“Some days being your own boss is really hard work. But you gain flexibility and get to work on something you are fully invested in and passionate about – there’s no better feeling.” Rebecca, Founder & Creative Director of Rebecca Anne Designs on her advice to those looking to take the plunge
Threaded with bridal cool, once you’ve stumbled across Rebecca Anne Designs’ heavenly veils, not only will you find it difficult (impossible actually) to forget their achingly unique allure, but you’ll have to reboot your understanding and vision of the bridal veil itself. Forget the traditional vibe you thought it was laced with and discover the beautifully contemporary power Rebecca, of Rebecca Anne Designs, has stitched into its seams. In her own words, she’s “leading the bridal revolution. Taking tradition to the next level by going beyond the veil and adding a seriously stylish edge.” And, I love it. I managed to catch up with Rebecca herself, to talk about her business journey so far and her version of Taking The Plunge, including the highs, the lows, the first jobs, the worst jobs and the tech she can’t live without…
Business: Rebecca Anne Designs
Date you took the plunge: “The business started in 2015 but I took the plunge in 2020.”
Collection photographs by @kamilanowakphotography
Photographs of Rebecca by @hazydazeweddings
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“Rebecca Anne Designs offers bespoke embroidered veils for the modern bride. Working alongside my brides in a collaborative process, I design and stitch personalised veils to complete their bridal styling in the most meaningful way possible.”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?
“Following my passion for art and sewing, I studied Fashion Design at university. I always loved tailoring and beautiful fabrics but my bridal journey started when my final collection won me a placement with UK bridal designer Sassi Holford. One week turned into six months and I fell head-over-heels for bridal. I moved on from production to manage bridal boutiques for seven years and absolutely loved being a part of a bride’s experience in finding ‘The Dress’. On hitting a ceiling in my job managing a boutique, I decided to try another career path that I always imagined going into – Primary school teaching! Although being a very successful student and teacher, and loving being in the classroom, the rest of the job was definitely not for me. Bridal was calling me home…”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“When I was managing a bridal boutique and working with the most gorgeous dresses, I often felt the veils were an afterthought and not made to the same quality as the gowns. Some of my favourite memories from styling brides are those appointments where brides were dismissive of the idea of wearing a traditional veil but were then overcome with emotion when trying one on. I have always loved the romance of the veil and love that such a traditional accessory is now being reborn as the modern finishing touch.”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“Although my business started in 2015, I would say 2020 was the year of ‘taking the plunge’. The business started with the want to offer beautifully handcrafted veils but, after leaving the bridal world for a couple of years, it became what it is today from a need to be working 1:1 with brides again by offering bespoke designs. At the end of 2019, my partner bought me my first embroidery machine (he believed in me and the business even more than me, and is still my biggest cheerleader) and I spent months teaching myself how to use it with a delicate fabric such as tulle. Just before Covid was really a ‘thing’, I handed in my notice at my teaching job to look for something with less hours so that I could concentrate on growing my business. Little did I know the world was about to close down and no jobs were to be found! At the time, I thought I had royally mistimed my choice but, actually, that first lockdown gave me the gift of time to rebrand, spend a lot of time networking online with other wedding suppliers, showcase my veils in some amazing styled shoots, and relaunch the business purely offering bespoke embroidered veils – made by Rebecca Anne!”
#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:
“I don’t think I can think of the ‘first day’ as it all came about so organically. To be honest, even now I pinch myself that this is a business and that it is my full-time job. I do remember buying the website domain though and thinking I was so grown up!”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“Receiving photos of my brides wearing their bespoke veils – it reminds me what a privilege it is to be a part of that special day. I spend so much time connecting with and working alongside my brides and then working on their veil in the studio… but not getting to see it all come together for them on the day is kind of weird! So, seeing their photos afterwards and hearing that their veil was a huge hit makes me smile so much.
Another high was moving into my studio just over a year ago. I grew out of being able to work from home quite rapidly and the timing couldn’t have been better when a random google search bought up the perfect premises – I moved in the next day!
My partner has always felt like a huge part of my business but we finally made it official this summer when he was able to drop some hours at his ‘other job’ and now works for Rebecca Anne Designs one day a week (plus all the evenings and weekends as most self employed find themselves working overtime…!). I never thought I’d be in a position to take on a member of staff and growing this business together to support the both of us is looking to become a reality which makes me incredibly proud.”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“It got to a point where I felt I was fully booked as I was working far too many hours per week. I made an early decision to refocus on quality and not quantity – so I put my prices up. In the weeks that followed, for the first time, I started having brides not place an order because I was beyond their budget. It was really hard to learn that that’s ok and that you can’t cater for all. Giving discounts is detrimental to the entire reasoning behind pricing. But for a little while I doubted my worth. Until a bride paid double what anyone else ever had, and then another bride did the same, and another… and now I am much more confident in my prices and am happier making less veils per month working with a select number of brides. If brides want to work alongside the designer who will be their point of contact throughout, be the actual person hand drawing their artwork and making their bespoke veil, with years of experience and knowledge, then they are willing to invest.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “Stay true to your design style – it’s ok to say no to an enquiry if it doesn’t feel like a good fit for you and your brand.”
