Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In the Mood - Creating a Wedding Mood Board.

A moodboard is a collage of materials [images, text, colours, textures] which capture the ambience and feel of something you want to design or create.

As a wedding and event planner and co-ordinator, this is a useful tool to gather thoughts together whilst not having to commit to anything, and it is very useful when presenting initial idea's to a client.

From a brides point of view, this can be created by saving magazine clippings, drawings etc and storing them in a wedding planning folder, which in theory some of us have been subconciously filling since we were 5.

You can save an image of "The Dress", that gorgeous bouquet, those "must have" shoes, that cool car, or the "to die for" stationery you have been lusting over.
This just makes it easier to bring across what you really see as the look of the day.

Below are some gorgeous examples of how you could bring together your Wedding Wish List to create the vision you have.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Nicole Bogue & Gabrielle Stepan from Little Giggles

Welcome to another in our hugely popular Feature Friday articles - today we're chatting with Nicole Bogue and Gabrielle Stepan from Little Giggles.
Hi Nicole & Gabrielle, can you introduce our readers to you and your company?
Nicole - In addition to being a busy entrepreneur, I am a Mum to 17 month old Cian and I'm also a teacher.

Gabrielle - In 2008, I graduated from college in the United States during one of the toughest economic recessions. After months of not being able to find a job, I took it as a sign that I am not meant to be in the "9 to 5 corporate world" and that I should look at this as an opportunity to do something different that, under other circumstances, I might have never tried.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
Nicole - I have always been passionate about children and, giving birth to my son last year, made me realise how much I wanted to start my own business. Throughout my pregnancy I was given many lovely gifts from friends and family for our little bundle, and it was amazing to see how spoiled my unborn child already was!

Since we left his gender to be a surprise until his birth, we were overwhelmed by the amount of "neutral" baby outfits we received. Not that we weren't grateful, but it definitely got me thinking about how I could put a twist on the traditional baby gift regardless of the sex of the baby.... This is when I recruited the help of my sister, Gabrielle, and together we created Little Giggles!

Gabrielle - I made the decision to move to Ireland with my sister and together we embarked on the exciting journey of starting up a business. Much like Nicole, I have always been interested in the Baby Gift's industry. We both knew that starting up a business was not going to be an easy task but, in the face of tough economic times, we felt that if we were going to take this risk, we might as well do something that we both find pleasure in. Needless to say, Little Giggles is our labour of love and although we continue to face daily challenges, we really enjoy what we do and we hope that we can continue to spread the word and get people to fall in love with our products.

The concept behind Little Giggles is fairly simple and straight forward, yet unique and practical. All of Little Giggles baby gifts are one of a kind and all handmade. Our products are made in a smoke free and pet free environment. Not only are our gifts pleasing to the eyes, but all of our creations are made with high quality, usable, and practical supplies (or as we refer to them, ingredients) for the parents and the brand new baby. Our products contain ingredients such as Nappies, Toys, Pacifiers, Bibs, Clothes, Teethers, Bottles etc.

We specialise in Nappy Cakes, Nappy Wreaths, Floral Clothes Bouquets, Nappy Bears, Nappy Bundles, Ice Cream Swirls, Milkshakes, Clothes Cupcakes/Fairy Cakes and MUCH more. We are continually coming up with fresh ideas to give us that edge and to help us stand out. Our mission is to provide our customers with a unique gift giving experience. We take pride in every single one of our hand made creations and strive for satisfaction. Our ultimate goal is to bring smiles to the faces of those giving and receiving these gifts!

In addition to our Baby Gifts we also make Wedding Towel Cakes, Christening Gifts, and Big Brother/Big Sister Gifts (so they don't feel left out when the new bundle comes along!)

All of our creations can be made to order, customised, and/or themed. We will work with YOU to create the perfect gift, regardless of your budget.

We have done lots of research on the Baby Gifts industry and we continue to educate ourselves on what's “trendy” and what appeals to new parents. Although we have come across other businesses that do what we do, we have yet to find one that meets our same level of attention, quality, and attractiveness, not to mention our competitive prices. Our products range on average between €7-€100. We take great pride in our work and everything we make exudes the same amount of excitement and love we invest in our creations.

What do you love most about your business?
We love that our business brings so much joy to our customers. It never gets old seeing the happiness on the faces of our customers!

What would you like to change?
We would change that we didn't start our business sooner! However, we have come to realise that things happen the way they do for a reason. And now that we are finally pursuing our dream, we would like nothing more than to increase our fan base and have more exposure!

