Kat Schmoyer, founder of Dear Sweetheart Events and the Creative at Heart Conference, shares how she started her business, what life looks like now working alongside her husband, and how she diversified her offerings to increase her bottom line.
More about Kat:
Kat helps creative boss ladies dream big & bold. She’s all about #realtalk & real results. She believes in that thinking “tiny, small but mighty” can push you even closer to those “go big or go home” dreams! She’s the owner, lead planner & florist behind Dear Sweetheart Events and the founder and visionary of Creative at Heart Conference. She’s an educator, speaker, activator & loves watching those lightbulb moments go off!
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Kat Schmoyer: 00:08 … I just jumped in, which might not have been the best thing I’m looking back, but hey, it worked out really well. I found that I had allowed myself to believe fears for so long that Oh, I’m never going to do it all. You have to have x, Y, and Z in order before you can take this step. Then I just needed to take the leap.
Davey Jones: 00:31 Welcome to the Brands that Book Show where we help creative businesses find more clients and build their brands. I’m your host, Davey Jones. Today’s guest is Kat Schmoyer and Kat is the owner lead planner and florist at Dear Sweetheart Events and she’s the founder and visionary of the popular Creative at Heart conference. Today she’s chatting with us about starting her business and how she increased her bottom line through diversifying her offerings.
Davey Jones: 00:59 thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. Um, I mean if you had decided not to, I would’ve probably just pestered Matt until he got you to come on the show. So I’m glad that you just said yes. But there’s a lot to talk about and I feel like when I trying to come up with a kind of ideas for what this interview would look like, what kind of questions I wanted to ask, there was so much that I could talk about. I could talk about handling criticism, which is something that I feel like you do so well and elegantly and it’s just something that everybody in business has to deal with. I could have talked to you about your most recent brand launch with Kat Schmoyer.
Now you’re managing at least three different brands. So there’s plenty to talk about there. But in the last year alone you’ve gotten pregnant. Congratulations. Expecting a little boy in May, who’s going to be our little boy’s best friend. You know, David is a great name, right? I don’t know where that is on your list. Yeah. Brought Matt on a full time. Your husband, how has, how has that been? How has that looked?
Kat Schmoyer: 02:13 It’s been a really awesome. So, if you would have ask me four years ago if my husband would ever work with the business, like we would ever work together full time, I would have laughed in your face because we are so different, our personalities are so different and he is not, um, he just isn’t like, he’s not feminine in any way, shape or form. And you can see like all the pink things, I’m a wedding planner and like there’s just so much girliness about my business or even my brand. And so I would have literally laughed at you. Um, but it’s been the best thing for our marriage honestly. I feel like we have so much more to communicate about because we worked together full time. Um, so he’s so much more a part of the business and like the business decisions that even just our conversations over dinner and things like that are so much more fun. We’re doing the same things and we really are a team and every aspect of our life, which we never really had before. And I’m really, really grateful for that.
Davey Jones: 03:13 One of the things I found was a challenge working with Krista is that we did all of a sudden have so much more to communicate about. Um, and it’s, it’s crazy how much, um, how much changes when you go from not seeing each other for an eight hour period a day to literally seeing each other every day. So I know that, I know that was, uh, there was, uh, certainly an adjustment period. Maybe, maybe something that we’re still going through, um, you know, since starting to, uh, to work together,
Kat Schmoyer: 03:47 Absolutely, and you know the business was mine from the beginning. So then to bring him in, it was kind of interesting to like teach him certain things and then be like, oh no, that’s wrong. Like you can’t do it that way and you don’t have to have those conversations with your spouse very different, you know, than just somebody that you’ve hired on. Um, so definitely learned a lot with like conflict management to I think through all of those things.
Davey Jones: 04:08 Yeah, absolutely. And beyond, uh, beyond that, you just, uh, we, you know, we got through, um, what round of creative heart back in November?
Kat Schmoyer: 04:19 It was around seven was our most recent round and we’re getting ready to launch around eight.
Davey Jones: 04:23 Yeah. And that’s super exciting and round and round seven, I mean that was probably one of your most successful conferences to date, right?
Kat Schmoyer: 04:32 It was! It’s hard to pick a favorite because it is picking a favorite dog or like a favorite child or something like that. But um, for so many reasons I feel like it was successful. I feel like we finally stepped into our own as a conference, as an educational experience for creatives and we were really able to like put that brand voice out there and be very strong with what we wanted to bring to the table and our attendees saw that our educators are able to pour into our attendees. So I’m really excited for 2018.
Davey Jones: 05:01 yeah, we’re really excited too. And that’s something that we’ll definitely loop back around to, towards the end. And I feel like we’ve kind of gotten a little bit ahead of ourselves. I really want to go back and I want to focus on your wedding planning business and uh, I think that just the things that you we’ve gone through, that have gone on for you in the last year, have illustrated how much you have going on and how much we could possibly talk about. Right. But your first business, right was dear sweetheart events and um, can you just tell us how did that start, you know, how did you decide to get into wedding planning and then how has it evolved over the course of its existence?
Kat Schmoyer: 05:36 Yeah, so very cliché. I planned my own wedding and thought, hey, I planned my own wedding. I can totally plan other people’s weddings. Um, I had always loved to like creative space. Like I was one of those like blog stalkers, right? And instagram was like just becoming a thing, a big thing when I launched my business four years ago, so I was falling a lot of people within the and like creative space and realized that hey, wedding planning was kind of like my ticket in, for lack of a better way to say that I loved it. I loved planning our wedding and I thought I could do that for other clients. I could really put myself out there and be able to serve them in that way. My nine to five was incredibly draining. It wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I started pushing like so much energy into growing dear sweetheart events as fast as I could so that I could quit my day job.
