Kathryn Porritt

Hi guys, it’s Kathryn and welcome to the Business Bravery Show. This week you’re in for a real treat. We’re going to be talking to Naomi Korolew, who is a marriage celebrant here in Australia. She is an amazing lady who’s really disrupting the Australian wedding space. And she’s doing so in a really interesting way. And what I really love about Naomi is that she always puts her family first, and yet she’s creating such an extraordinary business for herself and about to launch herself globally as well. So a little bit of a potted history. Naomi, lived abroad for a long time, she had a high profile career in the oil industry. Then she returned to Australia and she was after a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. She decided to launch herself as a local wedding celebrant down near Melbourne, and became really, really successful very quickly. And we talk about that a lot in our conversation today. She owns two companies is about to launch her third company, and I just can’t wait to share her amazing story with you. So without further ado, here is the incredible Naomi Korolew.

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Success in business is defined by you, it should never be dictated. Welcome to the Business Bravery show where we explore marketing sales and business strategies to achieve your ideal lifestyle. here’s your host, Katherine pour it with today’s episode.

Kathryn Porritt

All right, welcome to the podcast. Naomi, I’m so excited to have you here.

Naomi Korolew

I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you so much.

Kathryn Porritt

So how about you tell us a little bit about your background, you’ve got such an interesting background and share the story of how your business came to me.

Naomi Korolew

Sure. So I got into the wedding industry because I got divorced, which is a little unusual. So a lot of people who get into the wedding industry enjoy planning their own wedding so much that they decide they want to be involved in some way. That didn’t happen for me, I was getting divorced. And when I chose to exit my marriage, my ex who was from abroad, chose to exit the country. So I found myself all of a sudden as a sole parent to my 15 month old son Hugo. And I realized that I needed to find something that fit in with my lifestyle. So when he was a little for a little while after that, I did do a corporate role in the city and was commuting and had even care and my parents were amazing, getting to my house, quarter to five every morning, to take him to care. So I could get to the city early to get home early to pick him up. And it was just absolutely exhausting. And it wasn’t worth it. And it was costing me so much money, just to go to work. And it just had to stop. I wasn’t enjoying it. So what I did is I’ve always been very pragmatic. So I made a list. And I made a list of all the things that I needed in a job. And I’d spent goodness 13 years in the oil industry previously and was always on a plane to you know, North America and Europe and developing countries, mostly and the kind of travel I would do would be like visiting, you know, organizations that in like the southern Tanzanian Highlands or remote Brazil or Gansu Province in China. So, when I traveled, I really traveled with these big journeys. And it was a big chunk of time. And I just realized that I couldn’t sustain that at all as a sole parent. And more importantly, I didn’t want to, so I’d sort of already reached the point where I decided you can either outsource parenting and get a live in nanny, or you can actually be a parent and make your life fit around that. So when I made the two lists, I put down all the things that I that I needed, and I didn’t want to work in the class box, I still needed to move around, I still needed to travel, I needed flexibility, I wanted to be able to work from home, and then all the things that I was good at. And you know, so I sat with those lists for a while I would read the local paper cover to cover you know, I would be every time I drove somewhere or walk somewhere. I’d be looking you know what businesses are here, what opportunities are here. And then I kept flicking past this advertisement in the local paper to be qualified as a marriage celebrant you know, it’s a one year course it’s pretty low barrier to entry to get into the industry. And I was like, can’t the marriage celebrant marriage celebrant is awful, because my vision of a marriage celebrant was you know an elderly lady in between set or flower you know floral skirt, and talking about love these all this time are as strong as the mountains. So what I did eventually, over time, it took a lot of time like and I kept coming back to it. I was like this ticks all of my boxes.

