In these #SPREADTHEGIRLPOWER interviews I have been chatting to creative girls from around the world who I've discovered through instagram, with a focus on those who have recently set up small businesses. I've gained so many amazing contacts through instagram and been given some brilliant opportunities, so I'm doing my bit to help others gain new contacts and find out about creatives they might not have come across yet.
This month I chatted to April of Kook! Events - I first met April at Cereal Killer Cafe in London at the beginning of 2017, where I met up with Kayti of Caboodle Magazine to chat about my new role as Crafts Editor. April joined us and was wearing a Lucky Dip Club badge and glittery boots (and a great outfit!) - right there and then I knew she was a girl after my own heart!
I chatted to April all about her work in the events industry, the highs and lows of running a business and what other creative girls she admires on instagram. She's even given us a few tips for throwing our own parties...
You've worked in the events industry for 5 years - can you tell us some of the best and worst bits from that time and what working for a corporate company has taught you about how you want to run your own business?
There are so many “bests”! The pride and excitement of getting your first client (hell, every client!) is the most unbelievably cool feeling – someone has actually CHOSEN YOU and wants to PAY YOU to do something you love! It doesn’t get better than that. Seeing my work featured in magazines and on blogs is amazing, it’s good to know other people enjoy what you’re doing. And although work is now more or less 24/7, the freedom it offers is unbelievable. For example, in June I got back from a 10-day holiday to Spain, landed in drizzly Manchester, and then spontaneously jumped on a plane for a second Spanish holiday with one of my best friends 3 days later – because I could! Laptops and wifi are amazing – you can work ANYWHERE! That’s just looking at the last 10 months – in the last 5 years I’ve had some great moments… I remember how excited and proud of myself I was when I managed a large event on my own for the first time! I’ve also been really lucky and been able to travel the country and stay in some wonderful hotels (for free!) and experience some of the best trade shows in the business.
The worst bits? Since starting my own business, the worst thing is the days when enquiries aren’t coming in, or your enquiries aren’t turning into bookings, and you’re wondering how you’re going to pay the bills… those are difficult to deal with. It can make you feel quite blue, and wonder if you’ve made the right decision. I’m really lucky in that I’ve got a super supportive husband who makes me see sense, a merry band of girl bosses who get the struggles of running a small business, and also an amazing network of other wedding planners at the UKAWP to talk to about any wedding planning woes!
Working for a corporate events company was great in the sense that I got lots of experience (I worked myself up from a junior venue finding position, and later got a job for another agency as a full event manager). This gave me SUCH a rounded view of how to manage an event from start to finish, and also how to pitch for work, how to market a business, and use social media. This experience was invaluable and I’m so grateful for the time I spent there. There were downsides – it’s very competitive and can be quite cutthroat at times, as an employee within an agency your pay is pretty low, considering the pressure you’re under and the number of hours you put in (that isn’t to say being self-employed in the wedding industry is much better from that respect)! But at least it’s something I’m in control of now, rather than it feeling like it’s out of my hands. Now I have my own business, I ensure my assistants are paid fairly, and rather than getting dragged into being competitive, I support my peers and cheer them on. It’s far more positive - there’s no need to have rivalries, if you’re confident and are good at what you do then there’s enough work to go around! :)
Your own wedding looked like so much fun! Was that what inspired you to take the leap and set up Kook?
Our wedding was brilliant (even if I say so myself..!) We just treated it like a giant party where we happened to get married, and everyone had a great time. There was pizza, an ice cream van, cocktail bar, owl display, and a bouncy castle disco filled with cheesy music…! It really did feel so “us” in terms of the things my husband and I love in day to day life, and I think that’s something I really try to offer with my clients’ weddings – whether it’s formal or casual, colourful or more muted – I think a wedding should totally encapsulate what that couple is about, and be fun!
It’s always been an ambition of mine to have my own company – I think after a couple of years in events it was clear to me that it was my calling, and made that my goal. Weddings was something I was toying with for a long time, though I must admit it was later on in the process that I decided to make that my main focus. I initially was going to focus more on business events, but they don’t make my heart sing and my brain fizz with inspiration like a wedding does. Honestly, it was the only idea of having to deal with Bridezillas that made me a bit apprehensive initially, but in reality, I think they’re actually few and far between – I’ve not had a single “nightmare” bride! I think my laid back approach and style attracts likeminded people, which is a relief.
I wanted to get my own wedding out of the way (does that sound awful?) before launching my own business, as it took over my life for about 12 months! The feedback from my own wedding was really positive, which made me all the more certain I was making the right decision. I also learnt a few things from my own wedding, which was useful too!
Who has been your favourite client so far and why?
I’m really lucky in the sense that all my clients have been great! I’m working with the LOVELIEST couple at the moment (they were actually the first people to book me for full wedding planning) and they are just so easy going and cool to work with. Their style totally aligns with my own, and they’re really open minded about trying something different and doing something creative and visually stunning. I will be SO sad when their wedding is over!! From a non-work perspective, we get on really well as people – we’re always WhatsApping and recommending TV shows and podcasts to each other, which is just ace.