Davey Jones: 06:26 So how did you even take that first step, so I mean, you planned your own wedding, right? How did you take that first step to getting your first client? I mean, had you already started doing some of that stuff on the side even before you really knew you wanted it to become your full thing or did you just jump in?
Kat Schmoyer: 06:41 I just jumped in, which might not have been the best thing I’m looking back, but hey, it works out really well. I found that I had allowed myself to believe fears for so long that Oh, I’m never gonna do it. Oh, you have to have X, Y, and Z in order before you can take this step. That I just needed to take the leap, so I signed up for my LLC on October first. I’ll never forget sitting on our, on our townhouse at our kitchen table and immediately started reaching out to my past, the wedding vendors that we had booked since our wedding was just a couple months prior. I reached out to all of them, told them about what I was doing, change my instagram handle to my business name and just started putting as much energy and resources as I could. The very first broad I booked was actually a bride who commented on my wedding on Katelyn James’s blog and then reached out to me and said, I would like for you to like do this for my wedding. So I booked her through a random blog comment, um, and then just continued to build through social media and, and styled shoots and things like that. Um, but yeah, I did it a little bit backwards because I was so tired of telling myself know that I just needed to like jump in and put it all out there at once.
Davey Jones: 07:50 How do you even know where to start? Did you have any experience with this kind of stuff in the past before, like you knew you needed to start an LLC, you immediately change your instagram handle to your, you know, to your business name. Like how did you get direction from anybody during this time period?
Kat Schmoyer: 08:08 Not Really? I think because I had immersed myself in the industry already, I had read a lot of blog posts, right? So I was following a lot of blog posts actually like wedding photographers in the industry and so I knew kind of the general, like I can start here and then I’m DIY it a little bit and figure it out as I go and do a lot of trial and error. Like in those early stages. And the thing that was really shocking to me was when I did reach out to those wedding vendor, like my wedding vendors and say, Hey, I’ve started my business. Everyone was so positive when I changed that instagram handle, when I made those very small steps, people were very positive and very encouraging about that. And then you get that encouragement and it just want, you want to propel even further forward. You know what I mean? Because you’re like, oh, well, people are excited. Like nobody thinks I’m crazy. I just think I’m crazy and I’m just going to keep moving forward and see what happens.
Davey Jones: 08:58 Yeah, that’s so important to. I think that that initial feedback you get from people. Um, and I think that’s one of the most terrifying things is to tell people have you know, your idea. So regardless of whether it’s you wedding planning or whatever business it is, that you’re starting a going out and saying, Hey, I’m doing this. All right. I mean it can be extremely, it can be extremely scary, especially because you’re not sure how people are going to react. You’re not sure if people are going to be like, really, you know, you’re doing this. Like, what? What gives you the right to do this? Um, so it’s awesome that you had people in your life that were super enthusiastic and supporting and encouraging of you when you first got started. So you booked your first client and did it roll from there?
Kat Schmoyer: 09:43 Yes and no. Yeah, I think that I’m, a pricing has always been difficult, especially in the beginning stages. You’re trying to figure out like, well what’s the numerical value that I’m putting beside my worth. And in the beginning I tried to be a little bit strategic with that pricing structure, but also, you know, made some trial and error and mistakes and look back and say, oh, I should not have allowed her to only pay me that amount of money for that amount of work. You know, things like that. Um, so I think that in terms of the light clients rolling in, I was able to work with like a handful of who I would now consider ideal clients. Like even to this day, if they came to me now, four years later, I would still like, yes, that was perfect wedding day, like the aesthetic of the wedding as a designer and a planner. Also just the bride’s personality, right? Like not a bride-zilla, like those kinds of things. Um, but then there was also clients that I was like, you know what, I’m working with them because I need to leave my full time job, you know, and they’re not necessarily ideal for my business, but they’re helping build momentum and propel my business forward. So this is like the choice and I’m going to take because I’m in year one.
Davey Jones: 10:45 And I think that’s so important to. And I think we, you know, we, especially if you’re just reading blog posts and you’re in, a lot of them are talking about the importance of booking your ideal client and the, you know, the value in saying no and all those things are true. But if you don’t have any business, otherwise you need to say yes, you need to pay the bills. And I think that sometimes just in taking clients that you don’t think will be your ideal clients, you find, oh, actually I loved working with them. Um, and there’s a little bit of a reflection process on OK, well, why did you work, why did you like working with them? And, um, and maybe it expands your idea of who your ideal client is, but how did you, how did you find those initial clients? So the first one came from an instagram posts essentially, right? Or a comment on a blog post. What about the other ones that they see this first wedding or were you booking people even before this had wedding had taken place?
