In the ever-evolving landscape of business events, one woman stands out for her relentless pursuit of inclusivity, empowerment and sheer joy—Dani Wallace. As the founder of The BIG Festoon, Dani has revolutionised the traditional business event format, creating a space that not only educates but also celebrates the diversity and potential of every individual.

When asked about the inspiration behind The BIG Festoon, Dani candidly shares her frustration with the typical business events that often feature monotonous, homogeneous speakers. She envisioned something radically different—a dynamic, inclusive event where people from all backgrounds could come together to learn, feel inspired and experience the joy of a truly accommodating space. Thus, The BIG Festoon was born, now recognised as the fastest-growing, actively inclusive business and personal development event for entrepreneurs and change-makers in the North West of the UK.

Dani’s journey is nothing short of extraordinary. Growing up on the council estates of Preston, she faced and overcame the adversities of domestic violence, homelessness and single parenthood. Her resilience and determination to transform her life led her to discover her mission: to help others realise their potential and fly, just as she did.

Looking ahead, Dani has ambitious plans for The BIG Festoon, including expanding internationally and continuing to create transformative events. Her dedication to staying connected with her audience through live shows and community engagement ensures that her impact extends far beyond the event itself.

Her message is clear: success is for everyone, and together, we can achieve greatness. In this interview, we find out more from Dani herself…

The big festoon

What inspired you to create The Big Festoon, and how does it reflect your journey and values?

Honestly? I was really fucking tired of sub-par business events that only featured pale, stale and male speakers that only went surface deep on the topics they were covering and were really, mindnumbingly dull. I was tired of seeing the speaking arena not reflecting the richness of the world; not seeing a space where people from all backgrounds and all communities could come together, learn, feel inspired and feel the joy that happens when you link arms safely in a space that’s accommodating for you. That wants to hear from you and champion you.

So The BIG Festoon is now the fastest–growing, actively inclusive, joyful business and personal development event for entrepreneurs and change-makers based in the North West of the UK.

I’m incredibly proud of how far we’ve come- the whole event is grounded in the notion that ‘we all do well when we ALL do well ; a core value of both IATQB and The BIG Festoon that expresses that success is safe for all of us, and it’s all our responsibility as a society to ensure that we do everything in our power to remove barriers to learning, and to make events, and the wider speaking arena, as accommodating, welcoming and accessible for every person who wants to be there.

And so that’s what we’re doing-It’s my mission to create safe spaces to hold conversations that matter, and The BIG Festoon is rooted in talks that get to the heart of real issues in the safest of spaces to create tangible change on subjects such as LGBTQIA+, mental health, neurodiversity, finance, relationships, business development, marketing, and so much more. 

Can you share a pivotal moment in your life that motivated you to rebuild and share your experiences with others?

Having grown up on the council estates of Preston, I’ve survived the adversity of domestic violence, homelessness and single parenthood to become a leading voice in empowerment and now I’ve made it my absolute mission to encourage others to overcome their challenges too. 

In the hardest of those days, when my mental health was at its worst, I realised that either life was going to keep happening to me, or I’d better start happening to life.

So, I made a choice.

I decided to start doing the things I needed to do to get myself into a position of strength.

I chose to take back control.

I threw myself into building myself back up. I consumed personal development books like they were going out of fashion, and I set to work on trying to like myself and, even-tually, love myself again.

It was a hard slog, clawing my way back from the brink but I swore to myself that I would never allow myself to feel that desolate and desperate again.

Pre starting my business, and a couple of years later, I was watching Bee Movie with my kids and there was this quote at the start that just floored me:

“According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground.

The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.”

The realisation hit me like a bolt of lightning. I finally knew my purpose. 

I chose to fly anyway.

I also chose to make it my mission to help anyone that I was able to realise that they too could choose to fly too, no matter what they’d been through or are currently going through now. 

Since then, telling this story, and in turn, helping others tell their own stories, has become my mission because our stories are powerful and have the potential to become another person’s survival guide.

How did your background in corporate leadership training influence the creation and execution of your events?

Even when I was back in corporate leadership, I’ve always wanted to teach and to lead. So that’s always been something that I’ve carried with me, right from the earliest moments of my career. I think by not feeling fulfilled, wanting ‘more’, and feeling like I had no proper purpose (or enjoyment) in the corporate world, actually, it gave me the strongest motivation to discover what I’d been put on this planet to do. And then when I realised my mission and could see the bigger picture, I was determined to make sure as many people as possible never felt like I did. So that’s what we celebrate and nurture at The BIG Festoon; leaning all the way into your mission, fervently using your voice to bring others on that journey with you, and championing ‘wanting more’. 

What challenges did you face while building your business from the ground up, and how did you overcome them?

Oof- I faced a LOT of challenges, but I think the biggest one I overcame was self-sabotage. I realised that because of the adversities I’d been through, I was still unintentionally holding onto a lot of the baggage I’d acquired from being homeless, and from my previous relationships; it was heavy, things from my experiences that were then shaping the way I was approaching my business decisions and the way in which I viewed myself and my capabilities.
Ultimately, I realised that I couldn’t change what had happened but I could change the way I approached the future. I could release the stuff that was no longer serving me and put that baggage down. I decided to thank Past Dani for being so resilient and committed pretty much there and then to making her proud with the moves I made in the future.  

