WPW: Cause You’ve Got to Have Friends
Last night we were delighted to leave our beloved Brooklyn and head over to Chelsea to help warm the stunningly beautiful, brand spanking new Regas Studio. It was amazing to see the ladies and their letterpress settled into such a stylish, chic and creative space.
It was also amazing to get to connect with our local industry friends; many of whom we have known for years as we’ve watched each others’ businesses grow, expand and change. It got us thinking about the importance of not only these relationships, but also of these networking events. Yes, these kinds of relationships can lead to referrals and new business leads, but almost more importantly, they are great opportunities to take your business temperature.
Many of us are sole proprietorships, but even with partnerships like ours, it’s easy to get a bit myopic about our businesses. Colleagues for us can give us a fresh perspective on countless things- the state of the marketplace, fresh ways of marketing and even how you are feeling, emotionally, about your job/day to day/purpose. Who amongst us hasn’t had the experience of running into someone wildly excited about a project/client/business idea and hasn’t thought “Wow, I might need to refresh my batteries” or “Maybe I’m taking the wrong tack because whatever I’m doing isn’t making me feel as excited as he/she.”
Of course, just as with your friendships, with time and honesty the depth of perspective you can receive from engaging with your colleagues can only grow. This is the part that’s often the hardest since it means being frank about your work/life- not putting on a show you think might be more appealing. Remember, Bette Midler knew what she was talking about when she said you’ve got to have friends!
For all our Chicago friends, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at Toss the Bouquet on November 24th alongside our mentor Marcy Blum, Anja Winnika from The Knot, the delightful and intelligent Brian Worley and a whole roster of amazing business women working in this world of weddings! Don’t miss it and you can register today at ttb2014.eventbrite.com
Somehow I basically forgot all about the Emmy awards. Monday nights at the tail end of August were so much more made for sipping Rose in a garden somewhere than for being glued to the TV set. So, I recapped the red carpet this morning via the magic of the internet. While the New York Times remarked upon the lack of trends on this Red Carpet, I must say that I begged to differ: there was an abundance of actresses channeling their “Bridal Moments” and radiating in modern white gowns (and pants). As Bridal trends have become decidedly less Bridal and the red carpet serves as an oracle of details and fabrics and cuts that we are certain to see come to play at Bridal Market this fall.
Trains that descend from the shoulders… We saw Lupita Nyong’o rock this style last awards season and Laverne Cox took it officially Bridal in this glamorous gown that offers a modern, easy to wear take on a train.
Continuing the Lace-y trend that we saw in Naem Khan’s debut bridal collection, Camila Alves looks stunning in this lacey number (and her husband doesn’t look to shabby either!)
Lucy Liu’s Zac Pozen gown evoked a Grecian Goddess with a modern flair.
Angela Basset and Sophia Vergara added a bit of metallic flair to their all white ensembles. How fabulous is Angela’s look for a slightly older bride? So chic and sexy!
Another “mini trend” I noticed was bows and tie details. From whimsical to sculptural. Juliane Hough, Alison Williams, Allison Janey and Cat Deely all tied their looks up with a bow.
While bows do make the wearer look like she’s a present at a party, there were a couple of actresses who just wanted to look like living Fiesta’s! Literally these two girls look like the Pinata at a kids’ party after it’s been whacked open. I have to assume that they were as amused by their looks as I was. Lena Dunham in Gianbatista Valli and Sarah Paulson in Giorgio Armani (who must have designed this after a bottle of wine and a few good jokes).
What did you think of the Emmy Red Carpet this year? Who wore your favorite gown? Do you think that Lena Dunham is just F’ing with us now? Let me know! All photos courtesy The Cut!
Mayra and I had the best time speaking at Be Sage Conference last week in Chicago. It was our first time doing a speaking gig as a Duo and I must tell you it was a lot of fun. A recap of some of our talk can be found here, but I thought I’d take a moment to share a few “A Ha!” moments that I had during the portions of the conference where we were able to listen to the other speakers and chat with the attendees.
