• In High Spirits With Rachel De Marte

    POSTED March 5, 2020
  • In High Spirits With Rachel De Marte

    POSTED March 5, 2020

For Chicago-based event planner and stylist Rachel De Marte, her bright, dynamic personality isn’t just one of her many amiable characteristics. It’s her calling card.

“I’m a big personality and a maximalist through and through. There’s definitely an energy and excitement level I bring to each event that you’ll start to grasp as we sit down together to brainstorm,” says De Marte. “‘Where does she get all of this energy?’ and ‘force of nature’ are things I hear all the time,” she laughs.

The Michigan native proudly embodies the party spirit—“De Marte Partay” was a strong suggestion for her company name and has even become a playful phrase amongst friends and clients—something she’s found to be an asset in her work. “When you’re passionate about what you do, you thrive on it and that translates through to my clients and their overall experience,” she says. “[Clients] will often thank me for helping them  enjoy  the  process  rather  than  stressing the logistics and that excitement can also build confidence  in that working relationship. They may  have  an  idea  they’re  excited  about, but not sure others will love. I’ll get so excited I’m talking a mile a minute, and they may be looking at me like I have three heads, but they know they’ve got a partner. They’re not going to get steamrolled.”

With a background in public relations and a fierce love of food, fashion and all things visual, De Marte got her feet wet in the industry working for a local caterer and in luxury retail, organizing boutique openings and fashion-forward events before carving out a niche for herself in food-focused events. Nearly 10 years after founding her own company and launching Italian eatery Pisolino, De Marte, has become a go-to style, design and F&B expert.

De Marte works with clients and a skilled team of high-caliber vendors to build events based on goal and scope through a style, function and F&B lens “with the full design flowing from there. It’s based a lot in the creative process and I do a lot of the brainstorming, menu design, and decide on the overall look on the front end to help thread that culinary focus through every component,” she says.

In her spare time, De Marte embraces her professional passion on the road. “I’m inspired by the power of food. It’s not just my 9-to-5, it’s in everything I do, so a lot of my personal travel is centered around the culinary scene. I travel to experience unique culinary culture, and I’m fortunate to always come back refreshed, recharged and full of new ideas for my professional work.”

As for the future, De Marte (who has dabbled in interiors and consults on all things lifestyle) jokes that her next career may lie in interior design but can’t wait to see where her next creative challenge takes her. “I’d love to do something on a container ship a la Crazy Rich Asians or maybe a private island. That’s right up my alley.” 

For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today. 


Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.


Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.