Naomi Korolew

There was some really big question marks. I didn’t know for example, what the OTP was, I had no idea. But I kept coming back to it. And then one day I slipped it and I was like, Well, actually, I can be an awesome marriage celebrant, I can be the celebrant, for people like me, who don’t like celebrants. Yeah. So I can actually make that sort of part of the wedding that most people simply do a actually fun and enjoyable and engaging. And I could do that. So that’s how I became a marriage celebrant. So I committed to the to the study, and I got all of that done in about nine months, which was was quite quick. And then I got out there as marriage celebrant, and that was almost instantly successful. I worked very hard on marketing and brand, obviously. But I did 52 weddings in my first year. And I’d been told that 40 was the absolute most anyone that ever achieved so. And then I think I did 96 or 78, and then 96. So and I’m Acrobat 96. Now, just generally, so in three years, you know, I got to the point where I was earning, well, actually, by two years, I was earning six figures, and I was really comfortable. And most importantly, it fit my lifestyle. So my son is now seven. And you know, I take him to school, we walk the dog, we ride bikes, we come home, I need clients, either in the day, or in the evenings after he’s in bed, mostly via zoom, although occasionally they do come to the house. And that’s okay with me too. So that works really, really well. And in terms of the pop up wedding collective, right from the beginning of being celebrant and researching the industry, as a single parent with, you know, a young child, it was just really palpable that nobody was serving people who didn’t want to spend the $54,000, which is the average spend at the moment in Australia on a wedding. So I developed pop up weddings to really cater for those people who had other financial priorities, which usually meant that they’d already had kids ate together or with other people. And it was a second marriage. And they were looking for something that was didn’t feel cheap. You know, it was beautiful, it looked amazing. But it’s about pop up weddings, about cutting out all the essentials and leveraging amazing supplier relationships and using crowdfunding models and doing all kinds of different mechanisms to bring people and incredible premium wedding experience that doesn’t cost a fortune, you know, it’s so that’s really filled a gap in the market. And we’ve recently rebranded. So that’s where I am now. So it’s been quite a journey over the past four years.

Kathryn Porritt

She’s done incredibly well. She’s such a maverick in the wedding space. I just love it. And I love the idea that you know, from the very get go as a wedding celebrant that your idea was to be that maverick. That’s incredible. I love the positioning in the granting of yourself as a maverick. Do you mind talking a little bit about what kind of separate the conversation if you don’t mind into the celebrant business and then the Pop up business?So yeah, for the celebrant, business 52 weddings, you won. I mean, that’s extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary. Even if you’re not in the wedding space, you’ve got to appreciate just how busy Naomi must have been in that first year and to take on 96 a year now. Do you mind walking us through how you launched a business that had that level of success so quickly?

Naomi Korolew

Sure. So the biggest thing was I had ran a carbon business for an international oil company for several years. So I really did feel that the wedding industry was a very low barrier to entry. And there were a lot of players seen it. But not a lot of them were especially sophisticated in terms of their marketing, and the way that they spoke about their businesses. So I focused very heavily on marketing. And I allocated a really substantial marketing budget straight up. And I did things like joins the biggest wedding directory in Australia, which would be the equivalent of the knot or wedding wire. And, you know, I made that commitment to get that premium listing in the three regions that I was going to cover, all of which are within sort of an hour and a half of where I live. So I committed money to that. But the biggest thing was marketing on directories and nice, those kinds of things. It’s not a panacea. You can’t just spend the money and say, Well, that’s it now the clients will come to me, I actively worked really, really hard on the little buyer storefront on that side. So everyone else, you know, hide what everyone else has at the start. I looked at everyone else and they were all talking about how much they love weddings, and I thought, oh, okay, well, that’s boring. So what I did was something very different. And I just sort of said, all you need to know right now is that I only include three things in your wedding, stuff about you, stuff requested by you, and the legal requirements. So you know if you want a celebrant who is going to talk about love being as old as time and as strong as the mountains and as deep as the ocean, you should swipe left but if you want a fun, casual celebration, It’s meticulously planned and executed but feels casual and relaxed, then we should definitely chat. So it took me probably four months of getting in there every week, every two weeks looking at my stats saying what leads I was getting in converting to drill down to that message. And that converts my ideal client for me time and time again. So that was the paid marketing. I also did my own website. So and I did that myself. I mean, I read blogs on SEO and wrote, copy and did all those good things and ended up on the front page of Google for my preferred region within six months. And I’m still on the front page of Google. And I think I’ve got something like 86, Google, five star reviews, or something like that now, which, which keeps putting me up on the front page without having to do any work on that really anymore at all. But those reviews are now What, what, what keeps me there?

Kathryn Porritt

So I’d say it’s a really, there is a combination of really understanding your target market and getting to the heart of what drives them to make a decision, what it takes desire is not about you.

Naomi Korolew

Yes.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah. And the other thing that you did was a combination of the paid and organic, so it’s not. So I often see people just doing one or the other, and then wondering why they’re not getting, you know, really great results. But you did that combination of both with a really well honed message, right?

