Happy Boss Babe Wednesday, ladies! I’m really looking forward to introducing you to Christal Kotchman-Giardina of CKG & Associates and Toast On The Town. I met Christal in November of 2017 at her Toast On The Town Fall Harvest Dinner. Chef Rosana Rivera & Chef Ricardo Castro of Piquant were her featured Chefs and I was Piquant’s Event Manager for the event. The Fall Harvest Dinner was a 7 course dining experience for 75 attendees, & it was beautifully put together and full of heart. Christal is so thoughtful & down to Earth. I know you’ll be encouraged by her stories, big goals, & her heart. Enjoy her words. xx
Tell us about yourself and what you do!
My name is Christal Kotchman-Giardina. I was born and raised in Florida's Tampa Bay Area (Seminole, FL). My education and background is in business and marketing. I am the Founder and CEO of CKG & Associates (AKA CKG EVENTS) an Event Planning, Design and Marketing Company. We love creating meaningful events with lasting impressions. In addition to planning a variety of events for our clients, we started our own local event series called Toast on The Town. Toast is unique dinning experiences that showcase local chefs and tour in Tampa’s best venues and creative spaces. Toast is all about bringing community together to gather around the table, and enjoy local food and having a good time.
How did your business begin?
I’ve always been creative and an entrepreneur at heart. After 5 years, of dabbling in a few marketing roles out college and working in Corporate America, I knew I would start my own business one day. I didn’t realize it would happen as fast as it did, but I was engaged and got married and my husband played professional baseball, which consisted of a lot of travel, and sure enough it took us to NY for almost a year. In order to keep our marriage a priority and be together, I had to work remote. I took a huge step of faith to resign from my job at that time and launch CKG. Fun fact is it actually all started in Long Island, NY.
What’s 1 challenge you’ve faced and 1 success you’ve had since you’ve created your business?
I’ve created and planned a variety of events for my clients over the years and was able to successfully share their visions and story, but to launch Toast on The Town as our own event series and brand, something I’m personally passionate about was both challenging and successful for me. It’s also a community event that anyone can come to and enjoy, which I’ve never had to market to a public audience before vs a guest list that was already established with my clients. So far, we’ve Sold Out every event – success. This tells me that our community is enjoying what we are creating for them and that couldn’t make me happier.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and has it come in handy for you?
I used to play softball and trained with my Dad growing up. He was not only my dad but also a professional baseball coach and scout. He always told me to remember the 3 H’s and use them. My Head, Heart and Hustle. WOW, does that apply to everything in life. Use, your head and knowledge trusting the way you think, your heart because your passionate about what you do, and Hustle – keep grinding every day working hard at everything you do.
When are you at your happiest?
When I have my favorite coffee drink a “Cortado” and working ;) My creative fuel I call it.
On a serious note, definitely the day of our events when we get to see our clients or guests attending light up, smile and enjoying themselves. My heart is smiles, knowing that all the planning details leading up to the big day were worth it.
What do you tell yourself when things get difficult?
If it was easy, everyone would do it. I like a challenge knowing that hard work produces great rewards. When you remember Why you started your business, it motivates you to keep going.
What are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the love and support from my husband, Carmine. He encourages me daily to believe in myself and have fun with my business because it’s what I love to do.
What’s 1 personal goal and 1 business goal you plan to accomplish this year?
1 Personal goal is to pick up a hobby. LOL, I work a lot and decided I need to pickup something fun I can learn. This year that is hand lettering.
1 Business goal would be to continue to add value to Toast on The Town and our guests. I believe this is through an exclusive Membership program where there are even more experiences and local perks to enjoy be being a part of the Toast Family!
Where can you be found on a Tuesday afternoon?
Working at a local coffee shop. Gotta have good brew and support local.
Where can we find you on a Friday evening?
Enjoying a nice dinner and maybe social drink out with Hubby or Friends.
Where can you be found on a Sunday morning?
Church & then a great brunch spot.
Finish these sentences:
I love: Trying new things and supporting local.
I’m always looking for: New local spots to adventure too. Restaurants, coffee shops, fun things to do in our city etc.
My inspiration is: Being surrounded by other successful creatives, local business owners within my industry and city.
I’ll never: Lose faith, and stop living out what I believe to be my purpose.