Liz Taylor has navigated the highs and lows of the business world to create one of the UK’s leading event management companies, Taylor Lynn Corporation. I took tea with the lady herself in her home village of Hale…
Liz Taylor has an excellent reputation, not only as a driven business woman with meticulous attention to detail but as a woman who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Sarah, her PR, has assured me that we’ll get on like a house on fire. I’m going to take that as a compliment!
As soon as we meet, the conversation flows, the ideas are buzzing and our time is up in the blink of an eye but what did we learn about the lady who is behind some of the most fabulous events in Cheshire and far beyond?
First and foremost, Liz is a mum. This is our second attempt to meet up as Liz had to dash to London for the birth of her granddaughter. Pride of place are the photos on her iPhone as she tells me that she has been busy turning the study into a nursery for when they come to stay. But we are soon down to business.
Liz puts a lot of her success down to the training she received as part of the Marks & Spencer Management Programme and her subsequent successful career in fashion retail, “it has been one of the best learning experiences in my life. It taught me discipline and organisation, without both of which I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
From spending even the short time I had with Liz, I would argue that these learned (or enhanced) skills are only part of the story. Without an intrinsic self-belief and pure determination I doubt Liz would be where she is today.
Following the birth of her first daughter Liz left M&S and, looking for something a bit more flexible, undertook some freelance fashion PR for a friend in Altrincham. At the same time she fell into organising small parties for friends which she found she loved and had a genuine knack for. She also set up a concierge company to help out travellers’ to the area whose luggage had been lost.
It was whilst discussing her ventures with contacts at The Midland Hotel that she was asked to organise their corporate client party. With a Hollywood theme complete with Oscars and jazz musician Chester Harriott (father to TV-chef Ainsley Harriott) at the piano the event was a huge success.
Seeing a gap in the emerging events market, Liz seized the opportunity. And so, following a divorce, two young daughters to care for and only a few hundred pounds in the bank she launched Liz Taylor Associates in 1985.
“At the time I was the only person in the North West organising events plus I had to work to look after my family,” Liz explains. “I’ve always been a glass half-full kind of person and often trust my gut-instinct just as much as the hard facts when making decisions. My husband, Roger, is always asking ‘are you absolutely sure?’ when I discuss ideas with him but it worked for me then and it works for me now. Sometimes you just know.”
Liz became the preferred supplier to Granada Studios Tour and 30 years later still works with some of the same clients and suppliers as the industry, and they have grown together. In 1995 she joined forces with colleague Dianne Lynn to form the Taylor Lynn Corporation which lasted until 2008 when Liz managed an amicable partnership buy-out.
“I love the challenges that the business throws at me and I thrive on short leads and what seem impossible situations,” continues Liz. “Every single day is different, you have no idea what the next call will be about. But the answer is never no!
“I think some people can get complacent but you are only as good as the last job you did. Whatever the budget you are given it has to be about the people who have hired you, you have to get inside the person, couple or company. There is no off-the-shelf solution and people are so often, staggered by what can be achieved.
“If you think about it, we’re putting on the equivalent of the opening night of a West End show for people, but we don’t get the luxury of a rehearsal!”
When I ask how Liz and her team of five achieve this time and time again Liz responds: “It’s all about attention to detail. Sometimes I get a crazy look from the team when I ask if they’ve counted all the napkins to make sure we have all that we ordered. But it is that attention to detail in every element of the event that makes it the perfect event. And I wouldn’t expect anything from them that I wouldn’t do myself.”
With this attitude and work ethic Liz has the confidence of top corporate, charity and celebrity names; Gary Barlow, Children in Need, Yaya Toure, Gary Neville, UEFA, Selfridges and Rothschild Bank to name just a few. Liz is also a proactive supporter of The Marina Dalglish Appeal and the Manchester United Foundation.
Having had the experience and success, as well as mentoring (Liz appeared on BBC Three’s Working Girls ) I ask what advice Liz would give to people setting up in business today: “By all means take the opportunities that are offered to you but in this economic climate you need more easily available cash than you used to, plus you don’t take a penny out for a long time. So you need a good support network, both emotionally and financially.
“Think seriously; understand the business, the goals and the strategies. To be honest I’d advise people go into a big company which is salaried at least as a starting point. It can be tough but it can be rewarding and it’s a steep hill to climb at the start of the journey!”
As we take in the cafe culture in Hale village, our conversation returns to Cheshire life, Liz has lived in Hale all her life. “Over the past few years we’ve had an influx of youth and we
alth and what you’ve got now is a really nice balance of old and new. The result is a vibrant but relaxed atmosphere which is great to have.
“Having said that I love being at home with the family, especially on a family Friday night. If I do go out I go to places off the radar in Chorlton, say. I do love San Carlo though.” Liz smiles. “I am the worst guest ever!”
Liz Taylor is happy with her lot. Her choices, training and self-belief have allowed her to look after her family and make some sensible investments, which in turn allow her to fuel her fascination with Chanel. “I was invited to the couture show last year at the Grand Palais, Paris. Now I would love to produce that event.”
Before we part, Liz is busy with preparations for an event she is organising in New York next week, I ask if she has any future plans we should watch out for. “I’d love to open a bar and restaurant. Something cool, trendy, but relaxed and chic. The party’s not over!” she laughs.