773
8 min 43 sec

Artistic Wedding Backdrop Offers Updated Photo Alternative

Two friends create an unusual wedding centerpiece, renting it to couples in search of a nontraditional wedding ceremony.
Events International Service Social Media

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What It's About

Unexpected light displays to make your big day special and bright.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Resourcefulness & Marketing
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

The success of Oli's last side hustle after he stepped away and gave it over to his partner taught him two things:

1. There's a right time for an obvious solution to a problem. If you've identified it and are lucky enough to have the front seat to a problem and the "know-how" to produce a solution, you need to do it—quickly and properly—or someone else will.

2. An idea and an execution aren't worth anything unless they're out in the world.

Fun Fact

Oli and Matt often joke about their business model being more about the two of them abusing each other in hilarious ways through their Instagram stories, as they both have access to the account. They take polls and pit their followers against either other.

This has led to the most engagement of any other way they've used Insta stories before and has become crucial to their brand. It's also helped in their efforts to carve out a clear space in an industry where people are afraid to be different. They're known as much for that as the product they make.

Notes from Chris

Episode 773

Oli Sansom describes himself as a photographer and international lecturer on creative thinking. From what one could see from his website, he does a lot of different things. Among others, last year he was selected to document and create a film on the world's largest female-only science voyage to Antarctica.

But today we’re looking at something else, which requires another introduction. Oli’s friend and business partner, Matt Hedrich, works as an industrial electrician. He also creates pieces of lighting using found objects such as old kerosene lamps, and parts of sunken ships and other found material.

Their side hustle is called The Arbourists. The Arbourists design and rent out the worlds first day and night arbours, and serve an industry steeped in tradition thats slow-changing: the wedding industry. Definition time: what’s an arbour? These are the centerpieces behind the couple getting married. They’re able to be moved to anywhere at the reception, either indoors and out, to help make some small mark on the language of the day, and a wonderful selfie backdrop for the guests.

The service includes setup, location-moving (from ceremony to reception), and tear down. Their motto is "making you look damn awesome, and raising your grandma’s eyebrow."

Oli has photographed over 150 weddings worldwide. He points to three observations that led him to start this project:

1. People were, more and more, wanting to inject "more of themselves" into their wedding. This can take many forms. The industry has deep roots in tradition—and there's a range of differences in how folks are either aligning with or completely rejecting tradition.

2. The wedding industry is full of waste: both in materials, and labor. The Arbour, a token centerpiece that can give a little stylistic personality and frame the couple, is beautifully setup, adorned with florals used for an hour and then deconstructed and packed away.

3. He believes that night weddings, and alternate ceremony times, are going to be the next thing. Why not party first, then have the ceremony at midnight? He wanted to present an option for evening, or at the very least, "Dark" themed weddings.

Let’s talk about the money. Startup costs were $1,800 Australian dollars, and all costs were for materials and labor associated with fabrication: Aluminium lengths, lighting strips, and powder coating.

Oli and Matt divided the labor, with Matt focusing on production and Oli on photography, writing, and web design.

In the first season, they booked about 10 clients. Once they had clients they chose to invest more in the business, with the money coming from the revenue they received.

Clients pay 50% up front, and bookings appear largely around two peak wedding times. They started by charging $800, but once they had some rave reviews, they raised the rate to $1,100, all inclusive of setup and tear-down.

So what’s next? They do have some challenges ahead. Neither of them wants to become a full event-hire company, they just want to have fun with this one thing. So now they need to decide about outsourcing, creating relationships with stylists, or switch to a sale-only model.

Alternatively, they could build the brand to even more of an exclusive item, making it so incredible that the market is more than happy to pay a premium rental fee. There’s no stress, no pressure, and they’re open to either option.



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Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Stop looking for ideas, and start looking for problems. Ask yourself what it would look like if you had a solution to it, and your answer will be somewhere in the answer to that question."
—Oli Sansom & Matt Hedrich #SideHustleSchool

Sponsors & Gratitude

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau