Indie Of The Month – Ardour And Bow – Jessica Kearney
Jessica Kearney is a dream maker. Having honed her skills on the events team at Hampton Court Palace, she expertly creates high-end events that are exquisitely unforgettable.
Whether the occasion calls for a romantic ‘days of yore’ feel or a large-scale corporate extravaganza, she has the experience and the ability to create the spectacular.
She began her career in a 1920’s cinema over a decade ago, where the events they put on were so successful, they were runners up in the UK’s Best Live Music Venue. She says that she loved the buzz, ‘catching the bug’ early on. Watching people’s faces light up in enjoyment at seeing a particular artist was one of her most rewarding moments. It was here that she garnered a wealth of experience in both events and the business side of things, which was to prove invaluable.
Jessica has always had a love of the Westcountry, having holidayed down in Dorset every summer and also having attended Exeter University. But it was to London that she would head for a taste of city life, once she had gained experience in the world of event management. She procured a role at Hampton Court Palace, which was a real high point as their events were on a level that she’d never seen before. While there, she helped organise countless weddings, private hires as well as many corporate events.
Hampton Court Palace is one of six royal palaces that is looked after by an independent charity called Historic Royal Palaces. They aim to take care of the beautiful royal buildings and their contents for future generations to enjoy and they do so with panache and great attention to detail. An ideal setting for Jessica, who is also a keen history enthusiast.
She chatted about some of the most memorable events that were arranged at Hampton Court Palace during her employment there and said that it had to be when the Queen visited. It was interesting from a logistical and planning point of view because so much needs to be considered, not least of which is the security that needs to be in place. She said,
‘That always adds an extra element, as well as the discipline needed to provide exceptional five-star service when you’re doing those sort of calibre events.’
Jessica and her husband, who she met in London, decided to move to the Westcountry around 18 months ago where she was appointed as an events project manager at Exeter University. But she had always wanted to work for herself, and to experience a better work/life balance, so she recently took the plunge and started her own events business called Ardour and Bow. Working across the South West and in London, Jessica continues to plan the most beautiful occasions with style and precision. She says that she loves the community spirit, particularly around the business community that she finds in Exeter and feels quietly confident in forging forward with her new business.
She thrives on getting to know people and creating a community, which makes the private events that she arranges, a personal favourite. She loves taking a client’s brief and bringing it to life and if that can be done in an outdoor or historical location, all the better. The essence of the brand is to try and bring the best of both city and countryside together; inspired by the romance of the countryside and the sophistication of the city.
Jessica loves to bring technology into her events, such as projection mapping to the front of buildings, which she finds awe-inspiring, and loves immersive events; one such occasion was arranged for the RADA Theatre Company. Actors lined the journey of the various guests towards the reception room at Hampton Court, re-enacting scenes from Shakespeare Plays as they walked through. She said,
‘It was amazing to see, I love elements like that’.
With a passion and flair for working with different cultures, she recalls a large-scale event for a Japanese company who were hosting a dinner party for five to six hundred people. It was a great opportunity for them to showcase Japanese food to their British guests. Jessica said,
‘I enjoy learning about other cultures and working with people from all over the world to plan an event.’
Embracing life is the key to Jessica’s success and one that sees her wishing to obtain her private pilot’s licence in the future. She believes in seizing each moment and added that if she could give her 10-year-old self a piece of advice it would be to not worry so much, and be more confident. She said,
‘Just thinking back to when I was younger, I was probably worried about all sorts of things but as I get older, I’m more aware that life does seem short and you have to seize each opportunity’.
She’s a firm believer that things happen for a reason so it’s important to go with the flow, be confident, happy and follow your ambitions.
Jessica harnesses her creativity through logistical planning, creating spreadsheets to bring the jigsaw puzzle together; which helps her to concentrate on the tiniest details. Always having a ‘plan B’ prepared, should the unexpected happen, ensures that her events run smoothly and seamlessly. She draws inspiration for her ideas from the ‘everyday’, especially when she travels abroad. She is always wearing her ‘event hat’, looking at venues, colours and textures but says,
‘At the end of the day, it is always about what the client wants, turning their dream or vision into reality’.
With her ‘can do’ attitude and the mantra that she lives by, ‘there are never any problems, only solutions’, Jessica successfully summons the magic to bring any occasion to life.
For more information visit ardourandbow.co.uk
Written by Stella Nicholls
Photos provided by Jessica Kearney