So before Christmas, I asked you lovely lot if you would like to hear more about where our business all started, and how we run things here at A.V.H. It seemed that quite a few of you were interested to hear our story, so I thought I would start a series of blog posts about our business. So where better to start than at the beginning!
It all started here! Our own wedding. We got married in May 2013 at Bateman's Barn in Suffolk. Such a gorgeous barn run by the lovely Nicole and John. I absolutely LOVED planning our wedding, spent hours on Pinterest (standard!!), hours on my favourite wedding blog (mainly The Natural Wedding Company) and had some personal DIY decor touches in our day. There was a marquee area to the side of the barn, and I wanted to hire some lovely vintage style sofas to have as a relaxed chill out area for our guests to sit and chat if they wanted to rest their ears (and legs) from the DJ in the main barn! I couldn't find anything nearby anywhere! There were a few companies but they wouldn't deliver as we were too far away, so we ended up hiring these awful plastic rattan (think 80's conservatory, not cool boho!) seating package that was ridiculously expensive and cost a fortune to have delivered. We ended up covering them in vintage blankets to make them look half decent!
At the time, both Ben and I were working as HR Managers for a well know supermarket retailer. It was tough. Long hours, shift work, weekend work, and basically no real time for any kind of a social life. Seeing Ben's two boys was really hard due to the weekend working, and we knew that it was something that neither of us wanted to do forever. So when we saw that there seemed to be a gap in the market for vintage furniture and props for hire in our area, the idea for the business began.
I fell pregnant with our first son Jack that summer, and left for maternity in the winter. While I was off on maternity leave with Jack, there was a restructure at work and I took redundancy. I knew that this was on the cards, so in the lead up to this, the idea for the business grew and we set about buying furniture and chairs where we could. By the time I was made redundant we had a small collection of tables, chairs, furniture and props (all stored in our garage!!) and we went for it!
I had a little pocket of money from the redundancy, and I knew that this would see me for 3 months. I set up our website myself, designs my own logo (cringe!), and we took photos of our collection in our dining room! I had never done anything like this before and learnt as I went along. Hours of slogging away at the computer with a new born baby, but so much determination to make it work and succeed. I remember one day, working on the website with one foot on the baby bouncer rocking Jack to try and get another 5 minutes of work out of him before he needed feeding! I'll cover more on another blog post about 'Working from home', and how I have run the business over the years and having 2 little ones, so keep an eye out for that!
Things really started small! I didn't know anyone in the wedding industry and had no idea how it worked. I contacted the amazing Virginia's Vintage Hire (a rental company based in the west) who was so kind in parting some industry knowledge with me, without which I would probably would have spent a fortune on wedding fairs, and never got off the ground, so to Ginny I am forever thankful.
Our first year we did just 10 bookings! We started in the May, so wedding season was already upon us, but we literally couldn't have been happier with what we had achieved in our first year. We knew we were on to something good. We had found our niche, we knew we provided a great service, great products and that this was going to work! Having that confidence is the only way you will get through the tough times, and believe me, it is tough. Knowing that you have a mortgage and bills to pay, and how much rests on your shoulders can be overwhelming to say the least but you will get through it.
Having self doubt that you're doing the right thing will always creep into your head, but never let it take over! If you make a mistake, take stock, learn from it, make sure you never make it again and move on.
So 5 years on, A.V.H pays me a better wage than I could have ever earned as an HR manager, gives me immense job satisfaction, makes me cry, laugh, pull my hair out and roll my eyes in despair sometimes! But I love it, and my husband reminds me on a regular basis, "At least you're not filling tins of beans anymore!".
I have met some some amazing suppliers along the way, some of whom I can now call friends, and I cannot wait to see where the next 5 years will take us.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions and I will be sure to answer them for you x
Take a look the 'Business Posts' section of our Blog if you would like to see more of this.