The invite to spend my birthday at The Rosewood Hotel in a £8k a night suite, dinner in the sumptuous Mirror Room and a chance to catch up with a great group of women was never going to be turned down. Lest you think that I can command this yearly it was actually an invite for Annabel Beeforth’s 40th birthday. For those of you who don’t know who she is the only excuse is that you must be a robot spammer or have no idea that there is a wedding industry.
What we talked about; what we laughed about; whether we behaved badly and whether we played with the posh toilets is not important, but very bloody funny.
I was struck at one point, despite the soundtrack of a girls night, “…more wine…I can’t get the iPod to work…love your hair…” that these are colleagues in the wedding industry are really very cool. Now before you all want to throw up a bit let me explain myself.
Yesterday The Observer published the CoolBrands survey which I read cover to cover. Whilst anyone in the wedding industry is too minnow-like to appear, the message was very clear.
CoolBrands are “born and driven by genuine passion” and the CoolBrands Council judges companies based on six factors
“authentic love…naturally original brand… genuine innovation… unique proposition… creating first wave of desirability … an individual and differentiating style”
These women, who I have met through work, and have fallen for through pleasure, have brands and businesses that meet the CoolBrands criteria, which in the normal world is hard, in wedding world almost impossible.
In comparison to the uncoolest night out at The Bridal Buyer Awards this was women who are stylish game changers in their field. Who knew a venue could have a soul and a personality before Laura gave us Fetcham Park? Who curates a media title like Annabel does with Love My Dress with passion and heart above revenue? Who thought wedding planners and stylists were for billionaires before Charlie of London Bride? Who takes on a shoot with Miss Bush like Art Director Kate Taylor, aka Coquette and Dove, and creates a unique and award-winning project? Who crosses the celebrity stylist/ bridal divide without ending up with Kerry Katona or Kimye beyond Kate Halfpenny? From Tamryn’s wildly intelligent approach to wedding industry PR at Candid Apple, Naomi Kenton’s ridiculously sought after photography to the new girls in my sights, Issidora, Ruth and Elizabeth with their hugely innovative make up, shoes and dresses, these are brands to watch and work with.
The purpose of the evening was to celebrate Annabel’s landmark birthday, her thoughts about being 40 are on Love My Dress and I urge you to read.
Back to The CoolBrand survey –
“Sustainable growth is fuelled by a positive, cool reputation yet that very same reputation is easily destroyed by focussing on growth through avenues that don’t stay true to the heart of the brand.”
These women are not power brokers like Ocean Media (that control the Harrogate bridal trade show The White Gallery, The National Wedding Show AND Bridal Buyer) or huge multinational dress labels. None of us own a group of hotels or run seminars telling others how to copy our success. Nobody is making a killing only a living. I only have one small shop.
I find these women inspiring, funny and with an influence that reaches far across the wedding industry disproportionate to the size of their companies. It was a great night with its roots in the Love My Dress Baltic Centre Soiree and it’s head in a London penthouse. We were, and are, passionate minnows punching above our weight.
As Annabel reaches 40 and I approach 50 it seems unlikely that I should describe us a cool, there may be much snorting of derision. Growing our businesses with heart and integrity is ageless. If that’s cool so be it.
All photos by Naomi Kenton xxx