UK-born Nelson woman Terri Everett, celebrant and owner of wedding planning company The Dream Maker, explains how Covid-19 has wiped out regular business and why she's eager for domestic tourism to open up under alert level 2.
What does your business do?
The Dream Maker sets up wedding, elopements, vow renewals, commitment ceremonies and other events within the Nelson-Tasman region. My clients are generally internationals who come over here looking for the wow factor. Weddings are our most comment event and we put on about 30 each year. I've been doing this for a decade.
What was the motivation for starting it?
It was around the time of the Christchurch earthquakes. We originially had a boat charter, I was a host on a boat, and on this particular occasion I got a phone call at 4 o'clock in the afternoon from a very tearful bride; they were flying from the US to Christchurch to get married, everything had been planned and organised and then of course the earthquake hit and they were literally relocated to Nelson.
Someone had put her in touch with me because they knew that we did special boat charters. We basically arranged everything for them, at 10am they were at the beach and we took them off for the day in the Abel Tasman. At the end of the day the bride put her arms around me, gave me a very sincere hug and whispered in my ear that I was her "dream maker" and that's how the business evolved and I got its name. It was such an amazing moment for me.
How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
Disasters have run a theme in my business, but when there are disaster love stories are created; there's always a silver lining. I have had to cancel some weddings or postponed them because of Covid-19, in other instances it has forced couples to get creative. I had a couple who were adamant that they wanted to get married on March 25, a date that was very important to them, so we ended up doing a wedding on Zoom in their backyard and I was there on Zoom to officiate and orchestrate to make it special. It was beautiful.
I've started to pull some packages together where I'm offering for $200, which is refundable, I plan and organise the whole event with them exactly as I would in any other situation but with an unconfirmed date - once the date is confirmed and I get the deposit then they get their $200 back. I've already booked two of those - one is going to be in a vineyard wedding and another is going to be two landings in a helicopter on a mountain and a beach for a renewal of vows.
The tourism industry, we're all scared that we're not going to get enough visitors, but people are still going to get engaged and want to get married so it is an easy market to capture. A lot of people would have been going overseas to do this but rather than go overseas we're hoping to book people wanting to do it here instead.
How long do you anticipate New Zealand's borders will be closed?
I think it is quite likely that our international borders even if they open are not going to attract people as no one wants to spend two weeks in a hotel isolating. Until we're confident that the rest of the world has got this under control I don't see how any of this can be undone. We have to be patient and responsible.
It's an incredibly scary time for businesses that have massive overheads and huge amounts of staff. My business model is that I work from home and I contract all of my staff out so I haven't got a lot to lose. I really don't know what the future is but I do know that wallowing in the uncertainty isn't going to help us in any way. We all have to individually do what we can do to look outside of the box. I'm not worried, I believe my market is out there, it's just a case of me outing the net out there and catching it. I personally think I'm going to come out better at the end of this.
What advice do you give others thinking about starting their own business?
Do a vision of what your dream is because that's always great to look back at to see how much you have achieved. It also reminds you of what is important. If you love what you do and it makes you sing inside then you'll be successful.