Ok that’s not normally how I open a blog post, but HOW horrid is this winter bug going round? Little Flora and I have been run down with it all weekend and after venturing out for a park walk this morning in the sunshine, we spent the rest of the day snuggling under a duvet. So I am delighted to cheer myself up with a lovely little interview with local wedding supplier The Slate Boutique.
I’d heard lots about the team behind this Bristol based company who make bespoke slate gifts and homeware from Cornish slate, so naturally I thought my readers would like a little more insight into what they do and why.
Also they are currently running a super duper wedding offer, with FREE Bride and Groom place names with any wedding order placed in February 2013. They will be at the Love and Lace Wedding Fair in Sapperton Village Hall, Gloucestershire on Sunday 17 February and at the Gloriously Vintage Wedding Fair in Cheltenham on Sunday 17 March, if you’d like to see the products up close and meet the folk that make these pretty products.
Tell me about The Slate Boutique
Based in Bristol, we’re a husband and wife team, offering a range of unique, practical and personalised slate gifts and homeware and a bespoke wedding service. We use the normal dark slate, but also in the more rustic, country-feel Reclaimed Cornish slate, and individually handcraft all products ourselves.
Our wedding offerings include small heart favours that double up as place names and allow the guests to take something home as a momento of the day. These hearts also look amazing tied to the chairs for the wedding party, or just hung around the room for decoration. We also offer personalised signs and plaques, depending on the venue and needs of the bride and groom, which can add a fun element to the decoration. There’s also circular and square table centrepieces to provide a depth of colour to the table and cake or cheesecake stands. A popular choice is our heart-shaped food platters, which look fantastic with cakes or chocolates on.
We also take commissions and are happy to speak with a bride and groom about any specific requirements, and truly believe our products add those extra special touches that contribute to making the day unique and personal.
How long have you been in business?
We officially started selling at the end of June last year (2012) as that was the first shop I approached to stock our products (Old Down Country Park). Following that, I had meetings with a few others, and, fortunately our products were well received. We now have almost 10 stockists for our general products, but only sell our wedding products direct as it’s such a personal service.
How did you get involved in the industry?
Justin has his own roofing business, so is a dab hand with cutting slate! For our own wedding last April, we had a very personal and informal day at Wick Farm, Farleigh Hungerford, and needed a sign at the end of the lane to tell people where the wedding was. We decided to make our own arrow out of slate, then also used arched slates in their raw form to make our own ‘slogan slates’. One said ‘Love is in the air……’ and the other said ‘Better late than never’ as it was a standing joke amongst our friends that Justin took so long to propose! We also had the canapés served on slate, which looked fab! We had lots of comments about it all, and started thinking of other shapes and items we could do………and the rest is history!
If you weren’t involved in your own business, what else would you like to do?
Justin still has his own successful roofing business, and Kate, having worked in advertising and marketing for years up until having children, still does some freelance PR and marketing.
What or who inspires you?
Not strictly related to slate, but my inspirations are entrepreneurs in general…..people who work hard, follow their instincts, believe in their product/service and take calculated risks to achieve success. Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish spring to mind, the creators and owners of Not on the High Street, who have achieved huge success with their idea, but only after hard work, dedication and always believing in their idea.
What do you love most about your job?
Seeing a dusty piece of slate get turned into beautiful, natural products, and the lovely feedback we get from our customers about how gorgeous and practical many of our products are. It’s a lovely feeling not just to sell something you’ve imported or bought in bulk, but to have made it and taken it through the stringent process yourself. I also love wedding orders as that’s how it all began for us, and it’s a lovely thought that our products are forming part of someone else’s special day.
What makes your service unique?
Many slate companies use machines to cut their slate, which is quicker, but leaves a straight, clean-cut edge. As we individually handcut each piece, our products are slightly more rugged and natural….their slight imperfections compliment the natural product.
Our bespoke wedding service is just that…..we have a range of ideas to offer, but we’re also happy to take commissions and can personalise any of our products for that extra special touch.
What’s the most unusual request you’ve ever had?
Not related to the wedding industry, but a slate seahorse!
What’s your working week like?
Difficult to answer this yet as we’re still quite reactive rather than proactive due to our other work and family commitments and the fact that it’s taken us by surprise how busy we’ve become so quickly! Each week is very different, and the months of November and December were just bonkers!!! January has been very busy with wedding enquiries, so, it’s also different each month, but that’s part of what I love about it!
What made you want to work in the wedding industry?
That’s how it all began for us, and since planning our own wedding, I have become slightly obsessed with everything wedding-related anyway! I love and believe in our products and always knew they would look beautiful and unique in the right wedding venue, so I specifically put time into thinking of ideas for weddings.
What’s the biggest misconception about your service?
Most people appreciate the work that goes into producing our products, but every so often someone comments about the cost ‘just for a bit of slate’! They don’t realise the long process, time and quality control that goes into it!
On a personal note, because Justin is a roofer, many people think he gets slate from the roof when he’s working. This is most definitely not the case!! He takes time to select each slate himself from a number of suppliers; many slates can be ‘wonky’, which is no use for a cheeseboard/cake stand/placemat etc!
What is the best piece of advice you would give to couples planning their wedding?
My own personal advice is to make it your own; don’t just copy from a magazine or do what you think is ‘in’ at the moment. Personalise it and be happy and comfortable with your choices; don’t try and be someone you’re not.
Have you worked with any other local vendors or suppliers that you’d recommend to couples getting married in the Cotswolds? And why?
I can thoroughly recommend Lee Bishop at Strawberry Fields Catering. He is a fantastic Front-of-House Manager and the food is fantastic. I’ve worked with Maria from Sorori Design, who is a wonderful florist and really listens to what her brides do and don’t want! She’s great at interpreting the look and feel of the day the bride would like, and adding her own ideas and touches to make it all a reality.
Where can we find you?