Kat Schmoyer: 11:37 I was booking people before the wedding was taking place. So I received some like vendor referrals, which was awesome, you know, because I had reached out to the vendors that I had worked with, but then I also put together a little, I’m like introduction packets and send them out to 30 vendors that I felt like would be ideal for me. So this was a mixture of, um, like wedding photographers, venues in my area, like all sorts of things. And at the time I didn’t realize it, but in sending those out, I actually sent them out to vendors all across the state and even outside of our state because Krista actually got one, I don’t know if she remembers. Um, so I got one like, yeah, like four years ago, um, and it actually then allowed me to really broaden my reach. So then all of these vendors who are working in all sorts of different, like areas of like business and different, you know, types of clientele are getting my contact information and then I’m having the ability to potentially work with them too. The other thing that really helped me find in book clients was actually styled shoots. And while it’s like an indirect effect, you know, it’s not necessarily like I’m not meeting clients at the style to you, but when you’re new and you have no portfolio, like nothing. Like I had my wedding and that was it. I had to get portfolio images. So I did 16 styled shoots in my first year, which is crazy. Life was crazy. But that built momentum because those style shoots were ideal, right? Like I, they were what I wanted to create, they were clients I wanted to book. I’m then able to post like behind the scenes about them on social media, share the professional images from the amazing photographers on my blog, on my website, things like that. And then other brides were like, oh wow, she’s doing this and this and this. They don’t know that it’s a style shoot, they don’t know if it’s a real wedding. So that’s been helping build that trust for them to them continue to work with me. So I ended up booking 13 brides in my first year. Um, and I think it was kind of like doing that and like really building that momentum because perception really is reality and when it comes to like the social media world and they, I was, I was busy and they were seeing that I was busy and I wanted them to continue to see that and then want to work with me.
Davey Jones: 13:41 Have so many questions about the styled shoots. We’re going to back up real quick. Going back to this, those packets, um, how did you decide, first of all, I think, I mean, I think that’s a genius idea. I think that even if you’re not in your first year of business, that’s something that’s good to do. Just introduce yourself to new people and make connections or some variation of that. But how did you know, like who’d you even start with, you know, did you, um, were you just on Google researching different photographers and other vendors in the area? Did you reach out to a specific kind of vendor? What was in that, uh, that you know, packet that you sent out?
Kat Schmoyer: 14:16 Yeah, great question. So I use instagram to like do a little bit of research. For me, 30 was a really good number because I wasn’t going to go broke sending out 30 packets. Right. You have to think about that. You don’t have love money in your first year of business.
Davey Jones: 14:31 About how much did each of these packets cost ?
Kat Schmoyer: 14:34 I’d have to go back and I can tell you what was in them and that would probably help. So I bought little craft like paper bags from Amazon in bulk. So that was maybe what, like $10 for, you know, like a big pack of them. Um, my business name is dear sweetheart events. So I sent boxes of sweethearts. Hahaha. Then I had little cards made that had my headshot and a little “about” paragraph as well as my social media links on my website link. So I stuck those little postcards and each of those with the sweethearts and some handmade confetti and the craft paper bag. So not very expensive, light to mail, right. Can go in and easy mailer. So you have to think through some of those things because again, you don’t have a lot of income coming in, in those early stages of your business. And then I also included a handwritten note to every single packet, which I think that that’s really important. So whenever I, um, talk with coaching clients or anything about doing this, I think that handwritten appeal, it makes it even more personal. So each person received a little note, whether it was like, “Hey, I saw blank’s wedding on your blog last week, really loved it with love to get the chance to work with you at that venue next year” or you know, “I would love to be able to meet for coffee. I know your favorite is ice chai. That’s mine too.” Or I don’t know, something like that because hey, there’s instagram, you know, a lot of things about a lot of people you find out like just don’t be like to stalkerish but you can talk just a little bit to get some really personal details about them and about their life and include a short little one liner when you send out that packet. Um, so I tried to make it really simple, really easy to put together and pretty cost efficient for being in the first year. And for me it was branded really well. Um, so definitely make sure it’s branded for you and for your business. And then in terms of who those thirty were I just did some research on instagram and some of them are wishlist, like I was like, oh my gosh, I would love to work with like, these photographers, like these are like dreamies for me. Some were like more practical in terms of venues like, well this is local, this is 10 minutes down the road. I’m sending it to this one, like that sort of thing. Um, and just sort of compiled my list. And then I emailed all of them and said, hi, I’m Kat, you don’t know me, I love to send you something in the mail. If you’re comfortable with it, please send me your mailing address when they sent me their mailing address, I’ve sent their packet out to them.
Davey Jones: 16:43 Yeah, that’s, that’s awesome. So you send out about 30, um, you ended up booking 13 weddings in your, in your first year were most of those weddings from vendors that you set out these packets to?
Kat Schmoyer: 17:00 Actually, yes. I think 10 of the 13 weddings. Um, or with a vendor that I had sent a package to, which I didn’t realize until you asked me that question. So that’s really cool to think about.
Davey Jones: 17:10 Yeah, I mean that’s incredible. And think about like, just the Roi on that investment probably spent, you know, maybe $50 total. I’m on all the, on these, these 30 different, uh, uh, gifts essentially. Um, and on that you booked, you know, probably 10 weddings. Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m now moving over to this style of shoots. Actually one, one more question about that. Did you send it to specific kinds of vendors? Like were they mostly photographers that you sent to you or was it other, uh, was it for us or venues or?`
Kat Schmoyer: 17:44 They were mostly photographers in venues since for me, I knew that those would be who bride would potentially book before me and then they would be sending referrals for a wedding planner or a day of coordinator. I did send to like my wedding floors since I just got married and you know, I had built a relationship with her but, and I didn’t send them to any wedding planners. Um, cause for me I was doing this as referral based and while, yes, they could send me referrals, I was really hoping to work with these specific photographers or these specific venues versus going wedding planner to wedding planner for the referral.
