Tragedy and triumphs: TLC celebrates 25 years

Manchester-based event planner the Taylor Lynn Corporation (TLC) is 25 years old this year – we caught up with MD Liz Taylor about the anniversary alongside her thoughts on the industry, how it’s changed and what the new decade has in store…

In the last 25 years, Liz Taylor has planned thousands of business and private events and worked with some of the country’s top business leaders, personalities and brands.

From humble beginnings in a flower-strewn upstairs room on Manchester’s Deansgate to breaking out into the world of TV on Channel 4’s ‘Millionaire Party Planner’, it’s been quite a journey.

“It’s gone extremely fast!” she says. “We’ve seen off two recessions and some very challenging times, but we’re still here.”

Taylor started in the industry in 1986. Pregnant with her eldest daughter, she spotted an opportunity when Holiday Inn bought Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

“They wanted to launch the hotel and I said ‘I can help you do that!’ We filled the pool with black and white balloons, Ainsley Harriott’s father was the piano player and we did a Hollywood night. I did three events off the back of that.

“I saw an opportunity. Then my two children were born 14 months apart and I left their father and the opportunity became a necessity.”

Taylor started up her first firm, Liz Taylor Associates, shortly after.

We created magic

“I ran my business for four or five years, then I was approached by a London company to join them. I wanted a salary, so I opened a northern office.”

It was there that she first joined forces with florist Dianne Lynn.

“Dianne got in my head and we created magic,” says Taylor. “After four years we formed TLC – I ran the events and she did the flowers.

“Our first office was a retail flower shop on Deansgate. It was full of tulips and freezing cold. But we were fellow Pisces, so it worked.”

In 1996, Manchester was devastated by an IRA bomb attack that tore a hole in the city centre.

“The IRA bomb changed everything,” says Taylor. “From out of this tragedy, this huge negative came the most positive thing. The investment in Manchester was phenomenal. It launched the industry.”

One of TLC’s first contracts was with the Granada Studios Tour.

“I met a couple of guys on a train and got talking and we ended up as the preferred supplier – we did events on Coronation Street. I realised one of the opportunities for growth was to secure preferred supplier status in various venues. We were inventing the industry.

“I’m Jewish, so we started doing bah mitzvahs, and then there were all these other key occasions in communities that we honed in on, weddings, etc. The more flamboyant they were, the more it dangled the carrot. You get into a clique of high net worth clients.

 Liz Taylor of TLC

Liz Taylor of TLC

“It’s a very exciting, competitive, fairly lucrative industry. And it’s a designer product, the high net worth clients aren’t affected by recessions. It is the middle market that floundered in the downturns. But if someone comes with a smaller budget you make it work.

Taylor and Lynn formed a successful team that lasted until 2008 when Taylor managed an amicable partnership buy-out. That same year TLC bucked the recession by topping the £4m turnover mark.

Taylor is adamant as to the reasons for the lasting success.

“I deliver a service and a product that can be relied upon. It’s a mutual respect. It’s about understanding what the priorities are and always delivering.

It’s changed completely

“You never leave an event saying ‘I had some amazing chicken!’. It’s what you see with your eyes that makes the most impact.”

Since 1995 the industry has seen a lot of changes – something Taylor has had to adapt to.

“It’s changed completely,” she says. “A lot of corporates have in-house event teams – and a lot of those are reluctant to go out to a company that they think is a threat to their job. There’s that element.

“We provide a support service. Often I go in under the radar and we work out an agreement. I think corporate business is coming back now. It’s been a rollercoaster.”

TLC continues to work with high profile names: Manchester United, Coronation Street and Gary Barlow are among recent clients. Taylor has recently set up a consultancy service, as well as lecturing at Manchester Metropolitan University, indicating that the next few years are going to be just as busy.

“We’ve got some very exciting projects coming up, such as an exclusive private dinner with Tom Kerridge”, she says. “But then we’ll also get someone who just wants a little bit of magic for their party – and we’ll come up with something.”

And how have the last 25 years changed Taylor herself?

“I’m more open-minded. It’s no longer my way or the highway”, she laughs. “I’ve had therapy! It’s fine!”