Hey there—It’s Kate, owner of Sky Trading Co. with my next edition of Sky’s the Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs from Columbus, OH. Each boss lady I get to meet inspires me to live fearlessly and I’m hopeful their stories will inspire you to pursue your dreams. Enjoy!
My next interview features Meredith Diamond of Auburn and Ivory, an editorial and event styling business. I met Meredith by chance when I was interviewing Alaina Cherup, owner of Cheer Up Letterpress, and the stars must have been aligned because we connected instantly. Meredith radiates creativity and has the bubbly personality to match. She creates magical wedding scenes so swoon-worthy that part of me wishes I could get married all over again just so she could create a beautiful experience for my friends and family. If you don’t believe me, creep her Instagram profile by clicking here. Below is Meredith’s story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…
Describe what Auburn and Ivory is and what services you offer.
It’s an art and styling business. I do editorial styling, prop styling, and wedding planning and styling. Basically, my business is a giant excuse to be creative in a way I feel like being. I went to school for art, and my degree is in history of art. I taught myself calligraphy, I am a water color artist, and I like graphic design. I do all of these things under the umbrella of my business, Auburn and Ivory.
How did you discover your passion for event and editorial styling?
I’ve always loved weddings—I bought my first wedding magazine in 7th grade, and I loved everything about reading it. I started planning weddings when I was working full-time and the first wedding I styled got published on Style Me Pretty. Two days after that wedding was published, my company eliminated my position and I was laid off. It felt like fate—I left on good terms, took a severance and started my business.
When working with clients, what is the process?
If I’m working with a bride and they are looking for full service wedding planning and styling, I have them fill out a survey to make sure we will be a good fit for each other. Then we meet. I ask a lot of questions to get into the bride’s head. It’s up to me to figure out what’s going to make a bride cry tears of joy on their wedding day.
Why do you think brides should hire you?
If you hire me, no one will have a wedding like you. I spend hours researching, going through craft stores and looking at the latest materials to go beyond what brides are seeing on Pinterest. I love to collaborate and try new things. I want to love my couples and I want them to feel served, and that’s what my business is all about.
What advice do you have for couples who are newly engaged?
Enjoy it, but get your wedding venue! That’s practical advice. Also, make a list of your priorities, think about the story you want your wedding to tell and the experience you want yourself and your guests to have on your day. There are a lot of decisions to be made and they’re easier when you ground yourself in the experience you want your guests to have.
What was the first step you took when you decided to start your own business.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do. I had a mortgage and a son, so I started selling my art at craft shows to give me time to meet potential brides. I also made things to post on my Instagram to show people that I was a creative force. I slowly built my business by meeting people and making connections.
How did you learn the ins and outs of running a business such as pricing products, writing contracts, creating a website and finding clients?
I’m still learning a lot. I research—I stay up late at night watching workshops online. I read a lot and I have a lot of conversations with other business owners.
Did you have any fears when you first started out?
I’m not afraid of failure. I fail all the time on a small scale and I always learn from it. I don’t want to let people down—that’s my biggest fear.
You’re a very creative person. How did you learn to be creative—was it something you were born with?
I think everyone’s creative—some people just have a more natural tendency to embrace creativity as a lifestyle. I think creativity begets creativity. It’s amazing how you try an idea and it opens your mind to other ideas. It feeds on itself. I think I’ve always embraced my creative side.
How do you promote your business?
For me, social media works so well because it allows me to put myself out there without putting myself out there. I can post photos of my work without posting photos of myself. Relationships are huge. Connecting with people is so important and referrals have been a big part of my business. I am not very good at saying ‘I’m Meredith and I have a business called Auburn and Ivory, or I’m a painter or a stylist,’ but I think I’m good at loving people. If nothing else, I think being good at loving people can warrant another conversation.
Do you have any social media tips?
Don’t let it define you or freak you out. Put out what you want your brand to be and don’t be afraid to curate it carefully. I try to make my Instagram a mix of the creative things I’ve done and the people I’ve loved.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of owning your own business?
For all the insecurities I feel about owning my own business, I feel very secure that I should own my business. I love the life it has given me. But business is personal especially when you are the only person in your business. You have to walk that fine line of not letting things get to you while learning to take criticism to make yourself better. It’s hard to put yourself out there, but often the hardest things are the most rewarding.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t where you want to be right now. Work hard and trust where you are in the process. Life experience is good and will make you a better business owner.
Let me know if there is anything you are curious about or think I should ask during my next interview in the comments below!