Ziska Talks Business and Pleasure as She Continues to Grow Her Extensive Portfolio
“Create the things you wish existed.” These are words that San Diego event planner extraordinaire and entrepreneur Jillian Ziska has not only turned into a business but into an overall lifestyle.
The visionary behind multiple thriving ventures—including a full-service design studio, a popular restaurant, and a restored theater-turned-event space—Ziska serves the community by helming everything from wedding planning and interior design to movie nights and concerts by local bands.
After shuttering the successful events business she’d built in her college days to settle down in Southern California with her now husband, Ziska noticed a gap in the hospitality industry that she knew she could fill.
“The marketplace needed something more exciting,” Ziska explains. “There were a lot of sayers, but not a lot of doers back then. I wanted there to be a place where [event] planners and their clients could truly dream and have a company that could actually execute.”
In bringing her own dream to life, To Be Designed (TBD) was born. Offering more than traditional wedding and corporate event planning, Ziska’s brainchild provides a custom rental service and full inventory of furniture, table settings, florals and lighting options, allowing clients and designers to create an immersive masterpiece. A fully equipped production studio is also on hand to provide the space and backdrop for photoshoots of all kinds.
Thinking even bigger, Ziska saw an opportunity to invest and expand when Verbena Kitchen appeared on her radar. The sleek North Park restaurant, designed by Ziska, oozes charm with its crisp, white interior and accents of brick, wood and marble. Plants hang from mounted shelves along with brassy light fixtures, giving the space a warm, “neighborhood nook” feel.
As an additional location for Ziska to provide event space for her TBD family, Verbena stoked the desire for another venture: a dedicated multi-purpose space by the name of Adams Avenue Theater.
“I’ve always wanted a venue,” says Ziska. “That’s been a big part of my mission, and I wanted a historic [space] that we could breathe new life into.”
With more than 6,000 square feet of open space, the restored movie theater (with its original marquee intact) now hosts private events half of the time; it fills the rest of the time by paying homage to the artistic community of Normal Heights with a packed social calendar of old-fashioned movie nights, comedy shows, yoga classes, art exhibitions and musical entertainment.
Ziska’s newest development is Social Anthology, the umbrella brand that will encompass her extensive portfolio. The title took extensive discussion, illustrating the social and creative aspects of Ziska’s oeuvre.
“An anthology is a collection of works of art, and I believe that what we’ve created is a work of art,” says Ziska. “I loved using that word because we’re creating really unique works of art for people to be able to enjoy and experience.”
A master of juggling and time management, Ziska also occupies the role of mom to two girls in her ever-growing list of job titles.
“I’m fortunate that I can make a schedule that works for my family,” Ziska says. “Is it pretty all the time? Gosh no! But it definitely is a fun little puzzle to try and solve each day.”
So how exactly does she balance it all?
“It’s a daily commitment,” Ziska says. “We’ve lost the reality of the grind. I do think it’s possible [to have it all], but I think what people don’t see is that I work from 6 a.m. when I wake up until my head hits the pillow. It’s not always champagne and roses, but I love problem solving. Oh, and coffee helps–lots and lots of coffee!”
As someone who emphasizes the value of relationships, Ziska knows a thing or two about leading a team. “I don’t think you can ever truly master being a leader,” says Ziska. “I think I’m still learning what it takes. I’m always learning and evolving, and I think that’s what makes a great leader.”
As for her proudest achievement?
“I’ve built something that lets people know where my heart lies,” Ziska says. “My brand is authentic, and I’ve created space for people to have the opportunity to find and grow their dream too.”
Based in Los Angeles, Kandace has spent the past ten years in the fashion and lifestyle space, and recently in entertainment at Sony Pictures Studios. She has a Masters in Journalism from Emerson College and has studied in Paris, Firenze, and Washington DC, beginning her career as a style editor and tastemaker for NBC. She is an internationally award-winning filmmaker, having studied screenwriting for film and television at UCLA, and her work has been celebrated around the world, in cities like London, Nice, New York, and Montréal. Paying homage to her French heritage, she is also the creator of The Chic American--a style and culture editorial destination for Francophiles, dedicated to the art of living an elevated, French-inspired lifestyle.