Podcast Episode 5: The Wedding Coordinators

Filed in Podcast  /  November 18, 2022 /

Zeleka and Maria, met during university and are now the founders of and business partners in The Wedding Coordinators. In this podcast episode we talk about the value of business partners and a business soulmate. They share so much about entrepreneurship, mindset and building a team.

Listen to the episode here: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/VnhQhka99ub

Find all episodes in the podcast here: https://anchor.fm/business-soulfriends

Find out more about Zeleka and Maria on their website and say hi on instagram! https://theweddingcoordinators.co.uk/


The Episode Transcribed

Hello, and welcome to episode five of Friend Business the podcast. Todays interview is with Zelika and Maria from The Wedding Coordinators. And I think you are going to love this episode. So, today we reminisce about their university days and about the first ever event they did together then. And hear two versions of how they met and became friends in the first place. And then we dive into how their business, The Wedding Coordinators, came to be.

We discuss their passion for the business and for the couples that they serve. And it’s a really interesting interview because we discuss about the value of business partnerships; of having a partner in your business; of looking for complementing skill sets; about thinking what it is about your why, your purpose, what your end goal is, and making sure that you’re on the same path. They have some really great reading suggestions of books if you’re entering into this space.

And the other reason why I hope this chat will be really useful for you is because Zeleeka is currently fulltime in the business, and Maria is part-time in the business, working alongside another fulltime job. So I wanted to chat with these two, mostly because they’re wonderful and their business is fabulous – but also because it’s another way of working. Having two friends, perhaps in slightly different places, but how you can still make that work in a business together.

So I hope this is really interesting for you and you enjoy it as much as I did.

Susannah: I’m so glad to have you both. Zeleeka and Maria from the wedding coordinators. Yeah. I have so many questions for you both, but maybe we could start with you guys introducing yourselves and maybe saying a little bit about how you met; how you became friends?

Zeleka: Okay. I’m in the middle of eating toast….

Maria: Zeleka and I actually met at university. God, how many years ago was that now? 2004. I feel old

Zeleka: Was that 2004, wow?

Maria: It was 2004, yeah.

Zeleka: Okay, I want to hear your version of how we met because it’s like, a married couple. But carry on.

Maria: I can’t remember what room we were in. I think it was like an editing room because we both were doing multimedia. And I walked in, I saw Zeleka. I was just talking to someone. Basically, I just was like a chatty. Fresh Londoner, living in Birmingham. I just thought everyone would be nice. And, you know, brummies are a bit moody, not going to lie. And I used to just talk to everybody. They are. They really are. And I remember, I think, she was the year above me, and they were working on a project, and I was just really interested. I just started talking to her. I think she looked at me and I could almost hear her thoughts, like, who the hell? And then we kind of hit it off from there and I always just asked her for advice with work and she’s been a really close friend from there and we’ve worked together, we worked in events together.

Again, we’re in Birmingham and then even after that as well, when I moved back to London and Zeleka moved to London after we hadn’t seen each other for years. But we’d always speak on and off. and Zeleka has just always been entrepreneurial, more than I am, actually, and she’s always doing something and I’ve always helped or call me up for business advice or help with marketing, especially with her ideas. And then when she went into wedding planning, and event planning in general. But I moved to wedding planning. I was just running all her ideas by me and again, helping marketing, and this was just a brilliant idea, like the wedding coordinators, especially in terms of her demographic and the type of clients she was getting wedding planning, a lot of them wanted to help with on the day coordination. And it almost felt that there was more of a focus on the planning and not actually the day. So you kind of lead up. All the work is before the day, but actually where you need a lot of the help is on the day.

And I’ve been to plenty of weddings, as I’m sure both of you have as well. And Zeleka definitely has, where it’s just you can see the stress and you can see the mess unfolding and the panic and you can see bridesmaids running left, right and centre. I’ve been that bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. It just made complete sense, really. And she posed it to me as like, I really love to join, I work full time as well. So this is like a side hustle part for me that I eventually want to be really involved in a business full time as soon as I can.

