Hey boss ladies, this one’s for you!
I’m so excited to introduce you to the Sweetpea twins today – they’re not just the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet but they’ve got their business nailed too. I’ve been lucky to work with one half of this dynamic duo, Gabi, since we launched B.LOVED five years ago, so when she founded Sweetpea PR with her (identical!!) twin Lisa in 2014, it just meant double the fun! Newly-wed Gabi and mum-of-one Lisa run their agency from their homes in London, and have quickly become one of the leading bridal PR’s in the country through sheer hard work, determination and a lot of loveliness.
From the way they run their business and look after their clients, to how they work together and balance the whole work/life thing, these two hard working ladies are a real inspiration! A few weeks ago I had a chance to interview them both at their GORGEOUS HQ, and find out what it’s like to work in bridal PR….
Hi ladies, we’re super excited to talk to you! Can you tell us a bit about Sweetpea PR?
Sweetpea is a specialist PR agency dedicated to representing clients in the bridal industry. The agency is run by myself and Lisa – as you can probably tell from the pictures we are identical twins! We spend our days securing national and regional press coverage for our clients.
We have a very hands on approach with our clients – the Sweetpea offering goes much further than just securing press coverage, we work closely with each of our clients on more of a brand consultancy basis to achieve their business objectives and utilise our backgrounds in marketing, PR and events planning to achieve this.
Our day-to-day role is immensely varied, one day we may be writing press releases and attending press meetings and the next planning a photo shoot for a client’s new collection or organising a large scale reader event. Lisa works part-time juggling the agency with raising her little boy Albie, but we are in constant communication via the wonders of Facetime (how did we ever survive without it?) and work very closely together brainstorming creative ideas to attract the press and working on targeted pitches to achieve maximum exposure for our clients.
The nature of the wedding industry means that the majority of our clients are small businesses with our day-to-day contact being with the business owners themselves. We personally love this as it eliminates lots of red tape and the lengthy decision making processes that can come with working with larger companies – meaning we can get more done! It also feels like we are very much an extension of our clients teams, this in turn means we are extremely invested in their successes and drives us to produce the best results possible!
What did you do before Sweetpea PR and how does that experience help you now?
My background covers marketing, PR & Events – my first role out of university was working as part of a large marketing team promoting the UK’s largest gift trade show Spring fair. From there I went on to run the marketing campaigns for the National Wedding Shows – this was my first venture into the bridal industry and I haven’t looked back since! There are many brands that I met during my time at the wedding shows that I still work and collaborate with today. It’s such a warm, welcoming and creative industry – I don’t think I could do anything else.
Lisa’s background is within the fashion industry – after a degree in Fashion promotion she went on to work in PR in-house for brands including Boden, DAKS and Johnny Loves Rosie. A big part of her job during this time involved organising large scale fashion shows, photo-shoots & press events both internationally and in the UK, so she’s happiest when we have an event to organise! Having worked with bridal titles at each of her previous roles the move into the bridal market was an easy one – even if it did cause some confusion with journalists over who was who!
What motivated you to set up Sweetpea PR?
We launched Sweetpea PR two years ago this May. Working together is something that we had discussed many times over the years and considered strongly after Lisa’s wedding five years ago however at the time our busy jobs and day-to-day life got in the way. Our father runs his own business and this had always inspired us growing up. Lisa and I have a very similar work ethic – in fact there is no one else I trust more to go above and beyond to ensure a job is carried out to perfection!
It wasn’t until planning my own wedding that the prospect of setting up a business together suddenly seemed like more of a tangible reality. It all started during my wedding dress shopping at Blackburn Bridal, I was job hunting at the time and Lisa was on maternity leave. Russell Blackburn (the owner) mentioned he really needed someone to carry out the PR for the shop, that day really was the catalyst for setting up the business. That day not only did I find my dream wedding dress but we started on the journey to launching Sweetpea – our dream job and one of the best decisions we have ever made!
What kind of brands do you work with?
We are very selective with who we work with – all of our clients tend to have a similar aesthetic and are aimed at the luxury end of the bridal market – complimenting each other perfectly.
