James “Doogz” McDonald Speaks On His Event Planning Inspirations, The Growth of Bask As a Creative Agency, Expanding the NYC Nightlife and More.

Creatives are constantly finding new and interesting ways to engage with their audience. A lot of those ideas are manifested through social media and then there are the ideas that help personal engagement and interaction on a different level. Over the years, NYC nightlife has grown into a new level of partying and letting loose. But, as of recently, day parties and bottomless mimosas have become the new crowd favorite. From throwing previous events like Wingz in the Trap to their upcoming event called Hold My Brunch, founder James “Doogz” and his creative agency Bask have been a major success in the event space over the last two years.

Bask continues to collaborate with independent creatives to help show that the NYC nightlife isn’t dead. More importantly, they are giving a new meaning to “targeting your audience.”

I had the pleasure of speaking with James to discuss his event planning motivations, why he decided to create Bask, the overall mission behind the brand and what’s to come for 2019. Check out the full interview below.

1 – Growing up, what inspired you to want to be a creative or involved in the creative space?

I’ve always felt the desire and want to create my own opportunities. Growing up I stayed involved in multiple extracurricular programs from Harlem Children Zone to BGR (In LES). I was part of a specific program called TRUCE in Harlem. They really helped me explore my different creative abilities. I wasn’t good at everything, but they gave me the opportunity to test the waters with shit. From painting to writing, this urge to create was embedded in me, not sure what I wanted to do, Event Planning and Curating social experience is something that I truly believe is for me.

2 – What motivating factors contributed to you wanting to be in the business of event planning?

I started off curating events in college at. I discovered my passion for planning events on and off campus. Before college, I ain’t even party like that. I wasn’t on that type of time. But a year into my tenure there, I got involved on campus from hosting house parties that had all of Monroe County coming popping out, to on-campus flexes that are still being done till this day. I would get excited and get a sense of pride and purpose from creating experiences and events that my peers could share in. Having an Idea or concept come into fruition is the dopest shit you can experience. I fell in love with the process of creating an idea and nurturing it as it involved to a time and place. Going to a predominately white college made the social interactions and events that more meaningful and important, gave a sense of community. From there I continued on after graduation to curate events and hone in on my aspirations and allowed my experiences stir my sense of direction.

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3 – How did you come up with Bask?

Bask was something I knew I wanted to create. It was a concept, that I felt overall described what everyone is trying to obtain. You want to Bask, to succeed, shine, or enjoy. Bask is the journey and the destination, the end goal of which we want in life and work. In my vision for the business, I want the work I do and the events I curate to embody that feeling of overwhelming satisfaction and comfort. The fact that the word isn’t prevalent in everyday talk. I saw a unique branding opportunity to take over this word for my own,

4 – In a world where NYC nightlife is everything and more, Bask seems to target a different audience. The brand is still in the beginning stages but how have you and your team been able to strategize ways around the typical nightlife scene?

The audience we cater to includes everyone who identifies with  “The culture” in a large part, but also on a more focused level, we encourage fellow creatives to pull up and enjoy themselves. Bask crowd tends to be diverse but mainly black and brown people as it was intended, but we promote inclusion. I feel that’s exactly what NYC nightlife doesn’t recognize, They want to include our music without actually including us, and that ain’t nothing new, but it has been the status quo for too long. Being able to be represented is important. When we decide to do an event, we make sure we are putting the effort in, we value and appreciate every participant who comes out and shares their time, money and energy with us. So we pay extra close attention to all details involved to cultivate fresh party themes that aren’t carbon copies of what is already out there.

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5 – What are the steps in creating an event for a client? Secondly, how do you make sure that the event is attracting and engaging with their intended audience?