And it was a case of just working out where I can really help being really honest about my time, especially with the twins, too. And I think, considering we started and the leads were flying through and then lockdown hit, we cannot beat a pandemic. There’s just no way. But we still manage to survive and still keep things going. I think a lot of these people probably just quit by now and just go pack it in, but here we are. And it’s because Zeleka is just really the terminator, just pushing through it and don’t worry, Maria, don’t worry about…you know help when you can and let’s just keep going. We know this is going to blow. Yes, it would blow even quicker if I was on this full time. But we are where we are. Let’s just keep moving. We’ll get there eventually and just picture us working in an office together. We’re both on this full time….

Zeleka: Visualise.

Maria: Yeah, exactly. And that’s just been the dream and that’s the focus. Even when you think, oh my god, what else is the universe going to throw at us? And it just keeps us motivated. That’s my brief summary of events.

Zeleka: So different from mine

Susannah: Oh I love this!

Zeleka: We did not meet like that, babe. I met Maria… because I just remember seeing this cute little black girl with this little chipmunk face and thinking oh she actually met. I’d hired out a recording studio and this is the penny’s going to drop, and going to be like, oh, yeah. I hired out a recording studio because we were both doing media communications at university, at BA Honors, and it just literally covered everything. So we had to double in radio, we had to double in TV, we had to do PR, advertising, marketing, everything. And I hired a recording studio because I had some last minute edits to do to some kind of assignment that I’d already pretty much finished. So I booked it out. I think you could book it out for hour slots, but I only needed it for like, a few minutes. And I remember going, being in the corridor and seeing Maria. I can’t remember your friend that you were with, they were in the corridor, basically, yeah, panicking, because they needed a studio, but they were all booked up and I saw them and I was like, you guys all right? And they was like, oh, we need a studio. But they were all booked up and what have you. And I was like, you know what? I’m only using mine for a few minutes, so if you want to have it, you can just jump on my time. So literally, I went in, they jumped on it, and Maria, as she always is, was so so grateful and thankful. And I think every time she saw me after that, she kind of winked at me as if to say, you’ve got my back. And we would get chatting and we got to know each other more.

And like Maria said, I was in the year above, Maria, but when I was at university, for the first few years of university, I would say I probably didn’t really make any friends. I was quite driven as to….I didn’t expect that I would get to university. I was the first person from my family to go. And I kind of had these stereotypes that anyone that went to university still ended up working at McDonald’s. So I was going to have to really knuckle down. But I knew that in media it was more about who you knew than what you knew. And so I was quite determined to be able to do this degree in order to be able to network and maybe then get those apprenticeships and those kind of runner positions that they kept turning around and saying to me – You need to either be doing a degree, have some experience, or know basically the person that’s running whatever it is that you were trying to get into in media.

And so, yeah, so then I kind of fell into going to university in the same way that I fell into becoming an entrepreneur because I didn’t think I was an entrepreneur. And at the end of university again, I thought they were trying to kind of trying to dupe us by saying that, oh, we see these skills in you, we want to put you on this program for entrepreneurs. And I thought, you guys don’t think we’re going to get a job? You seriously don’t think we’re going to get a job after this? So you’re trying to make us do our own thing. But then in doing that, it kind of started to make me think. And I liked the idea of being able to kind of take control of some of my own destiny rather than continually to be disarmed about all of the doors that were closing whenever we were trying to get into anything within the media.

Anyone who knows will know. It’s very hard. And even now, little things that we do which are associated to the media, you look at the team, then it’s like, okay, it’s very much a certain type of individual or it’s very closed off it seems, to certain people coming from certain areas, certain backgrounds. And I’d say that I was probably coming from a more of a disadvantaged background and was quite naive to a lot of things. So I never see a younger version of me in those positions, even now. So I think going down the entrepreneur route was definitely the key for me. And made a huge difference. Even now, I get butterflies thinking about, you can do so much, there’s nothing out there that you can’t do. So I definitely would champion anyone. It’s horrible, it’s hard, but I would champ with everyone starting their own thing and finding your niche.

Susannah: So what did you move into then, whenever you graduated?

Zeleka: So after I graduated, I literally went onto a course. It was called Insight Out and it was run by an organization called Nestor who funded it all. And we just went through this whole kind of process of coming up with your own business. And I started a business at the time called Aspire For You, and it was all about events within Birmingham and I used a lot of my connections. I was working as a receptionist at the time, at a hotel called Mal Maison, which is like a boutique hotel. And so I was able to kind of convince them to do a free showcase to showcase all of the creative industry entrepreneurs who are on the entire out program and also be able to show my kind of event planning skills. And Nestor ended up paying me for doing that in the end. And it was a really good showcase. We got loads of free booze and free food in a really swanky restaurant and it was quite successful.

