Jamie Bibler, founder and CEO of Bon Vivant, brings a down-to-earth vibe to her luxury concierge service. Bibler, a giver by nature who began her career in social work, gets her kicks from taking care of others. Whether it is a customized Youtube event or a one-of-a-kind experience, she loves finding the most authentic Nashville offerings and elevating them for her clients. In turn, those who see time as money are happy to hire and entrust Bibler, who has worked in hospitality for more than a decade, to tell them where to go in Music City. Here is a story of how a small town girl ended up hobknobbing with some of the country’s highest rollers.
Can you tell me a bit about your upbringing?
I grew up in a rural Indiana town with a population of less than 800 people. Looking back on it, my childhood was pretty amazing because of how loving my family was. My parents have always been my biggest cheerleaders who told me every single day to pursue what I loved. I attribute my confidence to them as well as being raised in a smaller community. The opportunities were endless because there wasn’t a ton of competition. At a young age, I was able to try a lot of different avenues and really get to know myself.
How did your passion for social work parlay into event planning?
I studied social work in college, which I paid for by working full-time, because I always dreamed of working in child welfare. There wasn’t a question. That was what I wanted to do. My very first volunteer job was at a homeless shelter in South Bend where I worked for five years. However, towards the end of college, I realized that I needed to pursue another route. I simply could not let it go even after I went home at night. I wanted to bring every single person home with me for dinner (laughs.) When I realized that it takes a very special person to be a social worker, I decided to finish out my degree and start working towards a certificate in event management. After earning that, I began my career doing event decor, design. and coordination. After working as a catering manager at Hilton Properties, I moved to Nashville where I was hired as an event sales manager at M Street.
What skills did you take from social work to your current role as a luxury concierge?
In my first career, which I have since brought to my own business, Bon Vivant, I learned how to read people, be empathetic, and anticipate my client’s needs. My brain is naturally geared towards thinking about what is best for others. I am also comfortable being in the background and watching my clients enjoy a mind-blowing event.
You and I are at a cocktail party. How would you break down Bon Vivant in 60-seconds?
Bon Vivant is a lifestyle management firm specializing in entertainment and hospitality. We are considered the ultimate source for corporate and private VIP groups for our ability to provide exclusive access to venues, restaurants, and Nashville experiences. Clients choose from our list of exclusive Bon Vivant experiences or allow our team to create a custom experience based on their personal passion points. The goal is to make them feel special. Exclusivity is what sets up a part from other businesses.
Can you give us an example of a Bon Vivant experience?
While it’s hard to choose just one, some of my favorites are backstage green room access and premier seats at the legendary Grand Ole Opry, private jam sessions with Nashville-based recording artists and songwriters, and private tasting menus hosted by a local celebrity chef. On a daily basis I think I cannot believe that I get to do this for a living!
How would you describe your clientele?
Our clients include local and national companies that entertain on a regular basis. In addition, our clients include the sophisticated traveler who has seen the world and is passionate about art, food, and fashion. They want to see Nashville because of all the attention and accolades. It is our job to show them that side of the city whether it is by touring a local designer’s atelier or through a private tasting with a James Beard-nominated chef.
What has been the biggest challenge of starting your own business?
I try to look at what’s in front of me as potential opportunities. That being said, introducing a new concept to the city took time and a bit of education. Still, I am so grateful that Nashville embraced Bon Vivant almost right out of the gate. This city is ridiculously supportive, which is why I love living here.
What is one pleasant surprise you have learned after starting Bon Vivant?
A lot of my clients just want to hear stories about the city, which is yet another way for them to experience what makes it so special. They love to learn about its history or hear about the amazing celebrities we’ve had the honor of working with.
There is now more of an emphasis on experiences than ever. Why do you think that is?
It’s so true. The modern person travels more and spends their money on experiences rather than things. It’s been great for business! (Laughs) This ideology also pertains to everyone from my parents who recently took a three-week jaunt to Europe to millennials who would rather buy a few rounds of cocktails than a chic, new outfit.
Any last words?
I love our city and the amazingly talented people that live in it! I started Bon Vivant on $2,000 and it’s been uphill ever since. While I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into my company, it’s all been worth it because I feel inspired on a daily basis. Constantly I think to myself How fortunate am I?
Word of Mouth Conversations is honored to announce that it will be rolling out its own custom Bon Vivant experience in mid-April. Stay tuned for more details!