Naomi Korolew

Absolutely. And there’s a lot of people in the market now in the wedding industry, where people are saying, Oh, you don’t need a website, you just need to have a really good social media presence. And that’s just not true. You know, people say it takes more does it an average of seven touch points for people to see you in order to be able to trust you. And social media is one of those touch points. Sure. But you need to be credible. I mean, if people are booking you for their wedding, you know, 18 months out, they’d like to know that you’re not going to move to Queensland or you know, that you’re that you’re committed and that you have a business. So having a great website, and you know, being on those big directories and being seen on in some of the smaller places, and, you know, being tagged on Instagram and having a social media feed, I also have a Facebook group called your wedding your way where I do a free, how to plan your wedding your way course I do two episodes a week. So all of those things combined are my touch points for my celebrancy business and also now also for the Pop Up Wedding Collective.

Kathryn Porritt

Amazing. And with the change to the Pop Up Wedding Collective.. I know you talked about the super briefly, but you know that pivot there? How did you identify that what was the moment that really convinced you that this was a good opportunity for you.

Naomi Korolew

So the thing is pop up, weddings were very, very new. And there were other companies out there doing them. So I’d come across the concept prior to, but most of them were cut down versions that was like just your celebrant, and a photographer and a venue and they would go for like 90 minutes. And what struck me was most of the companies doing them, if not all have actually the failed or evolved to be doing other things. So they weren’t successful, which we are, which I thought was really interesting, because it was a great concept. And then certainly, as I said, as a single parent, I could see that, you know, a wedding wouldn’t be everyone’s financial priority. But that doesn’t mean they still don’t like nice things and want to have a fantastic celebration. So I looked at the companies that had failed, and I looked at what they were offering. And the thing is they were moving around a lot. So they were saying like, we’re popping up in Perth, and then we’re going to be in Melbourne, and then we’ll be in Sydney this week. And they had no brand credibility because they had no consistency. So when I first launched the pop up wedding collective, we’ve only just rebranded to that name. We were the opinion, Sheila pop up wedding code. So I live on the mornington Peninsula. It’s a beautiful place that could come from holiday come for holidays. It’s under anala from Melbourne. And my variation was longer for weddings that included the reception as well. But also weddings that were consistent. We use the same venue, the same suppliers. It’s the same florist it’s the same photographer. So we have that brand consistency. And then people come to know us and they were more familiar with us as a local brand. And it got to the point where I could pop up some new dates. And then I had one couple that were the first ones to comment and she tagged her partner. And he said, let’s do it in the comments. And they rang and booked because they followed us for so long, and they felt that we could trust us. So it’s actually just it’s true brand building in that sense, which other companies hadn’t done. So we’ve only recently dropped to the peninsular and switch to the pop up wedding collective because now we’re planning to grow and the next step for me will be to sell that model to other people in the industry or venues and to teach them how they can develop their own Pop Up Wedding offer.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. I can’t wait to see how this all progresses because the model itself and the way that you’ve created this is so practical and easy. But it gives such great experience to the clients. I’m just so thrilled for you that you’ve been able to now such a great idea.

Naomi Korolew

Yeah, it’s amazing. Our feedback. And reviews are incredible, because it just makes people so happy. Yeah. So they, you know, we save them all that time and all that money. And they have an amazing wedding celebration that, you know, looks every bit as good as anybody else’s. So it’s really, yeah, it’s my whole point in that you code, it being a being a maverick earlier, my whole point is, if I was going to get into the wedding industry, I wanted to change it, I wanted to disrupt the way people get married, and I wanted to create different ways to be married. So in celebrancy, that would be you know, having a really different way of officiating and delivering a ceremony, you know, I’m very minimalist, I don’t get people to stand up and read poems or do anything boring like that, or pour sand into a jar, you know, just tell a really engaging, authentic story that’s really warm and often funny, and people really enjoy the experience. And in pop ups, it’s creating a way that says, you don’t have to do that the expanded weddings don’t have to be expensive to be incredible. So yeah, no, I’m out there trying to disrupt the wedding industry, like Uber did for the taxi industry.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah, love it. And I’ve got no doubt that this is gonna go global for you. So can we talk a little bit about the things that maybe that you love the most, what gives you the most joy in the business at the moment?

