By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Celebrations continue on a grand scale for Tundra Williams and her event-planning business during the COVID-19 pandemic—they’re just more intimate.
“Love doesn’t stop. Celebrations don’t stop,” she said. “We just want to be mindful and be safe while celebrating, so I encourage my clients to examine their guest lists and make sure they have those important people they really want to be there standing beside them or attending their special event that means everything to them.”
Those gatherings include baby and bridal showers, birthdays, weddings, and some corporate events.
“[Each client] has spent time, money, and energy to celebrate their day, and that does not have to be impacted by COVID-19,” Williams said. “We just have to find a way to navigate through it and make it a success. Intimate doesn’t mean it can’t be grand if that is what your style is.”
The 36-year-old Arkansas native is the owner of Premiere Reflections Events, an event-planning and design boutique that serves Birmingham and surrounding areas. The name of the company, which launched this year, comes from Williams’s sorority pledge class, known as the 25 Reflections of Essence; she chose Premiere “… to make sure [every event] is a grand premiere for any client.”
“I want to present something to them and their guests that they maybe have never experienced or seen before,” she said.
Though her business launched just as the pandemic began to slow the economy, Williams said she has been blessed.
“I’d done about 20 events for clients between last fall and the time I launched. When COVID-19 hit, I was in the process of planning a wedding that was supposed to take place in May … with 250 guests in Mobile,” she said. “I was nervous because I was like, ‘What will this mean for my clients? I’ve got to step up to the plate and remain positive.’ … We had to postpone it, so it pushed us all the way to January 2021.”
Williams made sure the client knew her dream day was still going to take place. The couple decided on an intimate wedding and a big reception scheduled for January.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Williams hasn’t slowed down.
“I’ve found a way to maintain my tenacious spirit and offer clients a way to do the same type of events and get the same service,” she said.
Putting Fear Aside
Williams has been planning events since she was a child.
“Every time my parents would have gatherings, I loved serving people and making sure they had everything they needed,” she recalled. “It was interesting that I had a passion for that, even at a young age.”
Williams grew up in Jonesboro, Arkansas. with her parents and older sister. Her mother, Erma, worked as a schoolteacher, and her father, Richard, was a general manager with FedEx. At church, she was involved with the youth choir and youth dance ministry. In school, she cheered for six years and loved to dance and entertain.
“I was known as a little hostess,” Williams said. “I was very detail oriented, making sure my parents’ friends had what they needed to be entertained and that kind of thing.”
The family moved to Hoover, Alabama, when her father got a promotion. Williams attended Hoover High School for her 11th and 12th grade years. After graduating in 2002, she attended the University of Alabama (UA) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she continued her service to others.
“I became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Lambda Zeta Chapter, in spring 2004,” she said. “That was very impactful for my experience at UA because we were very active. … We stayed involved in community service and outreach and also serviced the students on campus.”
Williams also was the event chair for her sorority.
“I loved planning events. I loved the detail of it. When I graduated, I knew I eventually wanted to go into corporate event planning,” she said.
And she got her chance in 2016, when she became a part of the UA Black Alumni Association and served as its event chair. She helped plan the UA Homecoming 2017, which welcomed back 400 alums to participate in a weekend of activities, including the Houndstooth and Heels event.
“It was awesome,” she said. “It took a year of planning, and the committee worked very hard.”
But it was the Black Greek Alumni Reunion in 2019 that let Williams know it was time to go out on her own.
“I kept getting calls and emails from sorority sisters and others … asking if I was going to keep doing this on the side because I handled everything from the planning to the concept and design and the theme,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m still working full throttle, and I have two kids, [Ethan, 4, and Amiya, 2].’ I was just nervous about how I would juggle it all.”
With support from her husband, Gregory, Williams found a way to put fear to the side.
“I said to God if He would just make room for my gift, I would give it my all,” she said. “I started doing little small stuff, whether it was decorations for my church anniversary or doing small bridal and baby showers, intimate birthday dinners.”
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams has done several Quarantine Events, including virtual baby and bridal showers, graduation celebrations, and more.
Williams is also the co-curator of Pumps Empower, an annual event for local women to network and come together to promote collaboration.
“I was amazed by the ladies I encountered that were motivated, goal-oriented, and not fearful at all to just step out there and make things happen in their different industries. It was so empowering to me,” she said. “When speaking to my co-curator, Carlisha Hartzog, I wanted to find a way to bring all of those ladies together.”
Williams vividly remembers the first Pumps Empower meeting, which took place in October 2019 during Magic City Classic weekend.
“I was looking around the room, and it was filled with women from all backgrounds, of all ages,” she said. “We had a nice range of ladies from different industries all coming together to mix and mingle, to interact with each other. … We probably would not do that in a normal day, week, or month.”