Happy Friday! As many of you know, I have been doing quite a bit of speaking with ISSE, a wonderful organization that is dedicated to bringing wedding professionals together and promoting a sense of unity and educational advancement. I thought it might be nice to speak with ISSE founder, Stacie Francombe, about why she decided to start the organization and her vision for those involved.
PB: I am always fascinated by the motivations behind starting something new. Tell me, why did you start ISSE?
SF: After wearing a number of different hats in the wedding industry and in life, I felt uniquely experienced to inspire, educate and bring together like-minded wedding professionals who wished to grow their business. After a career in broadcast television, I started a wedding and event videography, so I understand the challenges of running a small wedding centric business and all that goes into such an endeavor, from where to advertise, to how to balance the books. Then as I founded, grew, and eventually sold an online wedding resource and television show, I learned the ins and outs of web development, e-commerce, advertising sales, content creation, publishing and business management. I did this while balancing my personal life as a wife and mother of three boys. Having met so many wedding professionals, as both a small business owner and a resource guide owner, I knew the challenges they faced and felt that sharing my experiences and the experiences of notable wedding experts such as yourself, could perhaps make some sort of difference.
PB: As an event designer, I have great respect for finding the proper venue for a specific event. How do you choose the locations for ISSE?
SF: My goal is to choose US-based locations that are central to a number of markets, and can be easily accessed by wedding professionals in those markets. I recognize that wedding professionals provide services to brides in diverse locations, not just metropolitan areas, and believe strongly in bringing our panel of experts to such locations. Bringing the experience to a variety of locations makes it truly viable for any professional, on any budget to attend.
The year-end, out of country experience is designed to be totally immersive, and for this reason I choose properties where attendees will learn, stay and play together. Many attendees add days onto the start or end of the experience, and during this time build on the friendships they have forged during the three days of organized events.
PB: One of the things I love most about speaking at ISSE events are the wonderful people I meet. Can you tell us more about the attendees who come to ISSE?
SF: Sure! Anyone and everyone in the wedding and event industry who value ongoing learning as a critical part of building their business. This includes vendors new to the business as well as experienced vendors interested in expanding/improving their businesses and partner pool.
PB: As a speaker, the wonderful people and the stories I hear are part of what makes ISSE events so special to me. I’d love to know what makes the events special to you. What do attendees say when the event is over?
SF: Our panel of experts, their personal experiences, and their willingness to unconditionally SHARE actionable advice in a welcoming, nurturing environment, that inspires as well as educates.
One hundred percent of attendees surveyed say they would recommend ISSE to a friend or colleague and say that it was worth the investment to attend. We also post testimonials
so that others can learn from those who have attended the events.
PB: I am a big advocate of mentoring and love that ISSE offers opportunities to learn from others. Tell us more about this program.
SF: Mentoring allows me to go one-on-one with wedding professionals, to immerse myself in their business in order to help them on much deeper level. The overall goal however, is not to act an out and out business consultant, but rather provide a foundation and set of simple tools that business owners can use in order to be successful on their own. Again, we offer testimonials on our site about this as well.
PB: This is great! What is the one piece of advice you offer to your mentees as they get started or want to take their business to the next level?
SF: Get to know your business, now ! Many wedding professionals are intensely creative by nature, and tend to over look crucial business data. Understanding your budgets and profit margins or setting goals isn’t quite as exciting as designing a floral centerpiece, but it’s incredibly important. Knowing the areas where you can improve your business, will ultimately help you grow your business. That all starts from understanding your business.
PB: We are all looking forward to the 2013 events. What can attendees expect for next year’s ISSE?
SF: Some exciting new locations and more of the same quality Experience including great experts, great locations, great information sprinkled with inspiration. I will also be doing more intimate events (like ISSE NY this year) with a limited number of attendees one-on-one with me during a luncheon.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information with us.I hope you have learned a little bit more about ISSE and their events, and I hope to see some of you readers at Stacie Francombe’s future ISSE events.
Enjoy your weeked!