And then after that, I went on to… that’s when I was like, Maria Maria, let’s do something. And we did the Fashion Fusion awards. Isn’t it.

Maria: Yeah, I remember that. We were in my dorm room. So after I graduated, because obviously I was the year behind, I did a MA in Business Enterprise. So, again, it was pushing down that entrepreneurial route. But then I went into PR. At the time, I was working in PR on a few different apprenticeships, and I remember Zeleka coming to me and I said, in Birmingham, I just didn’t want to go back to London. I just really loved living by myself. And we were in my dorm room because I moved quite a few times. I moved to a bit more into the city centre with other students from other universities. And I remember that room, I can see it in my head right now, talking about all the different names, the Cordis Fashion Awards, seeing our fashion fusion and what we’re going to do, and our strap line. And it was so amazing because I think we were so young. We were so young. We were like early 20s, not really worried about going directly into an industry and getting like full time career jobs, et cetera. We were just like, just figure something out and see if we can do this while we’re figuring loads of other things. So we’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit, I think, and that was a really fun project. It was like my ambition to get someone from Company magazine to be a judge at the event, but also get a small piece in there as well, which we managed to do. because Company, Grazia, Harvey Nichols, HMV

yeah. I honestly don’t know how we did it, but we did. I remember reading it was like a very small in the end, we got a very small snippet in Company and it was more about the winner…

Zeleka: And just to let you know Susannah throughout all of this, I was pregnant. So literally, how old? I want to say 24, going on 25. At that point. So I got pregnant. I say it like that as if I say I got myself pregnant. I was in a longterm relationship… and then literally gave birth. Was it like a week before the show or something like that? Or was it less than that? And had to literally be sitting there behind the scenes with like a headpiece on, looking at the camera, breastfeeding. But, yeah, that’s so funny because it feels like every single time I’ve gone on some kind of adventure or project, I’ve been pregnant. I’ve only got two kids. So, yeah, it’s definitely a trend because we did the show, we got all of this sponsorship, we got a model, we had students volunteering, we got all of the universities within the Midlands to participate in competition, to put forward their best person to kind of represent fused fashion within those universities. And it was a good, great success, minus a few hitches on the day.

Then after we did the Fashion fusion Awards, obviously with child, Maria moved back to London and I was like, okay, what do I do now? So I continued to work, I knew I was going to have to move to London because my partner was from London and he was like, oh, do I have to move to Birmingham? And I was like, Well, I think London moves at better pace for me and kind of my future aspirations. So we had like a six month break where I stayed in Birmingham for and then I moved to London and the rest is history and I think London for me, and I don’t want.. I’m Brummie to the core and I love my hometown, but it moves at a different pace. And if you’re entrepreneurial or if you’re ambitious, then I feel London or a city is definitely going to feed that a lot more than smaller towns. 100%. And so I came over here. And then I went down the route of Your White Room, which is another business that I set up, which was born out of the loss of my Nan, farewell planning and kind of just the experiences that we had when she passed away, as a family. Not really knowing what she wanted or what she wanted done and the drama and the arguments and the distress that kind of caused because everyone had an opinion about what she wanted but nobody really knew. And so I kind of had the idea that if everybody in life was able to kind of plan – not your funerals in the details of a coffee and burial or crematory, but just the actual experience of saying goodbye to someone, it would help those that are left behind to move forward. And that did really well. Got into the BBC red sofa next to Charlie Slay, I think it was, talking about it. I’ve done a lot of BBC radio interviews, created a few farewell plans for solicitors and things like that. But then people started to die that I met during the whole process and because I had my daughters and you start to have to grow up and try and think about the future – financially wasn’t moving as quick as I would have liked it to. So I’m in the process of writing a book with regards to farewell planning and kind of that being my gift to the world. And I still do take on clients, funnily enough, I still get people contact me – very rarely, maybe two a year, in regards to having a farewell plan made for them to point to their will as a letter of intent or expression of wish.