Davey Jones: 18:14 Yeah, that makes sense. Um, so as you, uh, start planting these styled shoots. All right. And so you did 16 of them, which is, which is incredible. I don’t know if I’ve done 16 styled shoots ever. So total over the span of the last seven years. Um, so you did 16 of them, so that means you had content to share for years. You could probably not have booked any weddings and still had content to share, throughout that first year. How did you reach out to people to set up those styled shoots? Because like you said, a one you’re still working during this time, right? So you’re still working your nine to five, so you’re incredibly busy and you’ve got imagine that other people out there are busy too. And you know, were you concerned that people would say no?
Kat Schmoyer: 18:59 Absolutely. And I have pitched styled shoots to some people who said no, you know, and I say no to people now and even did at that point. Um, no, it’s just part of being in business. We have to get used to like hearing that word for me, I have found that as soon as I started broadcasting that I was doing styled shoots and being as open as I was on social media and on my blog about it, the vendors were actually coming to me. So I did quite a few were photographers would reach out and say, Hey, I’ve been looking for a planner, I’m not the planner. Here’s my vision, can you bring it to life? So all those 16 were not ones that I was like just crafting on pinterest and then I’m putting together from square one, like some of those, probably about half of them I’m being reached out to you and like pulled into the experience and then that started me then doing shoots for photographers, workshops and you know, kind of moving into a whole different world of styled shoots that I had never even considered when I’d first started.
Davey Jones: 19:50 Did you have a again, did you start with a specific list of photographers that you wanted to reach out to organize these style shoots? And did you work– I know for a couple of them you had to have worked with different people because they had reached out to you. But were most of them with different vendors?
Kat Schmoyer: 20:06 Yes, they were. Um, I don’t, I’d have to look back honestly, but I don’t think. I think there might have been one photographer repeat in those like 16 of my first year. But they were all different vendors because I wanted to do that. Sometimes like the rental company like Paisley and Dan’s a really popular one and this area, right? Like I work with them a ton and things like that because they might have repeated, but in terms of like photographer venue, um, those would not be like repeat, I want to work with new people and be able to make connections with them at the styled shoot and then be able to have additional portfolio images.
Davey Jones: 20:46 Yeah. And so in your first year, 16 styled shoots plus the 30, welcome packets essentially that you sent out. You met a ton of people doing all of that. Was it worth it?
Kat Schmoyer: 20:56 Yes, I was very busy. And we tend to glorify busy, but I, I do work well in busy, like busy is Umm, I am a hustler. Like I get bored pretty easily and I like to just do things. So for me again, remember when I started I was like, I’m tired of waiting, I’m just going to jump in and like just figure it out as I go. So that’s exactly how I handled the entire first year of my business was I’m just going to keep going and keep moving because I want to build this momentum for my business. I think it allowed me to launch creative at heart so successfully even that first time because I had built so much momentum. I was only 10 months into business when we launched the first creative at heart, like I wasn’t an expert by any means, but I was building momentum and making relationships and then those people were then pushing the ideas that I had forward and that was so incredible to see.
Davey Jones: 21:47 It’s crazy how much, uh, impact of relationships can have or building strategic relationships can have on a business. I’m reading a book now called The Power of the Other. I just started it, but it’s all about this stuff. And I feel like they could probably do a case study of your business and plop that into this book. Like I said, I’m only this first chapter. Um, but moving on, if there was anything, and I, and I want to get back to pricing because I know you had mentioned, kind of in passing there that uh, the first couple of people, maybe you did not charge them the appropriate price. And I think pricing is one of those things, I mean you just have to get it right at some point, uh, because otherwise you go out of business or you just hate your life. So pricing is one of those things where I think that when you figure it out, it makes such a huge impact on your business. Ah. So when you, looking back, um, what would you have changed about your pricing structure?
Kat Schmoyer: 22:47 Oh, that’s a really good question. OK. So looking back in terms of my pricing, I think that I would have felt more confident earlier on, which is probably something that a lot of small business owners can say when we look back at our pricing, even in the beginning when you’re not charging quite as much. Like I did my very first wedding for $500. Right? Putting that out there, right? for all of y’all to hear. All right. Like not like, I wasn’t rolling in the dough because of that first bride, but I even just even with that, like I wish I’d been more confident and like this is what I’m worth because I think that when we even whether we’re charging 500, whether we’re charging 5,000, you have to have that confidence when you’re speaking with that client and when you’re putting yourself out there and you have to believe that you are worth whatever amount that you’re putting aside your business name and you’re asking them to swipe that credit card for or they are definitely not going to believe it. And I think I really struggled with the confident side of things.
Davey Jones: 23:43 That’s so funny that you say that though, because on so many other levels that didn’t seem like you struggle with the confidence stuff. I mean sending out those packets to just, you know, 30 different different people and then scheduling 16 different styled shoots and then starting creative at heart, which is, you know, probably. I mean it’s certainly one of my favorite conferences or creative conferences that are out there. So it, it’s funny to hear you talk about how you struggled with confidence around pricing. So that first bride, she gets you for $500, which is incredible, right? She should be writing thank you notes like, Hey, I can’t believe it. This is amazing. I got a, I got dear sweetheart events for $500. So how did you make the decision to say OK, well I need to charge more. Like what was the process going through that it. Was there something that uh, did you do the work and then realize, wow, I really need to charge more than $500. But even beyond that, like where did you start with pricing? Like what are some questions that even have to think through?
