As part of our multi-part dedication to alternative brides, badass weddings and super enjoyable, personalised, sticking-twos-up-at-everyone-whos-telling-you-you-have-to-do-it-their-way wedding planning, we're bringing you monthly interviews with suppliers we think are bloody brilliant and you should know about. This week's is the wonderful Jenna, the Creative Director behind the multi-award winning stationery company Wonderland Invites. The perfect mix of bohemian romance without being too vintage or twee, Jenna's creations are wonderful - and her creativity knows no limits!
Who the heck are you? Let us know your name, something about your family/past career & an interesting fact!
Hey! Although based in Leigh on Sea, Essex, I originally hail from Manchester…but I am an honorary southerner at heart! I used to work in marketing in London, but decided to follow my passion for design following the birth of my little girl, Darla. Interesting fact…I have a tattoo on my left hand middle finger, which says ‘love’ in Thai. I had it confirmed by many a Thai person whilst travelling, thankfully!
How did you start your business & what is your ‘why’?
Following mine and my partner's return from travelling at age 25, I began working for a marketing agency in London…but I hated it. I knew it wasn’t ‘me’. I had always been creative and so I began exploring decoupage as an outlet; decorating coasters, jars and loads of other things. Two of my friends knew that I was handy, and both asked me to create table plans and placecards for their weddings. Looking back, I would never create stationery like that again. But it laid the foundations for me to start exploring digital design. Three years later and I am doing this full time! Say whaaaaaat!
What does a normal day in the life of you look like?
On the days where I am ‘mumming’, it's a little patchy - I answer emails and design around Darla and her erratic nap times and downtime (I say downtime VERY loosely). These are the days I tend to stay up working late in the evening. I take my laptop everywhere; to the aquarium, to soft play…just in case she has a nap and I can squeeze in some work and a coffee! When I have childcare, which is one or two days a week, the structure is a little more refined, with an hour or two answering emails, putting together quotes and invoices, and updating my workflow. Then, after a coffee and mid-morning snack, I get to designing, as the majority of my work is custom and fully bespoke. I may also be designing for styled shoots, depending on how my diary is looking for those. I deal with enquiries during my working days as I go, just to keep on top of things.
Who’s your biggest influence?
Hmmm…this is tricky! I guess the profiles I follow closely on Instagram serve as my biggest influence or inspiration. I love Bride and Tonic - its a newer blog on the scene but the girls who operate it just get it. Their inspiration posts are on fire and I’ve been made to feel very welcome as one of their recommended suppliers. I am also a big fan of Leah Lombardi - she's a wedding photographer based in Manchester who I have had the pleasure of working with before. Her aesthetic fits closely with mine and I love to see what she has been up to. In terms of business…this might sound cheesy as hell…but my dad. My dad came from literally nothing and worked damn hard to make a great life for me, my sister and my mum. He still works 6 days a week from 7-7 and he really makes me appreciate that whilst its not always easy, hard work always pays off. I am lucky to be part of two amazing and supportive groups; the UK Wedding Stationery Collective (its becoming official, watch this space) and The Wedding Creatives (which is a group we created here at RTF - but we didn't even ask her to say this. She's a good egg, isn't she?!). Both groups provide so much support, opportunities to learn more about business and just provide a real community spirit, which is vastly important when you are a sole trader.
Which is your best selling service?
My custom design service is easily by best-selling service - brides see my Instagram/website portfolio and always want something slightly or completely different from my house collection designs. And I love working on custom pieces…so that suits me down to the ground! My table plans on Etsy are also a big seller, especially across the months of May-September. These are set designs but are quite neutral, so fit well across a number of different wedding themes/colour palettes.
What ONE piece of advice would you give a bride about her wedding/the particular service you offer?
Without wanting to sound preachy, stationery is not just a piece of paper. It is often the first glimpse guests will see of your big day. It is a chance to show your personalities, and also the opportunity to impart important information. And after all is said and done, invitations and personal pieces from the day, such as place cards and favours, are often kept as keepsakes. I still have wedding invitations from friends who were married years ago! Invest in a stationer who will work with you in order to achieve the look you want, but also, don't be afraid to let them to make recommendations. A good stationer is worth their weight in gold and will most likely work with you across all your stationery from save the dates right through to thank you cards. And as for advice… It’s your day, so don’t feel the need to please other people. So many couples get swept up in a raft of wondering if people will like their choices, but if its what you both want, go for it. And don’t worry if its not ‘on trend’…its your day and you ought to have it your way.
Can you explain a little about the process of your business? How do brides get to see your work, what happens when they book you/place an order, how does the relationship develop?
I am quite hot on Instagram, as it's a really great, visual way to showcase what I do. I am also a recommended supplier for Rock My Wedding as part of their Love Lust List, which is really well-aligned with my brand ethos. I am also a recommended supplier on Bride and Tonic and will soon be listed on the Natural Wedding Company too! I also take part in a lot of styled shoots; whether they be coordinated by someone else or by myself. By the end of 2017, I had been included in 23 styled shoots, including 6 of my own, and have been featured on Rock My Wedding, Wedding Chicks, Bride and Tonic, Festival Brides, Boho Weddings, Love My Dress, Confetti Daydreams and Boho Weddings! I occasionally show at local wedding fairs, but last year I showcased at my biggest ever fair in October; The National Wedding Show at Excel. It was a great opportunity to meet lots of brides, grooms and their families, and I also spent half an hour on both the Saturday and Sunday guest speaking about stationery trends - it was great to be seen as an expert in my field! In terms of building relationships; I am very personable with my brides and grooms, and this allows lovely relationships to develop. Most of my clients book with me from the save the date or invitation stage right through to ordering thank you cards, so in most cases I work with a couple over the course of a year/18 months. Planning a wedding is a huge feat and I try to make my processes as simplistic as possible; all quotes and invoices are clear and concise, to eradicate the possibility of confusion. Although some clients choose to book simply over email, I do meet face-to-face where possible, or chat on the phone or via Skype if preferred. Clients can also order from my house collection directly via my website but I find most couples want something custom. As such, they typically fill out a custom order form on the website and we go from there.
Name your ultimate wedding song/track!
Oh gosh…this is tough! I am such a huge music fan! But for a wedding, there is nothing wrong with some quintessential pop vibes; B52s ‘Love Shack’ and Bon Jovi ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ always pack out the dancefloor at a wedding in my experience!