On the table in her cozy Fifth Avenue office, Funmi Dosunmu ’12 offers her clients a mimosa, a plate of sweets or just an Evian water. They are celebrating, after all. Most of them are planning for one of the biggest days of their lives. Adorning her walls are gorgeous shots from weddings that she’s planned.
Dosunmu juggles several entrepreneurial ventures at once – running a string of seven Medical Ear Piercing Clinics, started by her pediatrician mother while working to build up her event planning business, FMD Events, which she started in 2017 and has doubled in size this year. On tap for 2019 are three Cornell-related weddings along with a string of social and corporate events.
A pre-med and Asian studies major, Dosunmu worked as a healthcare analyst for a year after graduation and entered a management training program, only to realize she wanted to return to graduate school to study business. That’s when she began working as an event consultant with Chicago wedding planner Akeshi Akinseye, helping to plan weddings from Dubai to Los Angeles.
“Within three months, I was executing weddings by myself,” she said. “It’s all about being super organized and knowing what your clients want. I thought I was ready to start my own company.”
From the time she was 13 when she planned her family’s reunion, to her Cornell days, when she organized most of the events for the Nigerian Student Association and a dance group she started, Dosunmu said she’s always planned social events.
“I always was the girl who fantasized about having this huge wedding and would be planning my wedding in my head,” she said. “Still, I thought I might end up doing something with events, but I never thought I would be a wedding planner.”
From her time working with Akinseye, Dosunmu learned the importance of several key selling points – flowers, venue and photos. She’s networked with top industry professionals to find the best of the best in these categories. And she’s very busy on Instagram (@fmdevents), which she says is the main way she spreads the word about her business.
At a recent bridal show, the focus of her table was a giant, lush floral centerpiece with a slideshow of scenes of her at work playing nearby and a poster highlighting 10 reasons everyone needs a wedding planner. She booked three weddings on the spot and had 61 leads from that show.
The life of a wedding planner can be a bit chaotic and stressful, she said, sharing the story of a wedding where she acted as DJ for the first part of the reception, filling in for a professional who showed up late.
This year, she hopes to continue to grow her event planning business by providing month-of-coordination services for brides who want to plan their own weddings but need help pulling all the final details together. She also will expand beyond weddings and has already booked a 500-person conference for a nonprofit organization this fall.
“I’m always thinking about work and how to take it to the next level,” she said. “Seeing my parents own their own businesses from a young age, I think I knew that the 9-to-5 lifestyle wasn’t going to work for me.”
Being an entrepreneur with two growing businesses can be a nonstop balancing act, she said, but her Cornell experience prepared her well.
“Cornell gave me the ability to write and articulate my story well, while also improving my research abilities, which is how I’m able to source the best vendors for my clients and come up with creative ideas to take their events to the next level,” she said. “Through the challenging courseload, I learned how to be a responsible and resilient person.”