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graduate success story

Academy Success Story – Nicola Jackson

We love to stay connected with our graduates after they’ve completed their course with us. We want to hear about their successes, their struggles, and how we can support them in the next stage of their career journey. Today we’re sharing this recent catch up we had with Nicola who is a graduate of our UK Diploma in Wedding & Event Planning and the founder and editor of wedding inspiration blog Hanami Dream. Nicola was recently awarded events and wedding individual at the UK Blog Awards 2018 and has had one of her gorgeous styled shoots featured in our very own Wedding Business Magazine.

What were your goals when you enrolled with the Academy?

I wanted my career to fit around our family life and to build things slowly whilst our children are young.
I had wanted to be a wedding planner for a number of years but was successfully working in the corporate world. I hoped that this course would hone my skills, make them relevant to the wedding industry and give me more understanding about running my own business. I also wanted accreditation and credibility to my already acquired skills.
I wanted to gain experience, knowledge, contacts and relevant skills through training, styled photo shoots and attendance at wedding fairs and conferences.
I wanted to develop a 5-year business and a marketing plan.
Plus I wanted to increase my social presence and exposure in order to gain followers, advocates and clients.

Do you feel that the course has helped prepare you for taking the next step in your career and achieving those goals?

The course has opened up my eyes to the whole wedding industry beyond just planning and I’m delighted with how my business has evolved over the course.
My tutor gave me invaluable support and guidance over the last few years, as well as some brilliant advice about playing to my strengths, entering competitions, having a niche and fitting the business around my life. Three years later and I’m a UK Blog Awards winner, combining my photo shoot experience and marketing background with my passion for weddings and supporting local businesses.
It is great recognition to have my experience, skills and expertise acknowledged with a formal qualification. I’m really excited about where things are going and what lies around the corner next.
graduate success story

Has there been a particular highlight during your time as a student? Something you particularly enjoyed or valued out of the experience of doing your course?

Being chosen as student of the month and completing my business plan and realising how much I had already set up.

Do you have some advice for future UK Academy students?

I took my time with my course, fitting it around my expanding family life and growing business. This meant that I absorbed and explored different aspects of the wedding industry and let my own business evolve as I learnt and experienced different elements.
I would suggest not having any preconceived ideas before you start and letting the course open your eyes. Take your time – you can’t rush creative ideas. Inspiration can come from all different places, so immerse yourself in the world of fashion, decor, culture, nature and of course all the elements that create a wedding. Read ‘around’ the subject and utilise social media, especially image-based ones for inspiration.
I also found that reading through all the unit projects and assignments in advance meant that I knew what was coming up and could make notes as and when inspiration would strike (some of my best inspiration comes to me in the shower, or when out walking). I also kept notes online so I could access them from any device, at any-time, anywhere.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

My long-term plans include:

  • gaining an extra client per year for 5 years
  • increasing my hours per week
  • 30% revenue growth per year

in 5 years:

  • working full time as consultant
  • commercialising my blog further
  • selling ebooks
  • to host my own wedding fairs
  • to host local wedding awards

Hanami Dream Weddings and Special Occasions creates and collates wedding inspiration in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside of the Cotswolds.
Showcasing my own beautiful and inspirational, trend-led styled wedding shoots, collaborating with local venues and innovative wedding suppliers.
Winner in the individual wedding and events category of the UK Blog Awards 2018, this Cotswold wedding blog offers tips, tools, trends and traditions to help you celebrate your special day.
Based in Witney Oxfordshire, Hanami Dream avidly supports local wedding suppliers in the surrounding Cotswolds, as well as couples in the midst of wedding planning.
Assisting stunning venues and highly talented wedding industry professionals from small, local and independent businesses, providing venue styling, consultancy, wedding fairs and styled shoots.
www.hanamidream.co.uk/ Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram 
Photo credits – Journey to Centre of the Earth styled shoot – Concept and Design by Hanami Dream / Photography by Squib Photography

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