On last night’s episode of The Fixer with Alex Polizzi the business receiving the overhaul was an event business based up North in Wakefield, and I have to say it was my favourite episode yet. Not only was it so very relevant to our industry, but it was wonderful to see people so willing to learn and take on board the constructive criticism and help that was given as part of the program.
As the leading educators for the wedding and event industry the Academy sees businesses like Lusso Styling, formerly Balloonin Marvellous Events, all the time who are barely turning a profit and have put little if any thought into their pricing. They see themselves as stylists, planners or designers, but not business people and there lies the first fundamental problem. As Alex said on the program “If you don’t have the desire to be a business woman, you should not be in business. You should go and get a job and get a salary.” We couldn’t agree more and a large portion of our courses at the Academy focus on that all important business aspect, so when our students complete their course they have the necessary tools they need to set up their business.
If you’re not careful it is very easy for your business to run you rather than the other way around. You will spend your time running around from one job to another without any real systems or structure. Jo, one half of the husband and wife team running Ballonin Marvellous, admitted at the start of the show “I don’t know how to run a business so I’ve never had a grip on finances.” This coupled with her old fashioned style was slowly but surely crippling the business. Too many times people come into the wedding industry thinking that it will be a fun and romantic job conveniently forgetting they are actually going to be running a business, and all that comes with it. Having said that it is an extremely lucrative industry to be in if you do it properly. As Alex said, “The events industry in the UK was worth about one hundred billion pounds last year and is a sector that is growing fast.” Event styling is a legitimate career that appeals on many levels as it allows people to combine business acumen with their creative side.
To really be successful in this industry though it is a combination of things as the program highlighted last night. We recently compiled the International Wedding Trend Report, which is the go to trend resource for the wedding industry, as this is another huge part of being successful in a very trend driven industry. Alex mentioned that part of Jo’s problem was that her style belonged in another era and had no reflection on the current trends clients are looking for. She said, “Watching the catwalks and keeping an eye on interior and fashion magazines is essential. If you want to attract paying customers you need to be on trend.” Again this is something we teach at the Academy and dedicate an entire unit to trend forecasting and creating a style.
Branding is another very big part of business success and having the right images to portray your style to potential clients is essential in order to attract your target audience. Alex commissioned Jo to put together six mood boards that featured different concepts and from these boards six completely different looks were created and styled for a photo shoot held at Castle Howard. This is a great way to put together a portfolio of images that really reflect your style as a designer and allow your client to see just what you can do. Of course you need to be sure to tell them that these images were styled for a specific look and not done as part of a wedding or event, but for those just starting out this is a great way to get those all important images for both your website and portfolio. These images will tell your potential clients everything they need to know about your style and as Alex said, “With 65% of UK couples finding their wedding suppliers online an attractive website with clear branding is essential.”
There are a couple of big messages within last night’s episode that need to be taken very seriously within the wedding industry. When you set up a business to become an event stylist or wedding planner you are doing just that, setting up a business and with that comes responsibilities. It is imperative to understand how to price your services for profit. Too many times we see planners who are working for much less than minimum wage when we break down their hourly rate versus their expenditures. These are fundamentals for any business owner. Secondly you are undermining the entire industry by not pricing properly. By plucking a figure out of the air or using the undercutting of your competitors method you are devaluing the service of a wedding planner or event stylist as a whole. This in turn has a detrimental affect on those professionals working in the industry who are charging correctly.
The wedding industry is a community of small businesses all striving to make a living and there is more than enough business to go around. Take the time to educate yourself properly, not just in your craft but in how to launch, manage and run a successful business. Jo and Giuseppe were lucky enough to have the help of Alex Polizzi and her team, but most of us aren’t that fortunate and won’t have the opportunity to turn things around in the way they have been able to. Pricing, business planning, marketing, branding, networking, insurance, contracts etc. are all part of running a business and crucial to your success as a business owner. So the key takeaway here is to do it correctly the first time. Take the time to study the business elements and understand how to price your services accordingly.
For more information on business training talk to our course consultant, Zoe Mckeown, who can advise you further and help you to take your next step in business success.