Nicole Jarman: Big Picture Event Planning
Whether she’s putting on a farmers market or a food and wine festival, event planner focuses on the big picture while also attending to every detail
NICOLE JARMAN IS THE KIND of person you want to have in charge from the very first planning meeting of an event to the moment the last guest leaves. Because while everything might be planned to the tiniest detail, you never know what might happen. Mother Nature can play havoc with outdoor events. A global pandemic can not only postpone an event, but also require it to be reimagined from top to bottom.
Jarman is the founder of Hob Nob Events, a Denver-based company that produces everything from farmers’ markets and fund-raisers to multiday festivals like Steamboat Food & Wine, which will be held this year Sept. 23-26. What sets her participation in such events apart is that she strives to create an authentic experience, not only for the festival attendees, but for the chefs and winemakers as well. She’ll have a chef and a butcher collaborate on a dinner at this year’s Steamboat event, for example.
She says her 15 years of producing live events and experiences are based on the platform of creating community. Her intentions? “Curation, collaboration, community build- ing and placemaking,” she says. Working with non-profit organizations is one of her key areas of expertise, and she has produced more than 1,200 events throughout Colorado that raised close to $5M.
One of the groups that Jarman has worked with repeatedly is The Greenway Foundation. The group’s executive director, Jeff Shoemaker, deems her “the consummate professional.”
Through “Her vision, attention to detail and unwavering commitment to highest and best quality results,” the nonprofit has achieved its goals each time, he says.
Where do you call home today?
Where Cherry Creek meets Congress Park.
How do people describe you?
Oh, wow, I had to ask around on this one. Passionate, detailed (sometimes to a fault), always looking to what’s next, affectionate, busy (I really need to stop using that word!).
Who do you most admire?
So many people, but recently I feel like I talk to more and more entrepreneurs who I’m in awe of, listening to stories of businesses that are building and growing and people who are creating. It’s so fun to see! Wine experts! And my mom. How can one person be so giving and supportive?!
What is your biggest fashion faux pas?
That I commit or dislike? I run around in my workout clothes way too much!
What is one thing that you absolutely can’t live without?
My cellphone and some kind of beverage.
What was your last major purchase?
My sweet English Cream Golden Retriever pup, Livy Noodle, who joined our family this past Thanksgiving.
What gadget can you not live without?
Well, I’d like to stop being so dependent on my Apple watch’s Move goal, but I haven’t mastered that yet. Otherwise maybe my tea kettle. I drink warm drinks all day long. And my AirPods; they are the best!
What are your hobbies?
Anything outside. I love hiking, working in the yard, biking with my son. I also could stay busy organizing things all day.
What is your most memorable Colorado experience?
My wedding. I had the most beautiful, snowy, February wedding in Telluride that touched so many iconic Telluride places.
What took you down this career path?
I tried to leave it once or twice, but kept getting pulled back. At this point in my career, I have such a freedom to create and really think about how I touch every person at an event, from a chef to a patron to a sponsor, and how I make them feel. I try to create with that in mind.
What’s your favorite Colorado restaurant?
Potager is cozy and warm and welcoming and beautiful with a food ethos that is so important to me. I don’t go there nearly enough.
What one word describes Coloradans to you?
Are you involved with any charities?
The Greenway Foundation has been a longtime friend and client. I sit on the board for Civic Center Conservancy, a place that I think is so beautiful and I care about dearly. I am also on the advisory council for Colorado Uplift.
How did you get into the event planning industry?
It happened so organically I hardly know. I moved to Denver in 2006. In 2007 I was talking with the South Pearl Street Association (not about events) and one thing led to another and I started managing the South Pearl Street Farmer’s Market. It was my first Colorado event and almost 15 years later, I’m still producing that market.
What are the keys to a successful event, whether it’s a farmers market, a wine and food festival or an athletic competition?
I’ve always said the tricky thing about producing events is being able to be a big picture thinker and visionary, but also to be detailed and focused. Those traits don’t always go hand in hand—the creative isn’t always the executor. I also think it’s incredibly important to understand your purpose or goal or even theme with an event and stay the course. It’s easy to get derailed by a tempting sponsor or a great cause that may not fit the mission.
Do you think any of the protocols for outdoor events that were instituted during the coronavirus pandemic will become permanent?
I wish I had that answer. I think events will look different for a while, if not always, but I don’t know that is all bad. I think we’ll have a much more thoughtful approach to how people are “touched” throughout an event.
Have you ever had Mother Nature interfere with your plans?
Oh, Mother Nature. This might be the tough- est part of producing outdoor events. In 2013, I was producing Gala on the Bride in the middle of torrential rains and floods in the fall. I’ve certainly had more than one farmer’s market operate in the snow and cold, and music festivals during which it rained so much we received a rain insurance claim. The list goes on. Although some of my favorite memories are the camaraderie that comes from working together fast as a team to make a plan.
What kind of events do you like to attend that you don’t have to produce?
After so many years of producing events, I generally like things casual and intimate. Concerts in the park with a picnic, dinner at a friend’s, almost anything with wine. And I always attend the local farmer’s markets.
Marital status: Divorced
Children: Henry, 5
Career: Event producer
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Suzanne S. Brown is the managing editor of Colorado Expression.