We had the good fortune of connecting with Ana Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ana, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
My business has been successful for so many years because of my dedication to my clients. I really listen to what they want and envision for their events. I enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone to help create a client’s event vision. This is not just about thinking out of the box, it is about building a new box in a cool and different shape sometimes. I love getting requests that set me off to research and find things never found before.  The short answer here is that I look at every event as a new adventure and get excited about each and every one. So, the habits that have made me successful are being able to listen, being creative and most importantly being excited for every opportunity to deliver the “Wow”. In order to do these things, I need to be all in and dedicated to every client. I don’t mind working hard and going the extra mile because I understand that what I do is important and I help create memories that my clients, their families and friends will remember for years to come.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Ana Cruz Event Planning was born almost 20 years ago. My background is in Corporate Event Planning. I started planning events while employed at Citibank and later worked for the American Diabetes Association. I took a leap of faith when I left a steady, well-paying job with wonderful benefits, and all I can say is that I just did it. I was working lots of hours and loved my job but realized I was missing my family. My son was just hitting major milestones and I was missing them. It is not to say that I worked less hours owning my own business but I was able to structure my schedule to have a better work life balance. Taking the leap was very scary but so worth it. I was lucky to have my husband’s support and some great mentors. Being tapped to feature my events on TV certainly propelled my business to another level quickly. Reaching millions of people and showing them how I planned my client’s events was quite the adventure. “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?” can still be seen on the NBC app today. Being on TV taught me to always do my job as if the world is watching. I still treat every event that way today even though the cameras are long gone. What I have learned along the way is no matter how successful you get, you can never let it get to your head. You can never feel like you know it all and have nothing left to learn. I am always open to learn and, more importantly, I am always open to listen. Listening to my clients and bringing their visions to life better than they ever imagined, is something that I am proud to be good at. I am proud of the brand that I have created and the people I have helped along the way. From jaw-dropping weddings to intimate dinner parties, I am proud to create moments that are highlights in the lives of the people who trust me. My company is named Ana Cruz Event Planning because I wanted to make sure my name was on the line with every event that I help create. My brand is intertwined with my strong work ethic and love of what I do. I have also trained many planners along the way and I am proud to have that legacy.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have made friends all over the world and when they visit, I love to be their tour guide. Ever the planner, I love to make travel plans, too. My best friend actually lives in Michigan so when she visits, our first stop is a leisurely drive in my convertible to the Florida Keys. The drive all the way to Key West is gorgeous and along the way I have some favorite stops. I love going to the shops at the Rain Barrel. That giant lobster outside is iconic and Bella Sol inside is awesome. This cute shop features soaps, fragrances and jewelry. I have them custom make my body wash. You can stop in and ask for the Ana Cruz recipe. From there we have to make a pit stop at Key Largo Fisheries. The lobster bites are a must, almost as good as the lobster roll at DJ’s clam shack in Key West. I could go on forever! Besides Key West, I love taking friends to South Beach, the Design District,  Wynwood, and Little Havana.  Again, I can list so many places. I feel blessed to have been born and raised in Miami and to just be minutes away from so many cool places that people who don’t live here dream about!! I do love to go away with friends and family and my favorite places are Playa del Carmen in Mexico, New Orleans, Savannah and Siesta Key but Miami definitely has my heart.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am all about mentoring others and helping elevate entrepreneurs because I know the value of those that have helped me in my career. When I was starting my business there were two industry rock stars that offered me advice and support – Bill Hansen, who is an icon in the event world, and always one of my biggest cheerleaders. His venue, Villa Woodbine, was one of the first venues I worked with when I started my event planning journey. Also, Susie Becker, who let me shadow her and helped seal the deal with my first client. She is an amazing event planner and all-around amazing person. I can’t leave out my husband, Omar Cruz, because in addition to being my biggest cheerleader, he has really made it possible for my business to have grown over these past 20 years. His support has been unwavering and he has done everything including changing the date for our Thanksgiving celebration one year, so I could go film a wedding for television in another country. He moved the entire holiday for me. Isabel Fernandez, my business colleague and friend for many years, is my trusted moral compass and sounding board. A phenomenal business woman in her own right, she has always told me not what I want to hear, but what I need to hear to be a successful business woman and the best version of myself. Lastly but just as important, I want to acknowledge the people that I have been lucky enough to mentor and/or inspire. These are people that I helped in their journeys, but they have also helped me. I am so proud of them all – Alina Moleta, a rockstar celebrity event planner who was a big part of growing my business for 10 years, Brianna Nellon, my amazing Senior Event Specialist who is my left and right hand quite often, Antwon Tomas, an amazing event planner and officiant who I am lucky enough to get to work with very often, Yselande Pierre, a beautiful and dynamic planner and scholar who freelances for me and always reminds me of “who runs the world” – girls!, Vivian Colls of Vivian Colls Events who is an incredible designer and planner, and Elenne Hurley, one of the best makeup artists on the planet. The list could go on and on because being able to share my love of the event industry with others and being able to foster that same love for the biz in them is my biggest inspiration.

Website: www.anacruz.com

Instagram: anacruzevents

Linkedin: Ana Cruz Event Planning

Facebook: Ana Cruz Event Planning

Image Credits
Curtis Smith Photography, Domino Arts Photography, Suzanne Delawar Studios

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