Ivy Harleston and Zelia Dramani - Owners of Eventiz Couture

DSC_0695

Q&A with Ivy and Zelia

Tell me a bit about yourself, your background and where you are from.

Ivy: I was born in Ghana and lived in Kenya from the age of 3 years old up until I was 7 when we came to the UK. I studied Fashion Design in Northampton but didn’t pursue it career wise, instead I ventured into the Events Industry and worked in that for 10 years, before starting the business 5 years ago.

Zelia: My name is Zelia and I’m 37 years. Along with my parents and siblings, I came to London from my birth country Ghana when I was 3 years. From a young age I developed a creative edge- I loved to draw, write stories, make hats and clothes, arts and crafts etc. This eventually lead me to study Fashion design and technology at London college of fashion and at Kent Institute of Art and Design. On completion of my studies I was able to work in the fashion manufacturing industry for about 10 years, which allowed me to be develop an interest in styling and fabrics.

What is Eventiz Couture and how did the idea for it come about?

Ivy: Eventiz Couture is an event hire and styling company. The idea came about whilst working at the roof Gardens in Kensington. I was on maternity leave and was having a conversation with my business partner. We have seen some beautiful pictures of parties & receptions which featured lush table dressings, florals and event design . We both thought it would be an interesting idea to combine our fashion backgrounds with my event experience.

Zelia: Eventiz Couture is an event styling boutique. (The posh way of saying a hire company!…) Our services include hiring out products from our range for weddings and events as well as offering styling direction for any event décor.
Eventiz Couture was birthed 7 years ago when I was made redundant and I was in a position where I was able to relook my career path.

How did you get to where you are today and what was your career path?

Ivy: Funnily enough I worked in fashion after graduating for just a few short months and decided it wasn’t for me. I was in my early 20’s and had no idea of what career I wanted to pursue. I was in Seattle visiting family and watched the movie The wedding planner and at the time thought wouldn’t it be great to do something like that for a living . When I got back to the UK I got a job with virgin brides and started working with the Events Manager before moving on to another Virgin company; The Roof Gardens where I worked in the events department for many years.

Zelia: I have always had in my heart that one day I would have my own business- I had thought it would be something to do within the fashion clothing industry; not knowing that the years of voluntarily planning and decorating members of my church weddings was setting me up for what I’m doing now! Friends would encourage me to start my own business but I would just brush it off. My career path remained in Fashion manufacturing.

It was whilst I was in my redundant period that I began to consider the possibilities of starting my own business and my cousin Ivy (My business partner) who at the time was working in events was also thinking to start something up after her return to work from maternity leave. We both realised we had a like for wedding decor, the beautiful flowers, linens, accessories etc. We spent some time praying and seeking direction and eventually wrote a business plan with our ideas and it all went off from there! (It’s encouraging to look back at our business plan and see how so much of what we had planned has actually come to pass) At that time we had a bit of government support from Croyden Enterprise which allowed us to have a business mentor and we were also able to go on some free business start up course’s; learning things like basic book keeping etc. We were also entitled to a small grant to help us start up which we used to help with our website and business cards.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your business so far and how did you overcome it?

So far the most challenging aspect has been keeping motivated and not being discouraged when things have been slow. This is when it’s great working with a like-minded partner as we are able to lift one another up in those times when it doesn’t feel worth it and remind each other how far we have come. We both also have a strong Christian faith and being able to pray through things together is paramount.

What keeps you inspired and how do you keep your work fresh?

The event design industry is ever-growing with lots of companies springing up so it’s important to keep an eye on what the competition is doing as well as looking at trends. Pinterest and Instagram are valuable tools in making sure we have our finger on the pulse. We also do not shy away from bold colour and pattern use although it frightens some of our clients, it’s gratifying to see their excitement when they see an idea come together and how they can stand out from the norm.

DSC_0668DSC_0666

How would you each describe what the other contributes best to the successful running of your business?

Ivy: Zelia has a very hard-working work ethic. She has worked with a few very successful business people and so has picked up a strong business acumen. Also her background in textiles has come in very handy.

Zelia: Ivy’s extensive knowledge of the events industry has contributed greatly in certain decisions that we’ve had to make; without that inside understanding we would have probably made some mistakes. She is very much a visionary and is able to bring to life client ideas and concepts.

What do you love the most about what you do?

Ivy: Working directly with brides and grooms. it’s so incredible to be a part of someone’s wedding day. Many people often dream of what their big day would look like and it’s a blessing to help to make that vision materialise.

Zelia: I love bringing all the ideas together from scratch and to see the finished look. Especially being involved in weddings; preparing a bride and groom for their special day and making them happy brings much satisfaction.

What is your best and worst business habits?

Ivy: Best and worst is being a perfectionist. A lot of our projects are time sensitive and being microscopic with every detail sometimes works against us, however, it also means that our events are executed to the best of our abilities.

Zelia: Worst habit would be not switching off from the business on a day to day basis; sometimes I find myself answering emails at like 1am! Best habit is paying attention to detail making sure that everything is to our clients expectations; at times doing more than what is expected.

Your best advice for those wanting to start a business?

Ivy: Take the plunge! But do lots of research. It took us a year to get off the ground because we spent time planning, doing short courses and learning the industry. I read that ambition is the first step to success. The second step is action. So in the words of Nike ‘Just do it’.

Zelia: Take a leap of faith! Do plenty of research into your chosen field and really think through your business plan; thinking through all logistics and setting realistic targets for your short term goals which you are then able to work towards. Writing the vision down helps to put things into perspective and it’s also a good reference point to look back on and review once in a while once the business takes off.

Find Eventiz Couture at http://eventizcouture.co.uk/