GenXYZ: Deirdre Wildman, 38
Hospitalitarian and senior event designer, Four Five One Events/Catering By Design
As the top designer at Four Five One Events, Wildman produces more than 100 events annually throughout Colorado and the United States.
When did the catering bug bite?
I was a stay-at-home mom in my early 20s, and out of boredom, I found out how to sew, cook, and I loved to throw parties – you know all that Martha Stewart stuff. One day, someone said to me, ‘You know, you should be in the business of entertaining.’ After that, I was with Three Tomatoes Catering for seven years.
And you’ve been in the biz ever since?
I opened a restaurant for a few years, but I missed the creativity of catering, so I came back. My educational background was in journalism and marketing, but with opening and ultimately selling a restaurant, I like to say I gave myself an MBA.
What’s your focus at Four Five One Events?
I work only in the corporate and nonprofit world. When Microsoft held their convention in Denver a couple of years ago, they hired us. And when they moved the convention to Atlanta, they wanted us back so we packed up trucks and moved it all across the country. The events won prestigious catering awards.
Did the recession affect your industry?
The hardest year was 2009. Even the companies that still had money couldn’t do over-the-top things because of the whole perception of a company throwing around money in hard times. Today, in the corporate world, there’s more confidence in spending money. But nonprofits are always on a budget.
Do you enjoy rising to the challenge of working on a budget?
I love it when a nonprofit client says to me, ‘I can’t believe how far you’ve stretched my dollar.’
So what, exactly, is a hospitalitarian?
I needed a business card, and I thought, ‘What do I call myself? I’m not a philanthropist because I don’t have a lot of money to throw around. I work in hospitality.’ So I took a bunch of words, lumped them together and checked [Google]. And what’s great is they let me call myself a hospitalitarian here.