Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, Shuki Moran began his career as a fashion designer for women’s clothing label ‘madness’.
Responsible for organizing his own clothing launch parties, Shuki began to recognize his appreciation for event design and production.
In 1990, after moving to California, Shuki began complimenting his event management skills by working with various catering companies in the greater Los Angeles area.
It didn’t take long before he became the manager of one of the top catering companies in Los Angeles and built a solid reputation for himself among corporate and private clients alike.
His record of successfully developing and delivering many of tinsel town’s high profile events was matched only by his equal dedication to his private clients’ weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, birthday and anniversary parties.
It is from humble beginnings that Shuki has grown a USA-wide reputable business; one that he and all those who have worked with him are very proud of.
“Shuki has designed every party I have ever had for the past ten years and I knew that he could take a dream idea and turn it into the most romantic fairy tale wedding in the world. To no surprise, he did just that…” – Jenny McCarthy
Fox Valley Magazine: Tell us about your time in women’s fashion.
Shuki Moran: After finishing my service in the Israeli army, I decided to attend a private school for fashion design. After graduation, I started designing couture women clothing for the plus-size, or as I like to call them, ‘beautiful women’. With all my designs in place, and an available storefront in a hip downtown location of Tel Aviv, ‘Madness’ was open for business. My business philosophy was different than normal retail stores. While they all focused their marketing efforts on ‘skinny girls’, I targeted high-end buyers that were average or plus size ladies. I wanted to show women that you do not have to be skinny to be hip and look beautiful. I loved my clients! The most rewarding part of my job was seeing their confidence and smiling faces when wearing my designs. A common mistake women make in their wardrobe is thinking that black clothes make them look skinnier. That is the worst thing an average or plus size woman can do! Bright colors and floral dresses that extenuate their curves are much more beautiful.
The fashion industry in Israel was difficult with their quick changing trends. Sometimes the industry would change colors or styles two to three times per season to encourage consumers to buy more. After five successful years or clothing women, I decided to close my business and assist my father in his men’s clothing store, which was much less stressful.
Fox Valley Magazine: You had planned on never leaving Israel, but in 1987 you moved to California. What were the biggest differences you first noticed between life in Israel and life here in the states?
Shuki Moran: The culture was definitely a shock to me. When I was in Israel, we envied America for being a world leader and having so much wealth. However the first thing I saw when arriving in California were homeless people living in boxes on the street. I still do not understand it today.
Honesty and loyalty of the people also seemed to be a shock to me when I first arrived. I grew up learning to be direct and honest with people. If you had a problem with someone, you would let them know. When I moved to California it seemed people were more worried about image and sometimes said nice things when talking with you, but would turn around and say the opposite to someone else. Some of them just seemed fake. However, I was able to weed them out and found some real good friends in California that are still friends of my husband, Dale, and I even after our move to Geneva.
Fox Valley Magazine: You started out working as a waiter at events on weekends in CA and from there working with various catering companies to quickly becoming the manager at one of the top catering companies in LA. What was the first big event you organized?
Shuki Moran: The first big event I managed was the Black History Award Party in Hollywood. It is a funny story how I acquired this business. One day a woman saw our catering sign as she was walking by. She came in and asked for a proposal to entertain around 300-400 guests. When asked what the event was for, she said she could not tell me. I created the proposal and contacted her to discuss. She then told me it was the party for the Black History Awards. I could not believe that we were able to secure this high-profile event. What a thrill! The event was held in a Beverly Hills mansion, and was a huge success. It was also the first ‘Celebrity’ catering event our company did. We established our name with this event and soon after we were hired for celebrity weddings, parties and even Madonna’s record release party.
Fox Valley Magazine: After 10 years, why did you decide to strike out on your own and start your company, Exceptional Events?
Shuki Moran: I started Exceptional Events by Shuki Moran because I maxed-out my position at the catering company and had nowhere to grow. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate the catering company as the owner taught me everything I know on how to run an event from A-Z. It was the best schooling I ever had, and the owner is a best friend of mine today. My event production company started from scratch, slowly obtaining my own clientele. I worked with agents from two of the leading Hollywood agencies in California; the Creative Artist Agency & William Morris Agency. They assisted in helping me secure celebrity parties. My focus was weddings, Bar/Bath Mitzvahs and private events.
Fox Valley Magazine: You were interviewed by Jim Carrey when he was looking to hire an event planner for a very large event. What an experience that must have been.
