“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.”
– Elsie de Wolfe.
This has also been the legacy of Alyssa Rhoads. And though the road has not always been quite as lovely or as pleasing, Alyssa has consistently found a way to inspire joy, wonder and enchantment in everything she creates. As she is truly living her calling and using her innate talent to produce show-stopping events and promote forever memories, she never loses sight of where beauty begins and the grace it takes to be the mother she is meant to be.
TBPM: From tea cups to champagne glasses, you have made quite the impression on the event scene, especially when it comes to non-profit galas. As you approach the 10-year anniversary of Eventing Tampa Bay, how has your business grown?
Alyssa Rhoads: I took a chance on myself when I had my first child almost 10 years ago when I left the Tampa Bay Business Journal and started my own Event Management company. It was a gradual start, but since then, I have worked with some of the largest companies and nonprofits in Tampa Bay and have hired the most amazing Event Manager, Loren Lopez, to help with all our events. Some of my favorite events have been working with the Valspar Championship, the Heart Gallery of Tampa’s Be Mine Gala, Habitat for Humanity of Pasco & Pinellas County’s Gala, the Children’s Dream Fund gala and, of course, I love working with Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine as their in-house Event Planner for all their events.
TBPM: You created the signature Mommy and Me High Tea event six years ago for your two little girls, Brooklyn and Makena. Today, it hosts over 400 guests to benefit the local organization Redefining Refuge. How has this vision transformed through the years?
Alyssa Rhoads: I wanted to create an event that would be like a magical dream with all the things little girls love so much! No paper tea cups and cheap decorations…I was going to make this fabulous! So, in 2017, I created the Mommy & Me High Tea to host a special pre-Mother’s Day event for mothers and daughters where they could dress up and drink delicious tea in a dreamlike atmosphere, get their hair and makeup done, decorate cookies, see a fashion show, and meet beautiful princesses. I started collecting tea sets and now I am the proud owner of 400 tea sets and gorgeous tea pots!
The event was an immediate success, and I knew I could make a difference in the community by partnering with a local nonprofit. Redefining Refuge checked all the boxes. Today, the Mommy & Me High Tea sells out in minutes and has become a tradition for many local moms and their daughters. We partner with amazing women owned businesses like Parties with Character Princesses, Drink Katy’s Tea, FH Events, Wee Macree, Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine and many more to make the event a magical day. My goal this year is to raise over $100,000 for Redefining Refuge, and we are well on our way.
TBPM: We see you moving and shaking in your role as Executive Director of the CEO Council of Tampa. Tell us more about this exciting professional move.
Alyssa Rhoads: The CEO Council is a membership organization for Tampa’s top CEOs. Our members must meet the requirements of at least $3 million in revenue and 25 full-time employees. They must also be the top executive in their organization to join. Members of the CEO Council represent over $18.8 Billion in revenue and employ more than 145,000 people! Last year we welcomed 55 new members, and the group continues to become more diverse in many aspects including gender, race, industry, location and age.
TBPM: You faced a scary health diagnosis two years ago. Please share your story and what you want other moms to know from your experience.
Alyssa Rhoads: The week before my 39th birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer after feeling two small pellet-like objects in my left breast. I was in the best shape, working out regularly, never smoked a day in my life, and I have no family history of breast cancer. It was a scary time, mainly because of all the unknowns along the journey. Would I need chemo? Radiation? What would I look like? For me personally, I chose to only share my diagnosis with my closest friends and family. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and, honestly, I didn’t want to talk about it.
Looking back now, I think I was in denial and tried not to think about it, and just left it in God’s hands. I remember a week before my double-mastectomy finally sharing my diagnosis. The amount of support I received was simply overwhelming. People came out of the woodwork to send their love, prayers and meals to help my family. It was beautiful, and I’m still grateful to this day!
The support I received from my family and friends truly got me through it. The team of doctors I had were amazing, and I have never believed more in the power of prayer than I do now. My advice to women under 40 years old is: DO NOT WAIT to get your mammogram. Get yourself checked now if you have not done so already.
TBPM: What do you, Jordan, and the girls love to do most together in Tampa Bay?
Alyssa Rhoads: My girls play club soccer, field hockey and flag football. On days when we are not at the field, we love to stay-cation in Tampa Bay. Our most favorite thing to do is catch a sunset at the beach and grab ice cream afterwards at the Don Cesar or Indian Rocks beach. We also love Anna Maria Island!
Photo credit: Kristin Berry, The Dashing Ginger | Originally published in March 2023 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.