Anna: Welcome to podcast episode number nine. And you’re here with Anna Wang, and we’ve got an amazing special guest today.
As we kind of get through this week, this week is pretty crazy. We’ve got nine weddings that we’re prepping for. The teams at the back are going crazy, but we still always have time for Miss beautiful Victoria Black. Welcome, Victoria.
Victoria: Thank you, Anna. It is so exciting to be here. I can’t tell you how gorgeous this place is if you haven’t been here before.
Anna: It’s really exciting to have Victoria because I probably would say Victoria is probably one of the… I’d probably say entrepreneurs right from the beginning, even before my times of when I started. When I first came across Victoria is when Modern Weddings magazines was happening, and then my husband Bailey was more like, you know, we have to be in that magazine because it was the “It” magazine. It was one of the most sought out magazines in the wedding industry. So, I said, “All right. Let’s get in there.” We were actually the first open cover for probably about two years in a row for the video photo filming and the Anna Wang style.
So then, I probably thought with Victoria. Let’s touch base on why you started the whole publishing and how you got into it, and where it evolved from when you first started to now.
Victoria: Sure. Well, it started way back in the 1990s when I got engaged myself. I bought all the bridal magazines and I thought, these are rubbish. I can do better than that. We launched with a magazine called Sydney Wedding. That was actually around for 28 years, like a very long time. And it just took off. Then we added title after title. Modern Wedding was our national title, and we had all sorts of different variants of it. We had Modern Wedding Cakes, Modern Wedding Flowers, Photography. We had styling as you know.
We ended up with 24 different weddings which was crazy.
Anna: Oh, wow. Amazing.
Victoria: And then, as you know, life changes, the industry changes and brides move towards digital platforms. We embraced digital straightaway. Which is why we’ve now got over 1.5 million on our Facebook.
Anna: Probably one of the biggest followings in terms of your platform there.
Victoria: Definitely. Definitely. We made the decision eventually, sadly, but you know, had to pivot to close our print magazines. We were actually the last national bridal magazine standing. So, we hung out till the last possible time. However, it’s been fantastic because now we are a hundred percent focused on digital and we are absolutely smashing it and loving it.
Anna: In terms of your clientele, so you’ve got brides as your clients that’s pretty much seen inspiration and buying the magazines before. But then you’ve got the other side, which is your clients as suppliers, people that are actually advertising their business and all of that. Have you had any actual suppliers or customers that was with you way back then and they’re still with you now? Do you have any of those clients?
Victoria: We actually have a lot of those clients. Yes, we’ve got venues that have been with us right since the beginning, like the Doltone house, the Navara venues. I can go on. Then we’ve got fashion designers who, again, have been with us since the very beginning. They were in every single issue of Modern Wedding, like Wendy Macon and Essence of Australia, which is actually a massive international brand now.
I could go on listing. We’ve got a lot of brands who have stood the test of time, who have also embraced digital media, and have stayed with us. It’s so beautiful to have those relationships over almost 30 years. I was 5 when I started. So…
Anna: Oh my god. I’m thinking you’re only like 30, nowhere near 40. You don’t look that old at all.
Just touching base as a senior business woman. Okay. What can you advise the people out there that actually want to start their own business or want to do either in the social media platform or whether they want to get into other platforms of florist, or a stylist or a fashion designer? Is there anything you can give them as advice of how to start or what they should look out for?
Victoria: Definitely. I think start with a big vision. Start with what’s your passion, what really makes your heart sing. And think big. Don’t think I’m just going to have this little business. That’s exciting or motivating. That’s not going to get you out of bed in the morning when you’re tired and exhausted. You’ve got to have a really big vision, like crazy big. Then you map it out.
My advice to people beginning is, don’t try to be perfect. You can spend 10 years planning the best business and never actually do it. I always talk about taking massive imperfect action. Just frickin do it, you know? Just get out there. If you launch your business and it’s not embarrassing, then you’ve launched too late.
If I look back at things I did, I did a TV commercial in the early days and I look back at that and go, “Oh my goodness, that is so embarrassing.”
So, don’t worry about that. You’ve got to just like, you know, my kids say, “You’ve got no shame, mum.” You’ve got to get rid of the shame. Get rid of the embarrassment and just do it, because that’s the way you learn. Right. Like doing this podcast. That would be terrifying to most people. You just got to do it.
Anna: You just got to do it, exactly. You just got to do it and present yourself out there. But did you think you’d be as successful as you are today when you first started?