As an Agency we want to work with brands that understand the value of catering to the correct audience and value the importance of identifying with them in unique yet honest ways. So before anything, we make sure that the client’s intentions align with our Company values. Then we assess goals and develop mock-up a plan of execution on how we could deliver on creating this experience. Though it is an agency- to-client relationship, we tend to approach with a collaborative method.  Understanding the client’s pasts accomplishments/ shortcomings and product assist in tailoring an event for the target audience. It’s understood that some events aren’t for everyone, that’s why depending on who the client is we rarely promote directly to the following we garnished because we don’t want to just solicit all and any events when we know the demo’s or interest do not align.

6 –  Is Bask NY a full-service creative agency or does your team just focus on the event aspect?

I would say we heavily focus on the event aspect, but so many moving parts go into it. Graphic Design, Content Creation, Promotions and marketing, plus management and ideation, all are handled in house.  I believe Events/outdoor advertising is probably in 2019 top 3 ways advertisers & brands reach their audiences to communicate. So in the process that includes digital media as well.

 

7 – How does the day-to-day event thrower go about securing sponsors and partnerships for their event? What leverage does one need to secure a top-tier sponsorship?

Honestly, securing sponsors is more about knowing what you need versus just looking to have them involved for the look of it, it has to actually be an applicable fit, make sense for not just you but them as well. While I know people are attracted to logos and promo sponsors, it has to be more in mind than the flyer. I’m a fan of developing relationships, I’m still mastering my craft, but the most success I received when acquiring sponsors came when I provided a proper proposal of the event with clear request and benefits. The best leverage you can have is your audience, the size, the type, the attention of the audiences outside their reach is what sponsors want, and if they recognize you as someone who has that ability to be some sort of an ambassador, they will cooperate. the trick is getting them to recognize that you have the audience they want and can’t get too.

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8 – What are some obstacles that you faced putting together the perfect event for a client?

Clients usually want more than they can afford. I don’t blame them, everyone wants the most return for the smallest investments. But managing those expectations is a challenge, specifically when the client is an artist or independent talent. A lot goes overestimated and you want to balance keeping your client engaged but also informed. Planning itself is an obstacle, its a process of overcoming obstacles one after another to keep it a buck.

9 – You and your team have done a few events dating back to 2017. Do you have a favorite one? If so, why?

I have about 3 favorites, they are our in-house produced events. But if I had to choose my favorite event I personally enjoy is National Patron Papi Day. It’s a day party vibe / DIY Holiday/ block party. I figured everyone always competes in the summer to host something on July 4th or whatever, I rather create my own day into a Holiday and throw a party in its celebration. National Patron Papi Day is the first Saturday in August. If you love tequila and being outside day drinking and vibing, this holiday is for you. Unlimited Tequila, food and we plan on adding more for 2019. It literally always is a vibe, we always rent out a spot to do it in too. No clubs or venues, only lofts, warehouses, places we can make our own and be unbothered and Basking.

10 – What are some things you’ve about event planning throughout this beginning stage of your career? Secondly, what advice can you give to the aspiring event planner?

Consistency is key. The more you dedicate to your craft, the better you will get, the more experience you can gain the better off you are. Also, there is no avoiding failure, embrace it, learn from it and flip it. I’ve learned that I’ll always continue to learn and it’s best not to make the same mistakes twice. Also, work with passionate people, like truly passionate, talent is important, but I’ve seen it wasted.  Advice for aspiring event planners would be to be a student of the game, study the process and propose and science behind it, looking into case studies, do research based on the type of events you would like to plan and write down all your ideas. Treat your ideas like rappers do their rhymes, it will all be worth something eventually.

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11 – What can we expect from Bask in 2019?

Expect more curated content and brand visibility. I want people to not identify us as party promoters, but curators and a reliable source for idea development and execution. Allow us to work for you so YOU can Bask. For our audience, expect more fun and memories made. Events such as Wingz in the Trap, Throw it Back, and National Patron Papi will all be on the schedule. We are looking to establish each as our stable events and build on the brand and experience for each. I actually have a full staff now, so ideas and creativity will be at an all-time high. Also working on really being a more prevalent Owner, I usually play the back, but I’m full throttle this year and plan to cover a lot of ground!

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