Here’s Why Gala Whisperer Erica Sarlo Loves a Bad Event

Portrait of Erica Sarlo by David Lê. All images courtesy of Sarlo.

Erica Sarlo likes to say she fell into event production twice. The first time was fresh out of RISD, where she got a BFA in furniture design. She graduated in the midst of the recession and knew she had to keep her employment expectations open. As fate would have it, she met the star event designer Susan Holland, whose clients included Oprah Winfrey, Bette Midler, and the Obamas. They worked together until 2020, when Holland retired and moved to Miami. At this point, Sarlo was planning to join a major fashion house, a project that fell through because of the pandemic. It wasn’t long before she got another decisive sign. In August of that year, an old client called to ask if she’d plan a ceremony for them. “I was like, ‘I’m just gonna do it,’” Sarlo recalls. “I got my LLC in two weeks, and just hustled.” 

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