Victoria: Thank you for saying that. Absolutely, no way. No. I just thought I was starting this little wedding magazine in Sydney and, you know, luck comes into it. I’m sure timing, a lot perseverance, and just if you consistently do your best, and also pivoting. Pivoting is a really important thing. I know you guys have pivoted a lot. You used to be seriously into wedding photography and then you… You still do that, but then you pivoted and you’re seriously into styling. You go where your heart leads you and where the demand is and always trying to be better and better and better. I’ve watched you guys do that over the past five years or so, and you’ve massively changed direction because you’ve listened to what brides want. And you’ve given them what they want. You can be way more successful than you imagined in your wildest dreams.
Anna: That’s right. It’s quite crazy, because like you said with big visions, me and Bailey always dream big and we always have massive visions. And even in the future, we’ve got massive plans for where we want to take our brand. It’s just a matter of people just going, “Hey, hold on. When is this going to happen?” It will happen very soon.
I think what I want to kind of bring people’s attention to yourself, Victoria, because you’re such an inspiration. You’re such a positive inspiration as a female. Because in the wedding industry, a lot of people think it’s very female dominated, but it’s not. It’s very male and female mixed dominations.
For brides that are out there looking for vendors for their wedding and how to choose who to go with for their wedding, what can you advise them in terms of where to go? Which platform? How do they choose? The people that you have on your platform, how do you choose them? Are they just everyone and anyone or do you actually filter them?
Vuictoria: Oh, we definitely filter. We do turn people away a lot, particularly if they don’t have any material. It’s for their own good, really. We’re not trying to be snobby. If they don’t have the imagery, that is, if they want to get on our Instagram, for example, but they have really bad images, there’s no point in us doing that because it’s going to be bad for us, and it’s going to be bad for them. It’s not going to work. We encourage them, obviously. Everybody’s got to start from somewhere and we point them in the right direction and say, come back when you’ve got some nice images.
But yes, no, definitely. I mean. Having been in business for decades, literally, we do know who’s good. We obviously invite those people to be on our platform. We don’t want to let brides down. So, we would not put dodgy people out there. Over the years we’ve had a few complaints about certain people who are probably no longer in business anyway, and we do remove them off our platform if we feel that they are not delivering the kind of service that brides deserve.
Anna: Because it’s your recommendation on your platform.
Anna: The brides comes and goes, “You know what? I found this supplier on your website, on your Instagram, and you guys said they were fantastic.” And then they let them down. It reflects on you.
Victoria: Totally. We’d like to call ourselves curators. We curate the best of the wedding industry. Even though our audience is international, we primarily focused on Australia. There are so many quality suppliers in our country. We’re very, very blessed. We are really the best in the world at what we do.
Anna: So, for suppliers, probably a lot of people procrastinate. Should I spend this money or should I invest this money to promote on your platform and all of that? What can you advise suppliers, whether they’re new or they’re existing or they’re been around for a long time and haven’t actually been part of your platform? What can you advise them or reasons why they should actually be on your platform and why they should reach out to you and say, how can I help you grow your business and actually let people understand who you are by using our platform? How can you actually advise people to come to you?
Victoria: Yeah, that’s a great question. We see ourselves; we’re wedding media. We’re an influencer, like you say, we’re recommending leads businesses, but we’ve got a massive, massive audience. People would come to come to us, suppliers come to us. We also guide them because we are the experts in digital marketing, particularly for the wedding industry, and we know what works. We know our audience. We know the brides. We know the different segments of the market and how to target them. We know what they want most in a supplier.
We don’t just take their money and stick them on our platform. We actually work one-on-one with suppliers. We get to know their businesses, get to know what their unique selling points are. What is their point of difference? Why should somebody come to your business as opposed to your competitor in the next suburb? And let’s make that work. Let’s get that message out there effectively to very large audience with our brand on it so that you’ve got that stamp of approval.
Anna: Beautiful. Amazing. But as you said, the actual choosing the right platform, taking your money, and then see-you-later type of thing. Unfortunately, there is a lot of platforms like that around. A lot of people are taking people’s money and just doing one post here, one post there. They’re not even actually rectifying the fact that, hey, am I even helping this business or it’s just about money making for them? There’s a lot of them out there. So, how do you differentiate those businesses to yourself?
