In an effort to introduce brides to some kick-ass wedding suppliers I have worked with, I am starting a series of posts where I will be interviewing these individuals. I am starting with one of my favorite professionals, Eve Poplett from Splendid Affairs.
Why did you start your business?
Weddings are about celebrating life, love, family and friends.
My story is different to most wedding planners; I was never a little girl who dreamed of weddings, breathed weddings and I did not have a wedding myself (only a ceremony). I was always very career focused, after I finished Honours degree, I managed a diamond polishing factory, and organised events on government level. I was good at my job, but I never enjoyed or felt fulfilled by it. To me, a job was something that you do, at whatever cost to earn a living. The notion that you should love your job was very foreign to me.
I started my business during a very sad time in my life. My mother passed away after loosing a difficult, long and devastating battle with cancer. When you are confronted with cancer and ultimately death, you realise just how precious life is, and how important it is to cherish every moment. I remember praying for guidance during the time when my days were filled with sadness. One thing I knew is that I simply could not live my life without passion or joy. Life is too precious and it is up to each one of us to be happy, create something we are proud of and succeed at the goals we set up for ourselves.
I don’t remember exactly how wedding planning came up. After I made my lists and made columns of things I was passionate about, things I hated and wanted to avoid, I realised that I was passionate about life… and celebrating happy moments. Life is about ups and downs, there are happy times in our lives and there are dark and sad days. I believe that if we take our chances, and celebrate the happy days, the memories of those days will help us get though the dark time, and will put a smile on your face and will wipe away the tears. Happy memories never fade.
Have you read any interesting books lately that you found inspirational?
I must say, I read a lot, and I read different genres of books. Currently, I am engrossed in the book “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin from Fire and Ice series.
Yet I must say, my ultimate book of 2011 is “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak. I love this quote:
“ Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”.
Do you have any cool goal-setting tips to share with us?
I really believe that each one of us holds unbelievable power to achieve our goals. You have to believe in yourself and loose all fear. Fear of failure often holds us back and prevents us from even trying to take a single step towards success.
There is no way to avoid risk if you want to live a creative life. Stop worrying about making right and wrong choices, and realise that no matter what you choose there is an opportunity to create something new and exciting. If you don’t like the results, go back to the drawing board and make new, hopefully better choices.
If you crave changes in your life, or you have been feeling like there is more to life and you are considering using your talent in every day life, then now is the perfect time to act. You don’t need to leap into the unknown, taking a baby step is already a step in a right direction. Commit yourself to your ideas, and encourage yourself to act in confidence. All elements of success depend on your commitment and passion.
If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?
Nothing. OK I would have started using Freshbooks (online accounting program that made my quoting and invoice a breeze) a lot sooner!
In all honesty, I think I was very careful to pace myself at the beginning. It was important to recognise my ability, strengths and limitations. I have been blessed with clients that were exactly right for each stage of my developing business. I had difficult clients too, but difficult clients are best teachers. I learnt very important lessons, and without those lessons I would not have been where I am now.
Experience comes from making mistakes and fixing them. It is possible to fix most problem. I am confident that I can find a solution to most problems and to me this is one of the most important skills in a wedding planner. Reputation is earned on honestly, trust, hard work and talent. My success is based on each wedding, a job well done and creations I am proud of calling ‘Splendid’.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a business owner?
At each stages of business development, business owners are confronted with different changes. At the initial stages, you worry about the cash flow and signing up new clients. As you become more established you worry about your reputation, plus finances, plus staff and so forth. Yet, I must say one of the biggest challenges I encountered being a creative business owner is finding work-family balance. We work when other people are relaxing and having fun.
Each wedding takes an unbelievable amount of work with days of preparation before the function, then setting up on the day of the wedding and then there is a dreaded breakdown! I am truly blessed as my husband is incredibly supportive. My children understand the demands of my job, but all of this does not matter when you miss weekends, parties, and just snuggles. I am forcing myself to be very strict about the number of weddings I sign up per month and for the first time in 5 years I am booking entire December off to spend with my wonderful husband and children.
Staying grounded is key, it is so easy to get caught up in all the wrong things. People in the wedding industry are creative but with creativity comes a very strong element of insecurity and need for validations (hence the major competitive factor). We are all insecure, and why would we not be? Producing designs, creating flower arrangements, baking exquisite creations, photographing that special day – we are literally putting our talent on display, leaving our soul vulnerable with each wedding. This is why I have a very important rule – I don’t compete with anyone. Splendid Affairs is well, Splendid Affair. If you come to me, you should want my work, my style and my designs. I love looking through wedding blogs and magazines and admire the sheer creativity of the wedding professionals and artistry of photographers. However, there are times when I shut out the world, I still my mind and I design. I really don’t care what is fashionable or trendy right now. I urge myself to come up with new ideas and creations. I do not chase industry accolades, I work hard at giving my clients the quality service they deserve.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your designs fresh?
I draw my inspiration from my clients. No one is a blank slate, so when I am talking to clients about their wedding wishes they tell me what they have in mind. Couples are comprised of likes, dislikes, experiences and aspirations. I want to learn about their personal taste and interests, and not only what they’ve pulled from wedding magazines and blogs. What they love in their personal lives is what they are going to connect with most on their wedding day. Once I understand and connect to someone, designs come effortlessly.
I know it is important to stay on top of things, seek out new and exciting products and I love the search for that ‘newness’. Yet, at the same time it is all about my client and how I can bring their vision to life with a touch of that signature Splendid Affairs style.
And I meditate.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
I am inspired by people. Each one of us has a story, and every story is special. I treasure each story told by my clients. Creating happy memories for my clients is my passion.
On a professional level I am inspired by Eddie Zaratsian – his opulent flair, his attention to detail and floral vision. Anyone who knows me, will know of my insane adoration for Preston Bailey. I admire and respect his success.
On a personal level, I love classical music, Impressionist art, historical novels, period movies and chocolate (yes, I get inspired after eating chocolate)!
I am inspired by the memory of my mother (she was an incredible lady) and I dedicate each wedding to her.
What’s the best part of doing what you do?
The wedding day! All the hard work, long hours of preparation and planning coming together is the most magical part of the process.
I love seeing the bride in her dress – and every time she looks breathtaking!
Visit Eve’s website at: www.splendidaffairs.co.za