The atmosphere at The Big Festoon was incredibly inclusive. Can you elaborate on why inclusivity is a priority for you, and how it enhances the event experience?

So I think now more than ever, people are waking up and recognising that if we’re not actively creating an inclusive culture where conversations can happen safely, then we’re not representing vast swathes of people who need their voices to be heard. People who need to see themselves represented on stage to know it’s safe for them to speak up and do the same.

People can only see what’s possible for themselves when they can see what’s possible for themselves. That’s what me and my team are doing with The BIG Festoon. We’re inspiring people to use their voices and be part of a conversation that transcends across various demographics and generations to really hammer home that we all do well when we all do well and that success is safe for all. 

Seeing the ripple effects that happen when a voice from an underrepresented community is given a true platform to share their lived experience is everything. They gain confidence. They put themselves forward for new opportunities. Their business gains more traction because they have more self-belief and start leading from the front. They’re celebrated and championed. They realise it’s safe to speak. And then on the other hand, the audience gains a richer experience and understanding from hearing their words, leading to them having more consideration for what life is like in another’s shoes. They change their behaviours and their attitudes and approach things differently.

For me, it’s affirming. It’s fulfilling. And it shows how a series of small actions can lead to long lasting societal change. 

How do you balance the energetic and fun elements of The Big Festoon with the serious topics of mindset and self-improvement?

The balance is everything! That’s why The BIG Festoon is so unique and I think so many of our community love it so much- because we’ve nailed the blend between that sometimes heavy, tangible business/ life development work and huge, copious amounts of joy. I don’t know about you, but I always learn better if I’m enjoying myself, if I’m being entertained at the same time. For me, it anchors that feeling of fun and laughter and warmth and joy alongside those key learnings, which actually means I’m going to remember what’s been said and I’m more likely to do something with it. So yeah, that’s why I’ve curated an event that’s rooted in edutainment, because I want our attendees to learn and laugh and feel lifted and inspired to take action.

Could you discuss the role of community in your journey and how it contributes to the success of your events?

When I say that there is NO community like The IATQB community, I mean it. So I built an audience from going live in my car, chatting to people about the challenges and wins and scrapes I got myself in when I was just starting out in business. And people really resonated with that, for 2 reasons. 1- by seeing me, just farting about, getting ready, and being me, it made it a less scary thing for them to drop their guard and go live and show up and be more visible. And then 2, they became invested in my journey as I went from having faced the adversities that I’d been through, to where I am now.

The love, the yearning for education to make things better for all, the support and the championing that goes on in IATQB Hive, which is my incredible online community space, is just beautiful to see. And as you’ll know, when we swarm on mass to The BIG Festoon, we welcome people in like we’ve always known them. And that is magical. It’s not just a trite marketing phrase- my community really does festoon, they link arms with each other, and our events flourish largely in part to that feeling of togetherness. 

How do you ensure that the speakers at The Big Festoon, many of whom are new to public speaking, feel empowered to share their stories authentically?

The majority of the speakers are people new to public speaking -but I work with them for at least 6 months to help them craft their talks to share their missions. Many established business owners can get on stage and share advice and knowledge based on their business -it’s a different thing altogether to stand up there and share vulnerability and personal stories -and many hide from doing this part, for years – but this is what is needed if we really want to connect to people as human beings.

I have a whole range of public speaking programmes for incredible humans who are ready to take their visibility, their confidence and their ability to speak about their business and mission message to the next level. These have been specifically designed to allow business owners and change-makers to learn straight from ME and also create and practise their brand-spanking-new speaking skills in the safest of spaces.

I work with my clients to teach them EVERYTHING they need to know to break free of those speaking fears so they’re ready to take to the stage, and make more money with their words.

Can you tell us more about The Fly Away Foundation and its mission to support domestic abuse survivors in entrepreneurship?

It was always my intention, from the second I heard the Bee Movie quote about bees caring not what humans think is impossible, to create a foundation that would help survivors of domestic abuse build businesses so that they could do just that, Fly Anyway.

Taking back control of your life after you have escaped a toxic relationship is incredibly difficult. Learning to trust yourself, your talents and believing in your worth as an independent, whole person is a constant struggle, especially if you are trying to do that on your own.

The Fly Anyway Foundation was launched in 2020 to help survivors access some of the best business mentors and business service providers in the UK and eventually globally, to help them to build successful and sustainable businesses.

What impact do you hope to make with your foundation, both in the short term and in the long run?

Engaging with the Fly Anyway Foundation not only gives our service users access to exceptional business experts and services but encourages them to be a part of a community that understands and creates a space for them to get excited about their lives again, as opposed to living in fear and victimhood.

In what ways do you believe your events and foundation contribute to changing the landscape of business events and support networks for survivors of domestic abuse?

