Co-owner, Mellowship Entertainment, LLC; Age 28
Like many Western Mass. natives, Anne-Alise Pietruska always loved the Big E and looked forward to it every year.
So she was thrilled to be able to intern there while in college and later land a full-time gig, splitting her days between marketing — with roles ranging from social-media strategy, copywriting, and website design to community outreach — and coordinating entertainment alongside John Juliano, who has been booking talent at the Big E for more than 30 years.
“JJ at that point was a one-man band and didn’t think he needed me,” Pietruska said. “But soon, he learned about how passionate I was for music and the ideas I had.”
Eventually, she and Juliano began talking about starting their own company. That enterprise, Mellowship Entertainment, launched in 2017. It provides services ranging from program and event management and production to talent buying, consulting, and artist representation.
While the Big E remains a major part of Mellowship’s work, during a typical year, Pietruska and Juliano are also responsible for more than 1,000 shows; one fair might offer 30 events in a single day. They’re also heavily involved in the automotive entertainment industry, not only representing major shows, but establishing their own Collector Car Live brand.
But note that phrase ‘during a typical year.’ Because the past year has been anything but typical.
“It was March 12 or 13, and we were on a plane to Arizona,” she recalled. “We got to our layover, and my phone was blowing up.”
Within hours, cancellations snowballed, and within a matter of days, nothing was booked through June; before long, the entire year — and beyond — was lost to live events. But Pietruska didn’t just retreat; she joined the RESTART initiative to support the live-event industry, and Mellowship is also working with the biodefense company Synsexis, the security and health monitoring system PatriotOne, and the COVID-19 screening program Virified to help relaunch clients’ events in 2021.
The entertainment industry has been battered, she said, but it is resilient, and people will come back.
“I love creating live experiences; some of my best memories are from attending concerts and festivals,” she said. “The thrill of a live show and the communal power of music has had such a lasting impact on me, I want to create those memories for people. That’s why I think I have the best job. It can be stressful, but I love what I do.”