Kat Schmoyer: 24:45 Yeah. It was definitely kind of a mixture of like, oh, this has got to be worth more than $500. And she was a great bride. She was very, an ideal client kind of bride. But yes, not, um, doesn’t match my time or the energy that you’re putting in for $500. So one of the things that was really helpful for me, um, was looking, trying to look at my market, right? And See, OK, what are other wedding planners charging for a bride thats in whatever budget that you’re working with. Like, so am I going for 20 to $30,000 brides, am I going for 50 to $75,000 brides? They’re going to charge very different. So I needed to do a little bit of research and figure out, OK, well what am I trying to talk like, who am I trying to talk to and who, who am I hoping will book me? And then when I started to figure that out, I made myself a tiered system. So in the beginning I had three wedding planning packages and just for easy math because math is not my favorite, let’s just say like a thousand, 2000, 3000. OK. So those are like a day of coordination and partial planning and full planning. Um, I would book five clients within that price range and then as soon as I booked five clients, even if all five were at a thousand dollars in, nobody booked 3000 every single packages getting raised, $500. And then I’m at 1500, 2,500 3,500. Book five, then every single packages getting raised 500. So for me to build my confidence, it helped me build that confidence slowly. So I’m saying, OK, yes, these brides were priced at this point, but now their friends are coming to me. They can still afford me. I’m not all the sudden tripling my price point and out of my referral range, but I’m charging more. So then over the course of two years I’m getting at a point where I’m like, yes, this is where I feel like incredibly confident with my time and the money actually starting to match.
Davey Jones: 26:30 So basically every, every five weddings you got, let’s say you raise, you raise your prices…..(fade out) Hey friends, we’re going to take a quick 60 second break so I can introduce you to one of my favorite companies and the sponsor of this episode. To it show, it is a drag and drop website building platform created, especially for photographers and creative entrepreneurs. It’s used by some of the biggest names in the creative industry from Amy and Jordan Demos to Caitlin James, and it’s what we built our website on too. What’s awesome about show it is that it’s both powerful and easy to use. The intuitively designed website builder makes it easy to change colors, fonts, images, and objects. Finally, a website you can update on your own without having to hire a designer for every tiny change. It’s google friendly and you can design any desktop and mobile versions of your website side by side to ensure your website looks great on any device and you can even integrate a wordpress blog with your show at website became that much more powerful and guess what? They have tons of free and premium professionally designed website templates to help you get started, but what makes it such a special company is their customer support. They’re super responsive and are there to help every step of the way. You can even save 10 percent on an annual subscription by using the code btb show. For more information check out the show notes. And now back to our episode.
Davey Jones: 27:52 Let’s say you raise your, raise your prices. Did you ever get to a point where you raise your prices and then all of a sudden maybe you went a little bit longer than normal without getting a booking? And so would you do in response to that? Because I know that, you know, occasionally when we, uh, when we were raising our prices, we had that, you know, we raised our prices, then all of a sudden a month goes by and we haven’t booked anything and then we start to fear that, oh, maybe, maybe we raised our prices too much. So how do you deal with that?
Kat Schmoyer: 28:20 Well, first you freak out just a little bit. Right now I’m totally panicked thinking your business is going to fail and everything’s going under. I try to give myself a three month grace period.
Davey Jones: 28:30 I just want to say that’s like a normal feeling for me. How I feel like maybe the entrepreneur’s wave. Like everything sinking, so I’m sorry, but go ahead.
Kat Schmoyer: 28:44 haha, so I try to give myself a three month grace period with that. Depending on how drastic my price range, I’m like I’m raising my prices or if it is putting me into a different tier into a different market, it’s probably gonna take about three months for that to kind of flush out and me to start to see responses that are positive responses. So I try to do that. That’s the first thing. The second thing I realized actually this happened to us last year with the business. I’d raise my prices and they were, I raised them a little bit too high. So it was actually starting to book clients that weren’t ideal in terms of just the entire wedding just wasn’t what we were going for. So I needed to figure out what, you know, what’s the hang up here. And I realized that it was my pricing. My brand is not a luxury brand. Um, so I’m booking more of like the all American and my brides are in kind of a 30 to $50,000 typically like budget, which is still wonderful. Right. And that’s still a lot of money to put into a wedding or something, but it’s not, um, it’s not deemed a luxury by our industry. Um, and so I have to be careful with my pricing and for me that meant figuring out like, OK, do I want to go luxury because if I keep raising my wedding prices I’m going to go into a totally different market of brides or can I play around with my entire business structure, look at revenue streams, look at pricing as a whole and be able to stay where I want to stay with my wedding planning business.
Davey Jones: 30:06 So if you could, if you could go back knowing what you know now, would you jump straight to the prices that you are at today? Like how valuable do you think it was going through that progression? You know, every five weddings, raising your prices.
Kat Schmoyer: 30:21 I think it was very valuable. So while it is very nice to get, you know, the income that we get today from wedding planning, I don’t think that I would give up the lessons that I learned. There was also, I remember sitting in starbucks after that $500 bride gave me her $250 deposit and calling Matt and crying because I couldn’t believe that somebody wrote Katherine’s Moyer $250 on a check from me to, you know, work for her wedding. Like it just baffled me. So to me that’s a big reminder of where I started and I want to feel that excitement with every single client regardless of the dollar sign that’s associated with it.
