The Business of Beautiful Weddings

One of our registered businesses in Australia, Personalised Wedding Favours, recently featured on an edition of an Australian entrepreneurial business online news portal – a great feat! We thought it was amazing recognition for Melissa Wilkinson, owner of Personalised Wedding Favours, and wanted to share this great article with you all. Reproduced with permission from Kochie’s Business Builders. The original article can be found here. Article by Daniella Doughan.

How did your business start?

My Dad has his own business, Mum had an eBay store and I always wanted to start my own business. My background is industrial design, and I had a great job but towards the end it came really easy for me and I thought about working on something else on the side.

Personalised Wedding Favours started in 2009 and began using Mum’s eBay store. The wedding industry is really lucrative, because whatever happens in the world, people are still getting married.

I was selling things like decorations and thought I’d go into bonbonniere, and thought with my design background, we could print or engrave things like glasses and wood.

And you were still working full-time?

For two years I worked every night until midnight then every weekend as well. Mum was looking after enquires online during the day while I was at work.

The game changer was when I went to a machine expo, Visual Impact Image in Melbourne. Mum and I were the only girls there and had no idea how much machines cost. Starting prices for lasers were about $25,000.

They had a draw to win a machine, so you wouldn’t believe, I put my little pink business card in the barrel and two weeks later they called me telling me I’d won a machine!

That was the push that I needed. I quit my job and when I first started didn’t pay myself a wage for six months at least.

 

Pic: Personalised Wedding products. Source: Supplied.

Were you always interested in weddings?

I remember reading an article that it was a billion dollar industry, and it is huge. But I was at the age when all my friends were getting married, so there was interest there.

When I started doing it, word of mouth got around. From the eBay store, I built an online store. Now we’re launching an e-commerce store next month and it’s going to be all mobile-friendly.

How do you market your business?

If we go to an expo, we have a unique promo code so we can track all our orders. Google analytics is something everybody should be looking at, where their traffic flow is coming from. Social media is really big for us too.

At expos, I meet a lot of planners, venues, and do so much networking. It’s just talking to them and asking to be on their preferred supplier list. I went to the Hunter Valley, had a box of samples and went to every venue. You have to get out there and see people.

The last two financial years, we’ve doubled in size. We’re still at home, but next year we’re looking at moving out to a factory.

What products do you sell?

We do invitations, save the dates, name tags, bonbonniere, cake toppers, any wedding decorations. Beach printed thongs are our biggest seller. People send in photos of themselves and we put them on different items for bucks’ parties, hens’ parties, and we’ve started doing birthdays and corporates too.

We’ve also done wooden menus, with a table number, menu and drinks menu for weddings, and the location they’ve had the wedding at also want them, so it just branches out.

 

Pic: Personalised Wedding products. Source: Supplied.

What are some of your challenges?

Working with these machines. I’ve had to learn so much in so little time. I won this big machine and had no idea how to use it. It’s a Trotec machine and they were lovely and showed me how to use it. But it’s all trial and error. Glass can have different thickness and engraves differently so you have to always play with the settings.

In this industry, we don’t get a lot of repeat business! It’s not a struggle but we rely strongly on word of mouth. If one person’s getting married, their circle of friends will be getting married too. We just have to make sure we do a fantastic job.

What are your tips for other entrepreneurs?

1. Delegate work. I think a lot of people get bogged down with the day to day stuff. Once you get more staff, you free up time to go and get more business. Don’t be scared to bring on more staff. You really need to make your role as the owner the revenue generating role. You want to be the one to go and get the sales.

2. Reward Staff. We go to a function every year for Melbourne Cup and on Fridays go for a drink to celebrate the week we’ve done. It’s nice to celebrate the little things.

3. Surround yourself with positive people. I couldn’t have done it otherwise. Mark (my husband) was so supportive when I’d be in tears and engraving until midnight. In the future, I’ll be able to phase myself out, have someone run it and just oversee the business. So you’re in control of your own destiny really. It’s so satisfying.

Every week, KBB’s Dannie Doughan chats with an entrepreneur and features their story on our website. If your business wants a ‘Date with Dannie’, email us a quick bit about your biz!

Reproduced with permission from Kochie’s Business Builders