Tag Archives: wedding

Can your business afford not to be involved in the weddings industry?

30 Sep

Despite most of us having to cut back on our expenditure over the last few years, the weddings industry has continued to boom.  You only get one (hopefully!) chance at a wedding, so most brides are determined to get it right, and aren’t willing to make too many sacrifices for their big day.  Most weddings will use several suppliers, from florists, to bridal boutiques, caterers and cake makers, to photographers and portaloo hire.  Some of these are obvious necessities for a wedding, but with growing creativity in weddings, there are opportunities for many not-so-obvious businesses to turn their hand to weddings.  Whatever your business sells, if there is a way to make it relevant to weddings, it could be your best business move yet.

I got married back in April, and we used a venue that provided a venue, a handful of chairs, and a cake knife.  The rest was up to us.  That meant we used a whole host of suppliers to make our day.  It was a logistical nightmare, but it was worth it for such a unique day.  I wholeheartedly recommend each and every one of the suppliers that we used, and you can see a list of them here.  Do take a look if you are planning any type of event.  (And again, I’m sorry if I have missed anyone of, I’m sure I have!)

A special mention goes out to The Very Vintage Hire Company Ltd.  Started just two years ago by a young single Mum, this is a business that has gone from strength to strength.  They now have a beautiful, inspirational, wonderful shop, The Attic, in the perfect setting of Exeter Quay, and hire props out to several events every single weekend.  The majority of events are weddings, though they have also dressed wedding fayres, summer balls, and various photoshoots.

A Paper Rose

15 Apr

On getting engaged last year, I went straight onto Etsy and Folksy looking for inspiration for planning my wedding.  One of the first things I came across was Laura Gamble’s beautiful Paper Bouquets.  Laura has a Fine Art degree and started making paper flowers for her own wedding.  After everyone loved them so much at her own wedding, Laura decided to start a business making paper flowers for other people’s weddings.  She opened her shop on folksy in December 2011 – six months after her own wedding.  Laura also works as a classroom assistant.  She has just launched her own website.

For my wedding, Laura made me a bouquet, wrist corsages for my bridesmaids, windmill favours for the kids, and decorations for our cake.  I love that we can keep all of them forever, the flowers will never die and I don’t have to dry them our or press them or anything.  Everyone loved them on the day too, they really are beautiful.  (I promise that’s the last post about my wedding!)

How did you get started with A Paper Rose?

I studied Fine and Applied Art at the University of Ulster in Belfast, where I specialised in painting, but always loved craft and working with paper.  When I got engaged I decided I wanted an alternative to real flowers (I have quite bad hayfever so wasn’t loving the idea of sneezing all day!).  After a lot of experimenting, I settled on making my bouquet, the bridesmaids’ bouquets and the gents’ buttonholes from paper.  They were all roses.  I also made the table centrepieces, they were tissue paper carnations.  It was so great because on the day there was no stress about the flowers dying and I could keep my bouquet as a memory of the day.  I got so many compliments about the flowers that I decided to keep making them and see if any other brides-to-be would like them too.

What social media sites do you use, and which have you found to be the most successful for marketing your business?

At the minute I mainly use Facebook and am also on Pinterest.  I’m thinking of joining Twitter, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them all.  Facebook has been the most successful way of marketing my work in terms of raising people’s awareness, also after having taken part in a wedding fair and giving out business cards you can see a jump in “likes” on your page.  I sell my work online through Folksy and more recently Etsy, these have been my most successful ways of getting orders.

What is the best thing about running your own business?

I love the feeling every time you make a sale, that someone has chosen your work for such an important event in their lives.  I love that I can be creative and make some money doing it.  I work in a school, but during school holidays I love the days when I get to work on the business 9 – 5.  I really enjoy doing a variety of tasks, especially the designing and making, but also the admin side of things.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Never having enough hours in the day to do everything you want to! Trying to juggle working a job, caring for family, still seeing friends and then making sure I don’t neglect the business.  It’s very important to try and get the balance right!

What advice would you give someone wanting to start a craft business?

Go for it, even if it just supplements your income it’s a really rewarding way to be creative, it does however take a lot of time and hard work.  With Etsy, Folksy and other online sales platforms, you can work from home and make some sales even if you don’t have time to sell at all the craft fairs.

