Because when you stop and take a look around, life is pretty amazing!
The Story Behind The Business - Natasha Johnson: The Celebrants Collective
With a background as a trained journalist, former BBC reporter and newsreader, Natasha Johnson is the Founder of award winning blog Engaged and Ready, a wedding celebrant and Founder of The Celebrants' Collective.
Having performed over 500 ceremonies, written countless blog posts on all things wedding, being featured by a number of industry publications (including being the resident Ask the Expert for Confeti Magazine), developing an online and in person career development platform for celebrants in Europe and beyond, being a judge in The Wedding Industry Awards, I think it's fair to say that Natasha is fully immersed in the wedding industry!
Q. How would you describe your business in one sentence?
A membership platform for Celebrants worldwide for professional development, community, education and inspiration, through online and in person workshops, events, resources and support.
Q. What inspired you to start your business?
After a decade of working as a wedding Celebrant in a very vibrant and busy wedding market, and expanding my business to take on a team of Celebrants, as well as running an award-winning wedding blog, I decided I wanted to use my knowledge and expertise that I’ve learnt over the years to help other Celebrants. I love being a Celebrant, I love the wedding industry and I love being able to share what I’ve learnt, my successes, failures and experiences to help others on their own Celebrant journey. It is so rewarding to see how much progress can be made when we collaborate with each other and create a community of like-minded thinkers. I like to think that the members of the Collective motivate and inspire me too, as much as I may them in any way.
Starting the collective has also been a great reminder and reinforcement that we never stop learning. whatever profession or industry you are in. That there is always something new to learn, or a forgotten skill that can be refreshed and revived and put to good use. And I love that the Collective is appealing to lots of Celebrants who really want to grasp their development with both hands and be the best that they proactively can be. One of my favourite quotes is this,
"A true sign of success is the honest recognition that there is always room for improvement."
I don’t know who said it, but I love it and it’s so very true.
Q. How would you describe your typical day?
I have two types of work days; wedding days and office days. I would love to say that both types of work days start off within an oasis of calm, where I wake a gently and transition smoothly to start my day with a healthy breakfast and some gentle stretches before preparing for my day. But my days certainly do not start like this. I have a boisterous five year old, so my days start with getting him ready and sorted for school and doing school runs. No matter how organised I am, my school runs always make me feel like I have done a day’s work before I even sit down to actually work. And the same at weekends too, I have a lot of mummying to do before I get to be my boss. But actually it’s fine. And as much as I jest, what I do, gives me the flexibility to be able to pick up and collect my son every single day, sharing the role with my husband too, so I am very thankful that I get to do that. Once I am able to get in my zone, I do and I make the time I have as productive as possible.
When I have an office day, I’ve usually planned the day before what I am going to work on for that day. I have a running to-do list, which is really long. But what I like to do is take one or two things from that list that doing, and I do them, along with my emails for that day. I like to work in blocks focusing on one task at a time. So if I’m in an email block, I will only do emails during that time and often I set myself a time limit for when I want to be finished. For me, the timing aspect of it keeps me focused and on track to complete what I set out to do. I never used to work like this and it took a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked for me.
After a couple of blocks of solid work, I try to have a proper break for lunch. I will go and sit outside in the garden and get some sunshine and muck about with the dogs. I try to have half an hour, it’s as much as I can spare in my tight work schedule which is squeezed into school hours! After a quick lunch, I jump back into my next blocks of work before heading off for the school run. I do try to make every working hour I have count, as much as I make the time with my son count. After his bed time, some evenings I do a bit of light work, but this could be anything from researching and learning, or getting ideas down, but I do this in the living room away from my desk, so it’s less work-y and a bit more social! And I usually have one eye on the tv too!
Q. What has been the best moment of your business so far?
There have been so many, it’s hard to choose! It was definitely an amazing moment to pick up a Wedding Magazine award for my wedding blog Engaged and Ready for best bridal real talk blog. That was quite incredible - I wasn’t even going to enter. That taught me that you really should go for all opportunities because there is nothing to lose. I have had quite a few moments like this since, where I have reached out for things or reached out to people, which maybe a few years ago I wouldn’t have done, yet they resulted in positive responses, which have gone on to become positive business experiences. Like recently, I saw an opportunity to undergo free business training and mentorship under a 10 week course with two of the UK’s leading female business entrepreneurs and I applied for it and got accepted! Moments like this have taught me to go for everything that grabs you and always be ready to accept the challenge. But also setting up the Celebrants Collective has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I am so grateful to have created and belong to a wider network of amazing, passionate, lovely human beings, which has had a great impact on me personally and professionally. And everyday I try to strive to help Celebrants be the best that they can be in one way or another.
Another moment that has really been incredible was creating a small team of Celebrants who have been invaluable for my celebrant business this year, enabling me to have more time to do other things and most importantly be with my family. Seeing feedback about them from my clients who they serve, has been a real goosebump moment. Branching out can be frightening but when you find your A-team it can be amazing and a moment of real business and personal pride. Oh, and being asked to be a TWIA judge for the second year running! Honestly, there have been so many highlights!
Q. What are you most excited about in your business plans for the next few months?
I’m really excited about the growth of the Celebrants Collective membership and welcoming new members onboard and also getting more of a reputation so that experts from different industries are contacting me about collaborating on the collective and being a part of our live expert sessions that we offer to Celebrants. This is already starting to happen, so I’m really pleased about that. And also a complete re-brand of Engaged and Ready too is very exciting, along with taking on a new team member to help with the running of the blog. And I’m also going to be doing some speaking events and workshops for wedding professionals, so I’m definitely in my happy place right now.
Q. Which 3 business (or other) books would you recommend to other business owners?
You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero (people do shy away from this book title because of a false idea that we shouldn’t talk about money like this, but this book is brilliant and actually is about you being a business owner and having the business success that you work hard for and deserve).
Talk like Ted by Carmine Gallo - this excellent book studies the habits of speakers of the most successful and most-watched Ted talks. It’s a great book if you’re someone who has to do a lot of public speaking and even if you don’t it’s a great book for understanding how to engage and communicate better with people.
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I love Shonda Rhimes and this book is such a fascinating insight into how someone as successful as Shonda Rhimes is spent a lot of her time turning down opportunities and saying no to everything and really letting her fears get in the way of great ventures. Great life and business lessons for us all.
Q. If you could start your business all over again, what's the one thing you would do differently?
Pay people who can do things better than me to do them!
Q. If you were conducting this interview, what one question would you ask?
What motivates you?
Thank you Natasha!
Until next time