Expert Insights with Andrea Liss of @HannahHandmadeWednesday, March 26, 2014
Company Name: Hannah Handmade
Years in the Design Industry: 28
Year Business was Founded: 1991
Location: Chicago, Illinois
How did you get started in the wedding industry?
I began my career in the fashion industry as an art director at Carson Pirie Scott where I designed catalogs for women, children and the home. I was later working as a creative director at the Chicago Sun-Times when I felt the entrepreneurial pull. I opened my own design business in 1991 and started out creating handmade greeting cards that were sold in fine retailers and museum stores including Neiman Marcus, the Field Museum of Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was designing invitations for Fortune 500s, major non-profit arts institutions and celebrities. I did my first wedding for friends of my sister who were getting married at a private ranch in Aspen, Colorado and never looked back.
How has the industry changed since you started?
The level of artistry and sense of style at even the most basic level has been elevated. The range of advanced high-tech and high touch tools available to the do-it-yourself crafter has also grown dramatically. What was esoteric design speak is now common knowledge, and the ability to source materials and do business with people across the globe has never been easier.
What was the biggest lesson you learned early on in your business?
Relationships matter and are the key to success. There is no better compliment than to have a first-time client come back again and again with you as their go-to person for the product or service you provide. The only way to make that happen is to pay attention to the details and get it right. Your regular clients are your tribe and the foundation of your success.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the past few years?
Excellence is not an accident and experience counts. It’s easy to get it right when things go well and as planned. A true professional can handle the unexpected with grace and calm.
What one piece of advice would you give to another entrepreneur on sticking it out in a competitive industry?
Having your own business is not for the faint of heart. It takes tenacity and vision and will challenge you to become more than you are. Keep learning and growing. Follow your heart and keep it grounded with your head. Refine your skills and pay attention to your internal compass. While there will always be competitors and people who focus on themselves and their ambitions, the real way to succeed is to collaborate. We’re all in this together for the service of our clients.
Expert Insights is a series of conversations with wedding and event professionals who have been in the industry for ten years or longer.