People Over Profit – feat. Lindsay Williams of Hoopla House Creative

February 1, 2022

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Is it possible to create an epic client experience without completely sabotaging your bottom line and your sanity? The short answer is YES. And today’s guest, Lindsey Williams of Hoopla House Creative is living proof that it’s possible to achieve massive success while leading with a ‘people over profit’ mentality in your business. By delivering out-of-this-world customer service, Lindsay has grown her wedding stationery company, from $30k to $300k in yearly revenue in just 5 years. In this episode, she is pulling back the curtain and explaining how she did that!

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Is it possible to create an epic client experience without completely sabotaging your bottom line and your sanity? The short answer is YES. And today’s guest, Lindsey Williams of Hoopla House Creative is living proof that it’s possible to achieve massive success while leading with a ‘people over profit’ mentality in your business. By delivering out-of-this-world customer service, Lindsay has grown her wedding stationery company, from $30k to $300k in yearly revenue in just 5 years. In this episode, she is pulling back the curtain and explaining how she did that! 


Meet Lindsay! A mama, wedding stationer and educator based in Niagara Falls, NY (yes, people actually live here). Through personality-packed content, and out-of-this-world customer service, Lindsay has grown her wedding stationery company, from $30k to $300k in yearly revenue in just 5 years.  As host of the ‘Build that Business’ podcast and creator of ‘The Wedding Booking Blueprint,’ she now shares tips, tricks, struggles and triumphs from her experience building, growing and scaling a successful wedding business.


Her goal is to empower wedding professionals to use their own voice and story to create meaningful connections. To build the confidence they need to recognize the unique value they bring, and to then share it with their customers. Through a mix of step-by-step strategies and simple content ideas, she’ll be your biggest cheerleader and tough-love coach.

Tell us about you and your business

Lindsay [4:00] 

I started the stationery business in 2014 after being completely miserable in my corporate job. So I started about seven years ago and to get the stationery business up and running, I was basically, I started the foundation of my business while I was still at my nine to five. So at nights, and on weekends, on my couch with my laptop, I would work on, you know, my website, my pricing, my samples, things like that.

So it’s kind of behind the scenes that the first year. And then once I got everything kind of set up and I was ready to tell the world about my business, the first thing I did was sign up for a local bridal show. And I booked 12 appointments that show, and I quit my job the Monday after. So I think two days after the show, I was like, all right, put my two weeks notice in. 

And here we go. So I probably should have waited to see if those closed first, but I knew I had set up this foundation of the business. I trusted my gut and I took the leap. So I haven’t looked back since that was seven years ago. And basically how I’ve grown the business since then is the first three years I spent kind of figuring out what worked.

So I would try a lot of things in terms of marketing. Some things totally failed, but a few things totally worked and I leaned into those and that’s really how I’ve been able to grow. I focused on what was working. I leaned into that. I said no to everything else. And that’s, I’ve been able to gradually scale the business.

So that was the first three years I spent figuring out what worked. I figured out what worked. I went all into that. And then year five is when we hit the 300 K mark. So we went from 30 K in year, one to 300 K in yearly revenue. So, I’m super proud of that. 

When did you first discover that you had a passion for wedding stationery?

[Lindsay 8:30]

So my background was in graphic design, so it was kind of a natural transition. I went to school for communications design.So I was working at an ad agency as a creative director in the corporate world. And on the side, I would do friends and families, weddings.

I think a lot of us started like that. So,It wasn’t like my whole life, I wanted to be a wedding stationer. I had never thought about that, but I would take on friends and families invitations just to kind of help them out. And I was so unhappy in the corporate world and I was like, you know what?This might be something that I could do. So that’s kind of where the transition.

Today we’re going to talk about Putting People over Profit, what exactly does that mean? 

Lindsay [16:20]

When I say putting people over profit, basically what I mean is every single decision that I’ve made in my business. But for the past seven years, always sides with service over profit. So I basically think about how I would want to be treated as a bride like that age old saying, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.


I think about that and I make decisions based on that and that alone and not how, how much things cost. So like, for example, if we’re doing a stationery suite and the shade of blue is off, right. And the couple’s unhappy, we repress. Or if there was a typo in the suite and even if it was the bride’s fault, like say she gave me the, I had a situation where she gave me a misspelling on the street name.


Right. And neither of us caught it, we reprint it. Right. So I always put people over profit, no matter what. And then on the flip side of that, I also look for opportunities. So we’re going to get more into this as we chat today, but I’m known for kind of surprising my couples with extra little somethings.


What are some ways that we can implement this philosophy into our business?

Lindsay [17:30]

So we’ll dive into specific ways to serve. I wrote down a list of a few, like kind of like the top ways that I serve my couples, and I add surprises or I put people over profit. 


Look for Opportunities to Serve


So the first way I would recommend. Implementing this in your business is look for opportunities to serve. So sometimes these opportunities are disguised as setbacks or inconveniences. So this might take a little bit of a mindset shift and kind of some reframing, similar to the example we just said about meaning to reprint something.


That’s a nightmare for stationers. That’s like the worst case scenario, right. But I want you to think about when these things happen as opportunities. Serve your clients opportunities to shine, to show your true colors, to show what it really means that you’re committed to people over profit. 


Another example is like maybe a client needs a little bit more, for lack of a better word, like handholding.


For instance, I had a mother of the bride who we were ready to do envelope printing, and I asked for an Excel file so I could do the data merge. And she had an address book of all of her. Guest list handwritten. And when I asked for the Excel file, I could see that anxiety in her face. She didn’t know how to put it all together.