Davey Jones: 30:59 Yeah, absolutely. And I think it goes back to what we were saying about your ideal client to, you know, it’s, it’s well and good and there’s value in learning who your ideal client is. But I think it’s easy to overlook. OK, well now you know, if I’m just getting started, I only can take these weddings. I mean, if you’re just getting started, really should have, you should to a certain extent take what’s coming to you and there’s definitely exceptions there. You don’t have to say yes to everything and some you might get, you know, there might be some red flags were like definitely not booking this one, but for the most part there’s, I think there’s value in, um, in taking some of those early weddings that maybe you wouldn’t have taken otherwise just in learning who your ideal client is. And then same thing with pricing too because it’s funny, what we found, and we do something similar where every certain amount of weddings that we’ve booked, we raise our prices a little bit, but we’ve also found we’ve hit a certain, um, certain levels of pricing that are almost like dead zones and it wasn’t lowering our prices that fixed that it was raising them just a little bit more. It’s one of those things that can be super frustrating. But, like you said, it does, it takes a little bit. I liked how you said it takes about three months for you to kind of figure it out, figure out things. I think that people need to stick with that problem a little bit more instead of just always default lowering their prices back down to whatever were. Do you still have three collections when it comes to pricing
Kat Schmoyer: 32:27 No, so we’ve actually, um, I mentioned before, I actually don’t remember if I mentioned this before, I um, love day of coordination. So my business we excel at day of execution is what we call it. Um, so for me I found um, because my business grew quickly and I, I’m like launch creative at heart and then launched Kat Schmoyer and additional revenue streams and just there’s a lot going on. Full service planning Brides are really exhausting for me. I’m just working with one client for that long is not fun for me. Like it’s just not um, as selfish as it is, like it’s just not what I want to do. I love logistics. I love “Day of” and we have a really awesome system in place. So for us, we actually only have two packages right now and because we really want to focus in on the brides that are looking for a great “day of” team to be there for them.
Davey Jones: 33:19 You have team members now for dear sweetheart events?
Kat Schmoyer: 33:22 Yes, we have. I have a lead planner.
Davey Jones: 33:24 And do they take uh, they take their own weddings?
Kat Schmoyer: 33:27 She does, yeah. So she’ll assist me if she doesn’t have a wedding that weekend, but then she also takes her own weddings under our company.
Davey Jones: 33:34 OK, that’s awesome. So what you said about getting that $250 deposit resonates with me as well. I remember when Krista started booking her first weddings and again, you know, her first one was $400. Fortunately we didn’t have another $400. We raised our prices since then, but she started booking weddings and I’m thinking, man, if she only books, you know, I’m doing the math in my head. If she only books like 50 of these we’re going to be, we’re going to be rich or at least in my mind. And I feel like what I didn’t realize was that 50 weddings in a year, let’s say, uh, would, would burn us out, you know? Yeah. I think our peak was abut forty and, and after that year we had decided, hey, we can’t, we can’t do 40 weddings a year. We just, we just can’t do it. So what are some ways that you became more profitable in business without raising your prices?
Kat Schmoyer: 34:34 Yeah, I love this question. So it really comes down to adding additional revenue streams to your business. I think that can also help you alleviate some of the stress of…. So for instance, right now if I were to raise my prices today for dear sweetheart events, in that three month grace period, when I’m wondering like how’s this going to go? Well, I have other revenue streams that can bring in income during that three month period. So I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket so you can take a little bit of a risk and you’re growing business because you have additional revenue streams. I realized very early on, um, just a couple months into business that I want, like I knew I wanted to go full time but kind of did the same thing, like did the math of like, OK, well if I’m getting a thousand dollars a wedding, like this is, like I don’t think there’s another weekends in the year to give me, you know, what we need, um, to sustain our family. And so I realized early on I needed to figure out additional revenue streams. So the very first new one I offered was in house floral design because for me that was the way, same client, same wedding day two services I could offer and I liked flowers. So it was like a no brainer. Yeah, I’m just, I’m going to do this, I’m going to try this one and see what happens. And then that was a super successful for our business. We’ve been very, very grateful to be able to do, um, a lot of in-house floral design for our clients. Then that also just allowed me to see business as a whole differently and think about even other revenue streams I could add outside of just the wedding day,
Davey Jones: 36:02 So the florals were for the wedding day, you were just, you were basically, uh, you know, taking the place of a florist. What other ones?
Kat Schmoyer: 36:13 Um, so then after that, that’s really what it kind of came down to with dear sweetheart events. Then when creative at heart launched, it became, OK, let’s look at education as a whole, what can we do to educate the community and how can this become a revenue stream for our business? Like I want to do this. I’m really passionate about community in our industry and about practical education for creative small business owners, but you know, like any small business, we need to make sure that it’s profitable for our family to be able to step in to this. And then that became online courses and my shop and just, I mean, those revenue streams can just continue to build off of one another as you see what your audience is responding to and what they’re asking for from you.
Davey Jones: 36:55 So in, dear sweetheart events, when you came, how did you even come up with the in-house floral design idea? If you were giving advice to somebody, so you’re working with somebody who is also a service based business, what advice would you give to them in trying to figure out what are some, you know, different revenue streams that they can build into their business?
Kat Schmoyer: 37:14 Absolutely. Think about pain points that your client has and how you can address those pain points for them. So for me, it came down to we started offering design services. I started offering design planning for my clients and flowers play such a key role in the design and I thought, you know what? I could try like, let me just try. So I actually pitched it to a bride that I knew would be super receptive to it. The fact that I never done it before, didn’t have a portfolio. I pitched doing her wedding flowers and she was like, yes, absolutely. I trust you. Here’s the budget. Like go for it. And found that I really loved it. So then I attended a workshop and I started to a lot more education on that side of thing so that I’m not just adding something just to add something. Right. I have to be an expert, I have to know what I’m doing when I’m pitching this to my clients. Um, and another thing you guys can think about too, and just in terms of what are those pain points they have like rehearsal dinner planning. We’ve done that for our clients. So having maybe some al-a-carte features or some other things that you can do. You’ve already booked this one client, so think how can you continue to serve them when you’ve already booked them and um, it’s easier to like rebook a client than to find a brand new client.
