarity, one Lulu’s real strengths. We often laugh that he is the brain’s left side and I am its right side.
When did Lulu Events really take off?
I would say not that long ago. Before the pandemic, in 2019, we were contacted to respond to a call for tenders from the General Civil Authority Aviation (GCAA). At first, I thought it was a scam, because we had received a fraudulent proposal for the same type of project just a few months earlier. However, it ended up being the most exhilarating and impressive event Lulu had ever orchestrated at the time. We were competing against agencies from San Francisco and Toronto, and back then, we were a more moderately sized agency than we are today, so we were all really proud! Honestly, we are even more proud to have built a relationship of trust with our clients, so much so that we did it all again in 2022…
What is your fondest Lulu memory?
For thirteen years, I had the opportunity to organize the annual gala of the Association des Femmes en Finance du Québec (AFFQ). My collaboration with Martine Cantin and the AFFQ taught me so much, and I was also given insight into all the nuances of issues that are still plaguing the pursuit of parity between women and men in the field of business. As a feminist at heart, this is a fight that is part of my life, it’s… visceral, as always. I was lucky to have had the AFFQ for company on my path and to have met so many women who fought so valiantly for their careers. The annual gala was structured each year around clips retracing their eloquent and moving journeys. I must admit, not a year went by that we did not hug each other and shed a tear, as the interviews were so powerful and meaningful…
Your closing word?
For a few years now, I have enjoyed proclaiming myself an “adulescent”. In my mind, this is a term that describes the part of me that burns with life, laughter, and beautiful projects. To mirror what was said at the beginning, I have always worn many hats, but none of those hats has ever kept me from being myself. I can say “Hakuna Matata” to his Excellency without blushing. Being an “adulescent” is my way of – always – ensuring that my heart stays in the right place, like all Lulus.