On Starting A Beach Weddings And Elopements Company
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi guys! My name is Sha’Quanna Davis and I am the founder of Dreams & Details Events. I started the business last year after losing my job.
I had previously owned a small party planning company for over 8 years and after my job loss, I decided to follow my dreams to plan intimate weddings and romantic events. I provide romantic event planning services to customers.
The main services that I sell are intimate beach weddings, vow renewals, elopements, anniversaries, marriage proposals, and date night planning services, room decor set-up, and gift delivery services to customers that are too busy to plan and that would like to keep the romance in their marriages and long term relationships.
My ideal customers are those that have been in relationships and that are looking to propose to their partner, have a small beach wedding, renew their vows, delivery gifts for a special occasion to their love ones, celebrate a wedding anniversary or plan a romantic date night and do not have the time to plan these romantic events.
I just started my business in November 2019 after years of doing previous party planning and I have obtained two clients so far and earned $500. But the rest is yet to come! I am networking in the community and getting my name out and building strong business relationships with other business owners.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea of Dreams & Details after losing my job for 5 years during a tough time in my life while being a single mother to an 11-year-old son. Failure was so scary.
I was at my desk one day and after being notified of the job loss I decided that I was going to follow my dreams of event planning. I had worked in public service for 10 years and served 8 years in the United States Army.
My mos in the Army was an Automated Logistical Supply Specialist and I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communications so I knew I had what it took to host, plan, manage events and execute events. I have always enjoyed planning events and organizing projects.
I discovered my talents at a very young age but I never thought to go into event planning as a career. It was not until losing my job while going through a tough time that I activated my talents.
I validated my idea because of my prior experience in owning a small party planning business. I had once learned from that business and took note of the mistakes that I encountered while running the small in-home business, like time management, branding, and getting customers.
I did a complete self-inventory of my weaknesses and strengths and applied my past State Government experience and military background to the success and structure of my idea.
My financial situation at the time of my business start-up was that I had completely emptied my retirement and I had just lost another job with a small wedding planning company. The company was going out of business so the owners had to let me and another employee go. So I was strapped for cash.
I contribute a lot of my success to my business idea from the support of my mentor and a special 10-week self-development workshop for women that are jobless and facing transitions in life. This developmental workshop gave me the courage to face challenges in life and the courage to know that I am good enough to follow my dreams. So Dreams & Details was birthed after an assignment to give an elevator speech in the workshop. “I handle the details in your dream events and make your dream a reality”.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
So in providing my services to my customers, I approach the process in a very thorough manner. I ask my customers key questions and I have them complete a questionnaire so that I can identify their goals for their romantic event. I provide beach weddings so I gather information such as what type of wedding arch that they would like to have at their wedding ceremony.
I also collect the details of the color, what kind of chairs, and the type of ceremony that they would like to have like, for example, a stone ceremony. I have a past counseling background so it is like I am their companion in their journey to love. I also gain insight through pictures that the clients may provide.
I plan date nights as well. So knowing what is the most important goal of the customer’s romantic event makes it a lot easier in developing a plan for both parties.
I am the creator of the events and I develop the plan to work with the customer but if I need help I rely on my professional team to assist. I would say that the start-up cost of my business was less than $700 to include the legal, contracts, laptops, workshops, and other business-related matters.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching my business took a lot of time. It took me over a year before I officially launched the business online. It took me over a year to study my brand, attend business workshops in the community, research my industry, on-the-job training. I also watched a lot of youtube videos regarding my industry for in-depth training. These are a few things that I did prior to launching.
My launch strategy was to really have a nice professional brand image. I created a Facebook and Instagram presence. It took me 4 months to build my website. I worked day and night sometimes staying up until 4:00 am in the morning creating my website. It took me a few months to decide on my business cards. I had to file my LLC and set-up a business bank account. I had to obtain a logo.
It was a lot of hard work and patience with myself and trust God’s timing. I would say from conception to completion that it took about a year. I am still making changes to my website. I also created wedding packages for my clients that would like to have beach weddings. I am a one-stop-shop for my clients. That took time to carefully select the packages that represented me and my business.
I financed the business by winning an elevator pitch contest at a community event. I placed third place and I won a gift card to apply towards the start-up of my business. I told my mentor about the contest and me winning third place and she was like “you are not third place” so she matched the money. My boyfriend purchased me a laptop for my birthday and I applied the rest of the money to jump-start the business.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since the launch of my business, I have really gotten the word out about what I do through Facebook. I increased my followers from 2,200 to well over 4,800 followers. That gave me the ability to reach my Facebook friends and family and their family and friends.
That strategy worked well because I got over 8 leads and people to subscribe to my website. I got two leads from Canada and one lead from the United Kingdom.
I plan destination weddings so the clients will travel to me. When I plan their weddings, I can plan by video teleconferencing or by phone or chat or email. I can also plan events in person with clients or remotely.
I attend a lot of training on Facebook in the event planning industry in order to assist me with attracting clients.
I set-up my Instagram page and I have followers. I am still working on Instagram though. I follow other leaders and companies that are doing good. From Instagram alone, I was contacted by another wedding planning company to partner with them and provide receptions to their clients. So I am waiting for the legal contract and then that is income for the future. I have contacted a lot of different vendors in the industry such as Dj, photographers, and florists. I have packages for my brides to choose from. I am currently working on developing an Instagram and Facebook ad to run to get new customers for both my wedding planning and date night planning services.
I rely on word of mouth as well for referrals and I partner with other people in the line of work that I do.
I find that Facebook doesn’t work as much because a lot of the leads that I get from Facebook are dead leads. The brides inquire and are price shopping. I am still working on my advertising strategies in order to gain new customers. I am working with other experts on how to develop my social media.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I am doing very well with my business today. I am confident that my business will grow and I feel that there is a need for the services that I provide.
I am networking and I have things lined up. I do plan to expand the services that I offer because I love helping people follow their dreams. I am planning a 60th birthday party for a client remotely. The client lives in Atlanta, Ga and she would like to have her husband’s birthday party in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. All of the planning is done remotely. I recently did a birthday party luncheon for a client at her office.
I plan on having a bridal show very soon and I plan to collaborate with my wedding professionals to pull this event off to make it successful.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Through starting my business I learned to believe in myself and that having patience is the key. I have always been a hard-working person but it was the losses that I took that ultimately turned into high gains for me and my business concept.
I rely on timing as well. Because God’s timing is the best timing.
It has worked tremendously for me. If I do not get that customer maybe a better customer is coming my way. I also learned after launching my website that I discovered what services I wanted to provide and what services that I did not want to provide.
But all of those ideas did not come until the end of my business launch.
So I guess what I am saying is that I may not have gotten this far without first starting the business idea and completing it to learn that this is truly what I would like to do.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I use Instagram, Facebook, chat through my website for my business because I have to drive people to the website to learn about my services and prices so that I can turn those people into customers.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Youtube has been very influential for me. I really use youtube for teaching me the price structure of the event planning business and how other successful leaders run their event planning business.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My advice for other entrepreneurs who want to start a business is to plan first and then start. I also suggest creating a vision board for the year.
I created a vision board for myself and I watched how everything eventually fell into place for my dream for my business.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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