We often talk about creating an authentic brand, and there’s no better example of that philosophy than the incredible MonAnnie Cakes. Not only are Fen Bolodeoku’s sweet creations exquisite (and delicious), but those who follow MonAnnie’s luxury wedding cakes Instagram account are also treated to the sometimes funny, often thought-provoking, always fascinating takes on life and patisserie of both Fen and her husband and partner, Segun. We sat down with HiveTribe member Fen to get her unique take on running a flourishing wedding business, and what success really means.
How did you get started in the wedding industry?
I’ve always loved baking, but never really had the time to do much of it. A difficult time in my life rekindled my passion. For a long time, baking was my therapy, then in a sense it became my voice. I wanted to share that voice with the world.
Weddings are so special and for the longest time I have been enthralled by them. Then I discovered wedding cakes and sugar flowers. They were so beautiful, so intricate, and so much fun to make!
I reconnected with weddings in a different way after that – moving from just attending them to being a part of the creative process. I’ve found this so rewarding; I’m not sure I’ll ever look back.
What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them?
Pricing, and understanding my worth. When I first started out, I made cakes for peanuts. I felt like everyone was doing me a favour by allowing me to make their cake, and always felt on the ‘back foot’. I felt constantly frustrated, tired, and had no money to show for anything I made.
Time has helped me realise that what I provide is a unique, valuable service. I need to charge what it’s worth, otherwise I’ll be broke, broken, and out of business, so I’ve started doing that.
What advice would you give someone about to make the leap to being a full-time wedding pro?
Learn how to say “no” early, be patient, and celebrate your wins. There are lots of times you’ll win, but if you’re constantly looking for the ‘next level’, your wins will pass you by, leaving you feeling empty. Celebrating allows you to fuel yourself and keep going.
What support and advice have you discovered, and how has it changed your business?
The need for self-care. You can’t run your business if you’re not well! It’s okay to make mistakes, as not everything you are going to do will work out, but mistakes make great learning points. They give you an opportunity to adjust your strategy and start again.
Also, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. My introvert nature REALLY struggles with this one. My husband always tells me “the worst anyone can say is no, and then you are no different than if you hadn’t asked”.
Do you think women can ‘have it all’ when it comes to running a successful business and having a fulfilling personal life?
What does ‘have it all’ really mean? I think everyone’s definition is different. If you are doing what keeps you fulfilled and happy, surely that’s having it all, rather than trying to have what society defines you should have?
How do you find a work/life balance?
I live out of balance, but I do so with purpose. (Dan Thurmon wrote a great book about this.) It’s been proven that human beings don’t actually multitask – what we do is task switch. I find I am much happier if I focus on one thing at a time, rather than simultaneously juggling a million balls.
What’s your definition of success?
Being surrounded by fear and anxiety, recognising and acknowledging their truths, and working with them to achieve something wonderful – without dismissing or being ground down by them. My husband describes that with the phrase ‘self transcendence’.
What’s your number one tip for new wedding pros?
Know your worth, and don’t let other people reduce it.
What’s next for you and your business?
More destination weddings. I’m really excited to have that opportunity.
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