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Friendor Friday with Michael Novilla of NOVA 535 in St. Petersburg

For this week’s “Friendor Friday” we are getting to know Michael Novilla, the owner of the popular wedding venue NOVA 535 in St. Petersburg!

How did you start NOVA 535?

NOVA began like all great things, with a dream, a vague idea that became clarified over the years, with a blend of passion for change, the desire to take my love of art and mash it up with the cool, hip James Bond swanky lounge feeling and then harmonize that concept into a renovated historic local (had to be here in St. Pete) building creating an art gallery +  lounge + event space, dubbed NOVA 535.

Do you target any particular niche?

Those people who travel, who are open minded, those who think and love and are creative. People who get what NOVA is all about.

What makes your business unique?

The blend of one of the oldest venues in the region (built 1920) meticulously renovated into the physical space known as NOVA 535 coupled with “The NOVA Way” our continuous improvement system that’s sole goal is to delight every guest by providing a 5 star experience. Many people talk about “customer service” yet unfortunately most really don’t understand what that truly means.

Best feature of your space?

That moment, the feeling that people get, when they enter NOVA 535 for the first time, that moment of WOW, it’s even better in person than the online photos. That time / space moment, inside of NOVA for that individual, that’s in my opinion the best feature of our space.

How do you help couples customize their wedding? 

We listen to them. Really listen, via a lot of questions. Sales and 5 star customer service is ALL about the client (and their guests). We guide them all through our continuous improvement process, The NOVA Way, listening, learning and adapting, always improving, to make each unique event a bit better than the last.

Favorite part about your job?

Working with great clients for months, even years, the paths we take, the challenges we face and then during the night of the big event, when they come up, their faces lit up like a 5 year old’s seeing Santa Claus, their deep true gratitude and joy that all of the planning and details have cumulated into this glorious moment to be enjoyed and treasured for the rest of their lives. That is my favorite part.

Any funny stories about past weddings?

Do you mean like groomsmen fighting on the dance floor? Bridesmaids pulling each other’s hair? The band stealing the grooms cake? Escorting the drunken FOB out of the building? Gluing the heads back on the wedding cake dolls because they snapped off? Hmmm, nope nothing funny ever happens in the service industry.

Biggest lesson you’ve learned?

To get out of my own way and listen and realize that it’s 100% about our clients, most of whom are women. Men and women think differently, react and feel differently. Again it’s about listening, yet knowing as the visionary when not to listen and move forward. It’s that line, we call it in the Entrepreneur Social Club (that I host on Thursday nights) where is that line of listen vs. follow your own path. It’s blurry and ever changing, yet one has to walk it properly to be successful AND to create something new. It can be scary and lonely, the walk of the Entrepreneur. One of the many reasons I’ve created and host the ESC.

Interests outside of work?

Traveling the world (35 countries and 300+ cities visited so far), reading, helping and connecting with my fellow Entrepreneurs, food (dining out and cooking), music (most all genres), film, making people laugh (I’m an April Fool), bike riding, science and tech, working to help the people of the world evolve past religion and politics towards peace and love and productivity, past war and anger and ignorance, and so so much more. I have a deep hunger to do, see and explore our world! I hope one day to find my “soul mate” to share my time, love and energies with, until then good thing I’m already my own best friend. Thanks and good luck to us all!

We had the pleasure of capturing some St. Petersburg wedding photography at NOVA for our lovely couple, Tara and Duane! Check out their wedding blog post HERE.

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