Staying focused on your expertise and realize its value.
From advising on Hollywood film sets (including “Father of the Bride”) and starring in her own TLC reality show (“Brides of Beverly Hills”) to operating a salon and producing weddings globally (including at the Vatican), Renée used 30 years of this vast and versatile experience to create WEDAWAYS with her daughter Pamela. Together, they identified a white space opportunity in the crowded wedding/travel industry — engaged couples didn’t know where to start planning for a destination wedding and, more importantly, couldn’t trust stateside experts to help. WEDAWAYS was the solution, offering an easy, all-in-one platform that custom-matches couples with vetted properties, planners and travel professionals around the world to help them design and produce their perfect wedding and honeymoon. To date, the growing, invite-only portfolio includes 80 luxury properties and 25 wedding planners in 17+ countries.
Where did the idea for Wedaways come from?
Wedaways came from 30+ years of wedding expertise (retail, planning), combined with the love of travel and my (Renée’s) visibility from starring in my own international wedding reality TV show on TLC. I also acted as an ambassador for the Italian Board of Tourism, traveling and building relationships with various properties, when I recognized an opportunity to create a business that featured wedding venues online. After pitching the idea to the properties, they loved it and thus Wedaways was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Our typical day includes nonstop communication with potential property partners around the world, editing marketing campaigns (both paid and social), researching geographical territories to open up and offer to our clientele, answering client inquiries, as well as uploading data onto the site. Productivity is organic as there is so much to do every day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
There is a lot of constant brainstorming in our office. When we share ideas, it takes time to flesh them out, implement or discard them entirely. Once we agree (or agree to disagree but try anyway), we go step by step to make it a success.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that we love is the smaller wedding, celebrating the couple over several days through a series of events vs. just having one big event.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
If you can call thinking big a habit, then that is the answer. If thinking big does not qualify as a habit, then we would say we like face to face communication where we can lead with logic.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Spend wisely and save as much money as possible.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Creating brand value has its place, even in a world of millennials.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
We always try to underpromise and overdeliver.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Staying focused on our expertise and realizing its value. Being a wedding industry veteran has allowed me (Renée) to meet people from all walks of life and all echelons of society. I love the service business and prioritizing quality product offerings. If I stay true to this level of quality and surround myself with professionals of the same calibre, I often succeed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I (Renée) relied on a team of people that did not come through for me during an event with several influencers that I organized; in fact, I was grossly undermined and it cost me my reputation within those circles. It is not so much about overcoming the failure as it is about shaking off the negative experience and learning never to allow it to happen again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Shipping wedding gowns to destination weddings around the world — with return labels.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Although slightly more than $100, we’d say Global Entry, which allows an expedited clearance and process when traveling. We are always traveling so this makes it immensely easier for us.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Campaign Monitor is the platform through which we create and send mass communication. Intercom also allows us to connect with clients directly when they visit our website on the spot.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
We actually recommend two —1.) “Power Relationships: 26 Irrefutable Laws for Building Extraordinary Relationships” by Andrew Sobel & Jerold Panas — a book about the wonderful true life experiences that changed the lives of the authors and ours; and 2.) ”Boundless Potential” by Mark S Walton (for the older entrepreneur) because it encourages reinvention of oneself.
What is your quote?
We love the words of Michelangelo: “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.” To us, this epitomizes entrepreneurship.
– Bring expertise onto the team; you know what you know well and for the rest, hire experts.
– Stay consistent, yet creative. Understand the goal but don’t shy away from the various roads to get there.
– Communicate, communicate, communicate. Let yourself be known and allow others the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions.
– Be a mentor to your team and allow them the latitude to learn with confidence.
– Place values above feelings and you will maintain a respectable equilibrium.
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.