Principal, Sunday Sol Events
Michelle French is a story teller at heart. Every event she produces tells a tale, delivers a message, and has an effect that continues long after the tables are cleared and the last attendee exits the venue.
The insights and skills that go into creating meaningful events had their beginnings when Michelle was a student at the Indiana University Kelly School of Business where she majored in marketing and international studies. Michelle participated in the IU Dance Marathon to raise funds for a local children's hospital. The experience made a lasting impression.
After graduation, Michelle went to work for American Airlines as part of the sales team. She handled major corporate accounts like American Express Travel, contracting for large shares of their business travel. She was there on 9/11 and watched as colleagues were sent to help victims' families. In the wake of these events, Michelle considered how she might use her talents to make a difference.
Michelle headed west to become Event Manager for the California Science Center. She became well versed in how social enterprise works; how such organizations support themselves. Her expertise grew, and when she was invited to join a new company that staged auctions for non-profits, she accepted. Within six years the company experienced rapid growth. Despite this success, Michelle believed it was possible for the relationship between an organization and the attendees to extend beyond the event itself. The best way to apply her knowledge and implement her ideas was to start her own company.
In 2009, Michelle founded Sunday Sol Events. One of her first projects was to create an annual charity walk for Orange County United Way. The inaugural event brought in a solid profit, created good will in the community, and has become a tradition that continues to grow year by year. As she built her reputation, other prominent clients signed on with Michelle's company, among them, Orangewood Children's Foundation, the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for which Sunday Sol Events produces the Light the Night Walk at Angel Stadium, netting over $1 million dollars each year.
At Sunday Sol Events, Michelle applies the principle that her work isn't complete with just one event, but must fit into a client's long range plans. A great deal of thought goes into the process. She examines goals and helps identify the type of attendee the client hopes to attract. She considers innovations to address current problems the group seeks to solve as well as expansion to meet future needs. As Michelle works on telling the story of each organization, she focuses on the audience. Are we sending a clear message? Is there a call to action? Are we inspiring them? This unique approach is what sets Sunday Sol Events apart.
And what is the experience like for Michelle's clients? She recognizes that many organizations depend on volunteers, and she works closely with those generous people whose hearts are fully engaged in the job. She never forgets what it means to them, and to the people they're trying to help. Always calm, always organized, detailed, and fully prepared, Michelle can react to the unexpected with creativity and grace.
"Personal philosophy has shaped my career," Michelle explains. "I knew early on that my own success wouldn't be enough. I looked for something that would be 'more than me' — something that would have a positive impact." To the continuing benefit of her clients, that is what motivates Sunday Sol Events and Michelle French to keep on telling stories that make a difference.