Vintage Entrepreneurs: Rebecca Hoh-Hale of A Most Curious Wedding Fair Rebecca Hoh-Hale, a former assistant editor at an interior design magazine, has been running A Most Curious Wedding Fair and A Most Curious Party since January 2009. Her vintage party props hiring service and wedding fair have been a huge success, with the fair reaching critical acclaim for its cutting edge styling and championing of up-and-coming vintage-inspired designers. Here, Rebecca shares her success story and talks about juggling running a business and looking after her toddler. credit: Joanna Millington What started your interest in vintage? Rebecca: I always used to read stories which happened in Victorian times, or the war years or just pre-Sixties and wanted to be like the little girls in those stories. They always had the prettiest dresses and lived in big houses with interesting things in them! What was the main motivation behind turning your passion for vintage into a business? Rebecca: I know vintage weddings seem a little ‘old hat’ now, no pun intended! But I got married in 2008 so was planning my wedding in 2006 and 2007 which was a much less open time for incorporating unmainstream ideas into your big day. Caterers would look puzzled when I said I wanted to serve food on ‘old china’ and bunting was only seen at Used Car parking lots! So I had to start from scratch to get the vintage feel I wanted, so collected vintage crockery, taxidermy, objet d’art, had my mum make the bunting and customise my vintage Thirties wedding dress – and the day was really great so I realised I could help other people do the same thing. So I started the vintage hire and styling company A Most Curious Party, and exhibited at a few wedding fairs and thought ‘I could do this and I could do it way better!’ so I did… What did you do in preparation of launching your business (e.g. source premises, talk to suppliers, got a portfolio)? Rebecca: Not much – apart from the above. I got my friend to set up a website, and I simply ran it from a tiny flat in Bethnal Green and drove my husband mad living amongst boxes of tea cups, constantly going in and out the door. Did you have a business plan? Rebecca: Nope, I have been to workshops where they teach you to do them but I am too busy doing it to be able to do one! I am not saying this is a good thing, I wish I did have the time to do it. What was the one thing you wish you would have known before launching your business? Rebecca: How you can never switch off from it, how you never feel like you are ‘done’ – it’s just an on-going process. And build it as much as you can before you have babies, then it becomes a whole lot harder! Or get it to the point where you have good childcare or at least an office away from your house! You may have days when you wish you just went out the door from 9 till 5 to work for some one else rather than trying to email while putting the washing on and stopping your toddler from falling off the sofa. I feel strongly about that! But nothing beats the feeling of succeeding at something you have created but its swings and roundabouts. What does an average working day look like for you? Rebecca: A real mixed bag – some days are like the above, waiting for my daughter’s nap time to call back a model agency for a promo shoot for the events or being interviewed by a national bridal magazine whilst trying to hide the fact that a small child is smearing jam all over the walls! But there are the childcare days, when I sit and have my morning coffee and look at my emails, and before you know it it’s lunchtime. Meeting with Gemma, our style and events assistant, to discuss the wedding fair fashion shows or finding new cool suppliers for the fairs. Attending press launches or design shows to keep our fingers on the pulse on what the trends are. We do a lot of photoshoots they are always great and exhausting days, but super creative and it always feels cool to be ‘doing a shoot’! We also get to go into vintage bridal shops and other hidden shopping gems we find to source the perfect pieces for the models to wear… it’s not a bad job. What would be your three top tips for anyone wanting to launch a business in your industry? Rebecca: Find a new angle, there is no point copying something that already exists. It’s fine to get inspiration but copying people doesn’t make you any friends and also means you can only be as good as the person you are copying and surely you want to be better! Also connected to the above is don’t too much time looking at what your competitors are doing, its good to be aware but social media is terrible – it just makes you feel like everyone is doing and achieving more than you – just look around you and see what you have achieved and are currently doing. Forget them, they are probably looking at what you are doing feeling the same. Make sure you block out days to spend with family or friends and turn off your blackberry (or at least your email notifications). Are there any suppliers or people you’ve worked with you would want to recommend? Rebecca: Vintage Deli is an amazing place to source a vintage wedding dress, she has so many from so many different eras and a great fashion eye so can help you ‘cool’ a dress up with accessories if it seems too stuck in it’s era. We have Belle in Wonderland at our London Most Curious Wedding Fair and we are really excited! previously supplying amazing gowns from the 30s to the 80s to ultra cool Japanese clients, they are now expanding in the UK. Rag & Bow has supplied our waitresses with cool tea dresses for our roaming tea room – again, all her pieces are vintage but chosen because they are in line with the current fashion trends so just have the cool factor. What are your future plans for your business? Rebecca: I would love to get involved in London Fashion Week and become a name associated with fashion led bridal inspiration, to take the wedding fair to other locations and carry on working with a great mixture of beautiful vintage and new, exciting design. 2 Responses Sonya Rose March 17th, 2013 I really enjoyed reading this article. It made me want to get married again! I wish Rebecca all the very best! She’s got the eye, the gift! My husband and I cancelled our wedding twice due to breast cancer and decided within the New Year to just get hitched! We married within a few short weeks on Patron St. of Breast Cancer Day. I had a Vintage (50s), Eco-friendly theme in mind… You can find us on Wedding Wire – “Sonya & Kyle – Weddings”. Lena March 17th, 2013 Just took a look at your wedding Sonya – gorgeous, what a gown!