Victoria: Yeah. Good question. It’s about relationships. And as we talked about before, you know, we’ve had relationships over many, many years with most of our suppliers, and it’s a trust factor. It’s a fact that we’ve proven ourselves. We have shown what we can do. So yeah, I mean, if it doesn’t work, the beauty of digital is it’s very obvious. The numbers speak for themselves.
Anna: That’s amazing.
Victoria: So, very easy to measure.
Anna: Did you struggle from changing from print to digital? How did you overcome that challenge?
Victoria: Yes. We did see the move to digital very early on which is why we haven’t struggled so much as others. Many magazines actually folded and there is no more business anymore. There’s no more Bride to be, there’s no more Studio, if you remember those names. That’s because they didn’t embrace digital as quickly as we did.
We straight away got on board, built our audience, and we put lots of effort into that. The effort onto digital grew and grew and grew and print went down and down and down until eventually digital just took over. It was a gradual procedure.
Anna: Do you think print will ever come back?
Victoria: It’s a possibility. I personally still love print. We were talking earlier on, it’s beautiful flicking through those gorgeous glossy publications. The sad thing is, there’s still these demands, I believe, from brides for those publications. But there’s not, because advertisers today have got so many places to put their money. They haven’t got that budget anymore for print. So, it’s no longer financially viable. But you know, it may come back. With books, you know, everyone was buying Kindles. But now they’re coming back to the paper backs. So, it’s a possibility. We’ll be ready if it goes.
Anna: Because what I’ve noticed is at venues, I was approached by one of the venues and said, “Would you like to advertise in our little brochure?” And I’m like, “What brochure?“ What we’re doing is getting a couple of our key vendors that we like to recommend, and we’re making little brochures. So, when a bride comes, we’re going to give them this little brochure that’s got ads in them of who the florist is, who the photographer is. It’s like a mini type of magazine, but it’s got one or two suppliers in the same category.
Victoria: Great idea.
Anna: It’s interesting that they’re doing that type of thing because there is no more beautiful, glossy magazines out there that you actually flip through. And when you go online, there’s thousands of photographers and thousands of florists. How do you choose from that? It’s crazy. Whereas magazines, were literally, you have your 10 florists in there and you know who the cherry on top is. Because the people that are advertising are the ones that got a little bit of the budget to put in there. Now, digital is so cheap just to put up, but people aren’t looking at which platform they’re putting it up in. It’s just any random platforms.
Victoria: That’s so true. That’s why at Modern Wedding, we do curate. We don’t have thousands of photographers. We don’t have thousands of stylists. We’ve got our favorite ones, the top ones only on our platform. We run it like a magazine. It’s still Modern Wedding magazine, even though it’s online. We have the beautiful lifestyle articles, the beautiful stories that we tell. We still see it as an online magazine.
Anna: What’s your current inspiration? What inspires you, Victoria?
Victoria: Oh, look, I think the styling, such as you do is just, it just blows us away. It’s always new and fresh and creative. We love seeing all your imagery and art.
Anna: Thank you.
Victoria: Honestly, it’s so creative. It’s not just creative though, because there’s a lot of organization involved in your styling and planning. It’s so original and just gorgeous. So, yeah, I mean, we get our inspiration from you guys.
Anna: Thank you, Victoria. It’s crazy. We try to do something different for every bride, but there’s only so much you can do, because there’s only so much we can fit in our warehouse. There’s only so much we can turn over and turn around. It’s crazy.
But as we kind of look at your platform too, we kind of always scroll through Instagram. Okay, who’s posting what? What’s happening? And that’s where we kind of get a bit of inspiration of what’s going on, especially some of your international. We get to see a lot of international. That’s where our inspiration is. International is really crazy.
Victoria: yes, for sure. Especially the Americans.
Anna: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Victoria: The American just do… they often will take it to another level. They’ve got a big budget. I mean, it’s a much way bigger country than Australia.
Victoria: So, you’ve got those weddings that, you know, their million-dollar weddings. We do have some of those here too. However, it’s interesting to see what they do at those extremely luxurious weddings and you can take elements and make it…
Anna: And make your own thing too.
Anna: How do you find the wedding planning? Because in the U S they usually use a lot of wedding planners to touch base and actually plan the whole wedding. That’s the whole system over there. But how are you finding that in Australia?
Victoria: Isn’t it interesting? It’s never really taken off here. I think Australians are, by nature, DIY.
Anna: And love to meet everyone.
