Celebrating our 20th Edition! A nostalgic look back over the years
Whilst collating the current edition of Save the Date magazine, it dawned upon us that this is in fact our 20th edition. That means we have produced 20 magazines. Difficult to believe and pretty monumental considering our ‘oh so humble’ beginning….
Back in the summer of 2009, I was in the midst of planning my own wedding and Abbi and I were working as event planners at one of the largest event organisers in the UK. Having worked there for many years, both of us were ready for a change. Living close together, we would car share to and from work every day and dream about running a business together and being our own boss, making our own decisions and carving our own pathway to independent success. Then, when voluntary redundancy was made available due to the economic downturn, both Abbi and I jumped at the chance. It was a big risk at the time. The UK was in a complete financial state and we were continually warned against starting a business from scratch at the height of a recession. Not ones to turn down a challenge, we went ahead anyway.
Unashamedly, our first stop was the job centre. We’d both received a reasonable redundancy package however, that money was being spent on our new venture. In the meantime, we needed some financial help and although it was only for 6 weeks, those visits to the local job centre were very interesting to say the least. Our family were our live savers during this time and Save the Date would never have even begun if it wasn’t for our amazing parents and partners who supported us from day one; never once doubting our decision.
Next stop was to find a business advisor. At 23 and 24 years old, neither of us knew where to start when beginning a business and needed all the advice we could get. It wasn’t just our business advisor we sought advice from. We would spend many a coffee morning at the Bottlekiln with other business owners like the lovely Debs at Fabulous Places who was a year ahead of us with her business venture and wonderful with her sharing of knowledge and experience. Great advice and great coffee and cake too 😉
Quite crucial also was a business idea. What were we going to do? I loved to write and always dreamed of working for a magazine and being an editor. Abbi loved to organise events and was a logistics queen so we knew our talents and passions complimented one another really well. Being immersed in the world of weddings, organising my own, it was a field I’d begun to get familiar with. So, following a lengthy chat, we decided we’d launch a weddings and events magazine. So, we’d got our big idea. Now what?
Well, that was when the hard work really began. We set up camp in my spare bedroom at my old house (a 2 bedroom town mid town house), built 2 IKEA desks, brought a phone, set up a phone line and got to work. We had our logo designed. We had our website built. We made decision after decision about our company style, our business plan, the service we wanted to provide. We found an accountant who informed us in no uncertain terms that we most definitely should not begin a business, based purely on advertising revenue, during an economic downturn. He thought we were barmy. So, we continued ….
We knew we wanted to create something different. Yes, there were other bridal magazines in the East Midlands but we wanted to be cool. We had a vision. We wanted to discover the best talent in the area and work with them. We wanted to style amazing photo shoots, we wanted to interview undiscovered talent from across the East Midlands and most of all, we wanted to inspire brides to be with incredible wedding suppliers and unique and original ideas for their big day.
We knew what we wanted but it was a huge, almighty uphill struggle to get there. Creating and printing a magazine takes time and money. We therefore needed to discover how to convince wedding suppliers to come on board with us and spend money with us, without even seeing a tangible magazine or product to help them make their decision.
One problem was that neither of us are sales people. In fact, we both hated the sales part. In those early days, it was a case of cold calling and door knocking. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the stories of knock backs we received and constant rejections but we picked ourselves up every time and knew we’d get there eventually. After all, who could blame these people – would you invest in a company which consisted of 2 young girls and no product to even show for their ‘idea’?
Luckily, there are people out there who do have that vision and can see past the initial ‘sales call’. People like Rachael Connerton Photography. Following a long day of researching suppliers we wanted to work with and being told ‘no’, I was beginning to lose hope. Then I found Rachael’s website and thought I’d give her a call, ready for another harsh reality check. Initially, she must have thought ‘Oh, here we go’ but she gave me a chance. She listened to my idea and the concept we had in mind and to my complete shock, she said she wanted to work with us. She was one of our first ever advertisers and we are so proud to say that she still works with us, four years down the line, and we have built a lovely friendship which we hope will continue for many years. Thank you Rachael & Ian for believing in us from day one and supporting us ever since.
