After spotting a gap in the market while working in the wedding industry, Kimara Middleton of Hampshire Event Props made it her mission to make special occasions even more special.
What is your business all about?
I am the director of Hampshire Event Props which provides decor for events including weddings, birthdays etc. These props extend to flower walls, light up numbers, neons and much, much more.
I started the business as I saw a gap in the market from working within the wedding industry. I work at a golf club that hosts weddings and I saw that many weddings were asking about if we had any props they could use, venues don’t tend to supply much as people often want different styles so I decided to take the opportunity!
What is your role in the company?
I am the director of the business and do the marketing, driving, setting up, accounts and lots of other bits in between. It is a full-time role as people message on social media around the clock, but I fit it in around my part-time job and four kids, but I have a lot of help from my mum as well.
I have had a lot of support from my parents, who were able to help with a loan that was needed to purchase all of the props. It’s only last month that it’s been fully paid off and I couldn’t have done it without them.
What is the market like for your industry?
There are definitely others but we all offer different things, we work together if anything. For example, there is a lovely lady named Alex who owns the company Blow Up South – so whenever I need a balloon arch added to an order I’ll book her and vice versa. It’s great to work together rather than compete.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement is my response from the couples. Getting a note to say how I helped to make their day special is always so rewarding. I also love seeing the pictures of people enjoying the props and getting the amazing feedback when I share the pics.
How about the biggest challenge?
The majority of my business comes from wedding bookings so obviously the last year throughout the pandemic has been really difficult. I am really looking forward to getting going again. We offered ‘lockdown birthday’ packages with light-up number hire, sweet carts and flower walls so that people could still celebrate in style from home. They were really successful.
What advice would you give yourself if you were to start the business again?
Just go for it!! I was in two minds about whether to launch the business and if I was good enough and I’m so pleased I did. It has been amazing to grow with so much support from Hampshire and I would never have thought twice if I’d have known they would’ve loved it all.
Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?
I would love to continue to grow my social media presence and maybe hire one or two members of staff. I could really do with a marketing specialist and maybe a driver to help with deliveries. At the moment I just fit it in around work. Hopefully my business will continue to grow.
What’s been the best decision you’ve made so far? And the worst?
The best decision has to be investing in light-up letters. They make an event so personalise and really have the wow-factor. My worst would probably be not thinking enough before buying things I probably don’t need. My 30 cupcake stand is included! It’s really heavy and needs hundreds of cupcakes to fill it so it’s not very practical.
For anyone thinking of starting a business, what would you say to them?
Do lots of market research, check out any competitors and think about how you would be different. If it’s a local venture like mine, find someone from a different area that’s doing something similar and reach out to them with all your questions.
What’s the best thing about running a business and what’s the worst?
The best thing has to be seeing the amazing set ups and how happy they make people. I’ve seen people break down in tears because they’ve loved the props in their homes. It’s such a special feeling. The worst would be getting messages on social media when I’ve just got to sleep. It’s definitely not a 9-5, switch off at the end of the day kind of job. But it’s 100% worth it.