The importance of reinvention: advice for wedding suppliers
One of the things I love about the wedding industry is how quickly things change. Fashions come and go SO fast. As a wedding blogger I love how our industry thrives; how we import new ideas and how new faces appear so often on social media. Every new wedding business is an inspiration to me. And it makes staying in the game hard. It makes winning, and staying at the top of the wedding industry, the most exciting challenge you can imagine.
Weddings is a fast-evolving, fashion-led industry
I have some very good friends who, like me, have been in the wedding industry for more than a decade – and I’ve seen a complete transformation of wedding styling in that time.
We used to love the funniest things: satin ribbons; themed weddings; tidy bouquets; scroll invitations. It’s ridiculous but true that my calligraphy business started up before vintage was invented. (Or at least, before vintage became a ‘thing’ that had anything to do with weddings.)
My story – reinventing my calligraphy to match trends
Gradually I’ve had to change everything I do. I’ve had a dozen wildly different wedding calligraphy websites. My writing has gone from old English, through to elegant and modern copperplate, to a wild and organic flowing script. I don’t doubt that next year it will change again. I don’t stock anything I sold two years ago.
I’m really proud of how my business has changed; the core of my business is now teaching DIY brides to write their own modern calligraphy. But while I’ve changed, as a wedding blogger I see some other wedding businesses who are still clinging onto 2005 for dear life.
The danger of sticking with your style
I was contacted by a bridal designer who’d been established for 20 years. The contrast in styles between his dresses and those of the newer designers I’ve worked with this year is stark. While I love a wedding dress which is timeless, his designs were a step back in time: the shapes, fabrics and detailing was just a little bit too… 1998.
I politely refused an editorial feature from him.
It’s not just me: other wedding blogs and magazines are looking for the newest trends. The press in our industry always wants to promote next year’s amazing ideas. So in amongst all the submissions and editorial applications, his designs will be lost and cast aside.
He’s not the only wedding supplier whose business will suffer if he doesn’t kick his designs into the here and now. I see photographers losing out because they don’t capture details. Stationers who don’t base new designs around current trends. Jewellers who are just too neat to achieve whimsical or boho.
Why reinvention matters
And while every business has a niche, I’ve come to believe that my wedding business, at least, has to be run as a business. It’s how I pay my mortgage! Regardless of the styles I’ve perfected, when couples are looking for something new instead of what I’ve been making – I have to step up so I can be the one to help them bring their ideas to life.
Having a successful, profit-making wedding business has to mean embracing change. In our industry no element of a wedding’s style can stand still: in the past year everything from chairs to lighting has changed dramatically. No doubt it will again by 2018.
Thousands of new wedding stylists, stationers, designers and photographers will launch new businesses in 2017. Major high street brands will release wedding collections. New social media will emerge, and through all of this, existing – ‘established’ – wedding businesses will be challenged to hold our heads high and survive.
How to reinvent your wedding business
Reinvention isn’t easy. But over the last year I’ve learned so much to keep my designs fresh and my business afloat. I hope that by sharing my personal tips I can help some of you!
- Follow the latest social media stars. Without Silk & Willow, Swallows & Damsons, Melissa Beattie and Magnolia Rouge I wouldn’t be where I am today.
- Work with amazing people. Creativity rubs off! Styled shoots with new wedding businesses can inspire new collections and styles.
- Master one social media stream… for me, for now, it’s Instagram. Keeping an interesting presence on there is important.
- Change everything. It’s not only branding and design, but your products themselves. Does your style sit comfortably alongside this year’s best selling brands?
- Be aware of your contemporaries. If you’re a stationer, pay attention to top Etsy sellers. If you’re a cake designer or florist look at who’s being featured in all the wedding blogs (but not paid advertorial in wedding mags!). Is there an overriding style (ombre, watercolour) winning the internet? Then do it!
Never be afraid of a fresh start
I’ve spent the last couple of months reinventing my own business, and something has clicked. I’ve procrastinated, I’ve been nervous, reluctant and unsure… but I’ve kept trying, changing, focusing on new things. And it kind of feels amazing to be where I am today with a new business name, product range, and still tons of ideas to pursue over the next few months.
Sustaining a struggling business is hard, and we’re in this because we love it, aren’t we?
Reinvention is a challenge, but it’s an exciting one. Rewrite your own rules and the wedding world is yours to enjoy!
Autumn bohemian wedding inspiration brought to life by…
Photography – Jenny Heyworth Photography for Aspire Photography Training
Dress Designer – Charlie Brear
Dress Boutique – The White Closet
Hair and Makeup – Lucy Pearson
Calligraphy – Claire Gould from By Moon & Tide
Florist – Katie from Made In Flowers
Venue – Graythwaite Estate
Styling – Catherine Connor from White Feather & Co.