Every celebration, whether it’s a product launch or a wedding, requires a huge amount of planning. Nick Oxborrow understands the challenges of running a fun, fabulous – and seamless! – event all too well.
You have a long Singapore connection; tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Singapore after my father moved here in 1968. Our family have lived both here and Malaysia, and while I’ve lived around the world – in the UK, Switzerland and the US – Singapore is home. Ten years ago, I came back to start my business after having lived in London for a few years.
Fabulation is a fab name! Tell us the story about your company’s name and what you were wanting to achieve when you started it.
A friend of mine had told me that I should call my business Fabulous because my parties she had been to were always exactly that! At the time, I thought it was just a fun thing to say but I didn’t take it too seriously. A few months later, I was sitting with a friend in a coffee shop in London and we were brainstorming names for my business and came up with Fabulous and Celebration – and together they turned into Fabulation. When I got home, I looked up the word and found out that it actually has roots in the word “fable” and it means “to tell a story with fantasy”. I see myself in many ways as a storyteller – I translate the way people want to celebrate into reality; so, this finally gave my idea meaning, and it decided the name for me.
What are your proudest moments?
By far the proudest is reaching 10 years of business this year and having memories of all the amazing people who have worked with me and all the amazing people who have entrusted us with their events and parties. There are some stand-out moments, like meeting David Foster at the Sun Festival Tent we designed in 2010, or more recently styling the Clifford Pier at the Fullerton Bay Hotel for a traditional Singapore-themed event for an American client. We brought all the guests over on bum-boats from MBS and served them champagne on board. I remember taking a ferry from Clifford Pier as a child so it was special to me.
What are the most challenging parts of running the business?
You have so many balls in the air, with cash flow, staff challenges and multiple events on the go. We don’t have a dress rehearsal, so we only have one shot at getting the event right. The planning has to be meticulous: that means the champagne has to be cold at 7pm, and – come rain or shine – I have to keep everyone focused so that it all happens. There’s a lot of pressure and it’s stressful for everyone making it happen, but we work as a team and it always works out in the end. When you see all the guests having a good time, smiling and laughing, it makes it all worthwhile.
What are the most enjoyable parts?
I love that special moment just before the guests arrive, when the whole team has worked so hard to make everything look beautiful. The candles are lit, the champagne is cold and the music is playing – it all looks perfect. There is a sense of satisfaction and achievement before the guests arrive that’s like no other. I liken this work to building sandcastles – we spend a lot of time making a perfect creation but in the morning the waves have washed it all away. The moment is fleeting and we are on to the next project.
How has the market changed over the ten years?
Social media has changed people’s expectations. When I started my business in 2008, we did not have Pinterest or Instagram; I’d just started using Facebook. Now, social media is endless and people have much more access to their own sources of information. Whereas before they might have had to rely on a professional to provide the ideas, now more people arrive much more clued up on what they want and what their expectations are. Our jobs as experienced party planners are to take people’s expectations and show them what works, and turn their ideas into reality – and ultimately make their dreams come true.
What are you looking forward to – new ideas, plans?
I want to keep helping people tell their stories – whether it’s their love story, their 50 years of life story or their brand story; we want to continue to be new, imaginative and of course – Fabulation!
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