Growing a Wedding-Planning Business—Fast
Success Stories: Susan Southerland, Just Marry!
Susan Southerland, president of Just Marry!, a wedding and event planning company, talks about how to interact with today's bride�"and the most famous recent one, Kim Kardashian.
00:00 Susan Southerland: My name is Susan Southerland. I'm president of Just Marry!, Inc. And we are a wedding and event planning company. I'm also the author of the Susan Southerland Secret: Personality Marketing to Today's Bride and we help wedding professionals around the world better reach out to today's generation of brides.
It must be a unique challenge to run a business related to weddings...
00:21 Southerland: Well, the unique challenges to having a company that deals with anything really that involves something so personal and so important as a wedding day- it's really the emotion- being able to be supportive without getting overwrought by all the stress that typically surrounds planning such an important day. As the years progress, it's become a highly competitive industry in all sorts of price ranges with varying levels of experience and sometimes it's very difficult to demonstrate to a person who is spending her own personal money, why you are more experienced and why you are more expensive than someone who is just starting out. But again we have been very lucky and kind of made some different tweaks and changes that differentiate us from other people in the same space.
Has the market been good to your business?
01:09 Southerland: Oh my gosh! My first year in business I think we grossed $25,000. [chuckle] And at that time, that was on the high end of what wedding planners made. Every year we've had growth with the exception of one which was of course when the recession hit and we had to do some really big tweaking, but I can tell you that between last year and this year we had about a 39% increase in our revenue, which is pretty exciting because it's still tough out there.
What have you learned as an entrepreneur?
01:39 Southerland: I think being an entrepreneur requires you to be fearless and so if you can start at a young age when perhaps you are not as entrenched into a business or as reliant on a regular salary as you are as you get older and have children, that's a great time to start because then you can try anything and I think that's just it. You don't... You shouldn't be concerned about following someone else's model. I think that we all tend to look across a landscape and see what other people are doing. Well, I think the key to being a successful entrepreneur is to make your own way, to make those decisions, to just be crazy, be different and try something new.
Do you wish you could have planned Kim Kardashian's wedding?
02:17 Southerland: [chuckle] Do I wish I could have been part of Kim Kardashian's wedding? Let's just say from my perspective, I've had celebrity events and very wealthy people and I have had smaller events who are not celebrities and you get paid the same amount of money. So for all of the hoopla that goes into all of the madness that can come from some of these big, widely publicized events, sometimes just taking care of the average person can be more pleasant.
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