Is there a perfect age to start your wedding business?
In today’s episode I am interviewing successful wedding florist Sophie Ayres – who started her wedding business at just 21! We discuss the highs and the lows of owning your own business, and she shares the advice she wishes she knew sooner.
Want to becoming a wedding pro member just like Sophie? Here are the details of about how to join my inner circle:
Find out more about Sophie here:
Sophie: [00:00:00] For me, it really was the biggest fluke in the world got into uni to study psychology. And I decided actually, do you know what this isn’t for me? So literally on my first day of college, I had never arranged a flower in my whole entire life. And somehow I managed to find something that I was actually quite good at.
So it just went from there really
Becca: I’m Becca Pountney, wedding business, marketing expert, speaker, and blogger. And you’re listening to the wedding pros who are ready to grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and. Samples to help you take your wedding business to the next level.
If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get going with today’s episode. In today’s episode, I’m going to be talking to one of my incredible clients, Sophie hearing real stories of triumph success and of struggle from others.
Just like [00:01:00] you in the wedding industry can be so motivating. And I’m sure many of you are going to relate to her story. I first met Sophie in 2017 at a wedding pro networking event, I ran over the last five years, I’ve watched her business evolve and grow and I’ve seen the same in her too. I know you’re going to absolutely love hearing from her.
So let’s get into it. So Sophie, why don’t you start by telling people who you are and what you do?
Sophie: So, Hey everyone, obviously I’m Sophie, I’m 25 year old floral designer, animal lover, and a huge Disney fan. Um, my business is essay floristry, where I specialize in weddings and events. I’m based in Bedfordshire.
And I love working with creative couples and bringing their ideas to.
Becca: So you’re a wedding florist. You’re in Bedfordshire so how did that come about? Where did it start? Where did that idea come from of being a wedding florist. Most people don’t go to school and just wake up one day thinking that’s going to be their job.
So take us back to where that started.
Sophie: Yeah. [00:02:00] So for me, it really was the biggest fluke in the world. Um, so I was doing my A levels. Um, I’d already always done quite sort of relatively academic stuff at school, but I’ve always been quite creative. Um, I like working with my hand sort of thing. Um, and I’d got in to doing uni, so it really was the biggest I decided.
Um, and I was the first year that the tuition fees. Which scared me a little bit as well. Um, so obviously I decided what I was thinking, obviously I need, I need to be doing something else. And I was looking at college courses and floristry just sort of appeared. And I thought, what do you know what that sounds really nice.
So literally on my first day of college, I had never arranged a flower in my whole entire life. And somehow I managed to find something that I was actually quite good at. So it just went from there.
Becca: Okay. So that’s quite a big [00:03:00] decision and you obviously were planning on going the normal route, going to university.
How did your parents feel when you said actually change your mind? Don’t want to go to university, want to go to college
Sophie: I think they were both apprehensive and proud, I will say to be fair, I’m quite, I’m quite lucky. My parents are, uh, very supportive. Um, so I think they were, they were quite understanding that maybe university wasn’t for me.
Um, and I think they sort of understood that I would quite like to do something quite creative. Um, they themselves have been, um, self-employed. Since I was a baby. So I think they sort of maybe knew that I was sort of heading in that direction.
Becca: So you went to college, you obviously enjoyed it. there were no regrets about not going to university.
So then what happened when you came out of college, did you go straight into self-employment or did you take a different route?
Sophie: So, so with floristry, like lots of, sort of creative industries, Basically it’s all about, [00:04:00] um, experience, experience is key. So literally I think it was like six weeks into my college.
Cause although it was like a full-time course, I was only in college two days a week. I went and got myself a little job in a florist shop, we did a little bit of everything from sort of gift flowers, funeral, flowers, everything like that. So it worked through that when I did my first year of uni, I was working part-time um, so my first year of college, and then I did my second year of college as well.
So I’ve got my level two and three, um, in my floristry. Um, and then sort of it went from there. And then I think I decided that actually, you know what, I loved working in this, in this little shop for someone else, but I think I decided that. Working for someone else actually wasn’t for me. And I really, really wanted to look at, you know, doing what my passion was at the time, which was working on the weddings and working for someone else, didn’t allow me to have creative freedom.
