Ok so I have no idea if I have really ‘made it’ but 7 years on I am still here, still loving what I do and making money (so its not just a hobby) so that for me means I am happy, content and still passionate about the future…despite the world right now because people will always celebrate love with their friends and family in one way or another and I cannot wait to get right back to working for my couples and creating their days.
(Also have I just totally just got away with the fact that I haven’t written a blog post for a 2.5 years! Life, eh!?)
I remembered I had actually written a post about starting a hire company and it was actually 5 years ago. I feel it’s still a good little read all these years later with some of my initial thoughts on ‘Could I run a wedding hire company from home?’
But I want to share much more here today for those of you who have been reaching out to me about working in the industry and specifically setting up and running a wedding hire/styling company. I stand by everything in my previous post, please don’t quit your day job, it takes several years to build your brand and establish yourself, well at least it did for me and I have seen a lot of local prop hire companies come and go over the years, it is not easy. The hours are of course seasonal, very long and incredibly intense but if you cannot wait to get stuck into something new and also very rewarding with the most brilliant community of people this is a career move for you.
CONNECTIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS
First and foremost you won’t get far in this industry without working really hard to build a network of suppliers that are likeminded and have a similar vision as you. These people will become your friends, cheerleaders and help bring in so many recommendations and grow your business in the best ways through working together.
Work on getting to know local venue owners too and reaching out to them to share what you’ll be offering and how you can help their couples. Personally I will always work locally because its where I have grown my base and brand and don’t feel the need to travel to lots of far away venues.
FINDING YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER
I have an ideal bride in mind when I write and post images or share advice for. She is my ideal customer and over the years I have worked out who she is, what she loves doing, where she loves to shop, dance and drink and what she wears. This so helps in keeping me focused and everything I do is then for her purpose. (I should have an ideal groom too but I don’t generally work with as many men directly with my communication)
I honestly believe if you work out your ideal customer you’ll become so much more successful as you’ll know which wedding blogs and magazines she’s reading, the venues she’s viewing and the type of product she’d love to hire.
YOU ARE YOUR BRAND
So many people ask about how to grow a range of products you know will hire out well. The biggest advice for this is remember you are your brand, if you really love a piece and could imagine it at your wedding/in your home its a good bet your ideal customer will too (if she’s anything like you, which parts of my ideal bride is a younger, cooler version of me!)
SAYING NO IS OK
Everyone says say yes to everything at the start of business, but honestly there is alot to be said for saying no. Anything that isn’t a good fit for you or your brand isn’t worth your time. Research suppliers involved with shoots before agreeing to them and don’t be afraid to not share images that aren’t fitting with where you want your business to be. Getting the right set of images out there at the start with a clear message of what you do will keep you leaps ahead and pushing in the right direction. At the start I fought alot with taking orders that we’re ‘bread and butter’ money orders to realising I needed to think bigger to get the right couples coming through.
Being present on social is so, so important at the start. Start networking and just keep showing up. It will feel like people aren’t seeing you but being consistent really is key.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Initially I didn’t have the right pricing at all and my time just wasn’t covered properly for deliveries, admin and the fact you don’t get paid out of season. This has all come with time for me but always reflect and adjust, sadly learning from mistakes and realising how many hours were spent on an event can help to grow and move forward.
In the beginning there was just no way I could afford staff but eventually you realise how vital they are. Rather than investing into more range pieces (my range is actually not vast at all, you’ll notice how many of the same pieces are featured in my weddings) I really advise getting admin assistance and more behind the scenes help with prop prep. This year was going to be a big year for me to step back from day-to-day in some ways and have more staff here to help so I am left to push and develop the business more. I am beyond grateful for all my freelance staff and the role they play each week.
I added sign writing and styling services after just a few years. I knew I had to branch out into more than just prop hire as I only offer small props. Offering big furniture pieces have much bigger return but having a large storage space with rent every month, large vans and paying two men to go to each delivery wasn’t something I wanted to have the responsibility of. I like working at home, all my stock is here and I have no external costs, this works best for me and has hugely helped in me having a full salary from Little Lending and means I can fit in work around my growing family.
DON’T LET DOUBT IN
Over the years doubt will of course set in; if you will make it, make a profit, finally work for a proper wage, be recognised in the industry, but only if you really want to succeed then you will. There will always be people out there who seem to have it all together (trust me behind the scenes they won’t) but all you need to do is keep visualising your end goal.
Would love to know your thoughts on starting out in the industry, if you have experienced lots of stumbling blocks or if you are just loving the ride of growing something new?
Images Darina Stoda (Old office, new office is not ready for images yet!)