Davey Jones: 38:24 I think that’s something that, especially just as you said, doing the math in your head. If you’re charging a thousand dollars a wedding, a hundred thousand a year, you’re going to be, you’re going to be working in a lot of weddings that year, but it’s a lot easier to sell to an existing customer than it is a new customer. It’s cheaper to do so they’ve already bought from you. Hopefully you did a good job and they like what they’ve got to, you know, they considered by again. But, um, when you, when you sold them on in-house floral design, did you, um, did you book them as a client first and then say, hey, this is something else that I can do?
Kat Schmoyer: 39:04 Correct. Yeah, in the beginning now we have it in our packaging pricing guide. They see that in house foral design is a service that we offer. And we do get requests from clients who are just looking for a florist, but we will not take those weddings. I’m a wedding planner first. Our team is a wedding planning team first we are florists second and there are even certain weddings that depending on the logistics, right, for other wedding planners listening, you know, like the thought of being the florist and the planner is like, holy Moly, I can’t do both. Um, and so there’s those weddings where I’m referring them to really incredible florists that they can excel at that craft and I can excel at ours. So in the beginning, no, it was like we were pitching it after they booked. We weren’t putting it out there that we offered it. And then as I got more confident with it and our portfolio began to build, it’s on our website and it’s listed in our package guide right now.
Davey Jones: 39:54 Yeah. I think on the other end of the spectrum is like you said, or kind of like you alluded to, you had, you had to draw that hard line like, Hey, we’re wedding planning team first. We’re not going, we’re not going to become a florist. So I think on the other end of the spectrum, some people will come up with all these different ideas on how they can diversify their revenue stream, but then get away from kind of what, you know, what their niche is, what they’re really good at, you know, who they are. How did you decide like, hey, we’re not gonna, we’re not doing floral design as a standalone service for people. Um, was it just not profitable or um, just explain your thought process behind it.
Kat Schmoyer: 40:32 Yeah. For me it came down to the two P’s, like passion, profitability. So, which one am I the most passionate about? And which one is the most profitable for the business at the time when I was working a full time job, it wasn’t profitable to take on every floral wedding, like if I need this for a baby shower, this for a rehearsal dinner, like it wasn’t profitable because I was working a full time job. Um, I also am more passionate about wedding planning. Wedding planning is my first love and it’s the very first thing that I’m allowed me to enter into this crazy small business world and that’s what I wanted our company to xcel and floral to be a great second best but not the very first thing that we offer.
Davey Jones: 41:13 Yeah, I think it’s so important to have a strong core offering. And then, and then after that you can, uh, you can build in other offerings, but without that strong core offering, um, I think people get overwhelmed by choices, a decision as to why we don’t have ten collection. So you should limit it to, two, three, five tops just so people can wrap their mind around it. They don’t have decision, overwhelmed things. I think that we think intuitively, oh, people want to choose what they want, but they really don’t, right. You know, they want to be told, hey, this is what most people need. Um, and this, I offer it as a package, a super easy to consume, super easy for you to, uh, to wrap your mind around. Um, but I love what you said about going through and figuring out how you can diversify your offerings because I think one thing that a small business or a struggle with in particular is, you know, optimizing customer value, saying, OK, this customer’s already bought X from me. They already, they already love working with us. We’ve already added value for them. How can we can, how can we increase their customer value? And so you did that by, by doing a floral design. So hopefully everybody out there listening to you starting to think how can they optimize a customer value? And that’s something that, we’re going to be talking about on this podcasts a lot because I think it’s super easy to get burnt out. Just saying OK, well, I mean really I mean there’s a couple of ways to become more profitable, but I mean at least two of them are, you know, raising your prices, booking a booking more of whatever that is. And I think when you work in, especially for a service based business, because there’s limited, you know, manpower and in many ways can lead to burnout. But I think one of the most effective ways to become more profitable is a, like you’ve done just optimizing customer value through diversifying your offerings. So since then you’ve launched a thousand businesses,
Kat Schmoyer: 43:19 not quite,
Davey Jones: 43:20 um, but you do, you have, I mean, you have dear sweetheart events, uh, and you have a website for that and you have Kat Schmoyer where you have a website for that and then you have creative at heart and you have a website for that. And, um, you know, I think it’s a, I think it’s easy, especially when you’re starting a new business to forget how much work is required to start it, you know, because you’re sitting in your started business, you know, you’re developed business thinking. Oh, well yeah, look at this, I’ve developed it, right. And you forget, you know, the 16 styled shoots that you did your first year. So, um, how do you manage all of those, uh, different brands in a coherent way? So not so as to not send a mixed signal to a bride who wants to book you as a wedding planner and they see this Kat Schmoyer thing and this creative at heart thing.
Kat Schmoyer: 44:13 Yeah, Kat Schmoyer was actually born because of that– because I felt like I was starting to spend a lot of mixed messages. The Kat Schmoyer brand’s, been around for about a year now or a little over a year now. And um, before I had created about heart conference, right? Very clearly what that is, sorry, the conference or creative small business owners. And then I had dear sweetheart events, very clear with that is –wedding planning for brides, I started offering education and I was starting to get requests for coaching and I loved, you know, to be able to sit down with other wedding planners and creatives one on one. I was starting to think about courses and products and things that I could create and I felt like I didn’t have a clear space to talk about that because it could get muddled. Right. I’m putting that under DSC. But then my brides are like, wait, so what does she do? Is she a planner? I wait, but then she does this. But then I felt like under creative at heart creative a heart isn’t about me. We really want to propel our educators. We really want to work with our attendees. So I didn’t feel comfortable just talking about the things that I was doing on that specific platform. Um, so it actually was because of a really like, harsh but great conversation with my friend Megan Martin and she was like, Kat, you just need to do this. Like you just need to start this. Create a new instagram, creating a new website, new newsletter. Like, just start everything. And I was like, holy moly. Um, and we did it and it’s honestly one of the best things I think that we could have done for the business because we set three separate audiences. So now I very clearly now when I’m on the DSP platform, I am speaking to brides, I’m talking about weddings, I’m talking about flowers. When I’m speaking with Kat Schmoyer I’m speaking to women who are just like me. It’s business to business, right? I know exactly who my audience is and I know exactly what creative at heart is. So while it, it seems very complicated and actually has been really helpful for me to have all three. Not every business needs that. I think if I didn’t have creative at heart, I probably could have looped education under my wedding so that I know that a lot of small business owners and in the wedding industry do that, um, with their business and it works really well. But for me, I needed to have the three separate spaces.
Davey Jones: 46:16 And I think it’s just as important, right during, um, you know, when you’re offering different things, you know, so uh, you know, whether it be floral design or however you diversified your offerings within a single business, um, to make sure that people understand what your, what your core offer is and what you do and you do all of those things so well, and it must be that, that hard work and fairy dust really. I want to ask you about that. I think, I mean, it’s a great tagline, but really the question that I think people want answer it is what is, what is fairy dust? Is it a euphemism? Can you take fairy dust while you’re pregnant?
Kat Schmoyer: 46:56 Oh my goodness. If I actually had the legit fairy dust, I would probably be like a billionaire at this point. Hard work and fairy dust actually came from the first creative art conference believer it or not, the very first time I spoke at the conference, um, that tagline was kind of born out of talking about like that’s what it takes to run a small business, right? It takes a lot of hard work and every now and then you need that little extra dose of fairy dust. Um, but for the most part it’s just like rea l talk, like businesses hard and um, we all know that, but we love it and we’re addicted to it for some strange reason. That’s why we’re entrepreneurs and it takes that hard work and fairy dust to make it happen.
Davey Jones: 47:31 Yeah, for sure. And one last question because I think I would regret it if I didn’t ask you this. You’ve definitely gone through some hard times as an entrepreneur. Um, and so, you know, and I got to imagine that there’s people out there listening, um, that are also going through hard times in business themselves. What piece of advice, and we could, you know, this could be a whole separate podcast with you and kind of overcoming criticism and, and working through challenges and stuff like that. Um, but just, you know, quickly what, what piece of advice would you give those people who are just challenged right now. Maybe they just had a, they’re coming off an awful experience with a client or they’re coming off of criticism. What would you say to them?
Kat Schmoyer: 48:15 Obviously the very cliché thing is like don’t give up. Right? Um, I think it just really boils down to I’m remembering why you started in the first place. Um, I’ve definitely had my fair share of challenges within the last four years. Some of them have been very, very public challenges. Some have been really private and then I’ve chosen to share snippets about that publicly with my audience. I like to keep it real on instagram. I like to talk about the good and the bad, the hard stuff of being an entrepreneur and I think that what really can keep you going as a small business owner is remembering the why and remembering- OK- Going back to that story of like, I remember the starbucks in Virginia getting that $250 check from that client and crying in the car because I was so excited. That was part of my why, you know, I was so excited. It didn’t matter what that price tag was, I was just so excited that this was the first step towards my dream. So remembering those moments and why you began will really help push you forward when you feel like, OK, the entire world is caving in. I’m doing the entrepreneur up and down, and that’s going to happen, right? It’s going to happen over things that are truly terrible. It’s going to happen over things that were being a bit dramatic about, um, over a wide variety of things. But we have to remember why we even started in the first place.
Davey Jones: 49:32 I think that’s great advice and I think people are so grateful that you do share what’s on your heart and you do share the challenges that you go through a because it’s really easy to look at, uh, you know, people who are doing well in business such as yourself and say, oh man, things are going so well for them. They probably never had an unhappy client where they probably never had anybody say something that they, you know, that, that rubbed them the wrong way or whatever. Whatever it might be. Um, so I know that people out there are super grateful for that. I know that we’re, we’re grateful for that. And um, and so thank you for sharing that.
Kat Schmoyer: 50:05 Thank you for asking. Thank you for having me on the podcast has been so much fun.
Davey Jones: 50:09 And if people want to learn more about you, your million brands, what’s the most efficient way for somebody to come and find you?
Kat Schmoyer: 50:19 Yeah. So probably the Kat Schmoyer
brand. Um, just go over to Kat Schmoyer
on Instagram, Kat Schmoyer
.com it’ll take you to the other websites if you want to go all around. Um, but that’s probably going to be the best way to find me.
Davey Jones: 50:36 Thanks for listening to the brands that book podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing to the podcast on itunes and leaving a review so that others are more likely to find it for show notes and other resources. Visit DaveyandKrista.com
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