No.2 “Try and stay in your lane and not compare yourself with what others are doing. Remember that social media shows everyone’s ‘best bits’ and you don’t always know what’s going on behind the grid!”
No.3 “When it feels like you’re being copied, take it as a compliment (I’m still working on this one myself!)”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Get up? Meditate? Read?)
“I read before I go to sleep and this generally helps me switch off from business thoughts. But when I do get the dreaded 3am wake up, I write down what’s bothering me and leave it by my breakfast bowl to tackle in the morning. I take my Kindle to the sofa with a peppermint tea and try and get back to the bedtime mindset! Failing that… listening to Stephen Fry’s soothing voice telling a story on the Calm App usually works a treat… if I could find a David Attenborough one I think I’d have the best night’s sleep ever!”
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“Lists, lists and more lists! My phone is full of reminders and notes – I don’t know what I’d do without them. I try and start the week, or even the day, with a to-do list if I feel I have a lot to get done. It’s so satisfying ticking off items through the day and you feel a real sense of achievement and can organise yourself for tomorrow with the things not yet started!”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
“My parents and my partner Jeremy. I have grown up in a household full of hard work and love, and then found that in my other half too! My parents were self-employed and I always looked up to them and thought it would be amazing to run my own business one day. I was always taught that if you work hard, you reap the rewards. And, oh my, being self employed can be really hard work. But Jeremy is amazing at keeping me motivated and on track so we can enjoy the benefits of my business together.”
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“Cloud storage. It was only last year that I moved everything online after always working from wall charts and paper diaries. It was the best thing I’ve done to feel more organised. Everything is accessible wherever I am which means I can answer queries or check information if I am away from the studio. I use spreadsheets for all my orders and book everything into my online calendar so I can look as far ahead as my 2025 orders to see when I am making veils. And, my digitising software. It helps me to recreate my hand drawn artwork into embroidery form. Even now I watch in awe as my embroidery machines bring my drawings to life.”
#13 Your first ever job was…
“I grew up in a village pub that my parents owned for over 25 years so my first job would have been at age 14 cleaning the pub on a Sunday morning and then waitressing at midday. I never minded working on Sundays as mum always fed us all a roast dinner at the end of the shift! It’s a far cry from bridal but it was my first lesson in giving amazing customer service which I pride myself on now that I run my own business. I put my all into every point of contact with my brides from that first enquiry, to the handwritten postcard with their veil delivery, to talking all about their wedding with them afterwards! I love every step and want them too as well.”
#14 Your top social media tip?
“Show up, be consistent and be real. People buy from people. I try and hop on stories at least once a week, show my face in a reel once a month and post 4-5 times a week. That doesn’t mean it’s the answer to breaking the internet (unfortunately no one can tell you how to become a success through social media because none of us truly understand ‘the changing algorithms!), but it’s what I feel comfortable with. Find your pace and keep it up!”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…
“I actually have a lovely collaboration about to be launched that I am really excited about. It will give my brides a little extra help in telling their love story through my embroidery…”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“Way too many to mention. Networking online during the pandemic brought so many inspiring wedding suppliers into my life.”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)
“As much as it drives me crazy some days… Instagram all the way. It has helped me showcase my work to brides-to-be and also connected me with wedding suppliers all over the world – I actually found most of my stockists through IG. Running a small business can be lonely at times but I have made so many industry friends though the app, it feels like you have a group of business partners sat in your DMs.”
#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:
“Although it felt risky to leave my teaching position, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I was working full time and trying to grow my business. It wasn’t until I was fully committed that it took off. Don’t overthink it, follow your passions, believe and invest in yourself. Surround yourself with people you love and trust in your industry and connect with those whose businesses align well with your own. Some days being your own boss is really hard work. But you gain flexibility and get to work on something you are fully invested in and passionate about – there’s no better feeling.”
Rapid Fire Questions | Rebecca Anne Designs
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:
“I Do: How to say YES to running a successful and profitable wedding business by Faye Cornhill. When I read the book, I felt like a friend was talking sense into me. I then took part in her Instagram Bootcamp and have been a member of The Wedding Business Club ever since – I am so in awe of what she’s created and love being a part of such a special space #BossCrush”
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
“Vanilla latte… cold or hot depending on the time of year!”
#3 Instagram feed crush:
“@kamilanowakphotography … my favourite photographer on earth. I have always admired her work and still pinch myself that I have been able to book her for my own wedding.”
#4 Your worst job was…
“One of the placements during my PGCE year… looking back now it was the beginning of the end for my teaching career and made me realise it just wasn’t for me.”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
“I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve had quite a journey to where I am today and it really does bring me so much joy to have turned my passion into my business.”
#6 Work day pick-me-up:
“Music, always. The right music really helps my mood. Quiet and precise jobs might require Classic FM or for a busy day something nostalgic like throwbacks from 90s girl bands!”