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25 Things Wendy Makin Has Learned from 25 Years in Business

Award-winning bridalwear designer Wendy Makin tells us the top 25 things she’s learned from her 25 years’ experience of running her own bridal brand

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Australian bridalwear designer Wendy Makin
Australian bridalwear designer Wendy Makin

Wendy Makin is one of Australia’s best-known bridalwear designers, with over 30 years’ experience of creating beautiful wedding gowns.

To celebrate 25 years of her own label we asked Wendy what the key 25 things she’s learnt from the industry are. Read on to find out more about this award-winning designer and the key lessons she has learnt.

1. Be Sincere and Respectful

“Be sincere and respectful in all working relationships– towards team members, customers and suppliers.”

How you conduct yourself in business stays with the people you work with for a long time. What might feel like a one-off interaction to you could form the basis of a review or a recommendation.

Read more: How to deal with a negative business review

2. Be Well Presented

“Dress well – when selling your gowns you are a representation of your brand.”

In this industry, presentation goes a long way! Make sure you always look presentable to your customers and clients.

3. Activity isn’t Accomplishment

“Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.”

It doesn’t matter how busy you are until you’re reaping the rewards of that busy-ness – make sure the thing you’re spending all your time on is delivering.

4. Be a Leader

“Lead from the front, don’t push from behind.”

If you want to do something differently, be bold about it – it’s often not worth your time to try and convince other people. Instead, it’s better to lead by example.

5. Don’t Be Scared

“Face your fears!”

You don’t run an award-winning business by being fearful. Confront the things that scare you and tackle them head-on.

6. You Can Have Too Many Gowns

“Yes, you can have too many gowns in a collection – edit your collection.”

It’s important to be strict with yourself – set a number and stick to it. This goes for gowns in your shop too.

7. Tell a Story

“Have continuity in collections – tell a story and follow it.”

If your designs – or the gowns you stock – follow a narrative, you’ll be able to identify with your brides more. You know what they like and they will know what to expect from you.

8. Credit Where Credit is Due

“Always respect others’ ideas and credit them.”

Whether it’s the work experience girl or the most senior member of the team who has the idea – make sure you credit them and sing their praises when it’s required. Even if you’re just reposting a picture on Instagram – crediting is the right thing to do.

9. Make Time for Fun

“Have play time with your team!”

Don’t forget to make time for fun – it allows your team to unwind and to bond, and a strong team is the best thing for your business.

10. Be Sure to Listen

“Listen before talking.”

It’s very easy to talk, but it’s not so easy to listen. Take time to make sure you’re really listening to what’s being said to you, regardless of who it comes from.

11. Always be Prepared

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

In this industry especially, it pays to think ahead. Make sure you’re always planning and prepared.

12. Dream Big

“Dream big and follow that dream.”

You don’t know where your dream could lead you – big dreams can lead you to big places.

13. Stand Out

“Don’t be afraid to try something no one else is doing.”

By trying something different, you could discover something amazing.

14. Look Out for the Next ‘Thing’

“Always be on the look out for the next “thing” and be prepared to embrace it.”

This is a fashion-forward industry. Don’t be scared to embrace new trends – and by being at shows such as London Bridal Week and White Gallery, you can make sure you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to new trends and designers.

15. Understand Your Brides

“Never make a bride feel like she is someone else. It is important for her to feel and look herself on her wedding day.”

Sometimes brides need a little expert guidance to get what will work for them, but make sure you listen to them and truly understand the look they want.

16. Accept Criticism

“Accept criticism and work with it.”

It can be really hard to take criticism but often there’s a lot to be learnt from it. Take the time to listen to the feedback you’ve been given and figure out how to take it on board.

17. Be Positive

“Always look for the good in a situation...there’s one there somewhere.”

When you’re running your own business there can be tough times – but there’s always something positive to take from a situation, even if it’s an opportunity to grow and learn.

18. Being Innovative isn’t Always Easy

“Understand that if you’re innovative someone else may reap the benefit.”

It can be frustrating when you have a great idea and someone else shouts louder about it. Sadly, it happens – it’s how you handle it that counts.

19. Sometimes Flattery is Frustrating

“Copying is the highest form of flattery but it doesn’t make it right.”

It’s easy to say that imitation is a form of flattery, but that doesn’t take the sting out of someone copying your work and not crediting you.

20. Fashion Moves Fast

“Looks can die quickly. Always be moving forward.”

Sometimes a look you love just doesn’t stick around. Be prepared to move with the times and what your brides want by keeping your eye on the latest trends.

Register for London Bridal Week here.

21. Stay True to Yourself

“Be true to your design ethic and don’t be swayed by what others want from you.”

You know what your style is and what works for you, so keep that at the core of what you do.

22. Convincing People can be Time Consuming

“Let people realise your ability without you having to convince them.”

Sometimes it’s easy to spend too much time and energy on convincing someone you’re capable – it’s better to just keep going and let your actions speak for themselves.

23. Less is More

“You can have too much on a dress...more isn’t always best.”

Coco Chanel suggested you always take one thing off before leaving the house. Ticking every trend box doesn’t mean your design is going to be the most fashionable.

24. Don’t Cut Costs

“Don’t skimp on fabrics and finishes, quality will always shine through.”

High quality products speak for themselves. A wedding dress is what a bride wears for the most magical day of her life – a more expensive dress will stay the course and deliver, whereas a cheaper dress can’t do that.

25. Own Your Decisions

“Make a decision. Right or wrong it’s your decision.”

Whatever you decide to do – own it. If it goes well, wonderful. If it doesn’t, accept it, learn from it and move on.

You can see Wendy Makin’s wonderful designs at White Gallery this year, on stand 603. All the contact details for the brand can be found in the Bridal Buyer directory.

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