Kendra Nicastro – Scoring Goals with Baby Bonanza and Kid's Expo
Take a look at some of the most successful business people and you’ll find that many of them followed a similar formula when designing their careers: take something that interests you or you have an aptitude for, figure out where you can meet an unmet need, work really hard, learn from failure, stay ahead of the competition and if you play your cards right, you end up with a career that’s not only interesting and prosperous but also rewarding.
Such has been the case for Kendra Nicastro, owner of K.C.’s Creative Events and producer of the annual Baby Bonanza and Kid’s Expo, who found her niche in the show world by combining her extensive event planning skills with a passion for parenting.
“At the time, I had two young kids and was saying to my husband, it’s difficult to be a parent; there are so many different things you have to know and so many resources out there that people don’t know about,” Nicastro said. “I wanted to create an opportunity for families and expectant parents, a one-stop-shop where they could gather a wealth of information on a variety of products and services, take it home, digest it and use it if they could.”
She added, “The baby and child industry is a happy industry and there are always so many new and unique products. There is a gadget, thingamabob or thingamajig for everything and you wonder how you ever managed without it – I love it!
But the Ohio native’s journey into the show world didn’t start with her interest in kids, it began with her first passion: soccer.
“I played through college and a little bit after college,” Nicastro said. “Following college, I worked for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew and handled special events and player appearances. After that, I worked for a nonprofit organization and handled large community events and galas.”
She added, “I really enjoyed organizing large events, so several years later, I decided to start my own business and created the Baby Bonanza and Kid’s Expo. I think I have that organizing, thinking-of-the-little-details type of personality, so (show organizing) kind of came naturally for me.”
Now known as one of the largest consumer maternity, baby and kid’s shows in the Midwest, the six-year-old Columbus-based event continues to grow in size and participation year over year, Nicastro said. So much so, that her company recently created a second Baby Bonanza, which will take place for a second time in Cleveland this November.
So what stops her from taking this successful event into other markets in the immediate future? According to Nicastro, the primary reason comes down to a very important factor in her life: maintaining a solid work/life balance.
“I found that the first four years (producing the expo) were difficult,” Nicastro said. “My kids would say, ‘you’re always on the computer,’ so I had to step back, re-evaluate and budget my time a little bit differently because they’re only kids once, and I didn’t want to miss that. I started working a little bit differently and more efficiently and looked into different systems and outsourced some things, which really helped.”
She added, “I work a lot at night when the kids are in bed, I’m still a Girl Scout leader, and I don’t miss their soccer practices or games. During expo time it can be really difficult but the nice thing now with this expo is after doing it a handful of years we have systems in place and that makes it so much easier.”
Although Nicastro has managed to find a healthy balance between career and family, she’s still an event organizer, and that means handling a lion’s share of tasks and stressors, especially around show time.
“My mind is always racing with things that need to be done, whether personal or professional,” Nicastro said. “I keep a pad of paper by my bed and will write down items that I think about during the night, such as potential exhibitors to contact, media relationships that need developed, questions for the show venue or event decorator, etc.”
She added, “For me, the two months leading up to the show are the most stressful, specifically when we meet the deadlines for all of our media. This is the time when I am up at night.”
Work-related demands aside, Nicastro appears to have designed a life that fits, one that includes spending quality time with her husband and two kids, being an active soccer mom and most recently, returning to the game herself.
“I enjoy reading, playing and watching soccer, and following Ohio State basketball and football,” Nicastro said. “Our son Gabriel is 10 and our daughter Eva is seven and they both play soccer, so we are always going to practices and games. I also play on a co-ed soccer team and a women’s soccer team. It’s a social thing, it’s fun, there’s no pressure, and it’s not so fast-paced that you feel like you’re out of shape … it’s really good exercise!”