But, yeah, after that, I then set up Zeleka Events, went into social event management, and whilst I was doing social event management, I then got a photographer who was adamant I should go into weddings because of the types of events I was doing. I was doing like three day birthday celebrations at the Gerkin and all sorts of events. I was going to children’s birthday parties where they were spending 20 to £40,000 on a children’s birthday party.

I think when you read all of those books and they talk about purpose and your why and you’re kind of like, yeah, but then when you’re in kind of what people would see as, oh, that’s really glamorous. That’s really interesting. That’s really good. You should really be happy with where you are. And then you’re like, I don’t know, it feels like something’s missing. It wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be. And I think it kind of boils down to the fact that I’m a problem solver and I like variety. And so when I went into weddings, I was doing full wedding planning clients. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, but that would be the honest response. I didn’t like it because basically we were literally having to meet peoples expectations / manage people’s expectations when they weren’t sure about what they wanted. And you kind of create a vision for a couple of, okay, this is how we’re going to move forward with your wedding. What do you think about this? Go through the whole brainstorming process then for them to change their minds or there was a lot of different variables. And so what I found was I was really interested in the logistical coordination of it, being able to fix the problems and do that side of things, but not so much wanting to fully plan someone’s wedding. And so I had quite a few coordination clients and literally from that point decided that, okay, this is more what I want to do.

So I still do social event management, but the wedding coordinators was born and created and separated from all of that – specifically to niche down and focus on how can we best support these couples who are planning their own weddings, who aren’t 100% sure of what to do next, what should they should be thinking about? They’re all coming from different backgrounds. This is going to be the only time that they plan their wedding fingers and toes crossed – and so that they don’t want to trial and error with their day and having that autonomy because you want to be able to be in full control, but then also knowing that you’ve got someone who’s going to swoop in in the final stages and tie up all of the loose ends, put together all of the pieces of a puzzle to make it a complete picture. Yeah, that definitely is 100% where our heads are at.

Susannah: And so then – how and why did you then decide to do that together?

Zeleka: Well, me and Maria, like Maria said earlier, we had always had conversations throughout my whole entrepreneurial… I’m probably more of a conceptpreneur. I’ll come up with great ideas and things and then want to just run with it. And Maria was always kind of my anchor, as if, to say, okay, do you want to just focus here for a little bit longer or do you want to just see how this works? And so we’d always talked about we’d love to do something together, we’d love to do something together again, after we did the Fashion Fusion Awards when we were like babies.

And so when I thought about the wedding coordinators, I thought, okay, this is perfect. And the reason why it was perfect is because it was so niched down into one specific area. There wasn’t ten different services or ten different things that we were trying to do. It was just this one specific thing. We are going to support couples who are planning their own weddings so that on their wedding day they can sit back, they can relax, they can watch it unfold effortlessly uninterrupted by any of the wedding day responsibilities. It means that their best friend, their maid of honor, their mum, their dad can all be part of their celebration without distraction.

And so when I approached Maria about it, I knew where she was going to be able to fit in. I know what my weaknesses are in the same way I know what her strengths are. And she kind of fills in my gaps as well as keeps me on the straight and narrow and gives me that accountability to say, okay, no, we’re not going to do reels and Pinterest and YouTube videos and all at the same time. We have to do one, then we can move on to the next thing because I want to do everything now, yesterday and it’s not realistic. And that’s where we are, the ying and yang of each other.

Susannah: So whenever you’re starting, obviously you have to just start from somewhere. Do you obviously now you probably have a better idea of what maybe your strengths and weaknesses are and maybe what your goals and responsibilities each are within sort of the company and your structure and how you organize it. Did you know that before you actually started? I know you had worked together before. But is that something that has developed or were you able to have that conversation before you started and say, I’m going to take more responsibility for this and your strengths are here, so you do this?

Maria: Yes. I think both knew our strengths, our weaknesses, and we know where we complement because we’ve worked together for so long. So we had that initial idea of my background for the marketing especially I focus more on online. So while Zeleka was on her journey, I was doing digital marketing for like fintech. Organizations really focus on lead generation and that’s where we were engaging a lot more, especially when she moved into the league and events and then after that I went into digital marketing consultancy. So then I was freelancing, self employed, working for big corporate organizations that I got every time I moved from one contract to another. And that’s what I enjoyed. I liked. The issue I had was that it was dry. So even all my contacts in the industry there’s always a creative side to us and it’s like it’s just like digital marketing. We know how to do it and we’re good at it. But are we passionate about it? No. Do we do anything that changes the world? We don’t, really. So it’s always trying to find something that was a little more engaging. And I think that you could really say that I’ve got a drive to do this, I really want to make this work and successful. Whereas with that, it was like, I’m good at it, pays the bills. And you kind of didn’t push yourself, you coasted. There was no real drive.

