Anyone who has ever attempted to coordinate an event from an intimate dinner party for 20 to a gala for 1,000 people, understands the value in enlisting the services of a professional coordinator and event designer. One person who epitomizes perfection in her attention to every detail is Carlyn Millea, owner of Risa Whitney Events. “I believe that my being a perfectionist has fueled my success!"
She explains, “I thrive on creating beautiful things for people; if they are thrilled, I'm happy! I love working with people. I have coordinated and designed decor and florals for all size events including weddings, dinner parties, holiday parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, corporate galas and many other special occasions!”
Carlyn has degrees in fine arts and journalism and has been in business together with her husband Brian for most of their 26 years of marriage. “Previously we owned a rental/event company in Tempe. Through that company we often donated items for many events including Fresh Start, the Phoenix Opera, the Heart Ball and Hospice of the Valley. We have also contributed floral designs for different events and formal galas. I feel especially moved to help those organizations that are involved in helping women and their children in crisis.”
The Millea family came to Arizona twenty years ago after Carlyn's parents had relocated to the area. “I absolutely love the winters here! We also find the scenery unbelievable, and enjoy the whole way of life we experience here.”
Travel is an important facet of Carlyn’s design philosophy. "In addition to tourning the magnificent cathedrals, architecture and museums in the major capitals of Europe, I love venturing into the countryside, going into the little villages where the cultures of a country are accentuated. Throughout my travels to Italy, France, England, Belgium, Norway and Denmark, I always am aware of design elements that I might incorporate into my work. I take thousands of photos thanks to digital photography, and I love capturing the essence of an area through my photography."
She continues, “A year ago we took a trip to Egypt, including four days in Cairo, four days on the Nile, and four days on Lake Aswan. It was an amazing culture shock. I have never experienced anything quite like an ancient village like Nubia. We have also traveled to Athens, the Greek Aisles and Istanbul. I am fascinated with other cultures, their use of color and natural elements in their designs and the diversity of people all over the world. When I return home, I try to incorporate these influences into my designs."
Now along with her event business, Carlyn and Brian have just opened a LabXPress franchise in Scottsdate at 90th Street and Via Linda. “We actually are the first LabXPress franchise of a company that has been based in Phoenix for 20 years. Our location is a draw site where samples are
drawn and then sent to our lab headquarters in Phoenix for processing."
A woman with an entrepreneurial spirit, Carlyn Millea is your go-to person when you want something done right!
Who inspired you to give back to your community? My Family. I always remember how lucky I am to have them in my life.
Which fundraising event is your favorite? There are many, but I always feel good about helping women in crisis and children especially.
Favorite restaurant? I really like Wildfish, but we often have fun at
Greasewood Flats too!
Who do you most admire, and why? Katherine Hepburn. She was a woman’s woman, long before it became fashionable. She spoke her mind, wasn't intimidated by social mores, and she was a brilliant actress.
If your life were a movie, who would you want to play your part? Meryl Streep. I feel her brilliant chameleon abilities as an actress allow her
to portray anyone from 6 foot tall Julia Child to 5 foot tall me.
Do you have any pets? Yes, Misty. She is a Chow Shepherd mix who we
rescued from the pound. She celebrates her 15th birthday this year.
She’s an incredible being.
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? There was a lot of love living here. Our children were raised here and our
lives took shape here. Also, our home is always evolving from a design
standpoint. One never knows what changes one might find each time they
enter our abode!
What's the best lesson you're learned through the years? Patience. Being a perfectionist and wanting everything done IMMEDIATELY, is daunting. I've learned to pace myself and realize that there's nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.
What was your first job? I started babysitting at 10 and was an assistant
at a day camp at 12. But my first real job was as a waitress in high
school. It was an invaluable experience in learning about people and
service, something I have used in every working experience to this day.
Whether serving food at a little mom and pop restaurant or creating an
event for 1,000 people, the service ethic must be there. Never give
people less than I would accept for myself.
What is your greatest indulgence? Travel. I love seeing new places,
meeting new people and experiencing other cultures. (It's a toss up
between travel and great food!)
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Motherhood. There is no greater reward than to have nurtured two little children, Lauren
and Chase, who have become amazing, responsible, young adults. My husband Brian and I are so proud of both of them.
What is your most treasured possession? I'm over possessions. I love
pretty things but there is nothing I couldn't live without except my
What is the quality you most like in people? Sincerity. Knowing someone is who they purport to be.
Favorite books / Writers? Stuart Woods, Linda Fairstein, Elizabeth Adler, Robert Parker. I love a good mystery.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Deplore is a strong word, but I wish I weren't such a perfectionist. It’s very hard to live up to my expectations!!! On the other hand, it has fueled my success.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty, without question.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? When I do find it, spending time with family and friends. Traveling, of course and being out doors when Arizona allows.
What would we be most surprised to know about you? Sometimes I'm really insecure. Although, I think a bit of insecurity is a good thing it
prevents one from becoming arrogant about their talents.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Stay true to myself.
What are some challenges facing nonprofits? The economy I presume. I’m not an economic specialist, however, I would gather that people would
worry about their own well being first. Hopefully as recovery continues,
non-profits will thrive.