BONITA SPRINGS, Fla — The last year hasn’t been easy, but in many ways Martha Perez and Megan Hersom feel like everything that’s happened has led them to where they are now. At the beginning of something special.
Their story is part of our SWFL Reinvented: Moving Forward series. Each Thursday, Fox 4 Morning News anchor, Chris Shaw, meets a person who has changed the course of their life to start a new business. Then, over the course of several months, he tracks their progress as they work to get their business off the ground.
Growing up, Martha was drawn to the event planning business, because she enjoyed creating an experience that would make someone's life better.
“And luckily at FGCU they had an event management program,” she says.
It was in that program, where Martha met a kindred soul in Megan.
“I like making people happy and seeing them celebrate life’s moments,” Megan says.
It’s a big competitive industry in Southwest Florida. There’s a lot of money in hospitality and event planning. So after graduation, both women went off on separate journeys to start their careers. Martha was working at a catering company in Naples and Megan was at a hotel in Vanderbilt Beach, when the pandemic crushed the entire industry.
“I was laid off from my job,” Martha says. "It was supposed to be temporary, but since so many businesses were going through a hard time, it became permanent.”
The same thing happened to Megan. And after the initial shock and pain and worrying about what was going to happen to their lives, separately the two old college friends had the same thought.
"Am I going to continue working for other people’s dreams, or am I going to be making my dream a reality,” is the question Martha asked herself.
“And that’s about the time Martha and I reconnected,” Megan says.
It all started over a cup of coffee.
“I knew I didn’t want to do it alone,” Martha says. "I wanted another business partner.”
“We wanted to take the chance,” Megan says. "Because we didn’t see any other options other than believing in ourselves.”
Initially their idea was to create at-home party planning packs, because at the time, people were looking for products they could use while social distancing at home. But as they drew up a business plan and talked to advisers, they realized they had something bigger to offer. Something much more significant. A business they call Valor Events.
“In our conversations, we realized there was a great need in the Spanish speaking community. Sometimes due to the language barrier, people don’t feel comfortable approaching a professional for help,” Martha. says. “Although they do believe they need it, they don’t know how to communicate with that person properly.”
“The reason why we settled on Valor, is because valor in Spanish means ‘values',” Megan says. “In the hospitality industry, your values are everything to you. So when we created these values, we wanted to be inclusive of everybody, that’s the main reason of creating our company.”
They see their business as a way to give people something they never knew they could have, a professional, authentic, yet affordable wedding or event. They did their first wedding in January and launched Valor in March.
“I want to give back to the community, I want to lift others up with myself as well,” Martha says.