Blonde Army is a wedding design and planning consultancy founded by Lianne Tucker. Specialising in concepts for modern couples who live fearlessly yet simply; bold yet modest.
What inspired you to start your company and how did you set about doing this?
Firstly I wanted to do something that helped others whilst utilising my creative ability. I’d worked in the events industry for 8 years and was tired of seeing the same things and people following some un-written ‘rule book’. Many of my friends started to get married and they worried more about other people’s opinions and if their guests would have a good time rather than them and their partner. Hearing brides say ‘but that’s what you do at weddings isn’t it?’ and ‘yeh but my mum really likes them…’ made me think there’s some changes to be made here.
There is still a popular trend to follow the traditional wedding route, mainly due to lack of awareness. Weddings and suppliers can offer so much more now and couples are starting to realise that you can actually do whatever you want. Everything goes through changes and it’s now the wedding industry turn and I’m very excited about that.
Had you had any business experience before this?
I consider myself as a business as I primarily trained and worked as an actress. So, since graduating from drama school I’ve had to promote, market and think of myself as a business. Obviously it’s slightly different moving into the wedding game and gaining clients as there is much more to consider and to have set up. But it’s been an excellent grounding and foundation.
How big is your team at the moment?
Just me right now. Being a wedding planner is very personal so I like my couples to know they have my full attention and advice. They are buying into me, my styling, planning and personality so I like to manage every part of my business.
Because I’m a team of one, I do actively make strong connections across the industry and am present in online social groups, attend workshops and coffee mornings and other industry events. It’s important for me to be able to chat through ideas or concepts, run situations past each other and have someone else’s input. Working on your own can be lonely and unproductive at times so it’s good to feel the support from other like-minded people. Also it’s greta networking and many new jobs come from the people I’ve connected with.
How do you promote and PR your business?
Currently, Instagram is my main portal for marketing and where I seem to be making my biggest impact. I’m also active on Facebook and Twitter. I am setting myself up on pinterest this year and also launching a You Tube channel – so stay tuned!
What are the challenges with running a company like yours?
It can be seasonal work but I feel the winter wedding market is certainly growing. Working alone also can be tough but you just need to be active in online groups and chats and attend workshops to meet others and build on your network.
As a wedding planner my time can’t really be measured. I always set some boundaries with my clients but if the Bride has a panic at 3am in the morning then I will do my best to be there, as that is the service I want to provide.
My biggest challenge currently is that I am not able to go full-time so I have a part-time job. This then means my time is limited to build my wedding business and I’m unable to accomplish as much as I’d like in order to establish myself.
And what are the rewards?
Knowing I’m making a difference to people’s lives. Ultimately you only want to get married once and it’s a day that is forever cherished and often spoken about. Seeing my couples truly in love and having the best day surrounded by all their loved ones. What’s more rewarding than seeing someone smile and knowing you had a part in that?
Do you have any other entrepreneurs in your family?
No, I don’t. I’m originally from Kendal in the Lake District and all my family remain there. I took the plunge at 18 and jumped feet first into the big smoke to follow my acting dreams. I then fell victim to the ambitious city and have always known I wanted my own company. My journey over the past 10 years has been a real rollercoaster but I believe everything happens for a reason and now I’m on this adventure. And it certainly feels right…
What future plans do you have for expanding your vision?
My main focus this year is to launch my You Tube channel. I want to bring consumer and supplier closer together and I think film can do this. Especially with my acting background and knowledge of film I think there is a real gap in the market for this. I’d also like to start a mentoring scheme to provide support both physically and mentally for their wedding planning journey.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
When I’m in my ‘Blonde’ Office I always start with a good breakfast and a large glass of water. I’ll then check social media and emails. I try to write my blog in the morning as I find ideas come more organically to me then and that’s important to me as a writer. I like my work to be by free and honest. I then try and fit in a short walk/run to get fresh air and escape my laptop. It also helps to refresh my brain and reignite my creative juices. The afternoon is either meetings or site visits or back in the office researching, reading, networking and planning. I also make the effort to get out and see art, fashion and nature so I’m constantly refreshing my inspiration and keeping up to dates with trends.
Tell us more about some of the aspects you are working on and further developing
Building my brand is my priority as I’m still new to this industry. Continuing to establish an online presence through social media and committing to a blogging weekly to help boost my SEO. I try and post twice a day on instagram too. I want to create more personal engagement with potential clients so that’s the focus behind my You Tube channel idea.