Victoria: They do. They do. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it’s one of the most fun things that you do is plan your wedding and as long as you can get great suppliers, you get that satisfaction from doing it yourself. Having said that, I’m certainly in favor of wedding planners. What they do is take a lot of the angst out of the day and they can point to the best supplies and save you a lot of time.
Anna: Yeah. exactly.
Victoria: But yeah, it’s just a cultural thing and we just have to work with it.
Anna: How do you balance your family life with your work?
Victoria: Oh, that’s a good question. It’s getting a lot easier now. I’ve got three boys. My youngest is now doing his HSC. So, he’s now very quite independent. But if I talk about when they were little, yeah, it’s hard. It’s really hard. I know you’ve got little ones.
Victoria: It’s just a matter of every day trying to fit them in. But it’s really important to make your family a priority and not go too crazy about making business your identity. It’s not your identity.
Anna: Yes. I got to learn not to do that.
Victoria: It’s a lesson we all have to continually, and there’s no such thing as perfect balance. It’s a constant juggle being a mum in business. It’s important to recognize you need time for self-care as well because as a founder, if you burn out, you’re no good to anybody.
Victoria: Don’t feel guilty about taking time off.
Anna: Oh god.
Victoria: You need it to keep going.
Anna: I need it. I need to learn that. Time off. Time off.
Victoria: Yes. Schedule it into your diary.
And the other thing is, don’t do your emails before 11 o’clock. If there’s one big giant bit of wisdom I can give, it’s that. Because once you get stuck in that inbox, your day is just like, it’s very distracting. If you can think, at the end of the day, what’s the most important thing for me to do tomorrow? Maybe three important things or however many, at the end of the day. And then when you get into work in the morning, don’t open your emails. Do those important things. What’s the next product you’re going to launch? What about your marketing? The big important things that are going to bring you business.
Victoria: Yes. And then at 11, you can even put an auto responder on to say, I won’t be answering emails until 11.
Victoria: Exactly. You will be amazed how more productive you’ll be by doing that.
Anna: You need to tell Bailey. Consistently, he’s like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to answer every email straightaway.”
Victoria: You don’t.
Anna: And I’m saying to him, “You know what…?”
Victoria: Don’t make yourself a slave to the email inbox. Also, it’s a fallacy to think you can multitask. If you’re doing some marketing strategy or business planning and your phone keeps binging and you keep answering things, you’re not going to be really focused. It takes you like a good 10 minutes to get back into the head space again. It’s so much better if you just go into your office in the morning and focus for a good couple of hours.
Anna: Do you offer businesses coaching at all?
Victoria: Not business coaching, no, but we certainly help wedding businesses succeed in digital marketing. That’s our niche. That’s where we help.
Anna: What’s the future of your actual whole branding? What’s the future? Are there any exciting things coming up that we kind of need to look forward to and kind of just wait for it to launch it? Is there things happen? What’s the future for you, Victoria?
Victoria: Of course. You know me well, Anna. We have got big plans. We are now, right this second, launching our own creative agency.
Victoria: We now can offer not just advertising on our platform and blogs and all that sort of thing. We can actually do social media for you. We can offer a done-for-you service, because so many wedding businesses, their genius zone is in the floristry, or it’s in the cake decorating. It’s not in what to do on Instagram and Facebook or Pinterest. We can actually take that over now for businesses. We’re doing that for some very major businesses, which has been really… I mean, it saves them employing people to do that. So, we’re actually saving them money.
Victoria: Plus, we’re focused on weddings and we know what we’re doing. We can also do SEO. We can build websites. We can do the full creative agency and we specialize in weddings. So, we really understand the industry.
Anna: Any new businesses or just starting up, the first point of contact is you need to come and see Victoria Black’s team. Because from here to just see this creative agency, I think that’s going to really help you guys really boost up and go know what they’re doing. It’s amazing.
Victoria: It doesn’t need to be expensive.
Anna: I think that’s what people are probably scared of is how much do I have to invest?
Victoria: Well, it just depends on what you want and everything’s tailor-made. That’s all done by the hour.
Victoria: We make it very affordable.
Anna; Well, I wish you were around when we were back there doing this creative agency, because I know back then when I first started without Bailey my life, I was like, “Okay, which magazine do I have to advertise in or who do I have to have relationships with?” And then when Bailey came into my life, he was more the IT side. He built the website. He got things happening. Now, he does our social media. He does our marketing, does all of that.