Shuki Moran: Meeting Jim Carrey was an experience of a lifetime! My husband Dale at that time was working for Jim and asked me if I want to bid the catering and production of his Christmas Party. Well of course I did, but it was not that easy. I had to submit my proposal and interview with him before he accepted the contract. I was very nervous going into the interview because I knew that Colin Cowie, the number one event producer in LA, was also interviewing with him. I walked in there thinking I had nothing to lose. My proposal included having the party at one of Hollywood Studios where we would build an Olympic sized ice skating rink and have snow and a winter wonderland. He did not say much after I presented my ideas. Then 30-minutes later I received a call to inform me that Exceptional Events was awarded the contract. I felt like I won the Lottery! It was the biggest party I had and have ever done at Exceptional Events. I must admit I was a bit scared, but was also very motivated to put on the best event ever. I also knew that if I failed, I would be blacklisted from the celebrity crowd on future events. So I put together the best production crew I could and we worked day and night to make it happen. The day finally came and as guests arrived, snow was falling on them, Christmas Carolers were singing and Santa’s helpers welcome the guests. The ice skating rink was surrounded by lounge seating, and close by we built a Gingerbread House with a slide that emptied into an enormous pit of colorful balls. A kids haven! The children also had games and an area full of candies and dessert. There were approximately 500 guests, mostly celebrities, their families and agents from Hollywood. After the success of this event I felt I could do anything and the sky was the limit. I thank Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy for allowing me to make that happen!
“When Shuki plans one of your events, it’s like working with an old friend. He listens to your ideas, helps you stay within your budget and the outcome is always stunning. His imagination and attention to detail will create a day or evening that you will always remember.” – Loy Rackley & Ryan Rasmussen
Fox Valley Magazine: What other celebrities have you done events for?
Shuki Moran: I sign confidentialities with most of the celebrities I work with, however the ones I can name include Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Pete Yorn, David Beckham, and of course Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg.
Fox Valley Magazine: What celebrity would you most like to plan and organize an event for that you haven’t yet?
Shuki Moran: I would love to do an event for Lady Gaga. I think she would be incredible to work with and if anyone knows her personally, please ask her to call me.
Fox Valley Magazine: What event or events have you done that are your favorites so far?
Shuki Moran: Working in the Fox Valley with nonprofit organizations are my favorites. There is such a sense of reward in helping our community and those that are in need. It is much more than an event I create, it is giving back to those that have accepted me into their community. The Fox Valley is very generous and philanthropic, and I want to make sure these organizations receive an exceptional evening that they will remember forever. I also love working with all the amazing volunteers of these organizations which makes every day of planning so much more fun!
This year I am blessed to be planning the fundraisers for Lazarus House in January at the St. Charles County Club, LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in February at the beautiful mansion of Karen and Ed French, Tuskegee Next in April at Plane Master in DuPage Airport, Golf Give Gala by ALE at Hotel Baker in St. Charles, and PaulyD Foundation at the Q Center in St. Charles.
Fox Valley Magazine: You have lived in California, New York and Geneva IL, why is Geneva your favorite?
Shuki Moran: Moving to the small town of Geneva IL was the best thing that ever happened to us (Dale). I want to thank Jenny McCarthy who convinced us to move. I admit we resisted at first, as we did not think the Midwest would compare to our lives in LA, I mean what was there to do in a small town? But that was not the case. We fell in love with the town, community and people and now cannot ever fathom moving back to LA. I hope the people here know what an amazing community they live in. Ok, I admit winter sucks, but that is why we have all the amazing restaurants, coffee shops and retail stores to enjoy when it is cold (and warm), and forget about the winter! We were worried about moving to a very conservative place, and were afraid of not being accepted as we are a gay couple. However we never felt unwelcomed . This is our home.
Fox Valley Magazine: Several of the local events you have done are Fashion at The Airport and Unmasking the Face of Homelessness for Lazarus House …how challenging is it to make each event different and unique?
Shuki Moran: It is a rule for me to make each event different and unique. As an event coordinator, I like to be creative. It is much more exciting to create a different design every time than to repeat myself over and over again which becomes boring. My most favorite fundraisers were ‘Fashion at the Airport’. With my love for fashion, I always thought it would be exciting to have an event that included a fashion show. This dream became a reality when my best friend Sylvie Baumann asked me to work with her on showcasing her fashion line in Geneva. The event was such a huge success, a year later I decided I wanted to do a bigger one. This time I did not have a client, so I was able to completely design the production myself. I started by convincing Jenny McCarthy to showcase her clothing line. She said she was in only if was like a New York style runway show. I then talked to all the local restaurants, retail fashion and beauty stores and got their commitments. The fashion show was a huge success, everyone did an amazing job and I could not do it without them.
I became involved in the Lazarus House because I see what they do for the community in helping those that cannot always help themselves. It was a perfect way to start the new year. It was also very heartwarming to see all the support from the community, and the hard work of all the volunteers. Charitable events happen because people help and care. Thank you everyone for making our community a better place to live. God bless you all.
Fox Valley Magazine: Your next event is LivingWell Cancer Resource Center’s Annual Winter Benefit Gala on February 17th, what have got planned?
Shuki Moran: This year’s fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center will be completely fun and upbeat with a 70’s Disco theme. We are transforming the beautiful French mansion to a 1970’s club. Setup will start on the Tuesday preceding the event and we will work day and night to transform the home. I am always amazed how generous the French’s are in letting us take over their home for a week, moving all their furniture out and moving in all the disco décor. Not to ruin all the surprises, but there will be an LED dance floor and silver sequin draping transforming the living room floor and walls. Music will include a Disco band and lots of restaurants in the Fox Valley will be donating delicious food for everyone to enjoy. So get on your 70’s disco attire, reserve your spot and get ready to dance the night away!