What is your aim for the next year?
By next year we hope to be able to offer our products in stores and retail shops. As of now we sell our products online and in "Trinkets" which is located in Crestwood Shopping Center in Glanmire, Cork.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
Ultimately we would like to open up our own "Little Giggles" retail stores. We hope to start small and local, and over time spread across Ireland and then the world!! :)

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 If you have a dream, just go for it. Don't let anyone stop you
Tip 2 Women are extraordinary beings... just stay confident and embrace all the pitfalls
Tip 3 It's not really a "man's world" let's face it, they would be lost without us! :)
Tip 4 "Slow and steady wins the race" Don't try to execute all your ideas at once! You will overwhelm yourself!
Tip 5 Take all criticisms, good and bad, and use them to your advantage. You are already your own worst critic so don't worry about what others think of you or your ideas

If any prospective customers are reading, how can they contact you?
We can be contacted via our Facebook page at, by email on or Tweet us on

Thanks so much for chatting with us today Nicole & Gabrielle - your company is indeed unique and we think that there will be many people interested in your service. 

Remember, if you'd like to be involved with Creation|Collaboration, make sure to check out our forum at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coming up Roses ! - Choosing Wedding Flowers

 "Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful.
They are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.
[Luther Burbank- Naturalist]

This statement makes your florist a very important part of your event preparation, but firstly you need to be happy with your choice.

Ask lots of questions, about different flowers, whats in season etc

Ask to see portfolio's. You want a florist who's style matches your own.

Its also important to mention any themes, and take colour swatches so that the florist can help you choose the best blooms.

As well as looking great you have to take into consideration the scent of the flowers, some may be very beautiful to look at but can be overpowering in smell.

Consider the locations that need to be decorated.
For a wedding as a general guide you may need -

Church [ pedestal , pew ends]
Reception [ top table, guest tables]
Personal [ Bride, Bridesmaids, groom, best man, ushers,mothers, fathers, gift bouquets]

In an autumn or winter wedding, the addition of a candelabra to the flower arrangements can be particularly striking.
And for any other  non wedding event-

Guest tables
Buffet Tables
Pedestal arrangements etc

A good florist will also know many local venues and will be able to give you direction on what works best where.

Also remember that many florists charge a delivery fee and for set up at your ceremony and reception sites.
Take time in choosing flowers for your event, they are usually primary in the decoration of your venue.
See a few different florist, interview them properly, if a florist is pushing you towards arrangements you can't afford, move on.

Also as a cost saving exercise, you can give away your table centrepieces at the end of the evening to special family members or guests, or keep for those unable to attend.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Helen Lindop from Business Plus Baby

Welcome to our hugely popular Feature Friday - today we're chatting to Helen Lindop who runs the blog Business Plus Baby.

Hi Helen, thanks for chatting with us today - can you tell us more about you and your enterprise?
Hi, I’m Helen Lindop. I have a blog which helps mums of babies and toddlers start businesses. This week my book was published – it’s called ‘Start a Family Friendly Business – 23 brilliant business ideas for mums (and how to tell which is right for you)’ and I wrote it with Antonia Chitty of

Also, I have just launched a web content and copywriting business,
 Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
One day in September 2008, I took my four-month-old daughter to visit a nursery. I was going back to work four or five days per week the following January and had to sort out her childcare. As I left the nursery, I discovered that I simply couldn't leave my baby anywhere full-time. It wasn’t the nursery that was the problem, it was me. 

I hadn't a clue what to do next. I'd had a permanent job for a while, but before that I'd been freelance for six years. I thought that being self-employed might be the only option open to me but, as a new mum, I had no idea how it might work. What type of work could I do? Was it even possible to run a business around a small child?

I started to research some business ideas. I tried a party plan, but selling another company’s products just didn’t grab me. I worked my way through lots of other business ideas but none of them really fitted me or my family. Then I found out (to my surprise) I was expecting our second baby – due just fifteen months after the first.

The goalposts had moved again - with two babies I would need a business that was very flexible indeed! I started blogging because I wanted to connect with other mums in business and I thought all my research might help someone else.

I noticed my blog was gathering some readers so I kept going and it turned into a little business of its own. Through blogging, I connected with Antonia Chitty and we started to work on our book together. Now I’m going to use my blog to help promote the book and I have plans to write more resources to help mums start businesses.

Blogging has taught me about online copywriting and I find it really fascinating. I noticed that many small businesses are struggling with their web content. For example:
  • They find their website text isn’t getting readers to do what they want them to do, eg sign up to their mailing list, buy, or pick up the phone.
  • Blogging is a great way to get noticed by search engines, but it’s time consuming and businesses often don’t know what to write about.
  • Offering a free e-book to potential clients demonstrates their expertise and, if it’s good, clients will want to read it and keep it. That’s much better than advertising, which is often ignored! But writing a good e-book isn’t as easy as it looks and takes a long time to get it right.
I used to write a lot in my previous job as an IT trainer, so I’ve combined the copywriting with my previous experience plus my blogging knowledge to create my new business.

What do you love most about your business?
I love the flexibility to work around my family and the way I get to connect with so many inspiring business women.

What would you like to change?
Earning an income online takes a lot of time and patience. Doing anything when you have small children around takes three times as long as it would without! So there have been times when I’ve been very frustrated by my slow progress.

What is your aim for the next year?
To ease my children into pre-school so I have more time to develop my blog and copywriting business. And to keep learning and improving.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
It’s so hard to say when you have small children. When they are born it turns your life upside down and I’m still getting used to it. Then you just think you’ve got the hang of it and everything changes!

If I can run a business that I enjoy, that earns me a decent income and that allows me to spend lots of time with my family then I’ll be happy.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1. Research, research, research – it’s so easy to skip over this but it’s essential.
Tip 2. Do the maths – many people don’t work out all their costs properly and then end up losing money instead of making it.
Tip 3. Pick something that you love – it’s hard work and if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing you won’t stick at it.
Tip 4. Tweak that ‘something that you love’ so that you’re offering a product or service that people REALLY want. Don’t be a starving artist - It’s so much easier to sell something if people actually want it!
Tip 5. Test your business idea by running it in the evenings. When you’ve got some momentum and you’ve proven it works you can give up the day job.

How can people contact you Helen?
I can be contacted via my website at or on, on Facebook at or Tweet me at

Thanks so much for chatting with us today Helen - the organic growth of your business because of your family committments is really fascinating and I imagine a lot of our readers will be able to identify with you regarding running and business with small childen in tow! We look forward to seeing your book in print - make sure to drop back and tell us when and where it's available. 
Remember, if you'd like to chat with Helen or any of our Feature Friday businesswomen, please check into our forum at

Friday, September 10, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Annette Reilly of

Welcome to our latest Feature Friday article - today we're featuring Annette Reilly of, a company dealing with Neuro Energetic Kinesiology. 

Hi Annette - thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today.  Can you explain to our readers what Neuro Energetic Kinesiology is?
Kinesiology is the science of movement. Kinesiology has its roots in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and chiropractic methods. It incorporates techniques such as acupressure and meridian balancing, gentle structural manipulation, massage and nutrition. Kinesiology works to balance all systems of the body and can help with any health issue whether it's physical, mental or emotional.

Kinesiology assesses the patient via a muscle response test. This is a gentle test which detects stresses and imbalances in the four areas of the body's systems:
* Chemical eg nutrition, hormones, pH balance, metabolism, immune response
* Structural eg bones, muscles, tissues
* Emotional eg stress, anxiety, fears, phobias, trauma
* Electromagnetic eg hydration, energy levels, energy fields

In Neuro Energetic Kinesiology we use what are called "finger modes" One mode in particular is called "priority mode" by using this mode at the beginning of a session it allows only that which is priority to work on with each client to come to the surface during a session. In short, Kinesiology works where the body needs it most, in a way that is most effective for each client.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
I began training approximately 6 yrs ago in the area of Complementary Medicine. After qualifying in many different disciplines, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Hopi Ear Candling, Reiki Mastership, Kinesiology to name but a few, I discovered the therapy that was producing the fastest and most profound results with clients was Kinesiology. I decided to specialize in the area of Neuro Energetic Kinesiology. I trained in Northern Ireland with a wonderful woman, Orla Brady, and also with the founder of Neuro Energetic Kinesiology Hugo Tobar (Australia).  Hugo would travel over several times a year to do intensive training with us. The course began with 35 students and ended with 4 of us qualifying. 3 people in Northern Ireland and just me from the Republic of Ireland.

What do you love most about your business?
I love being able, through my work, to resolve issues in just a few sessions that have been persistent in a client’s life for a number of years. One of the main issues I’m working with at the moment is depression and I’m having amazing results with it. Clients are having huge improvements in as little as three sessions. Also arthritis, learning difficulties, insomnia, digestive disorders, fears & phobias, panic attacks etc. The list of ailments/issues (mental, emotional, structural) is endless that can all be worked on and relieved through the use of NEK (Neuro Energetic Kinesiology).