And then I think, again, we learnt as well when we actually connected at that point, because our lives have changed. Before we were young and there were times when we were childless and we weren’t. And then we both had kids and then I had twins as well. So at that point in time, and I was also working full time because I was, like, coming off maternity leave and discussing at that point, should I take this full time position? I kind of need to figure out I just needed a security blanket while I’m on the journey. And at that time, I felt that it was quite clear what it was going to be like. It wouldn’t be too strenuous, which was the opposite.

Zeleka: I remember that conversation as well. I don’t know if I should take it, I don’t know if I should take it. And I was like, Babe, take it, we’ll be cool. And now when I look back, I wish I said, don’t take it. Because the trap – not the trap but the problem is, I always kind of say, yes. If you can stay in a full time job and kickstart something independently where you can then leave your nine to five and work on something which you create in your own 100%, do that. But then when you’re in a partnership or in a business and one of you is full time – one of you is full time in the business and one of you is kind of full time in a job has your day to day responsibilities. You’re a mum, you’re a wife. Those things all come first. And then you’re also a business partner. I think for me and Maria, the reason why it works is because we both, for me, I fully understand where she’s coming from. I’ve had kids, I’ve been in full time work, I’ve been trying to do it whilst so – I understand her value, as in, if I can only have her for 1% of the time, it’s worth ten times more than not having her at all.

And I’m just slowly waiting for there to be more and more. And another thing with Maria is she’s so on it, she’s not lazy, so I never feel like, oh, what’s Maria doing? Or, I need help with this, where is she? Like, I know, if she’s got the time, like 02:00 in the morning, whatever it is, she’ll be on it and she’ll get it done. Which again, I suppose that helps. We never get into any kind of arguments or bad feelings.

Maria: What we both found when we work individually is it’s very hard to A: be accountable to yourself and also maintain a drive, especially when things aren’t going your way. And a lot of the successful businesses, especially startups, there was always a partnership involved. If you think of the likes of Apple, Microsoft, et cetera, even Facebook, there was never one person. And I remember at the time, I think, I had already started consulting then and I was really focused on that journey and I kept saying like, oh, it’s not really my focus at the moment. I want to do this. But the further I got along that journey, the more I was like, oh, it’s just so much easier to work with someone. But even at that moment, I knew very well that my life had changed and my responsibilities had changed and to an extent the focus as well. So before, when I had the time that I could be 100% in it, I knew that that wasn’t realistic. And the main thing I wanted to do was to make sure, just be honest. And I’m very honest and straightforward and logical person and we’re very comfortable with each other.

Zeleka: the other day I messaged Maria and I was I was reading this book again, the book called How I Built this by Guy Raz. And there’s like a whole section in there…. just to read this bit to you. It says “every entrepreneur should look for a co founder when they have an idea and are thinking about starting a business. You need a partner whose skill set complement yours. Someone who not only shares your vision, but elevates it and holds you accountable to it, who does what you cannot, who thinks and sees things in a way you don’t, whose strengths compensate for your weaknesses and vice versa.” And I remember reading this and being like, oh my goodness, this is Maria. And at that point in time we’d already been in business. But this just kind of just sums it up in the book.

Susannah: And you actually have quite a big team now, like working for you. I got confused because – I was asking Maria earlier – I thought you had a twin sister because I thought I read it. I thought Tiffany was your twin!

Zeleka: Tiffany is actually my soon to be sister in law. I’ve known her for years and it’s crazy. So obviously we’re married to dating brothers and the fact we look so alike – I always kind of turn to Aiden her husband, my partner’s brother and I’m like hmmmm..you went out and got yourself someone like me.

Susannah: So whenever you are a two, how do you pick who has come to join your team? How do you pick who and why and when? Because I guess if you’re already sort of a business partner to bring other people into that partnership whenever you need to expand, how does that work?

