When you ask Michaella Holden, founder and chief experience officer of Minneapolis’ Lucent Blue Events + Design, how she got her start in event planning, she harkens all the way back to when she was 11. “I had a small birthday party entertainment service for kids that my best friend and I put together,” she notes. “I think that’s where I got the bite for events.”
After graduating magna cum laude from Barnard College and receiving a Master of Public Administration from New York University (NYU), the Northfield native who grew up on a turkey farm began her career in New York City, first with a small nonprofit, then at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and subsequently with David Stark Design and Production. As her career progressed, she made note of some concerns she had about the industry.
“Events can be extremely wasteful,” she says. “In fact, they’re second only to construction in how much waste they produce. … Having grown up on a farm and being a pretty strong environmentalist, it would be heartbreaking at these big venues in New York City. … I would gather everything up at the end of the day and ask the venue where I could recycle these things, and some venues didn’t recycle. Not only that, but after a really big event is done, you’re filling up a whole dumpster with garbage that goes to the landfill. I felt like there had to be a better way.”
When Holden moved back to Minnesota in 2015, she founded Lucent Blue, an event-planning company that prioritizes environmental responsibility. “I set out to produce events in the most sustainable ways possible,” she says. “We like to say we design with our blue planet in mind. We help our clients think about how they can minimize their environmental impact and their carbon footprint.” In addition, she employs decor with recyclable and sustainable materials, and contracts with vendors who have green practices built into their business models.
Holden has produced events for NFL on Location during Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis in 2018, Save the Boundary Waters, True North Collaborative, Cartier, Carnegie Hall, and the Metropolitan Opera, to name a few. Holden says, “Our goal is to become a leader in the events industry, both in creating fantastic, exciting, experiential events, and also in pioneering more sustainable practices in the events world.”