And that’s really what I wanted is to be able to use my own [00:05:00] skills and to create things that I love for couples that they love, if you know what I mean
Becca: so you make it sound so easy. Is it make it sound like I worked for someone else? I wanted freedom. I went to work for myself and there’s a lot of people are all sorts of ages and stages who are probably listening to this thinking.
I feel like that, but I’m way too scared to do anything about it. So what surely there was some fear in that leaving the florist shop and going self-employed what fears did you.
Sophie: A hundred percent. So yeah, absolutely terrifying, but I think that’s what drives you a little bit. Um, it was definitely scary leaving the shop.
Um, and especially when, because obviously I wasn’t particularly old anyway and I, it’s not like I had a huge. Capital behind me. So obviously you, you hear these startup businesses and they’re like, oh, in Dragon’s den, can I have a hundred thousand pounds? I didn’t have a hundred thousand pounds. Um, so, you know, it’s, it’s about [00:06:00] being savvy when you’re starting up.
Um, and just going for it. Um, having a little bit of a plan is obviously massively helpful. Um, but just going in. Meeting people getting out there, talking to people, um, is really, really important. And the thing is, unless you start, you’re not going to get anywhere. So, you know, I said to myself, oh, maybe it might be better to do this when I’m in, you know, 10 years time or whatever, but I don’t know where I’m going to be in 10 years time.
So maybe it was now or never sort of situation. Uh, just because I’m, you know, 21. Why, why can’t I set up my own business? Absolutely.
Becca: And I think we’ve had a lot of discussions together about this subject and about age and how society kinds of tells us. You have to have done so many things first before you start a business, or you’re too old to start a business.
And I know you struggled with that a lot to start with feeling like you were too young. Not because you weren’t good enough, but because you’re worried about what people would think of you. So if there [00:07:00] are people out there that are thinking, oh, I can’t start business yet. I’m too young. I need to go to university first or I’m too old.
What would you say.
Sophie: Um, I think in life, I think life will always tell you. And I think, and anyone will tell you, there is never a right moment to do certain things in life. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and just do it because no one, especially when it comes to starting a business, no, one’s doing this for you.
You’re doing it for yourself. Um, so yeah, and unless you take yourself out there and get that done, then it’s not going to get done. You know, waiting a little bit longer, you’re just going to keep putting off and keep putting it off. I decided to do it when I was, um, younger, just because it was what I wanted to do.
It was my passion. Um, and I, I had the motivation to go and do it. You know, being in a creative industry, you get to the point where I was like, you know, although I really [00:08:00] liked working in the shop, was I going to get burnt out, doing something that I’m not enjoying and then end up going, or maybe actually floristry is not for me.
Whereas if I had control of it myself, I running my own business. Um, I think it makes it a lot easier to do. Yeah. Do what you want to do. What you’re passionate.
Becca: Yeah. And I think you should be incredibly proud of the fact that you did that at the age you did, because it does kind of go against what society tells us.
It goes against what people at school tell us. And I know that you’re a real advocate for wanting, uh, young people and people in school to be taught that there is another option don’t you? Um, other than just going to university and that there is an option to go out there and start your own business and why not?
So you’ve told us that. Decided to leave the shop. You’re going to start this floristry business. You want to be brave, you going to step out on your own. So what happened next? Like what things did you do that you think helped that business to grow to where it is today?
Sophie: Yeah, so I, a few things that sort of immediately, [00:09:00] um, come to my head is that obviously I needed a portfolio.
I wasn’t doing much or if any work of my own at that point. So I needed stuff to show. So I did the smallest little photo shoot, not like one of these big lavish style shoots that you see in. I’ve done sort of relatively recently. Um, just a really, really small little shoot. I don’t know. I must’ve only spent like, Maybe 300 quid on flowers, max, something like that.
