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Interview with Wedding Stylist and Entrepreneur Kate Cullen

Kate Cullen has been working to create beautiful weddings since 2011, with a focus on beautiful blooms, creative touches and elegant colour palettes. She is based in the stunning Cotswolds in the UK and has enjoyed styling weddings in all types of venues from historic barns to classical manor houses, as well as creating her hand dyed silk ribbon and table linen ranges. Her eye for detail and ability to form true, authentic relationships is behind her core ethos of support and collaboration.
She recently founded the Fine Art Wedding Boutique to create awareness and appreciation of artisan work in weddings and as part of this is Nurture, a members-only space with the aim to bring all the wedding industry support that’s out there under one umbrella, with a focus on really nurturing your creative drive to get to the heart of what makes you unique. Welcome, Kate.
Kate as a relatively new venture can you tell us more about Nurture and how the wedding industry can become a part of it?
Nurture evolved from the Fine Art Wedding Boutique supplier Facebook Group where it seemed clear pretty quickly after launching that people were looking for that extra layer of support, as well as a directory of sorts of where to go to find all the useful things that go into making your business work on both a creative and practical level.
At the moment we are there for all UK wedding professionals, although who knows maybe one day we’ll go international! We have a directory of industry support services and workspaces, a forum, jobs board, events calendar and shop. As the site is membership only it is a safe place where wedding industry suppliers can meet others, post problems or queries, and find the support they need for their business, at whatever level they’re at.  It’s early days but we’re hoping to bring together all the support that’s out there in the UK and really get behind one of my core ethos’ – community over competition.
Have you seen any common struggles from Wedding Professionals through the events such as the Nurture Creative Day?
It’s clear to me that the help people want and need is very varied, everyone is at different stages along their journey in business. But one of the recurring themes is the struggle to find the time to be creative amongst the pressures of being your own admin, accountant, marketer, PR etc and how it is easy to lose sight of what made you want to get into the creative industry, to begin with. Our creative days and retreats are aimed at injecting that passion back into your working life and rediscovering that spark that makes you want to go to work in the morning.
What do you believe has been the biggest part of your business success and how can others learn from what you’ve done?
Say yes and figure out the how later! I think the hardest thing for me especially when I was starting out was the fear of doing something wrong, or not being able to match up to other established businesses. I had to find the courage to say yes to opportunities that came my way (even though I felt really out of my comfort zone!). Never stop learning either, I still try and set aside at least one or two days a month to learn something new, go to a workshop, do an online course, or assist on someone else’s project or wedding.
Also, try and look outside the world of weddings for creative inspiration – it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing but if you want to create a unique and personal brand try not to worry too much about what others are doing. You want to create something fresh and authentic to you.
How has attending workshops, conferences and networking groups helped you develop your business?
Absolutely vital – whilst social media was fantastic for me when I started out (having a day job and little one meant it was hard for me to network in person), it was only when I started putting myself out there and talking to people in real life that things started to turn around for my business. People like connections and the easiest way to do that is to talk to them!
Some of the Facebook Groups I belong to have also been invaluable – it’s so reassuring to see other people with the same struggles, it makes you feel less alone and also is a great way of combining all your accumulated knowledge and expertise.
Can you recommend any great educational events happening here or in Europe that our listeners could attend?
My favourites are The Hub run by Kiki-Sunshine Boonwaat in London every Autumn – they are fabulously supportive, the community is wonderful, and the speakers at the hubs are not only inspiring but hugely helpful on a practical level too.
I also adore the BLOVED Hive run by lovely Louise Beukes of BLOVED Blog fame. It’s not only a gorgeous workspace but Louise runs a number of incredible events, workshops, coaching, mentoring and more for all aspects of the wedding industry.
And I’m also running my own creative retreat (Nurture & Bloom) for all industry creatives this Autumn too! It is an opportunity to learn the tools I use to create meaningful narratives through written and visual storytelling for styled shoots and your brand, as well as having the opportunity to relax and forage with flowers, and some amazing paper and ink crafts too – all in the beautiful Shropshire countryside.
We are all busy and there are never enough hours in the day so what tips do you have for finding time to include something educational into your schedule?
I think it’s really important to have an actual schedule for your week and stick to it. I have mine taped to the wall by my desk and know that when it’s time to do emails I do emails, and so on. Remember, you have the control, it’s your business, cut out the things that don’t serve you, that you don’t want to take on (we’ve all taken on jobs we know deep down aren’t right!). Build in free time so that you can have a break too – that way it’s much easier to be strict about your timekeeping. My Friday afternoons are always spent creating or getting inspiration for instance – sometimes I paint, sometimes I just go for a walk.
One of my favourite sayings about education is this one from William Butler “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” For me, that sums it up. When you learn something it ignites a spark and that spark turns into something bigger as your mind plays with it and develops it. What are your thoughts on education?
Love that quote! One of my favourites is ‘The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.’ – Emile Zola
As I mentioned earlier I think it’s vital to always be trying to improve yourself. You have to invest in yourself – after all, you are your business. It is nothing without you. Invest in yourself and you will see the returns – go on that workshop, listen to that podcast, read that blog post. It doesn’t even have to be directly related to your line of work, in fact sometimes it’s better if it isn’t!
Where are your ‘Go To’ online resources for keeping up with trends, business etc.?
I try not to be too caught up in trends as such, but it’s always fun seeing the Pantone Colours of the Year as well as some of the big blogs trend reports each January. Ultimately though I think we should all just follow your own path – set trends, don’t follow them! I think it’s hard in the wedding industry because trends do seem to last a long time and you can get a little bored of getting the same requests in year on year. It’s hard sometimes to remember that couples are coming to them new – after all, you don’t plan a wedding every year!  I definitely believe in taking a couple’s ideas which may have come from current trends and subtly weaving a fresh new take on it for them. Personalisation, of course, is key in our industry. No-one wants their wedding to look exactly like anyone else’s!

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