We love sharing our HiveTribe members’ stories of start-up success! Today we’re talking to the lovely Rebecca Richards of Rebecca Richards Designs. Like many of us, Rebecca’s entrepreneurial journey started with a big change in the form of a redundancy. Forced to make some big decisions about where she saw her professional future, she followed her love of weddings into the industry, and created her eponymous stationery line. We asked her about what she’s learned, and how being part of a community has helped her grow as a business owner.
How did you get started in the wedding industry?
I was working a normal job and also as a children’s illustrator part time. When I got made redundant from my main job, I had a decision to make whether to continue with my illustration or do something different. I started trying to carve a business from my illustration but the more I thought about what I wanted to do long term, I changed my mind. I have always loved weddings, and having done invitations for my close friends, I knew it was something I really enjoyed, so I decided to go ahead and create my wedding stationery business.
I just love everything about weddings! I loved doing my children’s illustration but there wasn’t a great deal of interaction. As a wedding stationer, I really enjoy getting to know my clients and being able to provide a service for one of the biggest days of their lives.
It’s always intimidating starting a new business, but the wedding industry is full of so many lovely people who are so passionate about what they do. It is a very welcoming industry, which is great to be a part of.
What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them?
I didn’t really have a concrete plan about what exactly I was going to do once I had set up the basics for my business. I also didn’t have a clear target audience, as I just wanted to be able to appeal to as many people as possible. Finally, I underestimated the value of having contact with other people in the industry, which is one of the reasons why I joined the Hive! It’s just reassuring to be able to speak to people that are, or have been, in similar positions as you are.
What advice would you give someone about to make the leap to being a full-time wedding pro?
I think financially it can difficult. I was fortunate in a way, as I had my redundancy as a buffer (although it wasn’t a huge amount!). But there are so many other positives aside from the salary to having your own business.
One of the biggest adjustments I had was going from working in a busy environment with lots of people to going self-employed full time. It was quite lonely at times and it can be difficult to self-motivate. That’s why finding people who are in a similar position is also really useful. I always felt like I should know everything and that other professionals would be too busy to have time to talk. But everybody I have met has been so friendly.
What support and advice have you discovered, and how has it changed your business?
To know who your ideal client is and to find your niche. I was looking at wedding fairs to book when I first started, as I thought the more places I was seen, the better. An experienced florist who knew the locations suggested they probably wouldn’t be the right fit for my work. On reflection, she was right, so I did the ones that I knew would be more likely to have my ideal clients and did get bookings.
It has also been useful to me to have practical advice from my (non-creative) husband. I think as creatives we can be perfectionists and hyper-critical. I know I am not as good at the admin and marketing side of the business, so it’s been great to have somebody to help with the spreadsheets and tell me to stop being so hard on myself!
Do you think women can ‘have it all’ when it comes to running a successful business and having a fulfilling personal life?
Definitely! The thing with being self-employed is you can fit it around your personal life. The “all” is so dependent on your personal goals too.
How do you find a work/life balance?
In my previous job, I had no social life as I had to work almost every weekend and bank holidays. Being self employed fits in so much better! However, it can be very easy to work twelve hours a day and into the weekends, so I make sure to pack everything away at the end of a normal week so that I’m not working all the time.
A planner or diary is essential too! There are so many little things that I have to write down, otherwise they would fall by the wayside.
What’s your definition of success?
Being able to enjoy what I do. Not having to hate the fact that I work so hard in a job where I don’t get the full benefit from the hours that are put in. It’s also being financially stable and being able to say that I have created my own successful business.
What’s your number one tip for new wedding pros?
I think it’s really important not to try and do everything on your own. There are plenty of communities, like Hive and Facebook groups, full of people who are in the same position with lots of advice and support. It really can help your self esteem and confidence, which will in turn help your business. Don’t struggle along by yourself!
Also, get a plan together. I definitely underestimated the business and admin side of setting up my business. I think I would have been much more efficient if I had done all my research before I started.
What’s next for you and your business?
This year I really just want to keep developing my business. I’ve got some styled shoots planned. I’m also aiming to refine my niche even further and create some new collections to enhance my brand.
Ready to become part of a supportive community of like-minded wedding pros? HiveTribe membership provides wedding pros like you with the support, advice and community you need! CLICK HERE to find out more.