We have a simple philosophy when taking on new clients ‘do we love their offering?’ and ‘would we choose them if planning our own weddings again?’
It’s so important that we love a brand in order to represent them, if we don’t love something then the passion wont shine through and that is a key ingredient to achieving stand out results for our clients.
What do you think makes Sweetpea PR successful?
Almost two years in and the business has exceeded our wildest expectations! I would say the key for us has been determination, perseverance and lots of hard work.
I remember the early days thinking ‘eek what have we done?’ and ‘how are we ever going to grow the business to pay our salaries?’ It certainly isn’t easy being self-employed – there are extreme highs and lows and the great unknown is scary!
We both left behind regular and predictable pay cheques (and me during the planning of our own wedding which was even scarier – weddings are expensive!!) but with running your own business comes such benefits – the joys of managing your own life and time. I wont lie I feel guilty even taking an afternoon off and the work / life balance is a constant juggle (struggle) but the fact that we get to work with each other (our dream) and have built up Sweetpea together from scratch is amazing and we still pinch ourselves on a daily basis!
In terms of what has made us successful I believe that within this small industry people very much buy into you as an individual – we never pretend to be anything we aren’t. PR can have a reputation for being very fluffy and a lot of hot air – for us this couldn’t be further from the truth, we are both hardworking and extremely passionate about achieving the best results for our clients and hopefully this speaks for itself and as word of mouth has spread, Sweetpea has grown. The fact that we are twins is also memorable – people always comment on it at networking events!
Where do you work & how do you keep your space inspiring?
Lisa and I are both based from home, so we mix up our week working from our homes and with one another. Each week we will have at least one or two days out of the office – attending client or press meetings so no two weeks are ever the same and this keeps things interesting.
I personally will be moving house this year and am secretly planning a work space or office hub at the end of the garden – that would be the dream to have a dedicated space that I can go to and leave at the end of each working day.
Who do you respect and admire in the design world?
Fashion wise, Lisa is a big fan of the Parisian look and admires the likes of designers Sandro, Maje and Chloe however realistically is more likely to hunt out cheaper alternatives on the high-street at Zara, Reiss and Whistles! Marketing/PR wise everything that Mulberry and Anya Hindmarch do is spot on and we look forward to seeing how they present their new collections each season. Interiors wise both of us love the Danish / Scandi look and have a number of pieces from HAY on our shopping lists!
We are both more than a little obsessed with stationery and paper goods. Kate Spade is definitely the first port of call when we need a new notebook or two, and we are desperate to visit the newly opened Kikki. K store in Covent Garden.
What do you think of trends? Do you follow them or prefer to follow your own style?
Personally I am much more inspired by interiors trends than fashion. I can spend hours on Pinterest compiling boards for each room of my imaginary dream house! Lisa is a self confessed Instagram addict and is much more likely to look on there for style / interior inspiration than be a slave to trends.
What challenges have you set yourself for the next 12 months?
Lisa and I are continually looking to grow the business and the selection of beautiful clients we represent as well as maintaining those we currently have to foster long term working relationships.
This time next year we hope that Sweetpea PR will still be going strong and seen as the go-to PR biz in the industry! Oh and I will be working from my ‘home office’ at the end of the garden…fingers crossed!
What advice would you give others considering their own start-up?
I would advise anyone who may be thinking about setting up their own business to just go for it. Obviously ensure you have financial support until you are on your feet but if there is something you have always wanted to do, yet struggled to make that first scary step to self-employment, then go for it!
I truly didn’t think Lisa and I would ever make the brave leap and now I simply can’t imagine us not running Sweetpea. Stepping out of your comfort zone really is where life begins and although it will be scary, and lets face it there will be periods of self-doubt and loneliness too, it’s all worth it to be in charge of your own destiny and in the driving seat of your career!
Can you tell them apart?! If you’re looking to take your business to the next level then get in touch with the girls at www.SweetpeaPR.com. Looking for more inspirational #girlboss interviews in the wedding industry & beyond? Click here.