BONITA SPRINGS, Fla .– Last year was not easy, but in many ways Martha Perez and Megan Hersom feel like everything that has happened has gotten them to where they are now. At the start of something special.
Their story is part of our SWFL Reinvented: Moving Forward series. Every Thursday, Fox 4 Morning News presenter Chris Shaw meets someone who turned his life around to start a new business. Then, over the course of several months, he tracks their progress as they work to get their business off the ground.
Growing up, Martha was drawn to the business of event planning because she loved to create an experience that would improve someone’s life.
“And luckily at FGCU they had an event management program,” she says.
It was in this program, where Martha met a soul mate in Megan.
“I love to make people happy and see them celebrate the moments in life,” Megan says.
It is a large, competitive industry in Southwest Florida. There is a lot of money in hospitality and event planning. So after graduating, the two women embarked on separate trips to begin their careers. Martha was working at a catering company in Naples and Megan at a hotel in Vanderbilt Beach when the pandemic crushed the entire industry.
“I was fired from my job,” says Martha. “It was supposed to be temporary, but since so many businesses were going through difficult times, it became permanent.”
The same happened to Megan. And after the initial shock and pain and worrying about what would happen to their lives, separately, the two old college friends had the same thought.
“Will I continue to work for other people’s dreams, or will I make my dream come true,” is the question Martha asked herself.
“And that’s about the time that Martha and I reconnected,” Megan says.
It all started around a cup of coffee.
“I knew I didn’t want to do it alone,” says Martha. “I wanted another business partner.”
“We wanted to take the risk,” Megan says. “Because we saw no other option but to believe in ourselves.”
Initially, their idea was to create home party planning packs, because back then people were looking for products that they could use while socializing at home. But as they came up with a business plan and talked to advisors, they realized they had something bigger to offer. Something much more meaningful. A company they call Valor Events.
“During our conversations, we realized that there was a great need in the Spanish speaking community. Sometimes, because of the language barrier, people don’t feel comfortable approaching a professional for help, ”Martha. said. “Although they think they need it, they don’t know how to communicate properly with this person.”
“The reason we chose Valor is because value in Spanish means ‘values’,” Megan says. “In the hospitality industry, your values are everything to you. So when we created these values, we wanted to be inclusive for everyone, this is the main reason for starting our company.
They see their business as a way to give people something they didn’t know they might have, a wedding or professional event that is authentic and affordable. They had their first wedding in January and launched Valor in March.
“I want to give back to the community, I also want to uplift others with myself,” says Martha.