This Queer Couple Creates The Grandest Events For Today’s Biggest Companies

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Named after its leaders, Scott Ihrig and Shannon Morrison, IM Creative was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing, privately held businesses in the U.S. for 2015 and 2016. As a gay-owned and operated business with annual revenue over $5,000,000, Ihrig, Morrison and IM Creative are inspirations for LGBTQ entrepreneurs.

Scott Ihrig & Shannon Morrison of IM Creative

Scott Ihrig & Shannon Morrison

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Collaborating in life and work

Ihrig started his career as an attorney. By his second year, he lost interest in practicing law and joined a 10-week gig producing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes. Ihrig says he “went from a job with an office and assistant to one with a desk in a high school hallway, and couldn’t have been happier.” The opportunity with Radio City inspired Ihrig to get into event production outside of the holiday season. In 2000, he founded Ihrig Productions, which became IM Creative when Morrison joined the team.

With a bachelor’s degree in playwriting and psychology from Yale, Morrison’s background is in the theater. After getting his masters in musical theater writing from New York University, he worked on musicals such as Legally Blonde, Movin’ Out and Thoroughly Modern Millie but desired to create work that was “less about commerce and more about moving people through the live-experience because engaging with others affords us an experience beyond our own.”

Two years after Ihrig and Morrison started dating, Morrison felt unfulfilled with his work at the time. Ihrig suggested they join forces in event planning and IM Creative was born.

Being good personal and professional partners

Shortly thereafter, Ihrig and Morrison learned they complemented each other’s skill-sets, Ihrig with his business acumen and ability to execute and Morrison with his creative ideation. They, also, learned that while they were great together as a couple, divvying up responsibilities according to what they were good at was more than twice as effective.

While many people would be apprehensive about going into business with their spouse, Ihrig wasn’t. He watched his parents start and manage multiple businesses together. He, also, holds the philosophy that “the work/life balance is a misnomer because we just live, and when you want people in your life it doesn’t make sense to segregate them into boxes.” Morrison is the most important person in Ihrig’s life, therefore it’s ideal for them “to be best friends, husbands, colleagues and business partners all at once.”

As a “more impulsive, less measured person,” Morrison isn’t risk-adverse and figured that he could make it work working with his partner. Because “’the train’ was already moving,” Morrison appreciates his husband’s patience and communication skills during his steep learning curve. Ihrig was smart enough to know when to prevent Morrison from making mistakes that would be fatal to the firm and when to let him make the mistakes all successful entrepreneurs need to make.

Capitalizing on their gay experiences

Ihrig and Morrison’s gay experience taught them similar lessons beneficial to their business. After standing up against society’s expectation of what they should be, who they should love and how they should act, they couldn’t subscribe to traditional business models and, therefore, created a unique business that works for them personally and their clients, some of which include UPS, Disney, L’Oréal and other prominent companies.

The financial reality of being entrepreneurs who built a successful business is that Ihrig and Morrison have always had to put living fabulously in the backseat. When they first started working together, it was just the two of them with small and inconsistent revenue.

With 20 people now on their payroll, they’re accountable to their employees and their employees’ families. Therefore, they’re conscious about how they spend their money personally and professionally. For the success of their business and the welfare of their employees, Ihrig and Morrison happily defer the rewards of their success when necessary.

Exercising personal and professional improvement

Ihrig says it’s important for him to make the time and space for daily reflection. He schedules 90 minutes on his calendar every day for “CEO Time.” This may be time to read a book, think about what’ happening with IM Creative or go for a walk. Whatever it looks like from day to day, this gives Ihrig opportunity for reflection and rejuvenation.

Morrison makes it a point to break at least one rule a day. Morrison advises others to “try to break one rule every day, and see what happens.” He guarantees those who try will either question why the rule exists or find an opportunity behind a barrier of someone else’s creation.

Ihrig says that being an entrepreneur, even a successful one, is hard and that there are parts that are more fun than others. He and Morrison wouldn’t change anything, though. Being entrepreneurs lets them live interesting lives on their terms and lets them give their personal time and queer money to causes important to them.

If you and your partner want to go into business together, IM Creative is a good model to follow.

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