#BEYOUROWN MEETS SARAH WENMAN
SVS Event Concierge, founded by Sarah Wenman, is a unique concept that offers a fresh approach to special occasions, celebrations and events as well as leisure and luxury travel in Dublin.
Combining passion and experience, with local influence, attention to detail and dual-market knowledge, SVS Event Concierge ensures the highest quality service whilst creating and designing tailored experiences and unique events and occasions for clients that exceed expectations, deliver memories and inspire.
SVS Event Concierge offers a one stop shop across Cambridge, London and Dublin for sourcing event, party or special occasion supplies from bespoke and corporate gifting, entertainment and flowers to event décor, cakes, balloons, photographers and more. They can help you source suppliers and unique touches for all manner of events and special occasions from baby showers to birthdays to hen parties and anniversaries to name a few. Additionally, SVS Event Concierge can put together a bespoke supplier list tailored to your requirements so you can choose the right suppliers for your theme and decor needs or alternatively, can offer you a fully bespoke and tailored theme planning package.
“We are passionate about creating something truly special for our clients with a personal touch and we will work with you to deliver your vision and bring your experience to life. Every occasion, trip or experience we create is tailored to you and has you at the heart of it and we are committed to providing our clients with a professional, friendly and reliable service to assist you in a way that is best for your needs ”
Thank you for joining us Sarah, can you tell us a little bit about your background and your journey so far as the founder of SVS Event Concierge?
My working life started in retail after I left college where I worked in a well-known clothing store over the sale period, I then stayed on in a part-time position and gradually worked up to a full-time position, I worked across different departments and then worked my way up to a specialist department role before becoming a senior sales assistant, I then left this store and moved to a different standalone branch where I became sales floor manager. I was in retail for a total of 9 years and during this time it gave me experience in customer service, merchandising, admin procedures and leadership amongst other skills.
After my 9 years in retail, I decided it was time for a new challenge and a new direction and went onto pursue another interest of mine which was hospitality, events and travel and tourism and I joined a corporate venue finding an agency that focuses on corporate events and travel as a trainee reservations assistant. In this role, I dealt with accommodation bookings for corporate clients and groups while I learned about the industry and developed my knowledge before moving up to a conference and events assistant role which I am currently working in. Within this role, I source venues for corporate conferences and events, team building options and private dinners as well as Christmas party events and residential conferences.
I started blogging with my blog So Very Sarah and used this as a platform to showcase my interests and this grew from a hobby to an area that I realised I could build on and combine my experience with. So Very Sarah then became the inspiration for the brand name which then developed into the abbreviated SVS which I wanted to use for the service side of things and So Very Sarah then became the personality behind the brand.
I have always wanted to start my own business and incorporate my passions, knowledge and experience to create something unique and something I could channel and share my creativity with. The Challenge for me was creating something that would bring all of this together.
I knew that I wanted Dublin to be a big part of the business and to be a key location for the services and I also knew that I wanted my business to be based around curating special experiences for my clients so it was natural that my business would step away from the business and corporate style events and be aimed at the leisure and luxury market and special occasions and celebrations areas instead, with this the concept of “let’s plan your perfect experience” came about and the idea of SVS Event Concierge was born.
I came up with the concept of planning your occasion or trip your way with us, we are all about offering a personal, warm and friendly service with attention to detail and creating with you or giving you that helping hand to bring your vision to life. SVS brings together passion and experience, with local influence, attention to detail and dual-market knowledge ensuring the highest quality service whilst creating and designing tailored experiences and unique occasions for our clients that exceed expectations, deliver memories and inspire.
Although SVS is still very new and I am still working hard to get it out there and establish the brand, I am dedicated to making this happen and I believe we offer a fresh and unique offering that has the potential to grow in many different directions. I am extremely passionate about SVS and very excited to see what the future holds for us so watch this space!
At SVS Event Concierge you specialise in leisure and luxury travel and special occasions and celebrations, what courses, workshops, research did you study to gain experience and dual-market knowledge?
I already have experience on the events side of things through my current 9 – 5 job which is based around corporate conference and events so this gave me a good basis and understanding of the industry as a starting point.
To develop my knowledge and business further I have done a course in Event management of which I have a level 3 certification in, I also have a certification in Social Media Marketing and also in blog creation.
As well as these I have undergone a one to one workshop with a business coach to develop a clear business strategy and growth plan and develop the services offered and a PR workshop to help with marketing the business. I am also planning on undertaking a social media workshop with an Instagram agency based in Dublin too.
In terms of the dual market knowledge, I am based between Cambridge and Dublin with the business and we operate in both locations as well as with suppliers from both locations and surrounding locations such as London, so this gives me a perspective from both, as well as having good connections, contacts and experience from my current job role in both. I also spend a lot of time in Dublin and it is my second home!
Dublin is a big part of the business and my frequent trips there always include development opportunities wherever I can, whether it’s meeting with suppliers, going to networking events, going on-site visits to various venues, attending workshops or trying out new additions in the city I am always researching and looking at ways we can give our clients the best experience possible.
How you are balancing the work/life strife?
With SVS still being very new and still in the early stages, I am still currently working full time in my current job role whilst I work on the business and getting this off the ground.
It can be very full-on balancing a full-time job and building a business, especially when it’s just you doing it.