Naomi Korolew

Oh, absolutely. Being with Hugo as much as I can be. So it’s school holidays at the moment. So we’re taking lots of time out together, I can structure my work in such a way that, you know, before school, and after school, I’m there until he goes to bed, you know, all my work is done when he’s asleep or during the day. And it works really, really, really well. So it’s the whole point for me with leaving corporate and leaving my career was that I wanted to have something that would afford me the lifestyle that I wanted to have. And that was big apparent first and foremost. So in terms of the wedding industry, I’ve surprised myself, it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. So I never thought it would be it took me I think about two years to put it on LinkedIn. Like I had big internal struggles with identity. And, you know, I was, you know, identified through my career, and I let go of all of that stuff. And I’ve never been happier.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah, I love that love. So what about some mistakes that you’ve that you’ve made along the way? What are some some fun things that you might like to share?

Naomi Korolew

Certainly doing weddings practically for free, you know, pricing way too low, when you start definitely just to build up that confidence. Whereas now I’m, as a celebrant, I’m at the absolute premium end of the spectrum. So yeah, pricing too low was definitely a mistake. And what else was a mistake? I’ve never really, I’ve done things like spent money on software, before I’ve really got under its skin and then realized it wasn’t right for what I wanted. I spent a lot of time on all of those things, probably in the first year. That was that was time and money. But I don’t say that so much as a mistake. Because in, you know, that was the research that helped me to get to where I am now in the CRM that I don’t do using the tools that I do use. So, you know, that actually helped me get my weddings down from usually now, when I started, a wedding would take me around 20 hours. And now, depending on the client, I can do one in between eight and 10 hours, because of those tools I use. So I don’t really see that as a mistake. Actually.

Kathryn Porritt

No, it’s an investment in time and research and learning and all of those things. So they’re important mistakes to make cry to say.

Naomi Korolew

Exactly.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah, take that on. And what about the highlight of Spain, the biggest highlight the big thing that you most proud of so far?

Naomi Korolew

That’s an interesting one actually. Being on a podcast. I love podcasts. I always listen to them on the way to weddings. But in terms of business, it would have to be goodness, it just keeps getting better. What was the highlight? I think definitely hitting 52 weddings in my first year. Because then I knew I could do it. That was a really defining moment for me. I also booked at weddings in that year. So I actually did 52 but I had booked it. And that’s when I knew that it was going to work. That was probably the biggest highlight. And then the second one would be hitting six figures in my second year because I had assumed incorrectly that I would never earn as much as I did in corporate.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah, it’s that Yes, exactly. Particularly when you’re in an industry that like you said when you’re attacked, you’re in the oil industry is full of money going to the wedding industry, which you know, probably people don’t associate with them tycoons and I mentioned that there was a real disconnect with that. But boy, you did it.

Naomi Korolew

Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s and that’s the thing. And now it’s now it’s only going to get better. So, yeah, I would hope that my biggest highlight is still to come.

Kathryn Porritt

Absolutely. I’ve got no doubt about it. And you talked a little bit about Hugo, I’m really interested, I look up to you. I’m astounded at what you can achieve lifestyle wise and what what you are able to achieve lifestyle wise, do you mind taking us through some of the things that you’ve prioritized in developing the business?

Naomi Korolew

Sure. So one of the big wins in the wedding industry is that it’s seasonal. So he go and I take, we started when I Well, in the first year, we took five weeks. But now that he’s at school, we take one month, a year abroad and don’t work. So that’s been a huge priority for us. So every winter, we go away for a month, this year off to New York last year, we were in Vietnam for a month, we’ve done Thailand, and Bali. So we’re really excited by that we love that we planted all year, we also take a week in Noosa, which we prioritize it’s in my diary for the next three years. In springtime, I take two weeks off over Christmas, and then take another couple of weeks off the week. Like I won’t go back to work for a week. And then I take another couple of weeks off on the summer holidays. So I’ve worked out I think we take about 10 weeks off a year. So that’s a definitely that’s like it’s like teacher hours. And it’s all about being together. You know, we’ve got a puppy. In the past year. We ride bikes together, they, those things are my priority. weddings are not my priority. weddings are what I do to make money and I just happen to really enjoy it. Yeah, that’s, that’s a sideline went because I enjoy people and I love meeting new people and who goes as to so that works really, really well. So work doesn’t feel like work. There’s no board to report to. So I’m not stressed, I’m happy. We have really happy and calm household and we love each other and that’s what the most important thing is that we that we spend time together, which has been amazing.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah, you’re you’re incredible girl I I would also love to know, given that you’ve created this really safe place and this incredible business. What are the next five years look like for you? What do you what what are the big plans from here?

