Photo by Rylee Hitchner
Today’s Biz Ladies Profile comes to us from Emily Newman of Once Wed. After planning her own wedding and noticing a lack of online resources for used and budget-friendly designer wedding dresses, Emily decided to address the problem personally. She launched Once Wed as a wedding marketplace and online destination for inspiration, and today she continues to share magical wedding ideas and offer helpful planning resources for brides around the world. Thank you so much for sharing your creative career journey with us today, Emily! —Stephanie
Read the full interview after the jump…
Photo by Tec Petaja
Why did you decide to start your own business?
After getting engaged in 2007, I began the process of searching for a wedding dress. I was searching online all over forums and craigslist for my dress, and I realized there were a lot of other brides doing the same yet there wasn’t a platform specifically for selling wedding dresses for free. I launched Once Wed to service a void I saw in the marketplace. I started blogging to bring traffic to the used wedding dresses, but the popularity of the blog has been the biggest surprise. When I started collaborating with other creatives and shooting my own content exclusively for Once Wed, traffic to the site began to increase significantly. Now we like to think of the site as one part resource, one part inspiration.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
This was the easy part for me. While searching for my own wedding dress, I saw brides in a very similar situation as I was in. They had great style, but not necessarily the budget to pay for the wedding they envisioned. Starting Once Wed was a way to bring buyers and sellers together so other brides like myself could find their “dream dress” in one place and at a price they could afford. Over time “designer wedding dresses for less” grew into “designer weddings for less” as we began to offer more inspiration and ideas for brides through the blog.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Creation is messy. There is nothing linear about getting a business off the ground.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
The learning curve in having to play so many roles in areas I didn’t have very much expertise in. I didn’t have the capital when I launched Once Wed to hire a pr or marketing firm or bookkeeper so I had to manage everything myself in addition to the day to day tasks of running the site.
Photo by Ali Harper
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
There never really is a final finish line to success. Sure, you reach certain milestones and goals, but the horizon of your business is always changing which means you constantly have to be tweaking and innovating your product or service to stay relevant in the marketplace. I’m not sure you ever get to a place where you can put your business in cruise control, and the times I’ve naively allowed myself to do so with certain areas of Once Wed it’s come back to bite me.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
Our biggest struggle to date has been on the development side. I remember one specific tech launch went completely off the rails when the team we hired to upgrade our site didn’t accomplish the work we hired them to do. We launched the new site and it immediately started crashing, which was a disaster for us since Once Wed only operates online. The firm we hired to build the site never resolved the bugs, so we were left with dysfunctional site at best. Fortunately, we found contractors who stepped in and began to fix the huge mess the other firm left us with, but it was a nightmare experience.
Photo by Rylee Hitchner
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
Building Once Wed from absolutely nothing with no business or online marketing experience whatsoever to the publication it is today. In the beginning of any new venture you’re having to pour so much time, resources, energy, and money to get it up and running without any promise of a return. I had a full time job during the day, and spent my nights and weekends working on the site all while having to care for my sick father who lived with us. We lived very frugally, and delayed gratification for many years to make Once Wed happen. I’m not gonna lie, it was difficult. There were many tear filled late nights in those beginning years, but after 2 years I was able to leave my day job to run Once Wed full time with my husband joining me in 2012 to help oversee sales and marketing. Five and a half years later Once Wed is now a business which supports my entire family. It’s an amazing feeling to look back and see how far we’ve come.
Photo by Tec Petaja
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
Create Marketplace Disruption, The E-Myth, Daring Greatly, and The Power of Habits.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
How comfortable are you with putting yourself out there every day?
Always remember no one will ever care about your business like you do. Period. Self promotion is not one of my strengths, but I’ve had to force myself over the years to cultivate this part of who I am for the sake and livelihood of Once Wed. No one is ever going to hustle for your business like you will.
How comfortable are you with making mistakes?
I’m not. But you have to accept them because you will make them – especially if you’ve never started your own business before. I like the Edison quote that success is “99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”. Your ability to keep picking yourself back up after you get knocked down is essential as an entrepreneur.
How comfortable are you with navigating through uncertainty?
Again, I’m not at all, but there’s no avoiding it. When you run your own business, uncertainty will always be there. If you are going to try to start or lead a business, you just have to accept it.