By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For The Birmingham Times
When organizers of the Central Alabama Sickle Cell Foundation Inc.’s annual Sickle Cell Gala wanted a Motown-themed evening, they knew who to call: Double Edge Events.
The Birmingham-area company—owned by the aunt-and-niece duo Cathy Cumbie and Danielle Baskin—has been the creative force behind several political and fundraising events, including one last month for the World Games 2021, with Chef Clayton’s Food Systems at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
February’s Sickle Cell Gala featured Rickey Smiley as the celebrity guest and co-host, but the renowned comedian and syndicated radio show host is just one of many big-name performers and groups that have teamed up with Double Edge Events. The company’s clients have included gospel recording artists Marquita Anthony, William Murphy, Jonathan Nelson, and Marvin Sapp, as well as prominent organizations like the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
Baskin remembers helping to design event spaces since her formative years.
“I always decorated with my mother,” she said. “I remember when she used to do the annual [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] Unity Breakfast every year, and different political events and golf tournaments around the city of Birmingham. I would go and work with her, so I guess it’s safe to say it runs in the family. “
In 2015, Baskin and her aunt, Cumbie, formed Double Edge Events—a company that gets its name from a Bible verse: Hebrews 4:12, which reads in part “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any doubled-edged sword[.]”
Cumbie and Baskin did not foresee a business partnership as part of their aunt-and-niece relationship, but after coordinating and designing numerous family events, Cumbie knew their collaboration would work.
“When we decorated and designed my daughter Jasmine’s wedding and reception, I knew then that I wanted to be permanent partners with [Baskin],” Cumbie said. “She was phenomenal. After my daughter’s wedding, I saw that together, along with the help of our family members, we did an amazing event. I felt that we should share this experience, our talents, and our expertise with other brides.”
The two made their business official two years ago: “On Christmas Day in 2015, I gifted [Cumbie] her first set of business cards with our new name and a copy of our new business license. We were all set for the New Year—and new business,” said Baskin.
Double Edge does weddings, bridal showers, dinners, and smaller events.
“Once we teamed up for business, we were already on the same page,” Baskin said. “We had a very specific type of client in mind. We knew we wanted corporate events, fundraisers, and conventions—and that’s exactly what we go after with Double-Edge Events.”
The business combines Cumbie’s experience as an independent event coordinator, who has done major events around Birmingham for more than 40 years, and Baskin’s advertising expertise from the time she worked in the cyber department at YellowPages.com.
“Marketing, branding, and public relations all are encompassed in Double Edge Events. They all tie in to our design, décor, and coordination,” said Baskin.
Cumbie said, “Yes, event coordinating and décor design are two separate services. My favorite part of what we do is coming up with the design that fits the event. I especially love when there is a theme. My mind goes wild. My proudest moments are when we reveal the design and the decor to the client. The look of amazement on their faces always thrills me.”
The duo sees the company as a family affair “mainly because we have men in our family who do most of the labor,” Cumbie said.
“I am a mother of six, four of whom are currently in college; I have two boys and four girls,” she said. “Danielle’s son, my two boys, and my husband do most of the labor for our events. The girls do a lot of the small tedious work we need done.”
What do they see in the future for Double Edge Events?
“We see ourselves in a [physical] space. We are looking for a space to house all of our equipment, services, staff, etc., in one location.” Baskin said. “And we’re always looking for corporate events and fundraising opportunities. There is always a need for what we do, so we look for … opportunities to handle event coordinating everywhere.”
“In the next five years, I see us having more business than we can handle. Opportunities [are always] presented,” said Cumbie, who recently spent five days in Nashville, Tenn., at the world headquarters for the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. helping the group plan for its 2017 convention in St. Louis, Mo.
Gift of Beauty
The businesswomen say some projects go beyond what they do to make a living. For example, Baskin said, “Individually, we both have taken on pro-bono work. And together, we have decorated for the Sickle Cell Foundation’s Christmas affair; designed the décor for and coordinated the Mission Hugs Inc. annual fundraiser pro-bono. They are both full on with décor, lights, dancing, photo booths—and they’re so much fun.”
“We do this because these organizations serve families with special medical needs,” Baskin said. “It’s hard enough to be in and out of the hospital or sick with a disease or illness. We want them to feel joy and love. “
Baskin and Cumbie said, “It’s a blessing to give the gift of beauty to our clients. When we serve on that level, we can feel the love of God upon us.”
Other stories in this series: