Who: Siu Coll from Liberty In Love
What: Best Online Wedding Retailer
Where: Online www.libertyinlove.co.uk | On Facebook | On Twitter
Why did you enter TWIA 2015?
We had taken part in the awards previously and had been North West winners for Best Accessories in both 2013 and 2014. I’d always found it to be a really fun and worthwhile experience. Not only did it give me the chance to connect with some amazing talent in the industry (whom I’ve subsequently collaborated with on some shoots and other projects), it was invaluable to get feedback from our past brides. And then there was the prospect of a damn good fizz-filled party in January. Well, that just cemented it really….
When The Wedding Industry Awards 2015 opened for entries, I was really excited to see the new category of Best Wedding Online Retailer. We’re crazy for gorgeous accessories, but we’re equally obsessed with providing the best online experience for our customers.
Tell us about yourself…
After seven years together, my gorgeous partner and I tied the knot in an intimate wedding ceremony in Santorini, joined by close friends and family. It was an incredible day that I’ll remember forever. Like most brides planning their wedding, I spent a lot of time online sourcing suppliers and products. When it came to accessories, I really struggled to find a decent website that sold more than one thing that I liked (if even that).
I had the idea of setting up an online boutique that sold ‘everything but the dress’, aimed at stylish brides that cherished individuality and beautiful quality. At that point, I worked for a design agency in a business development/marketing role. Although I enjoyed my job, I was literally sleepless with excitement about my business idea. I loved everything about it – working with brides, sourcing beautiful pieces and selling them, growing the business through marketing, and, of course, making the customer service a real point of difference.
After nearly a year of research and planning, I launched Liberty in Love in April 2010. Nearly five years on, I’m still in love with the business. There’s never a dull moment – each season brings new collections, new brides, fresh marketing campaigns and fresh challenges. I’m constantly in awe of the talent out there, and absolutely love sourcing new lines. Tabby and I have helped thousands of brides with their perfect finishing details. We adore what we do. And it still gives our inner romantics a thrill to play a small part in each one of those love stories.
How confident did you feel about winning?
We were really pleased to have been shortlisted in our category. I’ll admit though, I can’t say that we felt especially confident to win as the calibre of the other businesses in our category was so high. Stunned and elated, I think just about sums up how I felt when I heard we’d won. There were smiles and perhaps a tear or two (I can’t quite recall, it’s a bit of a blur now). We definitely weren’t expecting it AT ALL. I think also the fact that the awards weren’t presented in alphabetical order added to the element of sheer surprise.
At that point, we’d perched ourselves on the balcony upstairs, handily close to the bar but probably in the least convenient spot for getting to the stage. I hear our name announced and realise we need to get to the stage – in our highest heels. Anyway, after some hugging/high fiving etc, we manage to make our way downstairs, without killing ourselves, to accept our lovely shiny award.
What does winning The Wedding Industry Awards mean to you?
It’s been absolutely fantastic to win, on so many levels really. Not least because it’s validation that we’re doing the right thing by our brides, with our focus on both customer service and product selection.
How has winning an award affected your business?
With brides now having such an incredible choice for their accessories, it can be a huge challenge for any bridal accessories retailer to stand out from the crowd. Being purely online also comes with its own unique challenges, like competing in the search engine results with huge high street brands.
For us, winning this prestigious award (with its associated rigorous process that incorporates both the feedback from past clients and the judgement of an expert panel) is like a huge stamp of approval – and that’s something you just can’t buy. It’s undoubtedly helped to us to reinforce the message that we place our lovely brides at the very heart of what we do. And we genuinely do. We’ve just finished the busiest January ever – I’m sure that winning the awards played a part in that.
For the next 12 months and beyond, I hope that winning the award helps us to continue to raise our profile.
What has been the most valuable part of TWIA 2015 for you?
I would say the public recognition of our efforts and the boost to our profile has both played an extremely valuable part of being involved in TWIA 2015. I was really excited to update our homepage with a new banner; I think it does help to communicate our point of difference to new brides.
And as always, gaining feedback from brides has been wonderful too. Tabby and I love that many comments mentioned us personally; it’s genuinely heart-warming to know that a bride has appreciated and remembered our efforts.
What were your highlights of the evening?
We had an amazing, fun night – we loved everything about it from the abundance of fizz to the animated photo booth. We really enjoyed the venue this year, Café de Paris felt opulent yet intimate, just perfect for the party. The highlight was definitely hearing our name announced and collecting our award. After that, it was lovely to just enjoy the moment (joined by more celebratory bubbles, of course…rude not to) and just revel in the craziness and excitement of it all!
Entering TWIA 2015 was a great decision, and we’ll certainly be entering again and crossing our fingers for 2016.
My advice to new entrants would be just to go for it. It can be a little nerve-wracking to wear your heart on your sleeve but it’s totally worthwhile. Not only do you meet with other like-minded industry professionals, and get amazing feedback from past clients, but the process of making the application really helps you to think about and crystallise your business plan for going forward.