“I find it helpful to switch my phone onto ‘do not disturb’ a couple of hours before bed. When you’re a small business owner it can feel like you have to be available to answer emails and DM’s at all hours.” Hannah Marshall, Founder of Eden b. Studio
Arriving in a wave of deliciously delicate sculptural clay flowers, exquisite flower vines, enchanting pearl clusters and dreamy silk organza petals, Eden b. Studio’s bridal accessory offering is one you’ll eternally covet. Every piece is painstakingly handcrafted in the designer’s studio in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, with every detail meticulously attended to and lovingly designed. The result? An accessory you won’t want to take off (seriously, you’d have to pry the designer’s Freya Drop Earrings off me). I managed to catch up with Hannah from Eden b. Studio 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: Hannah Marshall
Business: Eden b. Studio
Date you took the plunge: “Officially I set up Eden b. in March 2017, from my spare room at home. I often think of the real launch date of the brand as when I took on my studio space in 2019. That’s when things felt very official and the stakes were suddenly much higher.”
Collection imagery by @zachandgrace.co
Studio photography by @katherinelarcombe
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“Eden b. Studio offers luxury bridal hair accessories, veils and earrings for the modern bride. Each of our designs is handcrafted in intricate detail in our studio in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Our brides can choose from our online collection or work with us to create a one of a kind bespoke piece.”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?
“If making wedding dresses for my Barbies counts as part of my career then it started there, aged 7! My actual career began after I’d finished my degree in womenswear design and I was accepted onto the graduate scheme at Marks & Spencer. I worked there for two years as a Lingerie designer.
Whilst it was an exciting experience working for such a huge brand, I quickly realised that the big corporate world of high street fashion wasn’t quite right for me. I was desperate for a more creative role, and more importantly, in bridal.
I was then hired as a studio assistant with a couture bridal dress brand, working under a wonderfully eccentric designer, Angelina. My time there was such an eye opener to the world of a small brand. I saw just how creative the bridal industry can be and how special it is to work one on one with a bride. My role was so varied, which was refreshing after working in corporate fashion. One day I’d be writing an article for a magazine, and the next i’d be making a couture veil. I discovered that I really enjoyed working on the accessories, surprisingly more so than the dresses. Angelina saw this in me too and together we created a small accessories collection to compliment her dresses.”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“I think a lot of designers will relate to feeling creatively constrained when designing under another person’s vision and whilst I truly loved my short time with Angelina, I was desperate for the freedom to work on my own designs, to realise my own vision and to have my own brand.
The desire to have my own brand wasn’t new to me, but having always thought I would design wedding dresses, the idea of an accessories brand did strike quite suddenly. I noticed that at the time other brands mostly catered for brides who wanted sparkle, and having always found nature so inspirational, it was clear to me that botanical influenced designs with a focus on natural colour palettes and intricate detailing would be my niche.”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“I have my husband to thank for Eden b really. As much as I had wanted to set up my own brand for a long time, it’s a scary leap to make and sometimes you need someone to give you a nudge. He’s an incredible entrepreneur himself and gave me the confidence to just go for it!
I left my studio assistant role and told myself I’d give it six months to see how ‘business owner’ life went and if it didn’t work I would have to look for a new job. I got myself a part time sales position so I still had an income. For me, downplaying the stakes was important as I’m a natural worrier and if I’d gone into Eden b thinking this is going to be my career and sole income from now on I probably would have been too anxious to allow myself the creative headspace needed.”
#5 Describe how the first day of running your business felt:
“I don’t really remember the first day, but those first few months were a weird mix of liberating creativity alongside anxious uncertainty. I was finally doing what I’d wanted to do for a long time but it wasn’t making me any money yet and no one even knew the brand existed so I felt a bit of a fraud calling it my business.
Despite the uncertainty, I remember really enjoying the creative freedom of designing my first collection. Sometimes I’d spend several days making something, only to take it apart again to rework it and I’d seemingly have achieved nothing. As you become more successful and therefore busier, you really have to be careful to allow yourself that ‘creatively unproductive’ time, without it your designs will suffer.”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“I’ll never forget my first website order. I was out for some drinks with my girls when the order popped up on my phone and we all jumped around celebrating! Eden b suddenly felt legit and it was so wonderful to share that milestone with my friends!
Opening my studio was also such a moment for me. The space was in a terrible state when I signed the lease and it took a mammoth amount of work from myself, my husband and family to get it to where it is now. I felt so much pride opening the door to my first bridal consultation there.
The everyday highs are the best though. Nothing makes me happier than receiving photos back from our lovely brides. Being a part of one of the most special days of their lives is such an honour.”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“Navigating running a business through a pandemic was an experience I’d never want to repeat! We had just settled into the studio, had had our best month of sales to date and then lockdown was announced and sales were like tumbleweed in a desert.
