Today I have had three emails confirming our services for weddings in 2020. We’re almost fully booked. This really got me thinking about where we’ve come from and what has gotten us to this stage. It also got me thinking about how surprised I still feel when someone confirms our service – imposter syndrome anyone?!
This time 4 years ago I was working in central London in a job I hated. Ben and I lived with my parents at the time and I felt extremely low after returning from 6 months travelling with Ben and our wonderful wedding in Italy. Around this exact time, Danielle (my now business partner) came to London to meet me at a Pret outside my office in my lunch break, to suggest we make Wiskow & White a reality.
At the time, this seemed overwhelming to me, I wasn’t in a good place, but I had nothing to lose. So I agreed that I’d write a website and we’d ask Ben to build it for us. I decided to quit my job a few days after meeting with Danielle, but stuck it out for a few months as I knew there was an end in sight. I had a month in between my old job and new role (at my home-from-home, Oxfam) and in that time built the website alongside volunteering at The Brompton.
Wiskow & White became my hobby alongside a very busy role at Oxfam. I travelled 3 days a week, worked from home, stayed away from home a lot, took many trips over seas and in that time Danielle and I kept Wiskow & White going alongside. Danielle also had another job too! I took the reins in the organisation and set up of the business – I love a spreadsheet – and created processes, templates and ways of storing information to create our own style of wedding planning in Italy.
In the first year we had just 3 weddings and Danielle really trained me in so much this first year. I learnt about the Italian working culture, the networks of suppliers, the etiquette, what it actually takes to plan a wedding and make it happen on the day.
Year two and we had 9 weddings. We were pretty chuffed with this number and we knew that we had created something our couples were loving and we really were too. Our weddings felt relaxed, beautiful and our couples and their guests were really positive about their W&W experience.
Then there was the summer I had Ziggy. No maternity leave for me. We’ve talked about that before – not good times! Moving on…
In 2018 we had over 25 weddings, which was too many. Not because we made mistakes (which we did and always will) but because we worked too hard and saw our health suffer.
There’s been no real strategy until a year ago where it felt like something we needed to streamline and take the reins on. It turned out that we’d made our way this far without any formal training, as we had even a small amount of everything we needed to build a successful business within us. Whether that was Danielle’s experience of delivering weddings in Italy, to my strategic planning, or budgeting skills from various roles – at every turn we’ve been able to navigate our way through the ups and downs of running a small business.
In November 2018, with Ben’s help, I made a conscious decision to really appreciate everything I have with Wiskow & White, to set even clearer boundaries and find confidence to truly be myself with couples from day one (perhaps finally saying bye to the people pleaser I used to be). In this short space of time, we’ve connected with more couples through our website, through our calls and we’ve booked more weddings than ever before during this period of the cycle. Yes there are other factors at play but I feel like our energy and confidence is a huge factor here. This is what I call ‘The Gamechanger’.
I’m by no means a business guru but I wanted to share these small nuggets of what I think are the pillars to what Danielle and I deem success at this point:
– A respectful partnership – I can’t believe how blessed I was to find a partner in Danielle. Someone who hears all my points of view, who lets me boss them around and who’s invested so much in me. I’ve so much respect for my friend Danielle and all she’s taught me, all she still teaches me and when she bosses me around. Our partnership is ‘no effort’ and I don’t think I could have found a more suitable partner if I’d travelled the world looking
And do you know what, if you’re self employed or going it alone, or in fact you are someone in a partnership – respecting yourself and your boundaries is probably number one
– Consistency and discipline – Every damn day!
– Welcoming feedback – We’ve made this a huge part of what we do. It’s important to ask for it, welcome it but also distinguish that it’s not personal (even though it can really feel like it) and work out when it’s valid
– Confidence – I’m not a confident person but I’ve pushed myself into situation that I’m extremely (can’t express how extremely) uncomfortable in and time and time again this has seen my confidence grow. I’ve found that doing something you don’t believe you can do (successfully or not) is the best way to shut those nasty voices in your head right down
– Focus – Having my heart set on wanting something and seeing it through. All I wanted was to go to Italy lots and eat nice food as often as possible. I’d never have known at the time that this would have enabled me to be a part time working mum, with completely flexible working hours and situations and enable many trips away with Zigs and Ben. It’s the perfect life style for us, now. So even though my end goal and purpose has changed, focusing on it has got me where I want to be
– Deciding to be my true self – Every couple’s first touch point with W&W is a call with me. The moment I just decided to be myself (November 2018 – took me a while), has seen our bookings lift off and we’re booking more weddings than ever before. This ensures we’re reaching the right couples and we fill our wedding spots years in advance
– Support – particularly from my mum and Ben. Creating time for me to work, even at unsociable hours.
There’s lots more to learn and lots more work to do on this journey. Good luck and well done to everyone doing their own thing and/or following their dream. If you’ve got any wise nuggets to share, please do!