• Meet Nikki McLain, She's Doing it All

    Ahead of the Curve

    POSTED November 5, 2019

Whether running her own distillery, cocktail room and event space at Royal Foundry Craft Spirits (RFCS) or juggling her full-time role as an account director for BCD Meetings & Events, Nikki McLain, CMP, a mother of two, dives into new challenges and opportunities head first.

MNM+E: How did you get your start in the industry?
[After college] I landed a PR job in Minneapolis where I was working on product rollouts, which ended up being events. I was coordinating venue locations and managing on-site logistics, so that’s where I got my first real taste for planning. I’m naturally Type A and love lists and getting things done, so events were a natural fit.

MNM+E: How has your experience influenced your work with RFCS?
I really drew from that planning experience to set clear goals for the kind of space we wanted to create. It’s a blank canvas that can be completely transformed to fit a guest’s style and needs. The event space is just as important as other elements of the business, so we’ve designed it to become so many different things to so many different people.

MNM+E: What are your goals for the future?
I have 17 years of industry experience in advertising, PR, meeting planning execution, strategy and account management roles. I loved those roles, but I don’t see myself going back to the day-to-day planning side of things, and what’s interesting about the distillery is being on the other side of that equation. Now I’m the supplier and the venue helping people create these amazing experiences. It’s just as rewarding, so that’s the focus and I can’t wait to see how things evolve from there.

MNM+E: How do you juggle it all?
: I perform better when I’m busy. During workday hours, BCD is my main focus and the distillery lends itself well to after-hours work. I have an amazing support system at home and a talented staff at RFCS I can rely on, but my No. 1 rule of thumb is to respond [to emails] within 24 hours or sooner. It’s a personal goal that helps to keep me moving. At the end of the day, it’s my name on the business, and I want people to know they’re in good hands. It’s definitely not easy, but you never know what’s coming. You have to stay ahead of that curve.

Passionate entrepreneurs and ESP Presents co-founders Matt Woodburn and Sarah Neukom collaborate to craft experiential events. 

ILM+E: What are your backgrounds in the industry and how did you come to establish your production firm?


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Gail Davis, founder and president of Dallas-based GDA Speakers, was working in corporate training for EDS when the phone rang. “One of my mentors called me and said, ‘There’s a position in the events department, and I think you should do it. It would be so easy for a working mom,’” says Davis, before adding wryly, “It was clearly someone who had never planned events.”