Be Sage is organized by the women behind Sage Wedding Pros- Michelle Loretta and Kelly Simants- and their take on this conference was two days jam packed with learning opportunities for wedding business owners. Their goal was totally reached, as we heard from Video Marketing expert and wedding planner Allison Howard, IP attorney Betsy Butwin, M & A Broker Barbara Taylor and PR Specialist Amy Flurry. Some of our top takeaways:
1. Video Marketing is the new MUST. It was amazing to listen to Allison Howard explain how adding video to her website and marketing strategy has not only bolstered her business, it has tranformed her percentage of consultations to bookings from 60% to 100% because the video does the initial weeding of “good matches” and “bad matches” for her. With over 90% of web traffic being driven by video by 2015, can you afford to not be there? If you’ve been in business long enough for this to sound like what people said about blogging and social media, you are right. Video is simply the next frontier.
2. You probably already have valuable intellectual property built into your business. Are you protecting it? Be it a process or a valuable brand name as an expert in an area; your business may hold unique value. IP attourney Betsy Butwin enlightened us not only on how we need to better protect our intellectual property through trademark, but also how we can potentially capitalize on it via licensing some or parts of our already existing businesses.
3. You should run your business as though you were going to sell it. M & A Broker and Small Business Expert Barbara Taylor gave an ENLIGHTENING discussion about what it takes to sell a business and why you should be running your business as though preparing for sale in the long term: 85% of small business owners wealth is actually trapped in their business… and sometimes trapped in discretionary expenses that reduce your bottom line, but also eat into your potential liquidity/company valuation. For that reason alone, even if you were never to sell, run your business as your asset versus your life… and know it’s worth. Wondering how valuable or salable your business might be? How easily can you take vacation? That’s the ultimate litmus test to how viable your business is for a sale.
4. Press is not about driving direct sales, it’s about attracting opportunities and collaborators. Of course, this often leads to broader sales, according to DIY PR expert and author of Recipe for Press, Amy Flurry. Flurry warns of not getting discouraged by press outreach simply because a magazine mention didn’t lead to a direct flood of business, but to recognize the business growth is in the opportunity the press will lead to.
5. Don’t just have goals, create actionable timetables for achieving them. One of the best framing exercises of the conference began with Michelle asking us to write down all of our life and work goals and dreams. By the end of the conference Kelly asked us each to select at least one and create a 7, 30 and 60 day plan for action. I know that I made mine… up to 90 days, so keep your ears open as we look to share our next project!
Thank you to all the ladies who spoke and attended for such an energizing two days! And thanks to Michelle and Kelly at Be Sage! A fabulous experience.
I am just back from the truly fabulous Sage Wedding Pros conference (full recap coming up!) and a conversation that I had there inspired this slightly more personal-subject post. Someone I met was telling me about a friend/colleague who was getting a divorce and was worried news getting out would hurt her business… I assured her that it would not, but totally empathized with the fear- as it struck me as totally familiar.
When wedding pros get married, it makes a lot of splash in the industry: Photographers’ weddings in Martha Stewart, Planners’ weddings in The Knot, even my Bestie Mayra had her wedding all over Style Me Pretty; but truth be told each year an equal number of fabulous wedding professionals are more quietly suffering/coping/negotiating/celebrating the ends of marriages that are no longer working. These separations are less likely to be shared on Facebook or Twitter, as frankly, the tools we use to share our acumen at weddings can feel an awkward place to talk at all about divorce.
I am nearly 6 years divorced from my Ex-husband and I’ve spoken to many, many colleagues over the years about the totally weird experience of ending a marriage while selling/ working on the joy of weddings. I can confidently offer these few bits of advice to any of you out there going through this same thing.
It won’t effect your business. Truth be told, no one who is engaged thinks that their planner/designer/florist/photog is selling them a future perfect marriage- they are just coming to you to make the wedding day look/feel/taste awesome. You don’t sell marriages, so it’s irrelevant if you don’t feel “good at that” in this moment.
Being married doesn’t need to be part of your sales strategy. I very much used to chat about my own wedding in my sales pitch. Naturally, while you are getting a divorce, you might not want to bring up the D word in your pitch- (but that’s not the end of the world either- see below)- but if someone is getting married where you did, or using your same band or whatever, and normally you’d say “I love them- we used them at my wedding!”, just end the sentence with “I love them”.
