In Conversation With..

WHAT WERE YOUR CAREER AMBITIONS GROWING UP? I designed wedding dresses, bouquets and dreamt weddings as a little girl, I still have pile of them, I didn't know the wedding industry was a career prospect at the time. I remember vividly being a Bridesmaid aged five with my love for weddings being strengthened by watching the Royal wedding of Fergie and Andrew; then the film Father of the Bride was released and my fate was sealed. I also loved performing and due to my love of black and white musicals, wished to grace the stage as a musical theatre star but my journey pursuing this career path lead me right back to weddings. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CAREER PATH SO FAR? I had a great experience taking an Arts and Event Management degree at De Montfort University where I also worked on student radio. This gave me a great insight into managing a variety of arts and events. I also produced and presented a local arts, culture and leisure show on cable television whilst living in the Midlands. This all gave me a grounding in the business and I moved to London with dreams of fulfilling my aspiration to be a wedding planner. I quickly realised I wasn't experienced enough and needed to mature to deliver so I took my time to learn my trade, gain experience and most importantly learn how to manage people; weddings are highly emotional therefore people management is an essential skill. Following a move to Newcastle and the arrival of my first child, I felt like a grown up, I had developed a strong skills in the industry and developed a good understanding of people allowing me to successfully manage expectations within the practicalities and meet the needs of others enabling me to gain the trust of potential clients; after all a wedding is the first day of your married life. Due to significant health problems the Princes Trust mentorship programme compounded my belief that I could run my own business and encouraged my dream to be a luxury wedding planner. My networking at the time was at mother and baby groups, where over sing and sign sessions a good connection lead to the company flourishing. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? In the early days of the business I connected with the owners of a beautiful Belsay property where together we created the most exclusive venue in the region, it was an amazing episode in my career and I planned and managed some absolutely phenomenal weddings at the venue. At a time of indecision regarding the growth of my business verses the growth of another, the unforeseen occurred. This incident shifted my direction at that time unfortunately for the negative and although that year was very successful it was incredibly stressful and was of complete detriment to myself and my business; I reached the point I considered quitting the industry. However, I got a call from a national charity with a request for me to gift my services to plan weddings for terminally ill couples. This crystallised everything for me and gave the impetus to make the business work. 2017 was challenging whilst learning, listening and understanding my needs and aspirations I rebranded the company and established my direction. This year has been incredibly exciting and stimulating as I have gone back to basics in order to move forward and my passion for my work has grown further. WHAT ARE YOUR PROUDEST ACHEIVEMENTS? Really just doing it! I manage number of chronic long-term health problems including Agoraphobia which present a number of significant barriers; some might say making that first step to learn to cope with illness is a big achievement and whilst I agree for me the achievement is in the living, doing the school run, making a million mistakes, working a 20 hour day on a wedding; creating a bespoke wedding completely unique to the couple gives me an immense feeling of pride, it's incredibly rewarding. WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON? My bread and butter is planning luxury weddings, I love to make people happy. I also provide business development to potential and existing venues and provide in-house wedding planning to exclusive venues such as the restored heritage properties Newcastle Castle and St.Hilda's Pit Head. I am currently working on an exciting project with two partners which will launch this winter in the digital market. WHO ARE YOUR HEROES? I admire anyone who lives life to the fullest and overcomes challenges, a well-known and obvious example of this was Professor Steven Hawking but through my voluntary work I support individuals facing devastating circumstances and I am always blown away by their resilience and attitude to life. My children are mini heroes they have a thirst for what the day is going to bring which is so inspiring. WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR 18 YEAR OLD SELF? Don't fear fear! Life is not a dress rehearsal it's the main show. HOW DO YOU LIKE TO UNWIND? The bedtime routine with my children is wonderful, getting lost in the pages of a children's fiction book all cosied up. I also love a bit of singing and dancing. FAVOURITE BOOK: Warhorse by Michael Murpurgo, I cry every chapter. FAVOURITE FILM: It's a Wonderful Life, I watch it every Christmas Eve, it gets me every time. FAVOURITE CD: Take That and Party by Take That, I have been a fan since that jelly video, haha.

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