Calla Rowell: Co-Founder
Born in Gainesville, with roots spreading early throughout the state, Calla returned to her hometown in north central Florida after high school to attend Santa Fe College. It was during a study abroad in Ecuador, that Calla discovered her passion for photography and video production while documenting the daily lives of indigenous communities. On returning home, Calla organized her first public event – a film festival at the Hippodrome State Theater showcasing student productions. These pursuits later brought her to Flagler College, where she earned her BA in Communication with an emphasis in Media Production. During her time at Flagler, Calla met Jackie and built a lifelong friendship that has culminated with their collaboration on Mercer + Smith Events.
As a special events coordinator for the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, Calla got her first taste of professional event planning – promoting festival events, organizing and planning film viewings and wrap parties, and coordinating travel for film crews. She also worked with the GTM National Estuarine Research Reserve where she interviewed biologists in the field and produced educational podcasts showcasing their work. Throughout her professional career, Calla has also worked in photography, legal office administration, and print marketing.
At home, Calla’s love of running and travel have led her to participate in numerous destination races, including the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland. Most afternoons, Calla can be found adventuring outdoors or binging on documentaries while doting on her beloved 4 lb. senior chihuahua, Pancho Villa. She believes that life’s events are best shared with others and is always in the midst of planning the next party or group trip for her friends and family. She is eager to share these passions with others in planning memorable events for Mercer + Smith!
Jackie Taylor: Co-Founder
Jackie, a Gainesville native, attended Flagler College in Saint Augustine and majored in communications with a specialization in media studies. In her first communications class, she met Calla and formed the friendship that would later become Mercer + Smith Events. From the time she graduated cum laude from Flagler, Jackie had already begun collecting years worth of experience working on events both large and small. During college, she threw herself into media production internships. One was with Visual Power Cinema, the official production company for Jacksonville Fashion Week, where she fell in love with the backstage, behind-the-scenes coordination of events.
During a summer position in event management at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, she got to exercise her true passion for marketing, PR and event coordination. While working for the Chamber, Jackie worked on community events like the city-wide restaurant week, the local business of the year awards, and Gainesville Fashion Week to name just a few. After working at the Chamber and spending a winter abroad in the UK, she started her career in marketing and PR. Jackie has worked with a variety of companies from manufacturing to skincare where she has coordinated countless events including sales team conferences, trade show visits, team building get-togethers and training expos.
In her free time, Jackie likes to cross stitch, tend to her ever-expanding collection of plants, and attempt to bake a new recipe she learned while watching the Great British Baking Show. Her favorite book and film is To Kill a Mockingbird which she loves to watch with her husband Sam and their two cats.