The EVENTS PLANNER
BY RACHEL CUCCURULLO
It is obvious when you step into her office that Dawn Martin is an ultra-organized and professional businesswoman. She has built her two companies from the ground up and is leaving her mark on the Treasure Coast as an exceptional mixologist and passionate events planner and designer.
“My father was in the Navy for 35 years, so that militant mind-set was around when I was growing up,” Martin says, “and after my parents divorced, my mother managed several bars on her own, so I think that’s where I learned to be very organized and was also taught to work hard for what I want.”
While Martin mentions she had a tough upbringing, she attributes much of her success to that very fact. Alongside her two older brothers, she was raised in Long Island and Brooklyn by an American father and a Puerto Rican mother. Although her parents divorced when she was 10 years old, she says she had a good childhood.
“My dad was well-off, but he never gave us a handout,” Martin says, “He made sure we knew the value of a dollar and learned to save for things we wanted.”
Martin remembers starting work at 14 as a server at a local banquet hall. She and her brothers also worked alongside their dad when he would buy and sell houses.
“I can pretty much build and repair almost anything after helping my dad with house renos for so many years,” Martin says, “That’s a pretty good skill to have, especially as a woman, most people don’t expect it.”
To help pay for college, Martin started working in the mid-90s at bars her mother managed on Long Island. Her passion for mixology began at 21, when she started managing the bar. Mixology is the art of creating well-balanced and rich cocktails, rather than just pouring a $5 well drink.
After college, Martin worked for her brother in the medical billing field and continued to bartend in the evenings. But after 9/11, the company lost everything.
“My brother’s company was located in the twin towers so that was a tough time for our family,” Martin says, “At the time, his company was looking to expand into Florida, so I took my 3-year-old son and moved down to Port St. Lucie, where I worked remotely for a while.”
Martin was familiar with the area because her father, who was a snowbird, owned a home there. She moved down in 2004, bought a home and started to settle into her new life. She continued to bartend at a few local spots and in 2006, met DJ Louie G. Their friendship would help to set the trajectory for her businesses.
“I met Louie and first worked for him as a DJ assistant when he was just starting his DJing business,” Martin says. “I remember being at different events and weddings while assisting Louie and jumping in to help brides with forgotten details such as lining up for entrances, prepping for the toast or assisting with cake-cutting and bartending.”
Martin recalls that one day Louie casually told her that she should start her own mobile bar for events. With that idea, Drinks by Dawn was established in 2014 and she was off and running.
“Her passion to serve others and her passion to create memories that would last a lifetime is the spark that started it all,” Louie G says. “Dawn is extremely smart, thorough and absolutely compassionate and self-giving. She is constantly putting herself before others.”
This type of attitude has helped Martin create lifelong friendships, loyal clients and a name in the event planning industry. Martin and Louie G are very structured in their work and have always helped each other out in business endeavors. The two have remained close friends since they work so well together and often work many gigs side-by-side.
Martin is constantly on the go. While alcohol can be a great addition to a wedding, birthday party or other celebration, Martin also realizes that too much of a good thing can be dicey.
“We know that people enjoy drinking while they celebrate with family and friends so I like to make sure we are not overpouring and keeping an eye on the guests’ intake,” Martin says. “I keep our standards high and make sure everyone is having fun but also being safe while doing so.”
The flavorful cocktails, a fun bar with LED lights and professional servers add the extra wow-factor to any event. Martin is constantly working to develop customized drink menus with cocktails that are not too sweet or too tart and are garnished fittingly with fresh fruits.
Drinks by Dawn was a definite success, but Martin continued to find herself jumping in to assist bridal parties or families at different celebratory events.
“One time, I was working as the bar service for a wedding and there was a huge mishap with the cake delivery,” Martin says. “The caterers were freaking out, they were going to notify the bride and I told them, ‘no way are you going to put this stress on her right now, we need to figure it out’ so I jumped in and did just that. I smoothed out the cake, collected beautiful flowers from around the venue and did the best I could to fix it.”
In 2017, Martin opened her second business, Serene Events, that provides services including, but not limited to, day-of coordination, event setup, break-down, décor rentals, travel arrangements and complete event planning.
Martin says she lives to provide not only a service for her guests, but a wonderful experience.
Martin also says that this line of work is not for the faint of heart.
“I pretty much thrive on the stress and pressure of event-planning and setup,” Martin says. “I’ve been told I am very stern, but in a good way, because I can’t tolerate any nonsense. These events are supposed to be special for the guests and my clients and I make sure that it happens just so. You only get one shot at it.”
Martin relishes the positive feedback she receives from a client saying how perfect the event had turned out because of her services. To her, it means she achieved her ultimate goal.
Occupation: Mobile bartender/mixologist and events/wedding planner
Family: Son, Austin, 19, and German shepherd, Mercedes, 9
Education: Briarcliff College and Nassau Community College, bachelor’s degree in business and medical billing
Hobbies: Dancing, shooting pool
Who inspires you: “My mother always inspired me. She was a go-getter and never let anything get in the way of what she wanted. She taught me to never give up on my dreams and that if you want something enough, only you can make it happen.”
What is something most people don’t know about you: “I always put everyone before me, they know that but don’t know the set-backs it gives me and, even though it does, my heart is fulfilled by others’ happiness.”