But five years ago, I’m sure Bailey would tell you; I wish you had this creative agency back then because the amount of time he invested in doing this marketing, he’s pulled his hair out and he was doing a thousand things at once.
Victoria: That’s so true. And you can’t be an expert at everything. I mean, how can any one person be an expert at social media, at SEO, at web development? You just can’t do it. It’s crazy to think one person can do that.
Anna: Do you do creatives as well, like if they need collaborative creatives, photos and things like that?
Victoria: Absolutely. Yes.
Anna: For anyone that needs to reach out to you guys, what’s the best way of reaching out?
Victoria: You just go to modernwedding.com.au and fill out the contact form.
Anna: And then someone will be in contact.
Anna: How exciting.
Victoria: It is exciting. We’re also creating a modern wedding master’s group. It will be a private group, like an inner circle.
Victoria: It will be for all the beautiful wedding professionals that we know and love and have built relationships with. It’s not launched yet. We’re working on it, but it’s public knowledge.
Anna: Oh wow.
Victoria: Yeah. We’re going to be inviting people in the industry who, not just people that have been around a long time, but people who are starting out are very welcome to join the up and comings. As long as they’ve got quality businesses, everybody’s welcome. We’re going to help form collaborations and networking and just boot each other up. Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Anna: I think we need to all work together.
Victoria: Exactly. Right.
Anna: We really need to.
I think that the negative of this industry is because there’s so many new people, old people, they all think I’m better than another, or whatsoever. But you know what, everyone works as hard as each other.
Victoria: That’s right.
Anna: Some of may have bigger businesses than other people, but what I’m noticing is a lot of them don’t work together and there’s enough business for everyone to have a business.
Victoria: You know what, that’s such a mistake. That’s like a poverty mentality. I much prefer to have an abundance mentality as exactly as you just said, Anna, there’s plenty of business out there for everybody. You know, the most successful businesses in this industry are businesses that work collaboratively with other people. If they can’t do a wedding, they’ll pass it on. You know? It’s just about being a nice person as well.
Anna: It is. It’s about being nice. Common sense.
Anna: How to actually handle people, but unfortunately not everyone thinks like you and I.
Anna: We try not to do everything, but unfortunately when a supplier lets us down, for instance, with cutlery or whatever, we have to end up doing it ourselves. And I said to Bailey, “We’ve got to stop doing things ourselves and start letting these people trust, and just go and do it.” They have to make a mistake to know what they’re going to do better next. That’s what we have in our desks for suppliers, our bridal type of supplies, our chandelier suppliers. They’re all separate businesses that we give businesses to every week. I think that’s one of the biggest things. It’s just everyone working together and just pretty much just spreading the business and everyone can make money.
Anna: And that’s what I feel is really important. It’s just that unity. Even with florists. When we get really busy, we love to have our florists come on board and work with us. It’s not about, oh my god, they’re going to take some of our trade secrets and go and…. It’s not. The whole end result looks the same.
Victoria: That’s so true. You know, people will copy. I’m sure you’ve had people copy. We certainly have people that copy us all the time. I used to get upset, but now I just think, “Oh, well, I’ll just go on to the next big idea. You can just be biting my heels. Bad luck.”
Anna: But as long as you’re the ringleader…
Victoria: Yes. And we do it better anyway.
Victoria: Nobody can do it like you can.
Anna: It’s crazy. It really is crazy. But it’s really exciting. We’ve met a lot of your team along our journey. It’s really exciting to actually have you here today, Victoria. Do you have any last-minute advice that you can offer to brides or suppliers, to anyone? Just before we wrap up, is there anything you’d like to add?
Victoria: Yes. And it applies equally to brides and suppliers is, do what makes your heart sing. Do what your passion is. If you’re a bride and you’re thinking about the wedding you want, don’t think small, think big. Make it like something that’s really amazing and something that’s bold and fresh and new that’s going to make you feel really excited.
And the same goes if you’re a supplier. Think about what’s going to make you really, really excited and just step out and do it, and don’t be shy. Just be brave. What can go wrong? What can you lose? Just do it.
Anna: How exciting. Thank you so much, Victoria, for joining us.
Victoria: Thank you.
Anna: We’re pretty much going to wrap up this podcast session and we’ve had such an inspiration and hopefully Victoria inspired you all today.
Victoria: Thank you, Anna. You inspire us. We’re just delighted to be working with you.
Anna: Thank you for listening.