(the URLs have been updated in the reprint)
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jan Levie.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Jan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I hail from Theater and Communications. Loving honesty and not really interested in rote repetition made me realize that a traditional career in the performing arts or as a journalist might prove a real challenge, so I kept working and trying things out.
One day (er, evening), I found my niche when I was removed from my post telling spooky stories at my kids’ elementary school Halloween party. The stories were too spooky. The other PTA Lady was a Gypsy Fortune Teller. (She is now a Judge — for real.) She asked me to take over while she took care of something. I did and people started lining up in the hallways for their readings, snaking through the corridors, asking our kids where their mom’s ‘shop’ was… I couldn’t see anything in her crystal ball, so I had people stick out their hands and read their palms.
From there, I gradually developed the concepts we use today of providing interactive event entertainment for people’s big moments. Whether it is Chocolate LipsReadings or a Zoltar Fortune Teller Booth (free human included), Food Readings or Golf Ball Readings, a Photo Booth or a Wild-Haired Waif trilling along the bannisters of a balcony while tossing Good Fortunes to the crowds, we look at how we can share your message with your guests, prospects, clients, employees, family, friends and the whole wide world in a way that will make you unforgettable.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road is smooth, it is paved with gold. No, not really. You know, even those people who want something different are the one’s whose eyebrows arch in disbelief when you tell them what you do.
I think the hardest moment for me was when I attended an event industry event that was a Toga Party. The temperature was literally close to a 100 degrees and really humid. I Youtubed some ideas, but then, strapped for time, decided to go without a costume. While pulling into the parking lot, I had the brilliant idea of just taking index cards (always have those babies) and riffing on René Magritte’s “Ce n’est pas une Pipe” by writing “Ce n’est pas une Togue” and safety-pinning it to my sweet little shift dress.
Arriving at the event, I was struck by how many ladies had apparently bought or rented toga costumes. I mixed and mingled. When the Toga Contest was announced and entrants were bid to line up, I slowly and deliberately rose from my seat and walked to the stage. There, I joined a bevy of toga-clad beauties. The audience was asked to vote using their applause. As the MC pointed to me, there was a wall of stone-cold silence. Afterward, I gracefully took my seat again, made it through the evening and ugly-cried all the way home. All that to say that taking risks can be tough. You are literally on your own. No matter how many people you work with or how many work for you, growth can’t occur without risk and there will always be nay-sayers and obstacles on the way. For me, they are the mile markers of my journey.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Handy Entertainment story. Tell us more about the business.
If I were to say to you that we love to serve real people, in real time with real entertainment, would that float your boat? How about Chocolate LipsReadings or Zoltar Fortune Teller Booth, or Food Readings — would you understand how we interact? Even Coffee Cup or Tea Leaf Readings can hold a whiff of what you need to share and can be tailored to hold a message that supports your cause or thrills your guests because it is about THEM.
Our mission: To graciously serve people of all ages, walks of life and beliefs, empower them to follow their passions, and to share the message with which we have been charged.
How do you do THAT with handmade chocolate ganache lipstick and beautiful, handmade cards? You make it allabout your client, their guests, their takeaway and information you can share that will help them understand how they are a part of it all.
We are known for bringing excitement and meaning to entertainment and events, of pushing the envelope when people say, “We want to do something different, but we always do [blah, blah, blah].”
Just the costumes themselves are sometimes enough to make you ponder, “Homeless or Hipster?” Recently while loading out of a big downtown hotel, the doorman body-blocked me as I came in, asking me what I needed. He seemed reluctant to let Little Miss Muffet pass.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The next 5-10 years hold enormous changes in all industries. In Live Events, many positions will continue to be rendered obsolete. The push towards outsourcing, automation, supply chain logistics, and continued developments in temporary and mobile 3-D printed accommodations will make live human interactions rarer and more desirable. Currently, we still have throngs of people paying dearly for the pleasure of being herded into ‘pleasure pits’ to ‘see/hear’ their favorites perform. How do we know that that image projected onto a screen is really the person we are being sold? People are beginning to segment their social interactions, and these groups are beginning to resemble the salons and soirees of past times. These movements have been sweeping through different milieus and have given rise to many popular experiences in the recent past: Micro-breweries, house parties, communes, mitigating your carbon footprint, farm-to-table—just to name a few. Live events also give people the ability to differentiate themselves and find others who share their interests and values.