Zeleka: Well, they’re not partners within the business. I probably say they’re more freelancers than employees, but they only work for us when it comes to wedding day coordination. And each person that we have on board at the moment, minus one….actually, no, every single person has been a connection in some way, shape or form. So Tiffany, obviously, I know through Aidan, she’s married, so she’s been through the process. She also has got like a really good life experience. She’s worked on a cruise ship. She’s been one of those air tunnel flyers that float on air, very sporty and just meticulous when it comes to detail. So you can kind of see straight away, see in people the characteristics that work perfectly with wedding day coordination.

Stephanie Allen is ex team GB taekwondo. I met her through …my partner is a teacher at a sixth form college and she used to be one of the students there. And so I met her through him. And again, she’s got all of the discipline, the attention to detail. She’s also signed up something at the moment called Champion Mindset. So she mentors young people and she kind of trains athletes and consults with them as to how they can elevate themselves and their performance through the way that they behave, their thoughts, their belief systems.

And then you’ve got Ladin, who again is a friend of a friend, who is in events. She works full time in events but freelances for us. She also has another business called Sweet Den, where they create Swedish treats because that’s where she’s from.

Kate, who’s new, who’s just come on board, who’s going to be doing her first wedding on the 5 June. And then obviously there’s us. So everyone in our team, I kind of feel like, has a really interesting background and they’ve kind of all the same kind of characteristics. So it works really well.

I mean, at the moment before Lockdown, when we go into a wedding, we literally book an airbnb. If it’s far, we have to stay on site. We never travel to a wedding on the actual day. If we have to go by the M25 or it’s more than an hour away, we can’t risk it. If it’s snowing, we need to be able to walk to that wedding together. And so we would book an airbnb pre Lockdown. And I remember the one time we brought a photographer with us, and literally we had two bedrooms next to each other and we didn’t realize – I won’t say her name because she might get upset, but she snores.

It was the funniest thing that I’m in this double bed next to this photographer who I do know really really well. She’s really lovely. And she started snoring and I was like, oh my goodness, I wonder if Ladan and Steph -they were with the team and they were in the other room next door. I wonder if they can hear this. I’ve got up, gone into the next room, squeezing between Ladan and Steph, and we’re there kind of like head toe in stitches, eye water, laughing because we can hear this photographer snoring through the wall on the other side. Fantastic photographer, by the way. Yeah, but that’s the kind of – it’s like a sleepover, it’s like a slumber, not a party. But the day before the wedding, we do our brief, we see all of the areas that we’re going to be in, we check that all of our tech is working, we sit down with crips, tsatiki and Chocolate and we just chill. And so the morning of the wedding we’re already there, refreshed, prepared, around the corner we go and we do what we need to do. But it’s nice because we are literally like a mini family. Everyone kind of knows each other and when we do get together, it’s so comfortable.

Susannah: That’s so lovely. I think that’s what appeals to so many people about thinking, oh, I’d really love to start a business with my friend or with my sister, whatever. That idea that I guess that you are a partner, that you’re a family, that it sort of elevates your friendship, that you’re able to work together and it’s much more like an equal partnership rather than working for somebody. And maybe also for people who are thinking I’d really like to be self employed. I have an idea for something entrepreneurship, but I don’t actually really want to do it by myself. Or that post that you read in that book was amazing, about how actually it’s really beneficial if you’re thinking about starting something to have another person with you. and actually just to wrap this up. Because I think your story and where it is at the moment is so inspiring to people who are looking at starting something in the fact that you can make it work, even though, Maria, you’re not full time yet. But you’re still equals within the business and moving it forward and in your vision. And that there is a way of making that work whenever maybe two friends are slightly different positions because it can be very difficult to get people to align at exactly the right time whenever you’re trying to start something. That doesn’t necessarily need to be a barrier.

So I was wondering maybe what sort of advice you would give to people who are thinking ‘I’d love to start business with my friend”, just sort of wrap us up. What sort of advice would you give them?

