Our Founder Is Turning 50!

Our intrepid leader, Birgess Angelus, is turning 50 this month! It’s been two decades since B Line Events was born, and with these important milestones this year we sat down with Birgess to chat about women in business, the artistry of event production, and what it’s like turning 50.

First things first, happy birthday! Are you planning anything special for your 50th?

“Of course!” Birgess exclaimed. “That’s how I express myself – through events!”

She’s done a lot of reflection and internal processing over the last year, she said. “I do this before big decades. I was freaking out before I turned 40. I was freaking out before turning 30. Before I turned 20 I just couldn’t wait to turn 21 so I could start drinking,” she added with a laugh.

And now at the threshold of 50? “I’m embracing it.”

Friends and family will be joining her at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obisbo for a weekend full of music, dancing, delicious food and fun. Her dad, whose birthday is roughly a week before hers, is turning 82 this year and will be among the revelers.

“We get to celebrate with him too! That’s particularly special,” she said. “He will definitely be dancing. He’ll probably be the last one to leave.”

Did you always love organizing events or did you find your way to event planning over time?

“I was always very social,” she said, “but I got into events fresh out of college because I needed a job. A friend of mine from my college’s sister was starting a hotel site selection company, and I was her first hire. We worked out of her apartment.”

After the Sept. 11 attacks the events industry took a sharp decline, similar to that of the Covid-19 pandemic. “No one was traveling; no one was throwing events. But I started reaching out to my network trying to sell the service we provided, and that’s how I got started on my own,” Birgess said. Thus B Line Events was born.

“I had a super strong hotel contracting background, and I had learned a lot and learned quickly,” she said. “I brought on people who had done different aspects of events. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but I was super ambitious and a great negotiator, and those were the qualities that I feel like I have really gotten to use.”

“I feel really, really lucky that I was introduced to the corporate events industry,” Birgess said. “And looking back on it I’m not the best event producer. I’m not great with details. At 50 I can say that. But I hire people who are better at it than me.”

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced over the years?

“A lot of my struggle has been about embracing myself for who I am,” Birgess said.

As an intelligent, savvy and bold woman in the business world, she knew she was following her passion by building a successful event planning company. But it also presented challenges at unexpected turns as she bumped up against society’s frequent disapproval of strong, ambitious women.

“It showed up going into client meetings if the buyer was a boardroom of dudes,” she said. “I had to think about trying not to be intimidating or off-putting because I was ambitious and confident and quick.”

“My mom called me a powerhouse once, but in a negative way,” she said. “Women typically aren’t taught to have these qualities, or to not live them out loud. I was afraid of coming off too strong.”

As a mother of two teenage daughters of her own, Birgess gets to rewrite the script. She encourages her daughters to be their confident, expressive selves whenever she can.

“This society is doing enough to shut women down,” she said, “so I don’t shut it down at home.”

What’s one of your favorite things about event production?

“We produce much more than a gorgeous event. What B Line does is take something that doesn’t exist and make it exist,” Birgess reflected.

“I love that inspiration you get when you hear the small details of what someone needs and your brain goes ‘boom!’ and just starts spitballing,” she said. “I love that – people and ideation, watching it all unfold. I love capturing that new opportunity.”

Birgess studied fine arts in college and to this day has a strong aesthetic sense and a love of creativity that guides her work in the field.

“I’m always blown away by the creative process in combination with our logistical strengths – what that can build and what that can yield,” she said. “Everytime I walk into an event B Line has touched in some way, I’m in awe. Especially if it’s a tricky client or maybe there were budget constraints and I know about it before I see the event – that makes me appreciate it even more.”

What do you love about the culture at B Line?

“It’s built into our culture that people need to have a life in order to have a rewarding career,” Birgess said. That might explain why the average employee tenure at B Line is 9+ years!

“To thrive in your career you gotta thrive in your life. So it’s a holistic approach; there’s no micromanagement.”

“It boils down to the connection of people,” she said. “We provide this service to companies to produce events that promote connection. And it’s a result of the connection that the B Line team has with each other and the connection we have with our clients that we’re able to create connections. It’s a beautiful thing and very rewarding.”

Many of the employees at B Line are moms, juggling work while raising children and managing households, Birgess noted.

“We’re very down to earth, real people. We do events because when people get together magic happens,” she said. “That’s where the opportunities are. You don’t have to force the opportunities. They come by people getting together and connecting.”