What would you like to change?
The only thing I would like to change is Hugo’s address!! I would love if he lived a little closer than Australia as he is constantly developing further courses so we can continue our training to a more advanced level. Unfortunately, as there are only 4 of us who have reached such an advanced level of training with him, myself in the Republic of Ireland and three in Northern Ireland, its not really beneficial for him to travel so far as often for such a small group.

Hugo also teaches many courses in Austria and Germany so we have the option of travelling there to train and I plan to travel to Salzburg in early September to do a course that will allow me to teach the foundation level of his work (Principles of Kinesiology) in the Republic.  I’m really excited about that as this course has only been developed in the past year and it has never been taught in Ireland before.

What is your aim for the next year?
Over the next year, I plan to teach Principles of Kinesiology throughout the Republic of Ireland.  I also plan to do more advanced training on the immune system and vaccination pathways. This course deals with the immune system and all of its related aspects. I will learn how to access the stress on all aspects of the immune system by an extensive formatting system. There will be information on how to access stress with formatting cell physiology and the cell organelles, blood chemistry and blood cells, cell pathology with cancer and ageing, the non-specific immune system, the adaptive immune system, the effects of pathogens such as virus and bacteria, and vaccinations. Formatting, bacteria, virus, fungus, parasites, toxins, liver enzyme balance, 4 types of hypersensitivity balancing (allergies), T helper cell hologram, T killer cell hologram, Antigen Presenting Cell Hologram, Mast cell Hologram, Formatting for CD molecules, balancing transplants, auto immune disease. The training is very intensive and will be run early November 2010 in Northern Ireland.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
Ultimately I see myself teaching Neuro Energetic Kinesiology full time throughout Ireland. In the model of Kinesiology, there is a connection between the physical structures such as the muscles, bones, hormones, neurology, etc and the energetic structures.  Muscle monitoring through NEK gives me the ability to assess the stress levels in the physical and energetic structures. After the source of the stress has been identified, muscle monitoring allows me to find what would be the most appropriate correction technique to correct the imbalance. This eliminates the need for guess work, thereby making the corrections very efficient. I believe people, young and old can benefit from the effects of NEK and I plan to do my best to bring it to as many homes in the Republic as I possibly can.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 If you are new to business, contact your Local Enterprise Board as you may be entitled to a start up grant
Tip 2 Don’t lose hope when you don’t see clients lining up immediately – be patient, it will happen
Tip 3 Shop around for business cards/brochures they really vary in price from one company to the next
Tip 4 Don’t spend a fortune on advertising - the best advertisement is “word of mouth”.  If you provide a good service to people, they will tell their friends etc.
Tip 5 Do what you love and love what you do. When you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life!!

Interviews with Dublin’s Near FM:

How would a prospective client contact you?
My website is currently under construction but can be located at, I can be contacted via email at, I'm on Facebook at!/profile.php?id=100001110422429 and you can Tweet me at  If clients wished to contact me via phone, my number is 00 353 85 785 8770.

Thanks so much for chatting with us today Annette - the science around Kinesiology seems fascinating and it has to be so rewarding that you can help so many people out. 
Remember, if you are a businesswoman running a business from home and would like to become one of our Feature Fridays, please drop us a line at and put the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line.  Also, you can join us at our new forum at to chat to other like minded businesswoman for help, advice and general chat. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Gillian Bell of Starweds

Welcome readers, to our latest Feature Friday article - today we're featuring Gillian Bell of Starweds

Thanks for taking the time to chat to us today Gillian - can you tell us more about yourself and your company?
My name is Gillian Bell and my company is an online wedding gift service - StarWeds is an exciting and unique service for contemporary couples who don't need any more toasters or towel bales. It is an innovative gift list alternative which allows your wedding guests to make monetary contributions as a wedding gift.

The money in your wedding gift fund is yours to spend as you please, ie you are not restricted to spending within a department store or booking with a specific travel agent.

StarWeds has your very own personalised wedding website to which your friends and family can contribute money as a wedding gift. Guests can choose from a variety of quick, easy and secure payment methods (ie credit/debit card via PayPal, cheque or balance transfer).

We provide beautiful, customised invitation inserts so that you can tell your wedding guests all about your website.