The bride was very busy, so I just said, you know what? Take a picture of the addresses. I’ll get them in the Excel file. All I ask is that you prove the document for me. So what took me just a couple of hours? Yes, it takes my time, but what took me a couple of hours was worth it. 10 fold because this mom refers me to so many people after.


So what I could have looked at as a total new nuisance, a total inconvenience in my business, I was like, you know what? This is an opportunity where I’m going to serve. It’s going to help this relieve stress for this mom and bride. And I just took a couple hours put on some Christmas music and filled out the Excel file for them.


So, and I think a lot of times we stress about this stuff. It’s like I could have went back and forth trying to teach her Excel, trying to, you know, explain why I need it, or I could’ve just jumped in and helped her. So that’s number one, look for opportunities to see. Okay, I’ll keep it going. Um, and I always say like, when you go above and beyond like this above and beyond customer service, this kind of acts like your own self promotion, but done with grace.


Right? So like, it’s definitely you do it because you want to serve, you do it because you put people over profit, but it’s self promotion guys. And people like this, it gives them stories to tell it gives them experiences that they’re going to remember. So it’s absolutely self promotion. I mean, definitely it’s serving, but it’s self promotion too.


Show Empathy & Serve with Grace


So that leads me to the next point. Show empathy and serve with grace. So this came up a lot during the pandemic. During the past 18 months, we were put into situations that we never had to deal with. Right. We were talking about. Total mess everybody’s wedding was so a lot of people had to do change the dates we had to send, you know, new date, new details.


So for all of my couples that this happened to, and there were hundreds of them, I did the change, the dates at cost. I looked at this as an opportunity. I was like, okay, this is a nightmare for everybody. How can I take this and serve here? How can I use this opportunity? Give them a good experience to use this as customer service.


So I made all of the changes, the dates at our cost. We weren’t in the position to lose money on this. It was hundreds of them. So I did them at cost. So they paid for the paper, the printing, right? I did it all at cost. And then on top of that, I threw in the envelope printing free of charge. This was just a nice little touch to take off some stress because no one wants to hear.


All of these envelopes for their change, the dates. Um, and when you think about it, when I do envelopes, in-house when I print them here, they’re 8 cents an envelope. So a hundred, an order of a hundred invitations. If I’m printing these envelopes, that’s $8 for the printing. Of course, there’s the envelope cost too.


But the cost out of my pocket was marginal compared to the stress. It relieves the couples and it gave people a story to tell after. I guarantee these hundreds of couples they’re asked at every holiday party. Every time they see someone how’s the wedding planning going, right. And they have two stories that either have the nightmare, right?


The nightmare of vendors holding their deposits, not being flexible, or they have the stories of the vendors who showed up and helped them. What side do we want to be on? So the financial cost of this from a business perspective, the financial cost is absolutely worth the referrals and the recommendations that I got from it.


Right. We can look at this whole nightmare of a year as a setback, or we can look at it as some opportunities to serve, to take off some stress from. 

“We can look at this whole nightmare of a year as a setback, or we can look at it as some opportunities to serve, to relieve some stress for our clients.” – Lindsay

What about those who are just starting out in business, or were hit hard during the pandemic and might not have the funds to not focus on profit first? 

Know Your Budget & Limitations 

Lindsay [32:00]

It’s really important to know what you can do and think about ahead of time, what you’re doing for your clients. Like this stuff might be a surprise for my company. Absolutely not as surprise for me. I know ahead of time that I’m going to do this, I’m going to offer this. I’m going to offer that it’s built into my budget.

It’s built into my cost. So we’ll go through and we’ll talk more about this too, but it’s absolutely like very much controlled and strategic and thought of at a time.

Use a ‘Dream List’ so Your Clients Can Give You Ideas on how to Serve Them

So the next point of how you can do this, how you can use this philosophy in your business is let them tell you how you can serve. So what I mean by this is when I sit down with a couple and their initial meeting, I’ll ask them to give me what I call the dream. So this is everything they could want.

And they’re stationery suite. We’re not really thinking about budget now, right? So I say, if you could have your dream stationery, sweet, let’s write it all out. Right. Would you want to wax seal, do you want silk ribbon, right? Like what is your ideal sweet. I’m going to price this. We’ll take a look at it, then we’ll start crossing stuff off.

If it doesn’t fit your budget. So what I do there guys is I keep the original list and I don’t do this every time. But for couples, like Cami said, for couples that either were, um, like it was such a joy to work with or couples that you can tell, like, You know, it would be beneficial to, to do this for, I surprise them and I bring back one of the items on that list.

So at the like, while we’re wrapping up, I’m like, I know that wax seals are really important to you. We took them off the list. Is this something I always ask? Because I don’t want to just like throw on a wax seal and like, you know, if they changed their vision, I don’t want to just show up with a wag sale, but I bring something back off of that dream list.

I, I use that list. They told me how to serve. And I use that as an, as a surprise. So an example of this, when Ryan and I were getting married, we met with our florist and I did this with our florist. I’m like, I’m going to give you a list of everything I could want. This is going to totally blow the budget out of the water, but let’s just see what this comes up as.

Right. So I had the whole list of everything we would want centerpieces bouquets, obviously on the list were these floral crowns for my flowers. And it was definitely like a nice to have type thing wasn’t a must have, but when she came back with a proposal, I was like, okay, we got to cut the floral crowns.

Like, they’re beautiful. I love them, but that’s the first thing to go. So I cut the flower crowns. Didn’t think anything of it, girls on the morning of the wedding, she comes with this box. I could like cry talking about it. So excited about this beautiful box. I opened up the box and there were two flower crowns there.

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