I started my first “business” when I was 6 or 7 years old. I remember playing with my friends and seeing some bark peeling from a tree in a neighbour’s front garden. When we peeled it off, it revealed a smooth green trunk. We thought this was much better that the ugly bark, and that surely everyone would want their trees to be green instead of brown. So, we made some posters and started knocking on doors. I think it was the first house that said “if you peel the bark off, the trees will die…so no thank you”. Oh well…never mind. My cabbage patch was calling anyway.
Fast forward a few years and I got my first paid job at Wendys in Surfers Paradise. I was incredibly excited about the hourly rate of $5.25 / hour and began working there on weekends. I can look back now and see how hard I worked for that $5.25. There were days it was so busy that we RAN across the shop to get icecream, and other days when it was raining that there wasn’t a soul in sight. On those days I would REALLY earn my wages, cleaning the shop from top to bottom.
I learned to work hard at a young age, and if I ever saw a sign for a job vacancy in a shop window, I would apply for it. For most of my high school years I was working 3 or 4 jobs at a time, after school and on weekends. One of these jobs was baby sitting for a busy professional family who had three young boys. After my first shift with them, mummy told the boys to say goodbye to their new friend and they couldn’t remember my name. Mr 3 said “Bye Cinderella!” and we burst into a fit of laughter. It stuck….and that’s how I got my nickname.
When I was 18, I was inspired to start another business – this time cleaning! It was called Servants and I had grandiose notions of it becoming an empire. I printed some fliers and began to letterbox drop. I even picked up a few clients – people who were moving house or working too much to do the cleaning. I would do anything…babysitting, cleaning toilets, bathrooms, vacuuming…anything and everything. I can’t remember what happened to Servants, but it eventually fizzled out.
Fast forward a few more years and I landed a dream job: working as a consultant at an entertainment production company – Aerial Angels. I flourished with Aerial Angels, and there is too much to write in 1 short blog post but I had some GOOD TIMES and will be forever grateful for my exposure to my current field of event design.
I worked for 9 years at Aerial Angels and thought I would be there forever! I had always loved events and occasions and working in entertainment gave me some good exposure to amazing corporate events and gala dinners.
There were a few key things that turned any thoughts of my future I had on their head. One was reading a book called The Richest Man in Babylon while doing a wealth creation course at my local church. We were encouraged to take something that we really loved and think about how we could make a business out of it. I remember my answer…. “I love to set tables”. I have loved it since I was a little girl and my parents bought some nice placemats with images of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and other pretty scenes of iconic Australian architecture. The Opera House was my favourite as it was all lit up in purple in pink. As I grew older, I still loved to set a fabulous dinner table and throw elaborate dinner parties for my family and friends. After working in the events industry for 9 years, I had a lightbulb moment and suddenly everything was very, very clear. It was just after close my 30th birthday, and I couldn’t do anything else but start the business. I was a woman obsessed.
In 2010 I registered the business name and began to research the local market and how I would be different. I quickly realised that on the Gold Coast there was a gap in the market: styling companies offering glamourous and lavish weddings and my years of exposure to theatrical events put me in a good position to fill this need. I did not need to try, because this is naturally who I am and whenever I worry about my business direction I always think to myself “to thine own self be true”.
The problem was….I had big dreams and empty pockets! Although I was in a good job as was my hubby, we had a crippling mortgage and piles of debt that we had incurred when we were younger. I had an iPhone that work paid for and I would spend every spare waking moment researching different events, looking at opulent images from international event planners and saving them to my “ideas” album. We didn’t even have a computer.
I remember being very frustrated all the time….having so many ideas and not being able to act on them. We decided to sell our house to get rid of our debt and have some funds to start the business. It was a decision that didn’t come easily, and I cried alot…but I knew there had to more to life than debt and empty dreams.
I can’t pin point a moment when it all fell into place, I believe it was just the culmination of 2 years of exceptionally hard work, and elbowing my way into a well-established market. I continued to work full time before leaving to run the business full time and worked until midnight most days on contacting venues, social media and pouring my heart and soul into every single client who graced me with an enquiry. I would take hours and hours and hours to set up all of our events (with the help of a begrudging but loving husband) and would walk away with $100.00 profit on a good day. Working so hard in the early days has set us up now.
By 2012 I had a good stock base and had the opportunity to style some elaborate weddings that I could let my imagination run wild with. The problem was, they were few and far between. I had cut back to part time at my day job, but had a conversation with my hubby saying that if the business didn’t take off in 2013, I would have to go back to work full time and just do this as a hobby as it was not profitable.
I of course had other plans, so in January 2013 I left my job and began working full time on the business. I had 6 months to prove to him that this business could be profitable.
It took 4.
By April, I had employed someone to assist me with administration and had a team of 6 helping to set up weddings and events across Queensland. We began to receive between 30-40 enquiries for weddings and events every single week, and this has continued to grow now to nearly 250 a month. We had only 10 weddings booked in 2012 for 2013 and by the time NYE rolled around we had styled planned and coordinated 139 weddings, parties and corporate events. We are the preferred suppliers and event coordinators at venues across the Gold Coast and currently have hundreds of events already booked in for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
We have also just moved into a new warehouse space in Burleigh. I am obsessed with industrial design so the bare concrete walls and exposed piping suits me perfectly! Our mezzanine office, The Loft, is a Burlesque dream with black and white striped wallpaper, emerald green velvet curtains and loft of delicious gold accents. A French provincial lounge is sprawled in the corner for us to recline on if the emails get too much =) and an impressive chandelier dripping with black crystal drops hangs from the centre. It’s amazing! Plans for the future include a board room to meet with our clients which is influenced by a New York street scene, with exposed bricks a huge fire escape print and industrial fixtures. I can’t wait!
I am so grateful that I live in a country where I can own a company and create a life I have always dreamed of, and in the process help others to do the same. In the coming years, I look forward to being able to create charity events that will really contribute in a big way to the community. I look forward to a time when we can send our staff on incentive trips to fashion forward destinations such as New York, London and Paris to research the latest event trends. I look forward to playing a part in putting the Gold Coast on the map as an international wedding destination. I most look forward to seeing the business grow past what even I can imagine now as I sit here and type this. It has become a whole new entity and I’m just along for the ride!