My little boy was born just as lockdown was lifted and weddings were given the go ahead. I was suddenly inundated with more orders than we had ever had. After months and months of barely any sales through the pandemic, I didn’t feel I could turn away any business. Many a hairpiece was made during my baby’s nap time and I think I still have the dark circles to show for it!
Luckily I have the most incredible colleague, Emma, who stuck with Eden b throughout the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic and helped to keep everything in order whilst I found my feet with the motherhood/ business owner juggle. Part of growing a successful brand is understanding that you can’t do everything yourself and bringing talented people into the company.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “Try not to let the copycats get you. I’ve come across several brands over the years that have either been heavily ‘influenced’ by my work or have blatantly copied me. I’m still trying to take my own advice on this one and not let it bother me. I’m learning to focus my energy on making Eden b the best it can be and not get caught up in what they’re doing.”
No.2 “Plan social media time into your working day. Posting on social media is such an integral marketing tool for my business and it deserves structured planning and time. As a small business owner the lines between work and personal life are often very blurred and I’ve lost so many evenings to Instagram. I’m just beginning to put into place more structure, and treat social media as a valued use of time in the work day.”
No.3 “Get an accountant! Life’s too short to deal with HMRC!!!”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Getup? Meditate? Read?)
“I’ve got to admit I’m pretty terrible for this! I’m a worrier and definitely do my best catastrophizing in the wee hours!
I find it helpful to switch my phone onto ‘do not disturb’ a couple of hours before bed. When you’re a small business owner it can feel like you have to be available to answer emails and DM’s at all hours. I’m learning to be stricter with my personal time and give myself some headspace away from Eden b before bed.”
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“Get all your admin digital. I’ve historically been a big fan of a paper notebook and everything from my to do list to customer order lists would be handwritten in different notebooks. Moving these to digital lists has allowed me to streamline and share the admin load with Emma. I also have terrible handwriting so at least now she can actually read it!
Having a small business can be an organisational minefield because you’re often wearing many professional hats. My advice would be to get the infrastructure in place early so that as your business grows everything is organised.”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
“Business wise, my husband. David’s fearless approach to entrepreneurship is incredibly inspirational. He’ll always be the first to encourage me to go for something outside of my comfort zone.
In terms of design, my work is always inspired by nature. To me there is nothing more diverse and beautiful than flowers.”
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“My iPhone! I practically run my entire business from it. From admin to photographing new collections. I would be lost without it!”
#13 Your first ever job was…
“My older brother paid me to do his paper round for him (looking back, he definitely took a commission!) It was a boring job but I loved having my own money. I am the biggest advocate of instilling a good work ethic in young adults.”
#14 Your top social media tip?
“Feature the behind the scenes. For Eden b the fact that each of our pieces is handcrafted allows us a level of detail that can’t be achieved with mass production in a factory. Our pieces are an investment so I feel it’s important to highlight the craftsmanship that goes into each piece.”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…
“Laure de Sagazan. I’m such a huge fan of their dresses and the effortlessly chic style of the brand (I wore her Foster dress for my own wedding). I feel that Eden b fits very well with the relaxed style of French bridal.”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“Grape and Fig. Not accessory related or bridal specific, but their founder, Toria set her business up around the same time that I started Eden b and I’ve watched her brand flourish into the hugely successful business it is today. Check them out for epic grazing platters! I really admire the way they have maintained such a likeable, down to earth personality to the brand despite their rapid growth.”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)
“As much as it can often feel like a chore and is a constant battle to keep up with the dreaded algorithm, Instagram has been such an integral App for my business. In the early days, before I had built my website, the only existence of Eden b outside of my spare room was on Instagram. It was a great platform to gauge reactions to my designs and gave me confidence to keep going in those first few months. Now, it is the main source of marketing for the brand and allows us to share the behind the scenes making of our pieces with our followers.”
#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:
“Perhaps rather than taking the plunge straight away, take a little dip! Working on your business idea around your current job or taking on a part time role allows you to test the waters without the financial stresses of it being your only source of income. Believing in your brand in the early days is so important. It can take a while for people to start noticing your brand, but keep going, they’re out there!”
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS | EDEN B. STUDIO
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:
“I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually haven’t read a book for ages! But I love listening to inspirational business podcasts. I recently listened to ‘How I Built This with Guy Raz‘ an interview with Jo Malone. Her story is so inspiring and aspirational. She started her business from her studio flat in London and grew it to the international success story of today. When I listen to these podcasts the overriding theme of so many successful businesses is good old hard graft and sometimes that gives me the little boost I need to tick some things off the to do list.”
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
“An oat milk flat white and I’m addicted to their cheese and ham croissants!”
#3 Instagram feed crush:
“@thehousethatblackbuilt – I’m a huge interiors fan and Chelsea’s Victorian house is the dream!”
#4 Your worst job was…
“The paper round my older brother outsourced to me!”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
“I would love to renovate beautiful old houses.”
#6 Work day pick-me-up:
“Those addictive tubs of rocky road from M&S always help!”