Introducing the Engage Academy | Our first workshop for wedding vendors
Introducing the Engage Academy
Earlier last month on 4 July, I launched the very first Engage Academy workshop for wedding entrepreneurs, in partnership with my business-savvy friend Shikkha over at The Fashset.com.
Since launching www.brideclubme.com nearly two years ago, I’ve met with many established wedding professionals as well as those who are new to the market. The talent in the UAE is outstanding, and I am so proud to be part of a growing wedding industry movement. Dealing with brides and wedding vendors on a daily basis puts me in a unique position, hearing both sides and understanding how both parties work. New wedding vendors often ask me for advice and I have wanted to organise an event for wedding professionals for some time.
With the help of Shikkha, who works closely with fashion entrepreneurs, we decided to launch The Engage Academy, a series of workshops and networking events for wedding vendors in the UAE. The workshops aim to inspire and educate, to encourage positive growth in the industry and to facilitate networking within the wedding business community. We also want to encourage excellence in the UAE wedding business trade. Below is our highlight video from the event filmed by the amazing Morning Jacket Films, followed by the day’s happenings, along with images.
Our first event took place at the CONRAD Dubai. More than 60 people had RSVP’d to confirm their attendance and pretty much all of them turned up. The scene was set with personalised notepads from stationery designer Emma at Love Notes UAE, delicious popcorn from Sunny’s Pop and branding prints courtesy of Star Digital Prints.
The CONRAD Dubai, our host sponsor, provided coffees, soft drinks and delicious canapés for all the delegates in attendance.
A few weeks before the event, Shikkha and I had carefully curated an excellent line-up of speakers. During our first session, James Pass, branding expert and founder of JPD, presented on the key points of creating a successful brand identity in the wedding industry. James has worked with many leading brands, including Masdar in Abu Dhabi, and today helps start-ups fine-tune their brands ready for the market.
Next up was the bubbly Stephanie, business coordinator at Enchanté Studios, who talked about the importance of professional business portraits and imagery for your brand. It was the first time Stephanie had spoken in front of an audience, and she did a fine job. Stephanie not only presented, but also took the images you see today on this post – hence, we have none of her! Boo!
Social media was a hot topic at the first Engage Academy and speaking on the subject was Adam Parrot, a social media storyteller with a background in managing corporate social media accounts. Adam’s inspirational way of presenting left our delegates ready and inspired to take their business social media activities to the next level.
Binod Shankar, a chartered financial analyst and director and trainer at the Genesis Institute, was the next speaker, and talked about finance and accounting for small and medium-sized enterprises. If I’m honest, the thought of discussing numbers bores me senseless, but Binod turned a relevantly mundane subject into a captivating and very informative presentation. I learnt so much myself!
After an intense first half, delegates took a coffee break and mingled with one another, exchanging business cards and making new contacts.
Kick-starting session two, I presented on The Art of Blogging in Business. As a seasoned wedding industry blogger over at www.expatbride.com and founder of www.brideclubme.com, I advised delegates on the importance of blogging in order to reach a wider audience, help establish their business personality and pit themselves as experts in their field.
A unique touch to our first event was our REAL bride live Q&A hosted by Shikkha. The real brides were myself (I married in Dubai last year) and one of our readers, Ghina. The Q&A session allowed vendors to get into the mindset of a bride, with everything from wedding budgets to what a bride looks for in a vendor and business faux pas discussed.
Our speaker on creating your own PR, Lindsey Worgan, group account director at Dabo & Co, took to the stage next. Many wedding professionals want to appear in the region’s biggest bridal magazines and websites, and Lindsey offered key pointers on increasing your chances of being featured in print and digital media.
Lastly, our special guest speaker for the evening was Phil Bedford, otherwise known as the ‘Rebel Networker’. Phil presented on The Wedding Referral Mafia, explaining how to get regular, high-quality clients through referrals and networking. Phil’s presentation was informative and unique and his expertise as a business trainer and the Middle East franchise master behind the Referral Institute provided a great deal of invaluable information.
And then the workshop was a wrap! The half-day event was a huge success and every delegate left with a swag bag full of business and pleasure goodies, including delicious cookies courtesy of Diva Bakes.
Judging by the survey sent to attendees afterwards, we will certainly be hosting another event soon, in addition to launching the Engage Academy social media sites, followed by a website later in the year.
Watch this space for more details coming soon! If you would like to be added to our vendor data-base, please email [email protected].