Just to be able to pop something on, on a website. I got my website done and I invested in doing sort of like two or three wedding fairs. I think. To get out there and then it was, do you know what I think I need to start going, seeing other people cause obviously networking is a massive thing. Um, so yeah, I got myself out there to one of your friends, obviously Becca and, um, just got talking to people and that, that is one of the most important things I think really is just getting out there, especially with just like-minded people.[00:10:00]
Becca: Yeah, and I love how you talked earlier about being savvy and when you’re starting out and you don’t have big money behind you. Uh, so what were some of the things you did to kind of save money and not feel like you, you had to splash the cash?
Sophie: Yeah. Um, that’s a very good question. Um, so. And yes, at being savvy about money, especially when you’re starting business is really important and knowing what money’s coming in and what money is coming out for me, the business needed to start paying for itself at least quite quickly.
Um, and then start paying me a little bit again, relatively quickly. Um, so for me, it was get as much exposure as possible, um, for. As little. So again, being really, really careful about what venues that I’m going to be working at. So venues that I personally really love and that I want to be working at. And therefore knowing that that’s where my couples are going to be, that was really important to me.
And again, showcasing work, um, that I wanted to be [00:11:00] doing for my couples. So getting the couples that I want to be working with through the door. Um, and then for me, again, it was a little bit as well. I knew. With weddings, it can take a little bit while, a little while to get going. Um, so maybe I need to do another little avenue to get going, um, as well.
And that’s when I started doing some workshops as well. So that year that I started, um, I also did a lot of Christmas wreath workshops and that was, um, uh, quite a big, big thing for me to get going, um, for sort of the next season to get really, really pushy.
Becca: Yeah. So you basically did some other little things to bring in the income.
In the meantime. And again, this is something that people forget that they can do, they think, well, I’ve got to just wait for the weddings to come in, but actually, yeah, if you’ve got something else you can sell in the meantime, it doesn’t mean you have to be doing it forever, but. Cash is important in a business and too often, people in the wedding industry run their business like a hobby and not a business.
So I think that’s a really good reminder. Now you mentioned networking [00:12:00] and obviously coming along to, um, my networking event and you’re part of my members community as well. I think again, people neglect this part of their business. What is it that you think. Being part of that kind of community. What benefits does that have to you and your business?
Sophie: Um, I think it’s two fold as in it helps my business, but it also helps me personally as well. Um, business wise, obviously I’m out there networking with like-minded people. Who can help me out if I need help. Um, and also I’m going to be out there talking to their own couples. So, um, you know, it might be a photographer and a photographers are quite often.
One of the first suppliers booked in. Um, so, you know, they might be asking their photographer, oh, do you know any florists? So for me, it’s really important to be going out there making those, those friends in the industry so we can all help each [00:13:00] other by passing on all our details, because word of mouth is huge in the wedding industry
um, and then I would say, yeah, there’s the second string of it is personally as well, actually having, again, those like-minded people that you can talk to sometimes if you’re stuck in a little bit of a rut or you’re feeling a bit down about everything or you just, yeah. You just need to pick me up. Um, it’s great to have, you know, a few people that you know, that you can just call up pop a text, put them in email and be like, Hey, do you want to go and get coffee?
Um, I need to have a chat. And that, that is. Just as important really, because that’s what keeps you going and keeps you motivated.
Becca: Yeah, and that is the reality, isn’t it really, for most of us owning our own business, we spend a lot of time on our own making decisions on our own, having to face struggles on our own.
And actually sometimes the people in our family, as much as they love us, they just don’t understand. They don’t understand the same struggles as we do. So if you’re listening to this and you. Actually, I don’t really have community. I really encourage you to go out there and find [00:14:00] community. You’re welcome to come and be part of my community.
You can find the link to that in the show notes, but just find other like-minded people, either in your area or online that you can meet with. Talk with ask questions too, so that you don’t feel like you’re doing this business thing alone, because that really is a difficult thing. So while we’re on the subject of struggle, What do you think has been the hardest things for you about owning your own business and being self-employed?
Sophie: Um, so I think firstly, for me, it’s definitely the it’s all you part of it at the end of the day, there’s, you know, I don’t have a boss man behind me checking up that I’m doing my work, keeping myself accountable. Um, it’s really difficult. Um, especially when you know, you, you may be having a bad month and things aren’t quite going your way.
It’s really difficult to pick yourself up and be. Next month better. Let’s get going sort of thing. Um, so yeah, definitely [00:15:00] holding yourself accountable to what you, what you’re doing and what you want to be doing. And again, it’s sort of the idea that you, you needing when you’re running business. You’re always needing to push, keep pushing, keep pushing, especially with weddings to a certain extent, because you’re not necessarily getting that repeat custom, although you’re getting the word of mouth, um, because you’re not getting that.
a repeat customer coming back and coming back, hopefully coming back, um, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s really difficult to, you know, your, your foot is always on the gas basically. Um, so keeping that momentum up and keeping yourself accountable to, you know, keeping up, um, yeah, I would say that’s sort of one of the most difficult things I think.
Becca: On the other side of that, what do you think are the best things about owning your own business? So for someone who’s now listening to that and thinking, well, maybe she should have stayed in the flower shop. Like what are the best things about owning your own business?
Sophie: So for me, it’s the flexibility that I’ve given myself.
Um, and that’s actually one of the big reasons why, um, [00:16:00] I set up the business in the first place and actually why I run the business. Um, so I, for example, don’t have my own floristry shop because I don’t want to be stuck in a shop from nine to five. Um, for me, I’m actually, I’m quite a night owl. Um, so for me, quite often I will get quite a lot of my work done in an evening.
And again, there’s nothing wrong. And it just allows me to be able to work in my own time when, and whenever works for me. And that, that for me is sort of the most, the most helpful. And the thing that I, I enjoy the most. Um, and again, like if I know I’m not feeling particularly well, I don’t need to beat myself up.
I can give myself the afternoon off. Um, and yeah, I that’s, that to me is sort of the most, the most important thing about.
Becca: And it’s funny, isn’t it? Because you’re saying one of the hardest things about owning your own business is not having that big boss man behind you, but actually one of the best things about owning your own business is also not [00:17:00] having that big boss man behind you.
And I definitely find that myself, it swings and roundabouts. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do, but then sometimes I find it hard when there’s no one
Sophie: telling me what to do. I don’t, I don’t like people telling me what to do.
Becca: Honest with ourselves. That is a trait of a lot of entrepreneurs. And I always say to people I’m probably now the most unemployable person, because I just can’t see how I could ever work for anyone else.
Ever again, because I make my own rules. I make my own schedule. And if I want to stop for coffee, I don’t have to ask anyone. I can just go and do it now again, I think it’s interesting to think about this kind of journey of being an entrepreneur, because often when we start out, we have this idea in our heads about right.
When I get to this point in my business, I’m successful and I’m happy and I’ve reached it. And I think actually that’s not really true because what happens is our thought about success or what we actually want evolves over time. And for you, you started this journey really early. And so you’re still really young and you’ve already kind of got to that [00:18:00] initial point of success of, I want to have a wedding business.
I want to have clients, I want to be working in those venues and you kind of achieve that already. Haven’t you? So what what’s next? Like what does success mean to you now? Um, do you feel like, yeah, I’m happy here. I’m just going to sit doing this the rest of my life, or have you changed your motives
Sophie: yeah. So I think, I think a hundred percent I’ve changed my motives and dare, dare.
I mentioned the big word. Um, for me COVID was, uh, you know, a massive thing that happened in our industry, um, and was awful. And I think it’s put a lot of things in perspective. Um, so for me, although I love doing the weddings and I want to carry on doing them. I think it has made me realize that. That’s not what I want to do forever and ever.
It’s very long hours. And especially with flowers, obviously they only last so long and very early mornings. Um, and for me, I’m ready to start [00:19:00] diversifying a little bit. Um, as I said, I love being creative and making things, um, I love helping other people do that. Um, so as I said before, I already do a lot of like Christmas wreath workshops and stuff like that.
Um, and I’m wanting to sort of push that online a little bit, but I think it’s definitely allowing yourself to change is a good thing. And that’s yeah. There’s no, no problem in, in wanting to change.
Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And kind of on that same theme then how do you suggest people stay motivated, keep their ideas fresh?
Like what sort of things practically do you do to not just end up stuck in your own rut? What do you do to keep yourself motivated?
Sophie: Um, so for me, a lot of it is keeping in touch with people, so I always find. Chatting to people in the industry, but be that [00:20:00] someone who I know through weddings, or it might just be someone who does something similar to me that I’m friendly with, or it might even be someone who does something totally unrelated business wise.
I think it’s really nice to have someone that you sort of can regularly talk to about how things are going and just bounce ideas off because I think motivation. Or tends to get squashed mostly by like imposter syndrome. So if you can like push that down, that really helps the motivation keep going. So by making sure, like, if you have an idea, I don’t feel like you need to keep it to yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with, um, wanting to discuss things. I’m quite lucky that my partner and my boyfriend’s very, very supportive. Um, so I know if I ever have an idea that I think is absolutely crazy. Um, quite often the first person I bounce it off. Him. And he’ll be quite honest, whether he’s like thinks that’s a really good idea or whether maybe it needs a little bit of a tweak.
Um, but yeah, I always find [00:21:00] bouncing ideas off other people and not necessarily feeling like I have to hold everything in to myself. Um, actually is the most motivating thing. Cause if someone else is saying actually, do you know what I actually think that’s a really good idea. Then you’re going to take that idea.
run with it.
Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And I think sometimes we get locked inside our own head don’t we, because we think of this idea and then we get frightened about telling anyone because we think they might steal our idea or they might not like our idea. And so then we keep our idea locked up inside and actually talking about it and telling people can be one of the most freeing things.
So on that note then, and I don’t know what you’re going to say now, so we’ll, we’ll see what happens. What is next for you? Where are you taking your business? What are you going to do next? And what are you brave enough to commit to and tell us is happening next?
Sophie: Very good question. Um, well, at the moment, as I sort of said before, for me, COVID was a big turning point, um, in my business.
And I think personally, I think it made me totally, um, look at my [00:22:00] business and evaluate what I currently like about it. I don’t like about it and why I want to change because at the end of the day, nothing’s perfect. Um, as we’ve sort of mentioned before, working for yourself can be quite stressful. Um, which is again, it’s just part and parcel of, of what we do.
So for me now, I’m currently looking at, um, doing a rebrand of SA Floristry um, which I’m really, really excited. Um, that is all looking really good, very excited to share everyone. Um, and then I’m going to be opening up an online store to go along with that as well. So as long as well as running sort of the wedding and event side of things, and that, that won’t necessarily change, that will just be under a new little name.
Um, but that will all be quite similar to what it already is. Um, I will have, um, yeah, an online shops selling nice, um, sort of relatively high-end, uh, gift home and gift wear
Becca: exciting, well, I can’t wait to see what you do next Sophie, and I [00:23:00] think it’s so inspirational for people to hear from you because I feel like you’ve done more in the last five years than some people do in a lifetime.
When it comes to changing path, starting a new business, evolving that business, thinking of new ideas. Advocating for young people as well. I think you’ve just done so many great things, uh, before we go on to my quickfire quiz, which is coming up very shortly. I just want to take you back to Sophie who was just starting out in their wedding business, because I know there’ll be people listening who are maybe florists or maybe other parts of the industry that are just starting and are feeling.
Will I ever get any customers, will anyone ever reply to my emails and kind of feeling desperate? If you take yourself back to that moment, what can you tell those people to help them realize it will happen for them?
Sophie: Yeah. I, yeah, I’ve been there. It’s scary. Um, yeah, sitting there waiting for emails to come in is nerve wracking.[00:24:00]
Um, I always think the best thing to do and try to do is to be as helpful as possible. So even if you get a really, really light inquiry of someone, who’s not really sure what they’re talking about, you know, go out of your way to answer their questions. And then. If that makes sense. Um, and again, it might be industry friends.
It might be that someone needs help, uh, setting up a wedding fair, offered offer to help them. The more you get your name out there, the more that you’re seen, the more that people will want to pass on your details. So definitely don’t just sit there on your computer, waiting for inquiries. Your best bet is again, to keep motivated and just to take your mind off things, get out there, get helping people and get talking to people.