We had other breakthrough’s in those early days including the lovely Jo and Peter from Dennisson Classic Cars who invested in our idea and have been with us ever since. Again, another lovely couple who we owe so much to; it’s people like this who give people a chance and we are ever appreciative of their loyal support.
John Lewis also gave us an opportunity and following meetings which we excitedly prepared for, we built a great relationship with the team there and were so pleased to receive confirmation that they would like to appear on our back cover. Oh yes, John Lewis; one of the biggest department stores in the UK. We were in complete shock.
From edition one, the magazine grew from strength to strength. Each front cover just got better and better and we eagerly anticipated the arrival of the printers to my front door delivering the next batch of freshly printed magazines. We would pile our cars full of magazines and take to the streets; distributing the magazine in as many wedding related places as we could possibly find in order to ensure our advertisers were getting business.
We soon outgrew my spare bedroom and managed to locate a small office space in Beeston. This was a great move and really helped to drive our business forward. It was then that we decided that the magazine needed a spouse, a partner, another venture to compliment it. Having attended so many uninspiring wedding fayres, we decided to reinvent the mainstream ‘wedding fayre’ and create something completely and utterly different. During a boozy lunch with none other than the fabulous James White, the three of us came up with a plan. We needed a blank canvas venue and the aim was to gather as many of the best wedding suppliers from across the region to exhibit and deliver a wedding event with a difference. We didn’t want the exhibitors to stand behind a table giving out flyers, we wanted to encourage interactivity and give our exhibitors an opportunity to bring their business to the event and create a mini ‘pop up shop’. Our first wedding event with a difference was at the Roundhouse in Derby on Sunday 6th February 2011 and we have never been so nervous in our whole lives. Convinced we wouldn’t see one bride all day, we marketed like mad women and spent many sleepless nights wondering why the hell we were doing this to ourselves.
Thankfully, it was a huge triumph and now with 5 of the events under our belt in both Nottingham and Derby, we couldn’t be happier with the success we’ve achieved. If it wasn’t for the support of our industry friends such as James White, Just Ben, Rachael & Ian and Jo & Simon from Shoot Lifestyle, who would sit with us for hours (usually whilst drinking wine and eating crisps) giving us advice, we would probably never have had the courage to take on the wedding event with a difference.
Now, on our 20th edition of Save the Date magazine, following the success of another wedding event with a difference this month, and with our 5th birthday ever looming, we just can’t believe how we’ve got to where we are. Wedding suppliers in the East Midlands and across the UK have completely transformed since we began. Back in 2009, we searched and searched for talent and very occasionally found a gem like Rachael Connerton and Dennisson Classic Cars but now, well we are completely spoilt for choice. There are so many creative people out there; companies like Darby & Joan and Michele Gledhill who completely transform spaces with amazing creativity and flair. We are constantly discovering fresh new talent from the likes of photographers Lee Garland and Ed Godden. We are so proud to work with national award winners including Kerry at Tineke Floral Designs amongst many others. The venues we work with are a collection of the best in the East Midlands, such as the Carriage Hall, Belvoir Castle, Stancliffe Hall and Thrumpton Hall (plus too many more to mention!) Plus, there are the friendly, ‘nothing is ever too much trouble’ suppliers like the lovely Duncan & Matt at Peak Tipis and the talented Richie Muir. But, Save the Date would be nothing without clients who have supported us from day one, our loyal crew. Those who haven’t yet been mentioned who have continually supported us from back in the day include Ian Bursill, Stuart Wood, Harts Hotel, Hodsock Priory, Baroque Couture, Lori G, Honeysuckle & Castle, The Greenery, Fiona Herbert Catering Company, Grace Couture and Executive Linen. A huge THANK YOU for your continued loyalty and support – it really does mean so much.
Writing this in our new office in the heart of Nottingham, it’s safe to say that we’re both really happy with how our business has grown and evolved. You won’t find us on the judging panel of Dragons Den any time soon and we certainly won’t be able to retire and live a life of luxury but we love our job and just felt that, on a milestone like our 20th edition, it was about time we thanked you all for everything you’ve done to help us to get here.
So, following that essay, I hope you will join me in saying a collaborative ‘cheers’ and to anyone considering beginning their own business, I hope this has inspired you to follow your dreams. We did and couldn’t be happier.
Lydia & Abbi xx