Two millennial mompreneurs are turning events into gold with The Whittier Event & Banquet Co. in Detroit. Located off the Detroit River near downtown, the prestigious location is a historic gem. The opulent venue can accommodate weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and more. An in-house valet, chef, bar and seasoned event specialists ensure a consummate experience.
Helming this operation are Melanie Bowers and Jacqueline Lee, whose complementary expertise merges old-world sophistication with modern luxury. As Women’s History Month ends, rolling out salutes these phenomenal ladies.
What are your respective backgrounds and roles?
Jacqueline Lee: My background is in business, marketing and communications, and I’ve marketed for some of the top universities in Michigan. Melanie and I have worked on events together through her company, Guru PR. At the Whittier, Melanie is all about customer service, and I’m more black and white on the business side of things.
Melanie Bowers: My background is in communications and public relations. I’m the closer. I think it’s a great contrast. We’re yin and yang. Jacqi needs to be there because, at some point, I need to be reeled in or the clients need to be reeled in.
What’s unique about The Whittier?
MB: We are one of the only Black millennial women-owned event spaces near downtown Detroit. It’s one of those spaces that’s everlasting, beautiful and regal. There are not a lot of spaces downtown that have the architecture and capacity to hold the number of people this space can.
JL: Our top seller is the Winter Garden. When brides come in, they always are in awe of the natural light and the natural beauty. You literally don’t have to decorate. You can complement it with flowers, but it’s gorgeous by itself from the architecture alone. Our wedding packages are a one-stop shop. You can have your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all in one space.
Discuss pivoting during the pandemic.
JL: During our first year of business, we had to figure out how we could reschedule and or refund people while still maintaining a business. We got probably five years of experience in one.
MB: It was a curse, but it was also a blessing. It gave us time to work on how we operate as a business.
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