Jordi Stringfellow is a former television executive and USC-trained lawyer who gave that all up in 2001 to start Jordi & CO, a party-planning business. She’s orchestrated the small (dinner and cocktail parties), the large (Christmas and anniversary parties) and every kind of event in between. The business grew out of motherhood—she had two small children and was struggling with the long hours her TV-exec career demanded. She’d always loved planning events, and the idea for her new enterprise changed her life.
While her forte is planning in-home or unusual-venue events for 10 to 200, her talent for creating tablescapes, floral arrangements and invitations factors into every job. Jordi has been featured in Bon Appetit’s “Entertaining with Style” section, a testament to her talents as an entertainer. She lives in Pasadena with her husband Dean, her (college bound) daughter Samantha, and her son Stevie who is currently off training as a cadet at West Point. When she’s not at a local high school drama or musical production for her daughter, she’s planning events for clients and friends. We talked with Jordi about her career and her love of Pasadena.
What inspired your transition from lawyer and executive to event planner?I loved my work, but the long hours were taking a toll on raising my children. Around the same time, I was developing a reputation as a hostess, cook and entertainer, and friends were asking me to help with their parties. Eventually, with some encouraging words from my husband, I realized my calling. I get to employ my creative side and I still get to use my law-school-trained mind when I’m tending to the details of each event.
Did you get help from anyone during this transition?
Yes, I garnered advice from one of the most beloved women in our area, Sue Campoy, the founder of Julienne. Sue encouraged me and gave me great advice. We related to each other on several levels in that we both had children, we both started out doing “something else” and then changed careers, and we both had breast cancer.
What events have been your favorites to plan?
Intimate dinner and cocktail parties and kids’ parties are closest to my heart, but I enjoy doing parties of all sizes. I love the holidays, and I have as many boxes of Halloween decorations as I do Christmas decorations—and that’s saying something!
Truthfully, some of my favorite things to plan are not actual events, but themes for seasonal decor and everyday living. With seasonal decorating, my approach is specific: show me what you have, what your family and close friends want to see on display every year, and what you cannot imagine Christmas without, or tell me about a fantasy Christmas theme that you’ve never executed. I design a decor that will bring it to life while incorporating heirlooms.
How has being in Pasadena helped your business?
It was born in Pasadena! My longest-standing clients are still friends and neighbors. Through word of mouth from those very same friends and neighbors, I found clients from here to Malibu. My first decor client was a neighbor who hired me to decorate her home for Christmas. I speak the same language as my clients who live here. I know the restaurants they go to, the florists they’ve hired, who hosted the last parent party, and so on. And I know what other people have done for parties, so I can come up with something original. Just because this is a small town doesn’t mean we can’t be on the cutting edge. In the end, these are the people I want to work with. I do events elsewhere, but Pasadena is home.
Given that times are tough, any tips for throwing a party on a budget?
Well, if I told you all my secrets, no one would hire me! In recent years, we’ve done plenty of parties on a budget. The trick is to know where to spend the money and where to use smoke and mirrors. I have my go-to places for decorative touches; I call them “props” but many times the clients end up buying them. I have a network of professionals I work with regularly, so I know how to stretch a budget.
What’s changing in the world of event planning?
One change is the disappearance of flashy parties and the trend toward smaller, more intimate events. One of Jordi & CO’s basic precepts is to encourage clients to tailor their events to their personalities. One of my goals is to help people re-learn how to entertain at home. Greener events, which employ sustainable, farm-to-table foods, are currently popular, and I see this as a lasting trend. Lastly, I see a change in the kinds of gifts people give. We do personal shopping and gift packaging, and I see customers moving toward consumables (i.e. food products) as gifts, and that trend will continue.
What’s a particularly memorable party?
Once I created an event for a world traveler who had been just about everywhere on the globe except for Africa. We wanted to take her, and her guests, somewhere even she had never been, so we had an African-themed party. I researched the cuisine of several African countries, and each course involved an authentic food. Everything represented the culture, from the music, to the drinks, to even the place cards. In this case, the place cards became conversation pieces: One guest who didn’t like to travel was the “Accidental Tourist,” another guest who dreamed of being a big game hunter was “Hemingway,” and the honoree was “Karen Blixen.” The guests have talked about their monikers for years, and it was a joy to plan.
Lastly, you have a free day in Pasadena—how do you spend it?
I have my own business, so you could say I never have a free day—or I always have a free day. My husband and I are, predictably, foodies and movie buffs so you’ll find us eating out and hitting the ArcLight or the Laemmle. We live a stone’s throw from the Norton Simon, but you’ll more often find us at Nicole’s in South Pasadena or the Market on Holly, gathering ingredients for an impromptu dinner at home with friends while watching Army play football.
You can contact Jordi at jordiandco.com.