Liesel Duarte is the Founder and Creative Director of "Knotted Up", a wedding services provider. She thrives on the passion, romance, happiness and excitement that goes into the planning and execution of weddings.
This is an Exclusive Interview with Liesel, as a part of the #TimesStories initiative by The Times Blog.
What inspired you to launch a business in the wedding domain?
Truth be told, when I started Knotted Up, I did not know the potential that the wedding business had. I started the company out of my love for weddings, and to fulfil my innate need to help people and to see them happy.
Over the years, I have learnt to understand the true magnitude of this business.
When did you launch the firm, and what challenges did you face initially while going about it?
We started in 2011. My biggest challenge at the time was a general lack of experience in the events sector. I didn't have much technical exposure either. The event industry is huge, and it's growing everyday, and since it's a business that operates on trust, it took some time for people to know us and to start trusting us.
How did your family react when you told them you wanted to get into the wedding business?
My family was very supportive. Like every other family, they did worry about my career choices as they didn't see the need for it (launching a business) at the time. I'm also the first person in my family to start a business, and to take the risk of quitting a very secure well paying job (Liesel worked with the European fashion brand Mango for seven years before launching "Knotted Up").
All said and done, they've always had my back.
How important was the acquisition & targeting of a niche audience for "Knotted Up"? How did you go about it?
It is important to understand that the event business is divided into many
segments, and if you don't have a target audience, then you're always kind of running around in circles and trying to fit into places where you don't belong.
We specialise in weddings, and hence our target audience includes brides and grooms, who mostly know what they want. And sometimes, it's the families. Couples that live outside India also need planners to help them plan a dream destination wedding in India, and we cater well to that segment.
Are there any specific influences who have inspired you? Is there any advice from them, that you would like to share with our readers?
My go-to person for optimism when I needed it the most, has always been Oprah Winfrey. That woman is hope, personified.
A quote from Oprah that I live by:
“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier”
What are the Top 3 Business Takeaways that you did not know when you first started out?
1. Set realistic goals.
2. Know when to slow down.
3. There's no "big secret" to being successful. You have to figure it all out along the way.
What advice would you give to your ten-year younger self, if given an opportunity?
1. Comfort zones are for lazy people.
2. Work as an intern when in college, to learn from the best.
3. Time is of true essence.
4. Set a 10-year goal to be the biggest in the business.
Any words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the wedding business?
You must understand that weddings are a very competitive business, but there are plenty of people getting married at the same time. If you love what you do, it will show and people will recognise you for great work.
That being said, good client servicing skills are crucial in this line of business. More than anything else, you need to be ready to embrace any challenges that come your way and really believe there is a solution to every problem that you have today.
Is there a product or service that doesn't exist yet, which you wished existed? To help your business?
Oh yes. I would love a service that monitors and stops underquoting within the events sector. Tom-foolery on the pricing side to "snatch" an event from a company is literally the worst thing that people can do in this line of work, and I'd love for someone to put an end to it.
How much of a role does consumer marketing/publicity play in the wedding business, in your opinion?
I work weddings, and in this game, publicity plays a huge role - because what you see is what you get. If a wedding you have done is all over the media for the right reasons, then you can be assured that people will learn to trust your business and your acumen as a planner.
Is there someone whom you wish to thank on The Times Blog's platform?
I'd love to thank the first couple that I ever worked with - Margery and Joshua. They trusted me with one of their most special moments, they felt okay to believe in me and my brand for a day that they would always remember.
That trust and belief meant the world to me as someone who was just starting out in this business. So thanks, guys!
The Times RapidFire
Name One book that you would recommend today, without blinking.
Answer: Behold The Dreamers (By Imbolo Mbue)
An original quotation for your loyal customers?
Answer: Pursue happiness more than anything else in the world. Everything else will follow.
Do you operate with goals, or systems? Pick one.
Answer: Goals .
Cricket, or no Cricket?
Answer: No Cricket.
Print, or Digital?
And finally... what comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘The Times Blog’?
Answer: A blog that moves with the times!