Please visit, and if you would like to view a sample of the personalised wedding website, then please visit

After your wedding, your personalised wedding website can be saved to a souvenir CD, so that it can be yours to treasure forever.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
We came up with the idea in May last year. My partner, Chris, and I had attended five weddings in 2009 and given money as a gift at every single one. We found that there was no safe and/or easy way to do this, so we developed the idea of StarWeds.

What do you love most about your business?
One of the things that I love most about my business is exhibiting at wedding fayres and meeting our prospective clients face-to-face to advise them all about the dedicated, personal and world-class service that we provide.

What would you like to change?
Recent research conducted by Wedding Magazine found that 45% of couples would prefer their guests to give them money as a wedding gift. We would like to be responsible for increasing this percentage. In other countries, such as China, Poland, Japan and India giving money as a wedding gift is traditional and we feel that with the truly personalised service we provide, we could lead the UK in following this trend.

What is your aim for the next year?
Despite only launching our business in February this year, we have already been lucky enough to have StarWeds featured in both the Scottish Wedding Directory and The Best Scottish Weddings Magazine. In 2011, we would like to reach a wider audience and aim to be featured in national wedding publications too.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
Ideally, we would like StarWeds to become renowned as the leading UK provider of not only personalised wedding websites but also as the number one facilitator of online wedding gift funds.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 - Provide First-Class Customer Service:  The most important tip is to treat your customers as you would like to be treated yourself. Ensure that you provide a high-quality, personal service and make clients aware that you are there for them every step along the way. Chances are if you have your own business, you will be putting your heart and soul into it, so this should shine through in the service that you provide. We understand that a couple's wedding day is one of the most special days of their lives and we want to ensure that they remember their StarWeds experience as enjoyable, stress-free and truly exceptional.

Tip 2 - Daily To-Do Lists:  I am a strong believer in to-do lists. If you start each day with a list of what you need to achieve to accomplish your goals, then this helps you to focus and direct your energies more effectively.

Tip 3 – Know your Market:  I spent several months researching before I finally set up my business. You need to know who your competitors are, that you are pricing your services correctly and that you have plenty of unique selling points.

Tip 4 - Be Dynamic:  Technology-based business is one of the most dynamic environments. We are constantly reviewing, updating and improving our site. Technology business landscape can change in a flash as new technologies are launched every day, so we are forced to be flexible, forward plan to stay ahead of trends and embrace change.

Tip 5 - Network:  I have found that networking events, particularly those with other business women are very helpful. These events are a great opportunity to promote your business and to gain feedback. Contacts from these events can be potential customers and possibly open other doorways of opportunity.

If prospective customers would like to get in touch, how can they contact you?  
I can be contacted via my website at or by email on; I'm also on Facebook on or you can Tweet me at

Thanks so much for taking the time out to chat with us today Gillian, your service is really clever and innovative and I can see a lot of people being really interested. 

We really hope you enjoyed today's Feature Friday - remember, if you are a businesswoman running your business from home and would like you and your company to be featured, please drop us an email to with the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line.  And don't forget to join our forum at to chat with like minded businesswomen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How to be Picture Perfect for your Big Day !

I think every single one of us stress about our wedding photographs, after all it is the one lasting memory of our Special Day.
First there is the monumental task of finding a photographer that suits the style and range we wish, and then we just worry about trivial things, like that big pimple popping up and the weather not being good.
But any photographer worth their salt will have the skill to overcome all these issues.
However, there are ways that we can help ourselves be picture perfect.

Consider an engagement photo shoot.
Spending time with your photographer perfecting the look you want prior to the main event will help you relax more on the actual wedding day, and allow your photographer an insight in how to get the best from you.
Look after yourself inside and out.

Eat well and drink lots of water, take up gentle exercise and get plenty of rest.

Remember to cleanse, tone and moisturise.

Stress and tiredness and lack of care will show in your skin.
Consider long and hard what you want to do with your hair and make up and have trials in both.
If you want to go for a completely different hair look [say long to short] , give yourself a good few months in case it doesn't turn out how you wanted.

And be careful with any new make up, you don't want it to react with your skin.
Practicing your pose in the mirror might sound a little self indulgent, but by lifting your head a little, any double chin will hopefully disappear, and it will give you a chance to find the best way to face your body to disguise any little hang ups you have.

On the day, remember to keep your flowers down , as beautiful as they may be, you really want to have the focus on and show off that beautiful dress.
And probably the very most important thing that you really shouldn't have to practice or think about - SMILE !!!