“I have learned that the wedding industry mostly consists of small businesses run by professional women who work hard to create the most beautiful memories for their clients.” Miina Laitsaari, Director & Designer of Indiebride London
Drenched in a wild, bohemian spirit, Indiebride London is a label that works hard to deliver beautifully crafted, sustainably designed wedding dresses to the table. Opting to use natural fibres (including the likes of bamboo, silk, ramie and other sustainable fibres including tencel) Indiebride London is determined to bring its brides exquisite aisle-ready creations paired with a planet-friendly design. And, when it comes to the label’s history, the way in which sustainable bridal label Indiebride London and the now-Director and designer, Miina Laitsaari came together, is a truly unique business story. I managed to catch up with Miina 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…
Name: Miina Laitsaari
Business: Indiebride London
Date you took the plunge: 1/2/2019
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“Indiebride London offers sustainable and handmade wedding dresses with romantic bohemian vibes.”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?
“I never dreamed of being part of the wedding industry. I knew nothing about weddings when I started as an intern at Indiebride London in 2010. My background is in fashion design and production that I studied in Finland. All I knew was that I wanted to have my own fashion brand and be a business owner one day.”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“I’ve loved the ethos and the style of my business since I learned it existed. Let me explain. I didn’t start Indiebride London. I joined as an intern in 2010 and after finishing my studies in Finland I permanently moved to London in 2014 to work at Indiebride London first as a seamstress and then as the studio/production manager. After working for the brand for five years, I took it over in 2019 and now act as the director (and designer, pattern cutter and the main seamstress).”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“When the opportunity to take over Indiebride London first arose, I didn’t think it was financially possible for me to actually do it. I had fallen in love with designing and making these beautiful bohemian and romantic wedding dresses and I was heartbroken thinking that it’s so close but not possible for me. But in the end, we made it work and with the help of my family and partner I was able to make my dream of being a business owner come true. I was over the moon to finally have my own brand and to be able to make it truly what I wanted; a brand with a heart and an even more sustainable ethos.”
#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:
“I had been taking care of running the business for a few years already so my job description didn’t change much the day I took the plunge. As I took over an existing business I wanted to see how the first year went without making big changes. This was in February 2019. The first year went nicely but then, in March 2020 everything changed.”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“Highs include designing collections and being able to make all the final calls myself, being part of so many cool photo shoots, having the freedom to make my own schedule, meeting so many wonderful brides and seeing them finally wearing their dress on their wedding day.”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“The lows have obviously been the second and third year of my journey as a business owner under the Covid lockdowns. The long periods with no cash flow, watching the balance on the bank account run low as the overheads are running away and stressing about how to make enough money to come by and not being able to do much about it. Certain level of stress has constantly been present and it’s been really hard and overwhelming sometimes.
I always try to find the positive in every stressful situation. I think hard times build your character and during the pandemic I had time to really stop and think about what I want from my life and my business. I was also able to come up with new plans for the business having more time in my hands.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “Remember to take care of yourself too.”
No.2 “Saying “no” is okay sometimes.”
No.3 “Don’t work around the clock no matter how much you love and enjoy your job.”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Get up? Meditate? Read?)
“To be honest, I never have problems sleeping so I don’t really have those moments. But I do have aha-moments when lying in bed waiting to fall asleep. I just write the idea down to get it out of my head and then I can sleep.”
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“I’m a list-writer and I love using Google Drive to organise my ideas, social media content etc and Dropbox to organise and store all the imagery we use.”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
“At first, it was the founder of Indiebride London as I watched her make decisions, launch collections and navigate through tough times. More recently it has been fellow wedding suppliers. I have learned that the wedding industry mostly consists of small businesses run by professional women who work hard to create the most beautiful memories for their clients. And the ultimate inspiration has to be our brides. The women from all walks of life, all ages that just want to find a comfortable dress that’s been made with a heart put into it to celebrate one of the most important days of their lives.”
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“Dropbox and Instagram. Instagram is where we do most of our advertising and Dropbox stores all the imagery we share on Instagram and on our website.”
#13 Your first ever job was…
“Painting kids’ faces at a funfair. My favourite thing to paint was a butterfly and a dog.”
#14 Your top social media tip?
“If you are like me and struggle with social media and keeping up with the latest algorithm updates, if possible, team up with a social media manager. I started working with a social media manager more than a year ago and she is brilliant! I don’t have to worry about anything regarding social media and I know she will keep herself updated on any changes there are in the algorithm, latest trends etc. I have much less stress in my life and can concentrate on things that I actually know how to do.”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…
“Not a brand but a photographer: @beatrice_thequirky. I just love her photography and hope we could work together on a shoot one day.”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“@lovemydress, @benmellishheadshots, @joelizabethweddings, @ender_legard and a whole bunch of models, photographers, suppliers etc.”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)
“After taking on board a social media manager I don’t really need to think about these things anymore. But I used to use Hootsuite to schedule social media posts and I thought that was quite handy allowing you to create all your social media posts for a few weeks (or as much in advance as you want) in one day rather than taking the time to create a post every other day. Saves time and nerves.”
#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:
“Just do it. Cover your back the best you can, but do it. You more likely will regret not doing it than doing it.”
Rapid Fire Questions:
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:
“I haven’t read much in the past 20 years but I recently started again. I read Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos and found it brilliant.”
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
“This might sound crazy to some but I don’t think I’ve been to Starbucks more than once or twice. I prefer small independent cafes to the big chain ones. But to answer the question, I don’t drink coffee so probably a cup of tea and a salad or a baguette (do they offer those?).”
#3 Instagram feed crush:
“@toasthq. Their styling is so perfect!”
#4 Your worst job was…
“Selling magazines via phone. I left after half a day. I’m not a good sales person, which actually guarantees our brides that I won’t push them to buy a dress during their visit to our showroom!”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
“I guess I would own a small clothing business of some sort. Maybe sustainably produced loungewear or kaftans or something.”
#6 Work day pick-me-up:
“Cup of tea and blasting 90’s music.”