Zeleka: I think be honest and know the person that you’re going into business with. I’ve been partnered in the past with people that I didn’t know and it was a completely different experience. And I think that kind of learning curve, it was a great experience because it meant that when I was considering, OK, I want someone to partner with this. Maria was a natural, obvious choice, but there was never a fear of, oh, my God, this is going to impact our friendship. What if it doesn’t work? What if we don’t get on? What if there’s an issue. There are down days where I’m feeling like, oh, this isn’t moving quick enough or I’m working too hard or there’s too much going on. But Maria isn’t the person that I call to kind of be like, oh, this is your fault because you’re not full time within the business. She’s the person I’m like, babe, I need you to pull me up today. I’m having a down day. Like, you need to say something that’s going to motivate me or inspire me, and so we’re there for each other and vice versa. I think that’s a nice thing. We’re not allowed to have down days on the same day because the other persons there for that purpose, you’re there to build us up. So we can only have down days on different days. But I think that would be the main thing. Be extremely honest and make sure, you know, like, proper know. Maria’s lived with me. I know Maria. I know Maria before kids. I’ve known Maria having to go through kids, I’ve known. So you really need to know and trust the person that you’re with. I trust Maria 100%. It has only got my best interest at heart. I don’t ever fear that she’s going to swindle me out of anything. I don’t ever fear that. Some of the horror stories I kind of hear about and some of the battles I hear people having, I’m thinking, why does that bother you? There’s never an issue with… I probably say at the moment, I’m more the face of the business because I’m in it more full time. But I always use we in everything that I do. Anytime I’m doing posts, I made sure we did a shoot because I was like, maria, we need more pictures of you to be putting out. no one will never have not heard of Maria. And if you go through our socials, you’ll see her more. You’ll see her more going forward because we’ll have more images. But, yeah, that would be my thing. Long winded way of saying it. Have trust 100%. You have to trust them and you also have to be honest and patient. But honesty is definitely the best one. If you’re looking to go into business with someone, be realistic with them about what you can actually do.

Maria: Yes, I literally had that conversation with my husband, actually, because he wants to start up his own thing. It was literally giving that same advice. And I said the first thing… because there’s two of his friends, he’s worked with him before. He’s known for a long time, but again, especially one of them has had life changes as well. So he had a child, his partner’s a breadwinner. He is now a stay at home dad, but he’s building up his personal training business in the background, as well as wanting to partake in this. And I said, you have to all have an honest conversation about what you can and cannot do, because you’re all in different phases of your life. And at the end of the day, that’s always going to be a priority. Whatever you have to do for that, to your family, that’s going to come number one. And you just have to make sure that everyone is okay with that, especially if you’re the person driving the business.

And just being clear in terms of roles, responsibilities, I’m very honest about. I prefer the market side, the market side, the business side of things. I guess the more logical aspect. And the bit that I know, my strength, Zeleka is the event person. The events, she’s very good at that. I did events marketing, did not enjoy it even. I am a control freak. So I think it’s just a natural transition for me. My wedding, we actually have, because we got married abroad and Zeleka helped out as well. And we hired a planner abroad because we got married in Portugal, my husband is Portuguese, I remember my dad saying that, I don’t know why you paid for that person because you literally managed the thing yourself. And I was like, yeah, but I needed someone to help with the translation. I can’t read Portuguese fluently and et cetera. So it was like there’s natural elements in terms of I knew where my skill sets were, my strengths, where I could compliment, but also the lines of communication are open. So that’s also what I’m telling him. Every time you’re doing something and there’s expectations, you have to be very clear on who’s doing what and when you can do it. And if for some reason you can’t do something at the time you promise, just let that person know in advance and manage expectations.

Again, these are soft skills that I’ve learned from corporate, which are very important when you are starting a business, because especially Zelekas full time and I am very aware and I also have I’m a mom, I think we generally, live with guilt, I’m very aware of sometimes the anxiety that can happen, especially when you feel like you’re doing something alone. And I’m always conscious of, right, I’ve got an hour spare, so what do you need me to do? I can do one thing in this time frame. I’m just very aware of setting boundaries because I don’t want to over promise and under deliver. That’s something that we both aren’t in the business of doing. So I think that’s quite key, having that line of communication always open and letting people know realistically what you can and can’t do and just keep talking, because that’s always evolving. So it’s just letting them know that now that’s changed. I can do more of this or actually, I can do less of this and I can only allocate time on the weekends or something. And as long as you both agree and find and there shouldn’t ever be any issues or problems. I think the problems arise when you aren’t communicating, you aren’t clear, there isn’t an understanding from either side and that’s where problems will arise because you’re both thinking different things in your head, but you’ve not actually discussed it.

