CRAIG PLANS PERFECTION

xxTafadzwa Zimoyo Lifestyle Reporter—
Having an event is one thing, but having “the event” is an art. Enter event planners or managers, the professionals who place all the cogs in place, from making sure that the last teaspoon is in place through ensuring that the venue is booked for the correct date and that every guest is seated in the right place that is not above or below their status.

Motivational speaker and events planner Paul J Meye once said, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Zimbabwe has its own fair share in the form of sought after event planner Craig Zoowie whose magic touch has caused a stir, as attendees of one of his top functions wonder how it all came together.

When Zoowie was nominated for the Male Style Icon of the Year Award in the Zimbabwe Fashion Week last year, people started asking who he was.

And probably as a way of answering those “doubting Thomases” that he could do it, he went on to scoop the award, establishing himself as an icon on the local fashion scene. This year he walked away with the Style Icon and Stylist of the Year awards. Saturday Herald Lifestyle, took a journey into Zoowie’s world to understand what makes him tick.

“Going head to head with some of the best fashion stylists in Zimbabwe is no mean feat but I believe focus, vision, creativity and passion for fashion designing are some of the attributes that make me excel,” said Zoowie. Zoowie said he always strives to come up with the best fashion style that makes him stand out from the rest of the pile, adding that he first considers people’s tastes and then looks at evolving trends.

He said one golden rule in event planning is “Attention to detail”.

“An eye for detailed art, its application to the person whom you are designing for as well as grasping the trending designs is key to coming up with the best outfits. On dressing, I am a bow-tie person which is a detail to me that I don’t easily leave out,” he said. Currently he is working for VIP Hosting, a top-notch event planning company headed by Lungi Dlodlo.

“I have always enjoyed conceptualising and organising events from family gatherings like weddings, bachellorette, bachelor parties among others. I then later studied travel and tourism as well as hotel management. I was with Rainbow Tourism Group as a banqueting officer, where my love for events flourished. My current job is to put together some amazing events for clients to impress their guests. From the floor plan, furnishings, florals to actual coordination of our events,” he said.

The pint-sized event planner is also a holder of Prince2 Project Management certification from the University of Cape Town. Zoowie’s style has seen him designing decor for some of Zimbabwe’s top celebrities while beyond the country’s borders, he has also “tailored” his fabric of success stories.

“I don’t want to beat my own drum, but the fact is that I have done some decor for some of the top guys in Zimbabwe and abroad. If the fashion icons in countries like France and Italy can do it by designing for the who is who in the world, then why can’t we do the same?

“Now is the time for stylists from Africa to make a huge splash on the global platform and prove to the world that we have what it takes to rank among the best in the world,” Zoowie said. Recently, he did the decor at an all-white-party held at The Venue.

“It is not an easy thing to satisfy people’s needs, but when you know what they like, then it makes your job look simple. One of the greatest challenges comes especially with weddings which are not easy to host. While the bride and groom are busy anticipating the big day, as the events coordinator you have to plan and your job is to look at the areas that they don’t look at when it comes to the event. When you plan for them, then they have confidence in you and that way, you know that your work is being appreciated,” he said.

Asked to describe one of the best events he has done, Zoowie said it was an elegant wedding. “It was Stephanie’s wedding. She knew exactly what she wanted with regards to her theme, colour palette, stationery, guest complement, decor and set up. She kept it simple and very elegant in clean whites and colour was popped through her very high florals on silver candelabras in shades of purples, with crystal hints here and there as well as silver.

“Her candy station was kept sweet and intimate. They danced the night away on an LED dance floor that had their signature motif. She was one of the most gorgeous brides I have ever seen and her lovely warm character shone through the decor elements and ambiance of her wedding. She had the elegance of Grace Kelly and I cherish the moments,” he noted.

So far he has worked with celebrities who include “Queen V” Vanessa Sibanda, Sophie Ndaba, Dbanj, Pokello, Dillish Matthews, some diplomats, ministers and ambassadors among others whose names he cannot disclose due to contractual gags.

Zoowie said he was happy that his job was growing into a brand – The Luxury Events Planner. He added: “One other thing is that, when you see people like celebrities approaching you consulting for grooming purposes, then you know that you are doing the right thing at the right time.

“An event is the best way to introduce yourself to society and setting standards. I am also inspired by a luxury lifestyle because nothing says ‘I have arrived’ like throwing a properly planned event with all the trimmings. This is because each client is different with regards to their character, preferences and budget so research and spending some time with a client helps to understand them to suggest an appropriate mood board for their event,” said Zoowie.

The Bulawayo-born star said his role model was Aleit Henri Swanepoel from The Aleit Group.

“Their attention to detail really inspires me and how they always think outside the box when it comes to putting together awesome events. However, there has been a lot of unfair pricing in this event industry and false advertising by event planners leaving some clients stranded because a service provider failed to deliver what they promised. So you need to be properly planned and researched,” he explained.

Zoowie said he was using his skills to advance social issues. “Fashion and the events that I host accord me a chance to also address social issues. It means a lifestyle that resonates to being a role model of sorts to some people through the way I dress, and general style of living from my career, preferences, nature and character. It’s a big responsibility as well because it means supporting fashion designers to the best of my abilities to make sure our style as Zimbabweans inspires many more out there,” he said.