A Conversation with Student Entrepreneur, Joel Parra

Name: Joel Parra

Year: 2018

Major: Business Management with a concentration in marketing

Most college sophomores stress about their classes and clubs, but how many college sophomores stress about meeting clients? Meet Joel Parra, the 19-year-old businessman taking the event planning industry by storm!

Her Campus Emmanuel: Thanks for sitting down with us today, Joel! To start us off, tell us a little bit about yourself

Joel Parra: I’m from the North Shore of Massachusetts, so I’m only about 25 minutes away from the city. I went to Central Catholic High School; it’s a pretty awesome school. It really prepared me for college. It also helped motivate me to what I do now.

HCE: What made you want to go into wedding planning?

JP: I was part of a co-chair committee for “Catwalk for Cancer.” It was a fashion show that we put on each year, and that’s kind of where the idea of event planning started to come up because I did a lot of event planning, a lot of PR, and a lot of budgeting.

HCE: That sounds great! So I’ve heard that you started your own company. Can you tell me more about it?

JP: I started event planning because of the Catwalk for Cancer committee. I was a part of the committee for about three years, and I did a lot of planning, and the execution for the show. The idea of wedding planning came in my senior year of high school, and I love weddings, and I love love I guess. I’m a hopeless romantic. So, wedding planning came up because I love love and I love to make people happy. In my future life, my goal was to create happiness for others, so weddings kind of came into the picture. My goal is to mix happiness and love, and weddings are one of the happiest moments in someone’s life. For me to be able to create that special moment for someone and organize it for them, it’s just an incredible experience.

HCE: How do you balance school, your company, and some free time to keep you sane?

JP: So that’s hard [laughs]. It’s really difficult. You know, I chose to do this company because I’m in college now and when I graduate, I would’ve probably gone on to work at a 40+ hour, 9-5 job as you would call it. I really didn’t want to start my company then because I would be exhausted. Once you’re an adult, life changes. You get a whole new list of responsibilities, so working a 9-5 job and trying to start a company would’ve been a lot more difficult than it is now.

The balancing of school and work, and a part time job is very difficult. I live off campus so I have to pay rent. It’s very hard for me to join extracurricular activities because I don’t have the time for it. It really makes me sad sometimes because I do wish I could join some of the extracurricular activities, but I just put my company as a first priority, and balancing it is a daily struggle that I have, especially because I’m in college and I need to have a social life as well. I also need to spend time with my family, which is very important. So balancing being in school full-time, graduating early, working a part-time job is all very difficult. I don’t know how I do it.

HCE: Sounds pretty crazy! Have you ever encountered any bridezillas?

JP: Yes, but, in my contract, I have what’s called a bridezilla clause. So it means that if they treat me in an unruly way, I can cancel the contract at any time. I like to be respected, and if I’m working with someone who’s not working towards the same goal that I am, I can just end the contract. But, typically a lot of the brides I work with are not bridezillas. They are more relaxed. They want me to take care of the whole thing and do it all for them. They just give me a concept, and I do it.

HCE: We're glad to hear it. Do you have any advice for our readers?

JP: The most important advice I could give is self-motivation. This process has been long and it has taken me three years now. Without my own self motivation, it would never have been possible. People are going to tell you you’re too young to create your own company and that you can’t do it. There’s going to be a lot of people who don’t support your idea, but then there will people who will support your idea and be excited. Make sure that you motivate yourself and you keep going. No matter how hard it may be, you just keep trying. If you invest your time, money, and energy, you’ll be able to flourish some day. Just keep working towards your goal, and you’ll be able to accomplish it.

Some inspirational words. Thanks so much for allowing us to interview you, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!