Talking is very it’s needed in order for the business to move forward. Especially again when Zeleka has ideas in terms of .. I know where she’s going with things and my job is to make sure, OK, well, let’s focus on a cash cow. Let’s get the business running and bring in regular revenue and profit that we can step away from the business and it can run itself because that’s the ultimate goal.

We also had this conversation, you know when you are speaking with friends understand what it is you both want to achieve from that business. What is your ultimate life goal? Why are you doing this? Why what is your purpose? If you’re getting into business just to have the business and that’s it, then there’s something wrong because it needs to give something back to you. You can’t put your all in a business and not gain anything from it. You need to use it as a stepping stone to do something else. Whether it’s a certain lifestyle you want to be able to live or buying your time back, because the more time with your family or doing a lot more things with the community or whatever it is, it can be as big or small as long as it’s important to you. Just be quite clear in terms of both of your goals and to make sure you understand, actually, we’re both on the same path, we want to do this thing for the same reason, even though the detail of it might be different. And that’s quite important.

Zeleka: I think if you’ve got a purpose like what Maria is just saying, and you’ve got a bigger goal of kind of where you’re trying to get to and what you want to achieve, there’s no room for ego in business at all. That’s going to just fester and kill it from the inside out. And I think a lot of the times the problems are it’s more down to kind of, don’t even know if ego is the right word, but it’s personally, I’m not showing up or I’m not being seen in the light that I want to be seen or I’m not achieving what I want to achieve. And that’s because the end goal isn’t there. Whereas if you’re on the same page and me and Maria are definitely on the same page, everything is just okay. Even if it’s a baby step, it’s a step in the right direction because we’re both going in the same direction, so it makes it so much easier.

We literally never had an argument. No. And it’s good that our partners know eachother as well, because then we have like a monthly meeting and literally, I’m like, Ash, you need to evacuate the house. Maria’s coming and there’s no questions. And he takes the girls and they go to his mom and we have the house for the whole day. Let’s just kick back and do what we need to do. And again, with Lucio, he takes the boys and has them on walks, just running them ragged and all sorts of be, getting little voice notes and videos during our day, showing us like, Angelo and Gabriel doing their thing.

So, yeah, I think you’re hitting out in the head, like, we have an ultimate goal. And because of that ultimate goal, there’s nothing else that can kind of stop us, we’ve .

Maria: That’s the key thing because remember, we started the wedding coordinators January 2020. The worst timing. And I think a lot of businesses have been around for longer that have collapsed. And we survived through the lockdown, through a lack of direction in terms of what’s happening with weddings and the guidelines. And that was drive and that was the case of the goal was always the focus in terms of this is just an interim blip in the journey.

Zeleka: We got so much interest, literally as soon as we got so much, and you can be like, what is this? This is the first time I’ve started up something that has just literally hit the ground and been like, okay, this has definitely got legs. And I think that was enough. That short window was enough for us to say, you know what, no matter what happens or how long we’re in this pandemic, we need to be here at the end of the pandemic.

Susannah: I’m sure listeners are going to find it so valuable. And maybe like, mentorship will come into your services one day.

Zeleka: There’s a couple that we’re coordinating for in September and they put something up on their own stories and literally, I think they’re called Connect, but they’re literally an organization who are looking for mentors to mentor young women in university. And when I saw it, it just made me think of me and Maria at university and how useful it would have been for us at that point in time to have a mentor. Because I have a mentor at the moment who I meet with and it’s just so nice to just even have that sound board and that person who’s got a different perspective.

Maria: I had a mentor as well doing this when I was doing consultancy, so that’s quite key. And my mentor had a mentor as well. So I think that’s something that’s also very valuable because outside of our little knit circle, you need someone else to sound more ideas off that probably has a lot more experience as well and can also highlight things that you missed because you’re so in the detail and sometimes you can be quite tunnel vision as well.

I always call Zeleka my business soulmate, but we’re more than that. We’re sisters. So she’s literally had my back at my work, like she said, I lived with her at one point at Uni and her mom, so she’s family at the end of the day. And I think you can’t really go wrong with working with family, especially when you know that all they ever have is the best for you and they’ll never show you wrong as well. As well.

Susannah: That’s so lovely. Thank you guys so much.