In the last little while, I have had a couple of people ask how did you decide to get in to this line of business and in all honesty, we didn’t plan to be doing this. It is really something that snowballed and we are constantly running to keep up with it.
Looking back we now had this totally awesome photobooth in our garage, what the heck were we going to do with? It arrived just in time for our first wedding show. Being all naive we packed up and setup our booth with a few pictures, some IKEA decor items, a floral arrangement and “The Booth”.
If you have ever worked any type of trade show you will know it is physically and mentally exhausting. You are on your feet for upwards of 6 hours for back to back days, and you have to be ‘ON’ all that time, essentially pimping yourself and your company (for lack of a better description) to potential clients. Back when we started there was no Pinterest or wedding reality TV so people weren’t as acutely aware of the possibilities of what was out there and potentially available – which as a supplier was good and bad. Trade shows give you a chance to get in front of new brides and grooms and tell them what you can bring to the table for their big day.
We were lucky and had plenty of interest, really who doesn’t want to commemorate their wedding show experience with a photo in an old school photobooth. Think of those booths at the mall that you and 5 of your best friends would cram in to. That’s what we were offering and people LOVED it.
We did end up booking our first photobooth rental from the show. The show was in September and the booking was for the following May. When we met with the clients in the fall they started asking about what else we could we do for their wedding, they really needed chair covers, could we do those? My answer – Yes, absolutely. I figured that I had at least 6 months to get them, and worse case I knew suppliers in the city I could sub-rent from. My poor friend who was with me at the meeting, may have been having a minor heart attack while trying to shoot me frantic looks across the table. She knew I didn’t have chair covers or anything remotely like that at the time. I was in sales mode and my answer to any question was “Yes, no problem!”
Thankfully for the internet, I was able to find options. We found a trustworthy supplier and we thought, well we have a photobooth so why not a few chair covers to rent out too?
At this point, my husband got involved. I tend to refer to him as the visionary. He has the big picture ideas and then I figure out how to make his vision reality – it’s a good combination. His background was in promotional products and importing. We bought 150 white and 150 black covers, and a few sashes option. With that enormous (*note sarcasm) amount of linen we thought we could do a wedding or two a month. To show you how wrong we were, on one of our busiest weekends in August last year we did over 120 different orders of all sizes, a far cry from that original projection of one to two weddings a month.
Looking back, never once did we consider the basic questions we should have when starting a business like linen rentals, things like how do we wash, dry and iron 300 chair covers or where do we store them and how do we transport them? There was no fancy business plan or analysis, no marketing strategy or long term strategic plan; I guess you could say we were flying by the seats of our pants.