Today we’re so delighted to introduce Vaani Wadman of Sugar Plum Bakes! Vaani is one of our newer members, having joined the HiveTribe at the end of last year, but she’s already a much-valued member of the community. Not only thanks to her gorgeously romantic wedding cakes (which have already been featured many times in blogs and magazines in 2019), but also due to her passion for weddings and the wedding industry, which really shines through in her answers to our questions below. An engineer by trade, Vaani has come a long way from Oil and Gas to brides and buttercream, but has retained a refreshing sense of perspective throughout. As she says: “success is a journey and not a destination”!
How did you get started in the wedding industry?
Although having started my working career in the Oil and Gas industry, I’d always had a hankering for a much more creative job. After my children were born, I knew I wanted a job that I could do on my terms so that I could be around for them, and that was how I got into cakes. I started off making celebration and birthday cakes, but I was drawn to the wedding industry as I love making dreamy, romantic cakes decorated with fresh flowers. The beauty, the romance… I love it all!
Whenever I got asked to make a wedding cake, my heart would sing. And this was in stark contrast to when I got asked to make a novelty cake, when my heart would literally do the opposite: it would sink! So I very quickly learned what I was passionate about!
What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them?
I definitely lacked confidence in the beginning and most certainly under-charged for my skills. I didn’t realise how damaging this is to the industry at large. By no means was I meaning to undercut my competitors, but I just didn’t believe in myself to think customers would want to pay more for my creations. When I looked at my numbers, and calculated the amount of time I was putting into my work and realised I was operating at a loss and I put my prices up!
What advice would you give someone about to make the leap to being a full-time wedding pro?
I’ve definitely learnt a lot while growing my business, and I would wholeheartedly recommend getting a business plan and strategy laid out early on. Coming from an engineering background, I feel like I knew very little about running my own business. I do think it’s important to be well informed early on. I wish I’d joined the Hive sooner, as I have learnt so much already in the short space of time of being a member!
What support and advice have you discovered, and how has it changed your business?
Before joining the Hive, I was a member of a Mums in Business group and I learned a lot about how to grow my business online and through networking. But something was missing for me and I knew I needed to be part of a community that understood the wedding industry. The Hive definitely feels like the right place for me to be to keep growing my business and to connect with people in the same industry.
Do you think women can ‘have it all’ when it comes to running a successful business and having a fulfilling personal life?
I think you can have most of it, but sadly not all. Running your own business, and having it be a successful one, can come at a price. It’s all-consuming and even if you’re passionate about it and love every minute of it, it does take up so much energy. My priorities are my family first, the business comes next, and then anything else comes afterwards. I try my best not to neglect my friendships, but it’s just not possible to do everything well. I think you have to choose what matters most and give those things your full attention.
How do you find a work/life balance?
Oh gosh – this is forever a juggling act in my life! I think my home gets rather neglected as I focus on keeping on top of work and family. Sometimes it all goes really well but at other times when I have a lot of work on, I find that I’m hanging on by a thread. But I know it’s just temporary and once I’ve got through that busy period, calm can return. I’ve learned not to put too much pressure on myself – that would definitely be my tip to anyone else. Life can’t always be perfect, you just have to do the best that you can. I think it’s really important that my children see how hard I work, to learn about a strong work ethic and a value for money and give them a respect for an entrepreneur’s life.
What’s your definition of success?
I see success as a journey and not a destination; it’s an ongoing sense of achievement, of growth, of happiness, an endeavour in making a profitable business without compromising my integrity or my values.
What’s your number one tip for new wedding pros?
Be generous, be kind, be supportive to your fellow wedding suppliers. They are the people who will support you and have your back in this industry. And have fun – it’s an amazing industry to work in. I love it so much!
What’s next for you and your business?
This is my first year fully focusing on weddings. My signature style has been evolving, and I really want to continue to be commissioned to make cakes that I love to create. I want to be able to pick and choose the work I feel really passionate about and that inspires me.
Whether it’s romantic wedding cakes, beautiful blooms, or light-filled photography, want to turn your passion into a thriving wedding business? HiveTribe membership gives you all the advice and support you need to get started! BECOME A MEMBER TODAY.
Photography: Tia Talula