I would have to say that so far the most stressful thing about setting up my business would be time and budget restraints, I have to be on the ball with budget for the business as I only have my current salary to contribute to this from and all the spare time I have outside of my job role to ensure everything gets done and I have a focus on the business as much as possible.
I have overcome this by ensuring I keep on top of my time management and stay organised and prioritise the things that need to be actioned urgently and use my spare time as effective and efficient as possible.
As well as being super organised and planning my weeks In advance I have made sure to stay on top of my social media and I will be undergoing a further Social Media workshop to help with the business exposure as well as attending networking events in my spare time too.
It is important to give a little bit of time for yourself sometimes too so I always try to factor in a little bit of me-time wherever I can and also change up my routine sometimes to keep things interesting.
It is hard work and can be a challenge sometimes, but I love a challenge and it will all be worth it in the end and I am working towards my end goal of being able to do this full time and creating a well-established strong successful lifestyle brand and service.
I have wanted to do this for such a long time but there was always an obstacle in the way that prevented me from doing so. Rather than give up I persevered and kept trying to work around the obstacles until finally, I was able to get it off the ground. Now my focus is on making this the best it can be and making my passions into a successful career.
My business is a big part of me and my passions so it is important to me that this comes through to my clients and they see the personal, conscientious and warm approach that I give to this and that the process of getting this out there is done right.
Who are the team behind you and do you currently have any mentors?
At the moment it is just me, myself and I! I do have a great support system in place with my family and friends and I am part of networking groups such as Women’s Inspire Network which offer a huge amount of support and are always on hand to listen to your ideas and help out with suggestions and share your social media posts as well as holding meetups and an annual conference which is great for gaining knowledge, contacts and furthering your business relationships. I also have built up and work with a great network of suppliers and venue contacts across the locations we operate in. I do have future plans of being able to expand the business and eventually have a full team on board to deliver the SVS experience!
What platforms are you using as marketing tools for SVS Event Concierge?
A lot of my marketing is currently very much through social media, I use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as LinkedIn and Pinterest. With Social media, as well as having my own businesses pages on the networks I also take part in social media chat hours on Twitter and am part of various social media groups that are focused around the topics of service I offer.
Networking trips and events are another way I am using to promote business and build awareness.
I also have a blog, which I have adapted to fit the areas of the business and this is a great way to get more detailed information out to potential clients in a personal and informal way which enables you to get across the personality of the business and the face behind the brand as well using the blog to collaborate with other bloggers and suppliers to share content. So Very Sarah has become the personality of the brand! I also use the blog to showcase suppliers we work with in featured supplier posts and to showcase tips and inspiration as well as updates on the business and services.
I also did a PR workshop with a leading PR agency based in Dublin which gave me a great insight into the Irish media landscape how to pitch to media, writing a press release and writing articles etc. to showcase knowledge and promote the expertise of the business. Marketing is something I plan to invest further in going forward once I am in a position to so and I would love to create some fabulous campaigns and branding to go alongside this too at some point.
Do you currently use any apps or tools to help the functionality of your business practice?
I use a variety of social media apps to help with creating posts and stories, my main ones would be Word Swag, Canva, Storyluxe, Unfold, Stories Edit, Planoly, Boomerang and Layout. As well as these I use a service called FeedAlpha to help with planning and scheduling social media posts and also to source other content ideas.
I also use the WordPress app to keep on top of my blog and website stats and to blog when I’m out and about or away travelling.
In terms of productivity, I use apps from Hubspot which is our CRM system, Quickbooks for invoices and finances and Paypal. I also use the survey monkey app to aid with research. I also use a planner and diary as well as the notes section on my phone – I like to have things written down and it helps me to stay organised, I am a big fan of lists too!
I will also be looking to incorporate an email subscription list for news, updates, competitions, offers and a newsletter-style offering which I will use mail chimp for.
Who is the most influential female powerhouse that you admire and why?
There are many influential females that I admire and many that have inspired me for different reasons. I think that I would have to say, Suzanne Jackson – founder of So Sue Me as one of them, she started her journey in a similar way through blogging and has now created her own beauty brand and the So Sue Me empire! With So Sue Me now a well-established brand in Ireland and coming into the UK. Michelle Obama is another one on the list for her passion to champion and encourages women to stand up and go further in life.
If you could tell your 18-year old self a solid piece of advice, what would it be?
Have confidence in yourself and your decisions and don’t worry about what other people think and do the things you want to do when you want to do them. it is ok to be you and you should step out of your comfort zone sometimes.
It’s your life so live it your way. You may have your little quirks, but they are part of what makes you so own them, never apologise for them, be yourself and never change your values for anyone else because you are good enough. Live more worry less, life is too short to do what if’s!
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
Being true to yourself, your brand, your beliefs and your passions, having the confidence to put yourself and your brand forward and be your own force of nature! Be you, be your own boss, be your own business, be your own brand, do you, for you!
What does 2020 look like for you?
2020 is looking good for both myself and for SVS! We have some exciting collaboration plans in place and have some additions to our services and packages in progress which we hope to have launched by the end of January. As well as this we also have lots of networking plans in place for the new year with events, conferences and workshops we will be attending and of course, lots of Dublin trips in the pipeline too!
We are also working on some competitions for the new year so be sure to keep an eye on our social media pages to find out more about these when they are announced. We plan on getting some new brand photos done into the new year and are looking at exhibiting at some events too.