How does running your own business compare to your previous career?
I am a professionally trained actress so self branding, marketing and networking has always been key and something I’ve had to learn, develop and maintain which I’m now tailoring to Blonde Army. You have to be very driven and pro-active and both are client facing so actually they aren’t too dissimilar – they complement each other very well and have a certain shared skillset.
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
Actually launching the business. It was a long time coming and a concept I toyed with for a few years . I had other stuff I needed to do before I fully committed to building a business from scratch, on my own. And you have to be 100% committed otherwise you probably shouldn’t bother.
And biggest failure?
I’m not a fan of the word failure. I see everything as a lesson and that life has its own path for us. I could say I failed my acting career as it didn’t take off like I expected it to but because of that I’ve done so many other incredible things and it’s lead me to starting ‘Blonde Army’. I am still acting – not as frequently as I would like so I just feel like I’ve side stepped for a year or two.
What do you think the advantages and setbacks are for a female founder in the startup space?
I’m a very determined and strong minded woman and if someone tells me I can’t do something then you bet I’ll prove them wrong ! I think currently though t here is a huge movement and support network for female founders and start ups . Where is the whole support small business trend and #collaborationovercompetiton vibe. Women are finding a voice and people are starting to listen. I think it’s an exciting time as a female start up so watch this space!
What advice would you give to someone starting out and looking to break into the modelling and fashion industry?
I think as an actor I can relate to this and have had first hand experience. My main advice would be – Be careful and don’t compromise yourself. I think we are fortunate today that we’ve opened our eyes and mouths to some of the goings on in this industry. We n ow celebrate different body shapes , types, ethnicity and race. When you’re younger you haven’t established your sense of self and you have this industry telling you how to look, think, feel, do and dress, so you go around doing what others ask of you, pleasing everyone else to get noticed and be liked.
I’m 30 now and have only just realised who I am and what I want in life. I would tell my younger self to not change who I am or my beliefs. Listen to your gut – I think that’s the key. And remember, your truth is the most unique and interesting thing about you – hold on to that and be proud to share it.
Did you have a mentor or people you asked for advice?
I don’t currently have a mentor as such. I make sure I’m a member of online social groups and attend workshops and events where I can ask advice or listen to what others are saying . These are often led by people who have been in the industry a lot longer than me! It’s good to be an observer sometimes and take it all in.
Who are your role models?
Anyone who dares to speak out and speak their truth. Someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions. Someone who does things for others for no benefit to themselves.
How has what you do, changed you as a person?
I’m more self-assured and better at decision making. Couples are paying me to help them finalise choices, If I was unsure all the time I wouldn’t be very good at my job! I also have much more direction because I really love what I do.
How do you like to take time out for yourself and stay healthy and active?
I enjoy going to the gym. That’s how I relieve stress and tension and free my mind. I can’t think of client issues when I’m counting my squats! I also feel alive and refreshed after a workout.
I also love walking, travel and reading. I try and have a night time routine to help me wind down and get the best night sleep I can. I believe sleep is really integral to your performance.
I noticed you also love to blog – what are you top tips?
Be you and be truthful. Initially I rewrote a few blogs as I thought that weren’t interesting or funny enough. Why will anyone care to read what I have to say? But actually when you’re just yourself , you are much more interesting and the truth and vulnerability resonates with the reader and that is respected.
Don’t try too hard. Find your writing style and enjoy it. Keep it organic. If you’re not in the frame of mind to write today then don’t. Don’t force writing.
What are the top 5 books and blogs on your reading list?
The Life Changing Magic of
Not G iving a F**K by Sarah Knight
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Sleep by Nick Littlehayes
Hygge -The Danish W ay to Live Well by Meik Wiking (half way through this already!)
Julie Walters – That’s Another Story (autobiography)
If you could do any other job, aside from what you do now, what would it be?
Travelling. Presenting. Animal and charity work. Retreats and motivation.
Do you have any unconventional words of advice?
Attack life – it’s gonna kill you anyway
What is your motto?
I’ll sleep when I’m dead !
If money and time were no object, what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
To see and visit more of the world. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a bit and I think it’s so enriching and rewarding. It’s extremely thought provoking and good to gain perspective. I like finding paces that aren’t heavily touristy and I enjoy watching and involving myself in the local culture and way of life. I’d also like to help with charities. We don’t realise how fortunate we are so I’d love to raise awareness and give back to others.