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Anti-violence activist Carmichael “Stokey” Cannady with Marcy Evans Crump. (Photo courtesy of Rob Styles)

How does one begin with a 30-person e-mail list, grow it into an award-winning website and E-news system with over 40,000 followers (which includes an email network comprised of more than 20, 000 followers); an award-winning online and hard copy magazine; and a highly successful multi-media marketing and event planning company, and celebrate it by throwing an annual party, attended by thousands?

Ask Marcy Evans Crump aka “Social Butterfly,” CEO and editor-in-chief  of The Flywire who launched with a meager list of 30 that turned into a social media marketing and entertainment empire, in 2002, and an annual White Tie Affair, in 2005. She’ll tell you. It takes a lot.

As far as Evans Crump is concerned, planning parties and events is something that comes to her, naturally. “I come from a party family. My grandmothers were caterers… I always gave parties, starting in high school — house parties. When I went to college, it was sorority parties. I always helped people to get the word out and do parties,” she explains.

And, it’s something that she truly enjoys. “I love to entertain. I love the oohs and aahs, dinner parties, everything…,” she says with a little laugh.

The Baltimore-born, party-thrower extraordinaire says that 30 years ago she was developing themes and campaigns; designing flyers and strategies; and making fancy invitations and putting glitter in the envelopes.

But, don’t let the glitter and fancy invites fool you. A 1982 graduate of Walbrook High, Evans Crump earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Virginia Union University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Her professional background includes diverse experiences that range from working as director of media/marketing for Baltimore City Recreation & Parks to partnering with LaRian Finney, coordinating the after parties for his original Jazzy Summer Nights series, and becoming a member of his traveling team that produced the national conventions for the NAACP and National Urban League.

While some people only see the fun side of throwing a party, Evans Crump also gets to deal with the business side, which includes some parts that aren’t so pretty. One of the greatest challenges that she and best friend/ex-husband Phil Crump, who joined the White Tie Affair team in 2008, face is finding venues for parties.

“I have big, big faith, and that’s what I share with my ex-husband,” Evans Crump said, firmly but with a slight sigh. “We’ve been turned down. We’ve been discriminated against so much in this city because no one wants Blacks in their venues, over 100 or 200 people. They’re scared of us, no matter how professional we are… We’ve had no violence, for years, and still, when they see us, they’re like, ‘no.’”

But, she is not deterred.

“I don’t go places where we’re not wanted. People don’t know that, behind the scenes, I fight to give a party,” she says. “So many people think it’s so frivolous, but social life and entertainment are important to human development. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what your choices are. To be around people that you look like or relate to is good for your soul. You should be a full-balanced person, and without any social life and engagement that is fun and freeing (and that definition is different for everybody), you’re not feeding your full self.”

She explains that while there are challenges, she is no complainer. If she was, the concept of an  annual white party would never have been hatched.

In 2005, after planning an expensive and extravagant birthday party for a client, he bailed on her during the week of the event. She had recently resigned from her city job. That’s when she, with the help of a close girlfriend, parlayed what could have been a disaster, financially and otherwise, into the official launch of the Flywire magazine and a hugely successful party, the White Tie Affair.

Finney, who has attended six of the ten white-themed parties says, “It is a true representation and celebration of Baltimore. It is the only large scale event that integrates what’s awesome about Baltimore—the diversity of our people—professional, working class, political, and influencers.”

According to Evans Crump, “The White Party started with 75 people. The next year, 600 people. The next year, 1,200 people. Then, 2,000. Now we fluctuate from 2,000 to 2,500 people.”

“I had to spend $5,000 of my own money on a party that I did not care to have,” she explained.

“My message to people is that good things can come out of the most challenging obstacles, the most… There’s always an opportunity to grow and become better in any situation. You just cry, brush yourself off, and keep moving.”

Not one to rest on her laurels, the mother of a 16-year-old son has even bigger plans for Flywire, and has been researching providing a vehicle to create jobs and opportunities for kids,  starting at age 15, so they know how and can take care of themselves.

“I really believe that, now, the next focus should be ways to create tools for our young people to empower themselves. So, we won’t continue to have a generation of kids that are desperate for attention, love, money, nurturing and clean places to live,” she said. “I discuss this stuff every day with some people who I believe are going to emerge as the next leaders. That’s very important to me. I have a 16-year-old son. If we don’t create the businesses and job opportunities for them, who will?”