Well, for one we’re not boring! We don’t force anyone to do the mexican wave of shit that normally happens at business events and networking meetings where you’re pushed to pitch yourself in 60 secs in front of a room of business suits. But more than that, we’re changing the way that people approach the idea of ‘business development events’ in the first place. We want people to come away feeling excited- The BIG Festoon is like no other event in the business calendar for a reason. It’s fun, it’s energetic, and thought-provoking all at the same time.

And then when you combine that with the fact that we’re intentionally inclusive, it’s like a bat signal to others that this is the place for them. That we’re a safe bet where they can further their business and develop without worrying about feeling accepted.  We welcome everyone and actively welcome guests who are neurodivergent, LGBTQIA+ or disabled, along with members of the black community, having made sure we have created a safe environment for them with active representation, good accessibility throughout the venue, sensory breakout areas, captioned screens, and things like non gendered toilets and pronoun badges if people wish to use them. And that’s how we’re changing the game for business events.

How do you see the intersection between personal development and business growth, and how does The Big Festoon address this?

It comes back to that concept of edutainment again- bringing the fun, finding the joy and combining that with learning and development pieces that are going to raise the bar and change the game for entrepreneurs and changemakers, no matter where they’re at in their journey. 

What strategies do you employ to maintain resilience and positivity, especially when faced with setbacks or challenges?

So my days are always full on, and I’m rarely not on the go. So staying mindful and trying to find pockets of time where I can just be, is mega important for my own bandwidth and for seeing through the long term projects that I’ve got in the pipeline. And they’re huge, like my documentary screening at Leicester Square, our first ever IATQB international event in November, moving to a 2500 person arena for our 2026 event. HUGE. Sometimes it feels too big, and that’s where I have to dig deep, find that resilience and remember I’m capable of doing BIG things.

My Lumi pod is great for cold water dipping which I have found transformational for the mindset shifts. Other than that, give me a good blanket, time with my family and my kids and that’s usually enough to see me through and recharge my batteries when I’m tired. I give myself the same grace to rest that I would afford others.  

Could you share a particularly memorable moment or success story from one of your events that encapsulates the spirit of The Big Festoon?

I’m going to talk about my costumes for a sec because I feel like they need the limelight. I’ve been on that stage dressed as Freddie Mercury, a giant poo, Wonder Woman, a Playboy Bunny, in a bright blue shellsuit…it’s my absolute dream to have them all up in glass cases like in a museum at some point. My team says I’m like Elton John and I’m here for it. 

What future plans do you have for expanding your events or initiatives, both locally and beyond?

Omg, the plans are endless haha. So The BIG Festoon 2025 sold out in under 48 hours- it was so fast that we had to call an emergency team meeting to turn off tickets lol. But before the end of this year, so much is already happening…we’ve got our BIG Festoon documentary screening in Leicester Square in August, which is just massive and an absolute dream come true. That’s focussing on our journey from a 50 delegate event to a 10000 delegate event and the effects of what The BIG Festoon is all about. 

We are road tripping The BIG Festoon from the North to The South in September, as we head to the UK’s biggest business FESTIVAL, IdeasFest…we’ve got our own festival tent and stage which is just going to be the most delicious experience for us all and a baptism of fire for IdeasFest as they get a real taste of the mayhem and madness of The BIG Festoon. 

And then we’re going global! I’m hosting my first ever LA event with the incredible Mike Ganino in November…so yeah it’s all happening here! 

How do you stay connected with your audience and community, both online and offline, between events?

I go live in my community 3 times a week via my fake telly show- The Show Up Wise Up Rise Up show which is all about delivering the motivation, learnings and a hefty dose of celebration for every single member of my community. It really unites us all together. I also love encouraging my community to support our sister events that I know to be safe and just run by genuinely good people who want to do good things; Atomicon, Expert Expires, Shake It Up, there’s loads more but yeah, it’s always amazing when my community turn up together- it’s a lot of black and yellow!

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

Oh wow…I mean, there’s so much more of the world that I want to see and experience- I’ve always wanted to go to South America, particularly like Argentina so I can go experience the squares and the people and indulge in the culture, especially to learn the tango!

I’ve been lucky enough in my previous career to sing all over the world from Lanzarote to the USA, to all kinds of places in between…I’ve even worked in Lapland! Last year I did a rickshaw run in Sri Lanka and that was one of the most humbling and beautiful experiences of my life. This year I went on a solo trip to LA and I’m heading back there in November. So travel is definitely something I see more of in my future!

Lastly, what legacy do you hope to leave through your work, both professionally and personally?

I want people to know success, wealth, happiness and all the other good stuff out there in the world isn’t reserved for anyone. It’s ours for the taking, it’s there to be claimed, if you’re brave enough to stretch out those arms and seize it. Take the risk. Be brave. Success is safe. And we all win when we all win, so let’s keep festooning together. 

Where can people follow you and find out more?

You can find me across the socials @thequeenbeedani and you can find out all about our upcoming events and our next BIG Festoon at IdeasFest in September by heading to

Discover more inspiring stories like Dani Wallace’s journey of empowerment and transformation by exploring House of Coco‘s latest features.


Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.

Comments are closed.