Naomi Korolew

So this year, in February, I’m planning to launch my new venture which is legals only weddings. That’s what it’s called legals only weddings, and it will be the first Australia wide legal online marriage service, which will only sell two things. It’ll sell a legal service for people who are immigrating to Australia, they have a partner who’s who’s a foreigner, and they need a certain letter and to do a certain legal process with an authorized marriage celebrant. So we’ll help those people out. There’s no consistent platform or even information on that in Australia. So those people really struggle. And then we’ll also be doing legals only weddings, which is a bit akin to a registry office wedding or a courthouse wedding, but doing it locally to where people are, you know, at their local cafe or bar all over Australia. So that, again, is going to shake up the industry, because it’s not been done before. So I’m really excited to test that. And then it’s what I mentioned earlier, packaging up the pop up model that I have, and selling it to other people to to help them create, you know, revenue for themselves using that particular model. So that’s really exciting. And then I think one of the most important things with entrepreneurship is understanding when you’ve reached enough. Yeah. And that’s, you know, that’s a big thing. I was having this conversation recently with someone and he said, but surely, it’s never enough, like, you just make more money. And I was like, Well, no, because my most precious resources and money, it’s time, and it’s the time that I have with Hugo and it’s the time that I have to live my life. So doing those two things, I’ve got a great team of staff, which I intend to grow. So I can step away from, you know, sort of some of the more non essential stuff and get really engaged in the stuff that I’ve really loved doing. And that’s it, that will be enough that will sustain me and keep me happy.

Kathryn Porritt

I really do. What about the legacy? What’s the legacy that you’d like to do?

Naomi Korolew

Changing the way people get married? Definitely. And we’ve already even just with the Zeitgeist around marriage equality and you know, getting to marry so many amazing people who’ve been together for like 20 years, 25 years. That’s been a huge change here in Australia. It’s been absolutely wonderful to be a part of, but just changing challenging the notion that weddings involve a big white dress and, you know, an aisle and a sit down dinner for 100 people and we’ve added elopements to our pop up offer recently and the pop up wedding collective, and they’ve just been incredibly popular. So you know, creating alternatives, alternative ways for people to get married that suit suit, there’s no right way to get married. It’s about finding and creating options for people to get married in the right way for them.

Kathryn Porritt

Yeah, I love that. I really love that I’ve got no doubt that you’ll achieve that. And many, many, many more things. Naomi, thank you so much for being so generous with your time today, we’re gonna have all of their contact details for you, for people to look you up and see these beautiful new websites and businesses that you’re launching, all in the show notes. And I just personally want to say how much I appreciate you as an entrepreneur and the the friendship that we’ve created together, and I just really look up to you with all that you’ve achieved, and particularly how committed you are to your family. And how committed to to making that your priority. I just I bow down to you, girl, I think you’re amazing

Naomi Korolew

Well thank you very much. And it’s but it’s all about help, isn’t it? You know, sort of the help that you have Business Bravery are able to provide help from my amazing, I got 2 VAs. It’s all about building that structure to prioritize what’s important

Naomi Korolew

It is yeah, and but thank you again for being so generous with everyone today. By all means, please follow Naomi. Her journey is extraordinary and she has much left to achieve. It will be really, really fun to watch that all come to fruition.

Naomi Korolew

Fantastic. Yeah, that sounds great. Thanks very much. I really enjoyed our chat.

Kathryn Porritt

Well, I tell you what, Naomi is such an inspiration to me to all of the people that are in the mastermind work that I do with Naomi, the people around her and all the people that she serves around the world. She’s just such a lovely, lovely lady and a great inspiration to us all. She always always focuses on her family first, and yet that has not impinged her success in any way shape, or form. So thank you so much for joining me today. You can find all of the links to Naomi’s various websites and social media profiles on our show note, and I can’t wait to see you next week for another really interesting interview with an extraordinary entrepreneur who is kicking butt around the world and also taking care of their lifestyle. I’ll see you soon guys signing off.

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