And it might even be, um, you contact a venue who again, is having, having an open evening or something like that. Pop them a message pop [00:25:00] over and see them, you know, is there any way that I can help you? Um, Anything like that it might be for florists like, can I offer you a bouquet of flowers for a raffle or can I, um, offer you sort of to set up a table or something like that to showcase, um, for, for it to look nice.
in your venue for your couples.
Becca: A hundred percent be proactive. So if you’re out there and you’re sat behind your computer waiting for inquiries to come in, stop stressing and get out there and do something proactive. Okay, we’re going to go on to my quickfire quiz. So I’ve designed this quiz. Sophie has absolutely no idea what I’m going to ask her, but I’m going to be using this quiz on everyone that I interview so that we can get more of an insight into the person I’m interviewing and get to know Sophie a little bit better.
So Sophie, I’m going to give you two choices and you just need to give me your answer as quickly as possible. I think so. Okay. I quiz, would you rather get married in a barn or a manor house? Barn. Live music, or have a DJ [00:26:00]
Becca: Are you light and airy or dark and
Sophie: moody, light and airy.
Becca: Would you prefer a summer wedding or a winter wedding?
Summer chocolate cake or lemon cake? Chocolate cake, Instagram or Facebook?
Sophie: Definitely. Instagram.
Becca: Would you prefer to be at a wedding fair or in a wedding directory? Wedding fair. Are you an early riser or a night owl? Definitely. Night Owl. And are you a work too hard person or an always get distracted person
Sophie: work too hard
Becca: or a little bit of both.
I think a little bit. Sophie, you pass a quiz and I feel like we know you a little bit better before we let you go. I’d love you to finish by just sharing one piece of advice that you wish you knew earlier on in your wedding.
Sophie: Yeah. So, so for me, I think it was to, um, be really savvy. And again, it goes back to sort of a monetary thing for me.
Um, [00:27:00] at the end of the day, running a business is all about making money. Um, so for me, it’s, when you start your business, don’t be scared to make sure you’ve got that spreadsheet and everything’s coming in and out, or make sure you have yourself a bookkeeping, um, a bit of software and don’t be afraid to go and talk to an accountant.
Um, quite often accountants will have, um, Free meetings and stuff like that. Um, and get that advice because actually going, um, I think one of the fears is actually being, self-employed, is really complicated. It’s really not, it’s actually quite simple. Um, or at least sort of the sole trader side of things, um, and putting through, um, your taxes and stuff like.
I think definitely keeping on top of all of that is really, really important. And don’t be afraid to get started with that, because that is what will show you your growth as well. That’s the biggest thing that you can look on a piece of paper and go, oh look, how much money I’ve made and [00:28:00] that that to me is actually one of my big motivators is that I can look at graph and go, oh, look how much money I’ve made.
I must be doing it. Right. Um, so a hundred percent, don’t be afraid when you start start, your business is just be really clever with your money and just make sure your keeping in touch and knowing sort of what’s coming in and out.
Becca: Amazing. Sophie, you’ve been so inspiring. If people want to connect with you, find out more about you.
Where’s the best place for them to find you?
Sophie: So for me, the best place is probably Instagram, um, at SA Floristry.. Um, and I’m also on Facebook
Becca: as well. Amazing. and Sophie, we can’t wait to see your rebrand. We can’t wait to see your new launch of everything. So keep us posted and thanks for your time.
Sophie: Thank you so much, Becca
it’s lovely to have a chat with you. With.
Becca: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Sophie. As much as I did, Sophie is a fabulous client and it’s been amazing to watch her go from being a 21 year old, starting her own business [00:29:00] on to being a really successful florist and with more great projects in the pipeline. If you’ve been inspired by anything that Sophie said do reach out to her, or if you realize you want to be part of a community, just like she is in my wedding, pro members lounge, then you can find all the details about how to be part of that community. In the show notes, I would love to welcome you and support you on your own wedding business journey. I’ll see you next time.