How do you manage your time between employment and self employment?

It is frustrating because I feel that I could go much further with the business if I had more time to work on it, but as a classroom assistant I’m sort of spoilt with my hours, I work 8:30 – 3:30 – so can get an hour of work done each day when I get home, before it’s time to make dinner etc.  I also have the school holidays to work on the business – which is great.  I usually spend an evening or two per week working on A Paper Rose and try and do a few hours on a Saturday.  It depends how many orders there are or if a wedding fair is coming up.  In the next few weeks I am doing a couple of fairs so I will be working a lot more hours to get ready!  Lists are a really helpful way for me to focus and get things done in a tight time frame.

What are your plans for the future?

I would love to be in a position to work fewer hours in a job, maybe 2 days per week and the rest on the business.  I’m planning to set up a website in the coming months to hopefully increase my online presence.  I’d also like to increase my product range.  I currently make bouquets, buttonholes and wrist corsages, but would like to extend the range to table centrepieces, hair accessories, paper flowers for home décor – to name but a few!  I’d also like to make some new paintings.

You can find A Paper Rose on Facebook, Etsy and Folksy.

Laura on her wedding day DSCN0667

Some businesses to check out if you’re planning an event

8 Apr

On Saturday I was lucky enough to marry Steve – the wonderful man who makes it possible for me to have two kids, a part time job, and my own business, and still have time for the occasional shopping trip and night out.  I won’t bore you with all the details of our wedding, but I thought I would use this opportunity to share with you some of the wonderful small businesses that helped make our wedding so special.  If you are planning any kind of event, please do check out some of these great businesses.  We tried to use local businesses, run by people we already knew, to make our day really personal.

The Very Vintage Hire Company – we hired all sorts including a Post Box, Deck Chairs, Crazy Golf Course (made just for us after I suggested it to them!).  Make sure you get hold of their gorgeous e-catalogue!  Find out more about the young entrepreneur that started the company in our interview, here, and check out her new shop, the Attic, based on Exeter Quay.

Virginia’s Vintage Hire – we hired our tables and chairs from this lovely company.

Angel Face – I bought my dress from this shop in Buckfastleigh, the staff were so friendly and helpful.

Perspectives Photography – amazing, beautiful photographer, definitely worth checking out.  Steal the Stage Photography also provided us with a second photographer and different point of view.

Il Vulcano – a pizza van with a real wood burning oven inside!

Red Rock Brewery – the local brewery provided the bar on the day.

Our friends created a band just for us, including members from These Reigning Days and Baskerville.

A Paper Rose – a friend did our fresh flowers but I bought my bouquet from here, as well as windmills for the kids, and decorations for our cake, which was made by Cakes Delicious.

Party Lights – masses of pretty lighting made our day look truly magical.

East Teign Nursery – our children’s nursery provided friendly staff to help entertain the hordes of children we invited!

Cliffden Hotel – Cliffden Hotel in Teignmouth is run by Action for Blind People and has beautiful grounds.

Liza Kane – Liza runs L.A Barbers and took on the mammoth task of calming my unruly hair!

Newton Print – Newton Print printed the invitations that Steve designed for us – everyone commented on the great quality of the printing (and of course the design!)

Love My Dress – this blog inspired me in my wedding planning.  They have just released their first book, which immediately went to Number One on the Amazon chart for weddings.

The Natural Wedding Company is another wedding blog, which featured an amazing wedding that I was lucky enough to attend.

Kate Garey – I bought lovely little hand mirrors as thank you gifts for my bridesmaids.

Linds from Shaldon Bakery (and the band Bad Mojo) is a friend and made us a fabulous picnic.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – one of my favourite bands rewrote one of their classic songs, which Steve used to propose.

The Wedding Reporter – although we didn’t use this in the end, I just think it’s the most fantastic idea so I wanted to share it with you.  As an alternative/addition to photography and videography, The Wedding Reporter takes notes on the day which they write up into a beautiful and unique book to remember your day.

A massive thank you to all of the businesses mentioned above, and everyone else who was involved in the day.  Sorry if we have missed anyone out!

Party Planning

1 Apr

On Saturday I will be marrying my super-Steve.  Wedding planning has been an interesting process with two young children in tow – I can understand why most people choose the more traditional route of getting married before having babies!  Here at Opportunity Plus South West, we have met several people who are interested in starting their own business as a wedding/party planner.  Generally this happens after they have planned an event of their own and enjoyed the process.  Other times, we have worked with people who offer a service that is used at events (for example DJing, floristry, hairdressing, photography) who want to add another string to their bow.

Party planning is hard work (believe me!) and having an extra person on board (other than your fiancé) would have been extremely helpful at times.  However, it is vital that you have a good rapport with your customers, and know that you are on the same wavelength.  Brides are typically difficult customers with a very specific vision – which they may or may not be able to articulate!  As a party planner you have to be prepared for your clients to have sudden and dramatic changes of heart!  It could mean having to scrap work that you have worked hard on, so you need to find a balance between being passionate about someone else’s vision and being able to let it go or change it if necessary.

Party planning is a great business to start up alongside employment, as you can work as and when needed at evenings and weekends.  Most wedding fayres and events happen at weekends, and many suppliers are small businesses who will be able to deal with you by email any time.  Though through the recession people have been cutting back on their spending, weddings are still big business – noone wants to scrimp on their big day.

If you think you have got what it takes to become a professional party planner, why not get in touch and have a chat with us about your business idea?  Call us on 0800 043 2440.

Oh, and I just have to share my top wedding planning tip, as I came up with it all by myself and am very proud of it!  Write your thank you cards at the same time as your invitations, that way there’s no risk of missing anyone out, and you have them ready to post out straight after the wedding!

Young Entrepreneur to watch out for!

26 Nov

Carmen Croxall runs The Very Vintage Hire Company, hiring out vintage and retro items to weddings and other events.  Carmen has built this business from scratch in just over a year whilst she was just 24.  She now hires out to events every weekend and is brimming with ideas for the future.  This girl is one to watch!

How did The Very Vintage Hire Company start?

14 months ago I was selling cake stands at pannier markets, and someone brought a large order for a wedding.  I realized I could sell in bulk to brides and grooms.  But the constant making of beautiful items was rather time consuming and there is a limit to how much one person can make and sell, so I thought why not hire them?  I was a single mum and a student and I was literally living on the breadline.  So I brought crockery as and when at the cheapest price could find.  I started to build a collection of vintage china. Then saving money, and spending most of my student loan I reinvested in stock and it just grew!  Now, after many changes to the business we have units full of stock, several members of staff and bookings up till 2015.

What is the best thing about running your own business?

The best thing is the raw belief that one day I will make it big and all the hard work with pay off.  It may be hard but its the most exciting, satisfying thing I have ever done. I have met some amazing people, been involved in some great ideas and learnt so much already, and it’s only just the beginning.

What is the hardest thing about running your own business?

Keeping on top of everything! Because it expanded so quickly I’ve had to actively discourage bookings over winter to sort the infrastructure to so it will be able to cope with another summer of huge demand.  I advise everyone to have a backup plan if things suddenly take off.

Are people surprised when they find out how young you are?

Yes, I am often met with disbelief.  Sometimes when I meet people I can tell they are a bit skeptical of me until I get talking. I once arrived at a business meeting and got directed out of the room as the people there thought I had wondered in lost!  I have even been mistaken for my own PA!

How do you market your business?

Social media all the way.  I have created a Facebook page, website, twitter account, youtuble channel, linkedin profile, pintrest profile and ebay business seller account and keep these updated daily. I have learnt use quality always over quality, don’t spam your followers and likers with irrelevant posts. Don’t share other businesses photos and posts, create your own. Give your audience shareable content not repetitive or boring or self indulgent. Great photos, engaging and relevant unopinionated posts get me an average of 10 new likes a day on facebook.  Also paid Facebook advertising engages my target market.

What are your plans for the future?

So much. Having realized that I can do it, it feels like nothing can stop me now. I am currently working on some exciting viral marketing campaigns and a brand new company. I want to continue to work hard and build an amazing future for myself and my son.

https://www.facebook.com/vintagehire

http://www.veryvintagehire.co.uk/