INTERVIEW | CARLA OF MADE WITH LOVE BRIDAL
What started as a struggle to find a wedding dress for her own special day has turned into an international business in less than four years. Today we sit down with Carla of Made With Love Bridal to chat to her about her business and her success.
Name: Carla Hupfeld
Location: Gold Coast
Current Title / Company: Creative Director of Made With Love Bridal
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB OUT OF UNIVERSITY?
My first job out of uni was a marketing executive position with a company that coordinated resort holidays in the South Pacific. My manager became a great mentor and friend, and I still call her for inspiration. I’m not convinced I was the company’s best employee (ha) but I did learn a lot of skills I still use today.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR BUSINESS?
I couldn’t find a wedding dress within my budget that was my style. I started thinking about what I wanted and sketched a few designs. When I spoke to a dress maker, we decided to make a few. Suddenly, I had ten dresses and only one wedding: Made with Love with born.
TAKE US THROUGH A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR BUSINESS
Gosh, every day is so different but there are a few commonalities like walking our puppy in the morning and coffee! Every day I’m glued to my emails, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Because a lot of our stockists are in the USA, my husband and I work in our bed in the morning and late at night to catch them during their work hours. Then, I spend an 8-10 hour stint in the office depending on the day of the week. I am still very involved in every part of MWL–I can’t imagine not being in control yet! I have conference skype calls with my Sydney, Adelaide and Gold Coast managers to see their feedback on the brides from the previous week; I have phone call meetings with our stockists; our Quality Control team call me in when they need me, and my office staff ask me questions all day. I am always designing new dresses or pushing the boundaries with our dresses and coordinating or collaborating in photoshoots. Add a few hundred interruptions everyday and you have my day! I just love it. I am beyond happy and lucky to be in this wonderful, exciting, amazing industry.
HAS ANYTHING SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THE JOURNEY TO CREATE YOUR BUSINESS?
So much! The best thing has been the love of MWL designs across the world. Some days we receive orders from MWL-obsessed brides from small towns around the globe that we have to look up on Google maps! Another thing I have learned is you don’t make the same mistakes twice when it’s you paying for the error, whether it’s paid in time, money or reputation. Before my business, I didn’t realise the extent mistakes could impact the business… Now, I know and avoid.
OBVIOUSLY YOUR BUSINESS HAS GROWN! TELL US ABOUT THE PROCESS OF FINDING FUNDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS. ANY ADVICE FOR WOMEN WHO NEED TO FIND FUNDING FOR THEIR START UP?
I had a full time job when I started MWL and I had a moderate savings account of $20k. I know entrepreneurs have this reputation of being really risky, but that wasn’t me; I played it safe by doing everything (website, designs, quality control, emails, appointments etc) myself and taking really calculated risks. I would have stayed at my job longer but they wouldn’t give me time off for my honeymoon so I left. I think I would say take risks, but safely. Do the research before and make sure it’s a risk/stress you and/or your family can handle.
YOUR BUSINESS HAS DEVELOPED WUOTE A FOLLOWING. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS? HOW DID YOU SPREAD THE WORD?
I am obsessed with social media. At the beginning, I had to generate all my own content which was demanding but a nice practise of being creative daily. For the past year or so, our brides have tagged us in their photos daily which we (excitedly!) repost. We love our ‘real brides’ photos, and the response to those photos show that our audience love them too. As soon as our current audience love a photo, they tend to tag their bridesmaids in the photo, so our numbers usually boost after posting. Lauren Conrad repinned one of my designs on Pinterest and named her the wedding dress of the week which really helped in the social media world. Elle Magazine and Vogue also named us the ‘cool girl brand’ to follow and the most beautiful wedding dress of 2016 went to my design, Frankie.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS?
The dedication, love and obsession I had for my business at the early stages. I remember when I launched MWL, someone asked, “what happens if it doesn’t work?” and my reply was “it has to work”. Even at the beginning, I couldn’t not think about my business. If someone asked me about the future, my answer was always in response to where MWL was going to be. I was and am still obsessed. Now, I have a team who have the same level of dedication, love and obsession to MWL as I did, and for that, I am very lucky.
YOUR FAVOURITE BRIDAL TREND AT THE MOMENT?
Low backs, bell lace sleeves, tan/nude/blush/peach tones, crochet detailed lace, V low fronts, long trains.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PIECES FROM YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION?
Best advice you ever received?
It’s cliché but it makes so much sense: stop comparing yourself to your competition. Stop following them. Go in your own direction, that’s why you started.
I wish I knew how to ….. Pronounce all the states/cities of stockists in the USA! My brain can see that it’s easy but my mouth struggles ha.
What is your coffee order? Double shot soy cappuccino.
TV show do you wish was still on the air? FRIENDS! Well, it is on air, but I wish they were still running new series.
Next travel destination? New Zealand for my best friend’s wedding.
What advice would you give your 23 year old self? Stop stressing and don’t doubt yourself. Enjoy what you have now and take advantage of the stress-free life you have right now. Book a round the world trip and travel! Something quite special is coming…