If for some reason it does come up….they won’t break (or fire you). You aren’t wearing a scarlet letter. I’ll never forget the morning when my client Natalie texted me a pic she found on my makeup artists site of my wedding and was like “you were married??”. My heart sunk . I felt like my divorce would taint her engagement. Instead she wanted to hear all about it and ask if I was dating, etc. Millennials are not dummies. Some of their parents have divorced, some of their siblings have divorced… They aren’t living in vacuums. If it does come up, you can highlight your own optimism of getting it right the next time (if you feel that way)
It’s normal to feel a little bummed out about being AT weddings all the time. When you are going through a divorce (or even just a breakup) it’s logical that being at a wedding might make you dwell on what once was. You might feel blue, or cynical or jaded. If this is you, maybe it’s time to lean a bit on others and explore new channels of work. I was lucky and had a partner, but maybe now is the time to empower an assistant you’ve been training. Or to take some corporate projects for variety. Or to do some commercial shoots. Variety in your work can be really helpful in breaking things up – especially at the height of wedding season. I took some non- profit work and it also exposed me to a whole new group of friends/ colleagues at a time where that was really useful.
You’ll Eventually Feel Relatively Normal at Work again. I was pretty much useless at work for a couple of months dealing with the messiness that comes with divorce- moving, arguing, erratic emails that throw you off your groove when you are finally back to work. It’s doubly true when you have children. It’s Ok. Again, don’t be afraid to call in some help to pick up your slack if you need it.
You’ll totally meet someone new…eventually. For the newly single, it can be a little daunting meeting with happy couple after happy couple… especially when you feel like “you’ll never meet anyone again.” When not dating anyone myself, I now find meeting new clients pretty romantically inspiring. I like hearing how they met- it gets me excited for who might turn up in my own life now that I have a better idea of what would work for me. True, I was born an optimist, but it works!
Remember, you aren’t the first, you won’t be the last. You might not feel like broadcasting about your divorce like a profile piece in NY Weddings, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. Remember, it actually takes a ton of guts to start anew…
This past weekend one of our clients caused quite the stir on the internets when she decided to NOT wear a dress that was designated by a designer as a “wedding dress” and instead rock a gown that she felt (and looked) amazing in. The selection of her dress happened so organically and so suited her personality and the wedding celebration itself, I honestly never gave it a second thought when she sent me pics of the dress a few months ago. After all, we’ve had lots of brides in the past opt out of “traditional” wedding gowns in favor of the chance to wear something they found to be simply amazing.
The difference of course is that our other brides, though gorgeous and amazing, didn’t end up in People and so their individual choices end up largely remaining that- individual. When celebrity starts intersecting with even the more obscure “trends” of our industry, it becomes a permission slip to the general public to pick up those trends and run with them…especially when it taps into a permission that people are craving.
I raise this point not because I think because our client wore a non-wedding gown to her wedding that EVERY bride is going to start doing this, but I do think that more brides might say “Hmm, I could buy this $6,000 wedding gown or I could use this as an opportunity to wear Givenchy/McQueen/Balmain.”
This thought process is one that, as an industry, we need to get more prepared to see: where succumbing to established tradition as part of a rite of passage holds less value than the appeal of being yourself. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that over the past 5-6 years weddings have been trending towards the more casual and even less traditional. Well hold on and prepare for more. As weddings become more and more expensive, more regular couples are starting to say “If we’re going to spend the money, let’s do it our way.” Especially as the sphere of celebrity- a term that has extended to include instagram sensations as well as movie stars- starts tapping into this tradition bucking trend and handing out permission slips. Remember when Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alva took everyone Glamping and no one knew what that was? How about Adam Levine at Flora Farms? Pamela Love?? And I’m assuming you are paying attention to pretty much EVERY low key, effortlessly glamorous romp around a wedding that Vogue is posting pretty much every day….
I bring this up because as an industry we have to remain flexible to what weddings are wanting to become and sell ourselves, talents and services accordingly. The surest fire way to date ourselves and render ourselves useless is to seem as though we have an idea of what a wedding should be. We can understand what makes a great party, we can create amazing photography, we can fundamentally have a design aesthetic, but the time has passed that people turn to wedding professionals for prescriptions on HOW their wedding should be handled. No one cares anymore how things are usually done, they care about how they would like them done and if you think that can work.