Journal creator and blogger Megan Hutchison, 28, left her job at a law firm to follow her passion. Fast forward three years, she now earns more than she ever did as a lawyer and has a large online social media following.
Can you describe your business?
She Said Yes is an online and social media business in the wedding industry. I started a blog in February 2015 when I got engaged, and launched my first wedding journal little white book in August last year and I still do this year.
What sparked the idea?
Initially I started a blog to make wedding planning easier, simple, and hopefully stress-free so I began by writing on how to plan a wedding without being caught up in what you think a wedding is supposed to look like or be; encouraging couples to make decisions that are personal or have meaning rather than following a set of must-dos often the wedding industry imposes.
This began three years ago when I was planning my own wedding. That's been the business for the last three years and then last year I created a wedding organiser and diary called the little white book which is $69. It's been incredibly well-received and that gave me the opportunity to leave my job as a lawyer at the end of last year.
Why did you decide to create a wedding journal?
I couldn't find anything that did the job I expected a wedding organiser and diary to do. I thought it was really important and nice to keep notes of the wedding planning I was doing and obviously you need to have checklists, or be very organised, to stay on track as you have deadlines and payment that come up.
The nature of the wedding industry is that you do have to organise months and months in advance. I began with a notebook, a wedding magazine planner and a daily diary so I was filling in a diary and running a notebook check list and just thought it was so unhelpful and that it could be streamlined into one place.
When did you leave your job to work on the business full time?
I left my job in November. The business picked up so fast that there was no way I could run the business, keep my blog up-to-date and work my day job. I had to make a decision and I felt like it was the job or my business or my marriage.
Tell me about your background, and how has being a trained lawyer helped in running your business?
I was born in the UK but have been living here for 19 years. My Mum moved out here and married a Kiwi, but I stayed in the UK with my Dad. My Dad died when I was nine and then I moved to New Zealand. My Mum actually died a couple of years ago as well, so I don't actually have any family here which was part of the reason that when I did get engaged that I felt very lost. I didn't know where to start with planning; all I knew was how difficult it was going to be, expensive, time-consuming, and that's part of where the inspiration to help others begun.
I began my career working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts and I was working there, in the litigation team, when I started the blog. I then moved firms to work at Baldwins working in intellectual property. Being a lawyer really helped me initially just in writing the articles because my training taught me to be really analytical and questioning, but I don't know if being a lawyer has helped me run a business.
What's so different about your journal organiser?
Its a wedding planning book - an organiser, but it is also a diary with a 12 month countdown diary which means that couples or more realistically, brides, can use it every day; integrated as part of their life. It has checklists at regular intervals, and is designed so that it can become part of daily life. I think it's a really special experience, and a keepsake from that time in their lives.
Are you surprised at how well-received the journal has been?
I really thought it would only appeal to people who keep diaries, and that would be a very small per cent of the population, but it has really taken off.
I started it in July last year, left my job to do it full-time in November and I've already sold 2,000 in less than a year - that's about 10 to 20 per cent of all New Zealand couples getting married have one because there are only 20,000 couples in New Zealand who get married each year, so to have 10 to 20 per cent of any market, ever, let alone within the first year, I think is quite good.
Being an entrepreneur is so much harder than anything I ever did as a lawyer.
How much are you earning through the business?
I saved enough money before leaving law to live comfortably for the first couple of months, but within the first 10 months of being in business, I turned over more than my annual salary as a lawyer. Between occasional paid content on Instagram and the website, the sale of the books on my site, and my international wholesale stockists, the business will make six figures this year, a number that was years away from me as a lawyer.
How many social media followers do you have?
I have 40,000 social media followers across Facebook and Instagram, and then I also have a separate account for the little white book which has 12,000 on Instagram, so completely I have more than 50,000 followers.
What's hardest part of running She Said Yes?
There's a real misconception that if you're good at something that you should just start a business but being an entrepreneur is so much harder than anything I ever did as a lawyer - it's so all encompassing. I know that I'm good at work I do but that doesn't mean I'm good at being in business and I do think I need help from time to time, and probably more support than I allow myself to have. I like what I do so I started a business but I'm not experienced in business.
What's next, long term plans for the business?
I would like to take my message further, my message being that wedding planning can be more simple and that we should be doing what is unique and personal to us and not buying into the pressures of the wedding industry. I'd also like to grow the business and have some staff to help me, but want to run it as I currently do.
I recently started a event business called The Bride Tribe where ma and brides-to-be get together to talk about weddings and work through some problems and experiences they are going through. I started that in September, tickets were $25 and it sold out to 80 people. My second event will be in January next year and will be a little bit different as it will be a sit-down lunch.
How beneficial is social media as a business tool?
Everybody can start a business through social media. Even if you don't know how to use it, you can find out how to. The opportunity there is huge and the networks you can build through Instagram and Facebook puts us all in this position that our parents and grandparents didn't have, and that's access to markets without the expense of advertising. There's no barrier for anyone to become an entrepreneur.
What advice do you give to others thinking of starting a business?
If you've got an idea that you want to turn into a business, you have be 100 per cent passionate about doing it because entrepreneurship is not an easy game.