Who would be your dream client and why?
Speaking vaguely, I love people who want to do things which are off the wall and just want a really cool wedding day which is super personal, and includes the stuff they love. It’s fun when people break the usual wedding traditions and play by their own rules. At the moment I really want to find a couple who want a fairground at their wedding – I’m talking dodgems, carousels… the works. Anyone?! I think that would be SO much fun, and the photos would be awesome!!
In terms of a dream celebrity client, I remember when Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons got engaged I did a little squeal and said to my husband “OH MY GOD I WANT TO PLAN THEIR WEDDING!!!”. A girl can dream, right?! I am also a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig, so I wouldn’t object to working for them either….!
Can you tell me a bit about your work with Caboodle Magazine? You used to run an ice cream van business with Kayti (founder of Caboodle) didn’t you?
So I actually met Kayti via the ice cream van – I found Kayti’s business Classic Ices when I was sourcing suppliers for my own wedding (I think our first conversation was about how amazing Malteaser ice cream is). A couple of months later I wanted a summer job to raise some more wedding funds, and got in touch with her – as they say the rest is history! As well as an awesome summer driving Betsey the 70’s Bedford van around Yorkshire, Kayti is now one of my best friends. I love her to bits! She’s such a ray of sunshine!
With Caboodle, I can’t really take any credit for content, or… very much really! I think mainly my role with it has been Kayti’s travelling buddy on Caboodle related adventures, and being a bit of a sounding board for things – general girl boss support crew! I love the magazine, I’m always excited when I get to hear about the plans for new issues!
You're a Yorkshire lass born and raised. What are your favourite things about Yorkshire?
The people – Yorkshire folk are generally very straight shooters, to the point and honest. They’re usually also really funny, down to earth and don’t take themselves too seriously! We also have some great places to visit – there’s such an amazing contrast of quaint villages in the North Yorkshire countryside, the heritage and history of York or Harrogate, and then the amazing culture and creativity you find in Leeds (my favourite city in Yorkshire).
We have great bars, pubs, and places to eat. I could provide a list about 2 metres long of my favourite places to go in Yorkshire, but here’s a few: The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Salts Mill in Saltaire, Betty’s Tearooms in Harrogate, Mrs Atha’s in Leeds, Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds, and a stroll around Whitby followed by fish and chips from the Magpie Cafe…
Have you got any top tips you can share with us for planning our own small-scale events like dinner parties?
Keep it simple – don’t try and create decorations or make food which is outside your comfort zone! You’ll feel stressed, and a relaxed host means relaxed guests! With this in mind too, create a proper timetable for yourself – I don’t do ANYTHING without planning my time properly first. Once everything is down on paper, and you have accurate timings for everything, then everything will be much less stressful (it also makes it easier to delegate tasks too)! Make sure you have a list of exactly who’s coming, and also what their dietary requirements are. Prepare and buy everything as far in advance as you can, so you have less to do on the day itself!
Don’t sweat the small stuff, as in all honestly, your guests probably won’t notice those tiny little decorative details you’ve been stressing over. People like good food, lots of delicious drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and things to keep them entertained – if you’ve got those nailed then you’ll be onto a winner. As boring as it is, things like good table linen, nice crockery and matching glassware go a long way in making your party look more polished and beautiful! If you’re lucky enough to have a Flying Tiger store near you, then this is one of my favourite places for finding great value decorative items such as candles, napkins and vases!
Who are some of your favourite creative ladies to follow on instagram?
Leona of @luckydipclub is the queen of colourful, and to be honest is one of my total all time HEROES. I imagine most people reading this will follow her already, but in case not, as well as being a super cool mum Leona’s a successful girl boss and creative genius too. I’ve loved her work ever since the days of Lady Luck Rules OK - I used to save up my pocket money as a teenager to buy her jewellery! If colour is your bag, @judithinwonderland, @colourspeak_kerry_ and @confetticrowd are also really fun people to follow too!
For brides to be, @bespokebride is one of my favourite accounts to follow – their posts are so colourful and fun, with LOADS of DIY projects and inspiration!
What does Girl Power mean to you?
Leslie Knope? The Spice Girls? Beyoncé? All of the above?!
For me, Girl Power is being brave enough to take every opportunity you can, even if you’re terrified. If there’s a market for your skills out there, and you’re passionate about what you do, then just go for it. Buy into yourself, have confidence in yourself, and your customers will buy into you too. Girl Power is about being kind and supportive to those in your industry, no matter what their gender is or even if you’re competing in the same marketplace - being gracious, friendly and cheering people on gets you so much further than being negative!
Ice Cream Van / Shoes Photos: Mr & Mrs Wedding Photography Leafy Backdrop/Scandi Bride/Scandi Wedding Scene Photos: