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Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on January 6, 2009

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Bringing in the new year is a lady who I’ve been lucky enough to come to know over the past few years. Kathryn Porritt! Kathryn has not only been an event planner in Canberra, but she now runs one of Australia’s most gorgeous online wedding stores Pink Frosting and writes the delightfully gorgeous blog Australia Entertains. Kathryn is taking the Australian wedding industry by storm with her great ideas and amazing array of products!

Tell me about yourself, your background?

I am the owner of Australia’s favourite online wedding and celebration store, Pink Frosting and the blog, Australia Entertains, and have spent almost 15 years as an event manager in Australia. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people including Harry Connick Jr and Alicia Silverstone (yes, I am name dropping!).

How did you get into the wedding industry?

I’d spent years organising big events for the corporate and entertainment world, but I honestly enjoyed working on smaller celebrations more. They were more challenging and fun. I opened Pink Frosting in Canberra as a wedding planning company so I could focus on my first love. We’ve recently closed the event management arm of Pink Frosting because our online store has become so popular. This was a bittersweet moment for me – I miss wedding planning but I am so delighted that we’re bringing exclusive, gorgeous wedding decorations and accessories to Australian brides through our store.

What do you love about this industry?

That every couple has a unique vision and a unique story. No wedding need is ever the same. I love creating and finding decorations and accessories to match their vision. Every day brings something new.

I also love buying. I am really enjoying traveling around the world to find new and unique wedding and celebration ideas to bring to Australia. Every time I travel, I come home with brilliant ideas and inspiration. It’s a matter of containing them all!

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You have a website that is detailed and intriguing. What is your aim with the website?

Pink Frosting’s website is about providing inspiration, ideas and beautiful accessories for Australian brides and anyone interested in entertaining. We aim to bring the best wedding ideas from around the world to Australia because we know how frustrating it can be to find beautiful things overseas and not be able to get them shipped to Australia.

What inspires you?

Beauty. I just love that everything I do, everyday, has a beautiful aesthetic. I never tire of beautiful things. I am also inspired by beautiful art, photography and design. I suppose anything with a beautiful aesthetic makes me happy. I am in the right business!

What sets you apart from others?

I have an innate entrepreneurial spirit, so I’m not scared of asking the big questions. When a company that makes a beautiful centerpiece that I think Australian brides would die for but can’t be shipped to Australia, I just have to make it happen!

Do you see a particular incoming trend in weddings for the next 12 months?

Definitely. Green weddings are big (and so they should be!). I’m finding that many couples also want to use their weddings to “give back” to their favourite charity. So, we’re organizing lots of “pink ribbon” or local charity –themed weddings. I really think this says a lot about the Australian spirit.

Other trends include more intimate weddings where the couple has less guests but treat their guests to a really luxurious day (or week as the case may be). Budget weddings are also a big trend and necessity as the economy slows. We’re seeing some really lovely personal, DIY weddings where the family pitches in with cakes, stationery, bombonniere and decorations.

How do you keep your website and products fresh and different?

I travel and read as much as possible about events, fashion, design and art. I find if I have my finger on the pulse of anything to do with fashion and design, I can generally keep ahead of celebration and wedding trends. This is important for bringing unique ideas to Australia through the Pink Frosting website.

Where do you see Pink Frosting in 5 years time?

I see Pink Frosting as the one-stop celebration shop for anyone interested in entertaining and weddings in Australia. I see the website as the ultimate space for beautiful ideas, galleries and planning tools for Australian brides and hostesses (and hosts of course!), with the store still bringing the very best in decorating and accessories to Australia from around the world.

What is your number one tip for brides?

Be the very best version of yourself on your wedding day. Oh and please indulge me with a second tip: don’t get so caught up in the planning and details that you forget what the day is all about. Ok, and thirdly: hire a wedding planner. It will mean you can relax and enjoy the day rather than worrying about whether the caterers have turned up on time.

Tell me about your wedding or your dream wedding?

My wedding was in Byron Bay (close to home for me) in May 2007. Most of my family and my husband’s family didn’t need to travel, but for those who did, Byron is a beautiful location for a holiday.

We hired a huge home in the Byron hinterland which overlooked the ocean and the rolling hills. Our bridal party and immediate family stayed with us over a few days, so it meant our families really got to know one another well before the big event. I would highly recommend this to anyone!

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We were married with the beautiful Byron view in the background by an incredible celebrant who really understood our vision. We then had a cocktail reception for our 80 guests in the tropical gardens of the home we hired.

The most important parts of the day for us were the location, the food (I wish we’d actually got to eat some! It looks amazing) and the photography. We felt that if we splurged in these areas, we could scrimp a little in the others to create the feel we wanted.

The details that I loved were that my girls wore black tuxedo pants (they looked so chic and perfect for the location), my Dad’s incredible speech and his love for my Mum, and the big, fat white lilies everywhere.

We used a local wedding planner, Claire from Divinity Byron Bay, which was the absolute best money we spent. She WAS divine!

What are your favourite wedding ideas?

• Use a wedding planner – a good one will save you their fee in one negotiation with a vendor and they will make your day stress-free;
• Start with an inspiration board and keep it with you everywhere you go so you never lose sight of your vision. The process is fun to go through and will mean you can tie all of the elements together;
• Spring Bulbs as bombonniere – what a beautiful, living, inexpensive favour;
• Parasols and hand fans – I love, love, love parasols for weddings. They look amazing in photos and the couture ones available through Pink Frosting are worth every penny. Oh, so divine.
• Monograms as motifs. Fantastic! You can personalize your day with “graffiti” motifs on your cars, your toasting flutes, your dance floor and church entrance way with your monogram, as well as stamping the more traditional route with stationery, place cards and napkins.

What do you love about Australian brides?

Their fun-loving attitude, their creativity and charitable spirit. I am really delighted to meet our customers and hear their wonderful stories. I think Australian brides are used to being more creative because they haven’t had a lot of the more directional accessories available to them. The concepts they create inspire me!

What should brides start with when they’re planning their weddings and receptions?

An inspiration board, a budget and a wedding planner! Always start with an agreed budget and stick with it. If you can afford it, hire a wedding planner to help you create an inspiration board and bring it to life and stick to your budget. If you can’t afford a wedding planner, then you can certainly do it yourself. I would recommend buying every wedding magazine you can get your hands on, read some great wedding blogs and gather pictures of everything you love. Agree on a theme and a budget and you can go from there.

What are the biggest mistakes you see brides making?

Not sticking to their budget and losing sight of what the day is about.

I see some brides getting over-zealous about the details and coming to blows with their family about little details. I have often had to sit down with a bride and remind them that the day is about them celebrating their marriage to their lifetime love – it isn’t about the shade of pink their mum wants on the napkins. These elements are really important, but in order to have a truly wonderful day, there are just some things you need to let go of!

Particularly with the economy slowing down, setting a strict budget is also really important. I recommend you think about the things that are most important to you and be prepared to scrimp on some other areas so you get the most “bang for your buck.” Don’t overspend – your wedding day is really important, but don’t get yourself into debt for it. You don’t want to be paying off your wedding 10 years down the track.

What are 5 clever ideas to create a stylish wedding?

1. Hire the best vendors you can afford. I would start with a great wedding planner, a photographer (after all, this is your reminder of the day forevermore), a good caterer, a florist who shares your vision and a celebrant who you connect with. Obviously your other vendors are important, but this is your “essential” team.
2. Shop online and browse the globe. Online stores will bring you inspiration and ideas you may never have thought of. Incidentally, online stores can usually afford to sell their products at a better price because the cost of running an online business isn’t as high as a “bricks and mortar” store. My favourite online wedding shops are www.pinkfrosting.com.au (of course), www.etsy.com, www.bridalsurvival.com.au, and www.annawhitford.com.
3. Personalise your day. Use a monogram as a motif. I really adore this new trend and hope it stays around for a long time yet. You can “graffiti” your cars, your toasting flutes, your dance floor and church entrance way with your monogram, as well as stamping the more traditional route with stationery, place cards and napkins.
4. Parasols. You may not swan around with a parasol on a normal day, but a parasol for you and your bridesmaids (and guests if you can afford it) makes a beautiful decorative element for your day and looks amazing in photographs. They are also very sensible for Australian weddings, whether outdoors on the beach or simply for your photographs. You don’t want to get a sunburn before your reception!
5. Make your day about you. I really think the most stylish and enjoyable weddings are when the couple celebrates their own unique style. It’s important for brides and grooms to be the best version of themselves on their big day, not an imitation of someone else.

Thank you for joining Polka Dot Bride today Kathryn! Be sure to visit Kathryn at her online store Pink Frosting and her blog Australia Entertains

Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on December 11, 2008

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Today’s expert is Manuela Strano- one of the gorgeous creators of Australian home wares brand Dandi. This isn’t Manuela’s first time on Polka Dot Bride, Manuela was also the creator of the origami lotus flower napkins I featured in July.

Tell me about yourselves?

We are 4 trained Industrial Designers who share a passion for beautiful and functional objects for the home. We love colour, prints and patterns!

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How did you come up with the idea of starting a homewares business?

There was nothing available in bold prints so we thought we would start designing our own! We all love designing and making things for our homes so it only seemed natural to take this path. The business grew from there and we now have over 100 products in our range.

What is the ‘mission statement’ for your business?

To make the world a fine and dandi place!

What inspires you?

There are so many things that inspire us! We love to travel and see new places. We love looking though blogs everyday (including this one!) to see what others are doing. We are amazed and inspired daily by the creativity of others! We also love books and magazines as a constant source of inspiration. Nature is also a huge inspiration to us.

How would you describe your ‘style’?

Simple, feminine, bold and whimsical.

How do you keep your ideas fresh and different?

We are constantly thinking about new designs and patterns and take inspiration from everything. This allows us to constantly have ideas which are innovative and fresh.

Are you working on new products to add to your business? How do you decide on the colours and designs for your products?

Yes, we are currently working on two new patterns to be launched early next year across a few products. This will be our biggest range of products launched at the one time so we are very excited! All our designs are a collaborative team effort so we all have a say in final pattern and colour selection. We use a co-coordinating colour palette so that all our products can be mixed and matched!

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What sets you apart from others?

Dandi produces great quality products with gorgeous packaging that make our homewares great for gifts. We keep up to date with current trends and really think about what the consumer wants. This makes our products not only beautiful but functional as well. We also have a typically Australian theme that runs though our product range and sets us apart from overseas brands.

Since the introduction of our sustainable bamboo range we are trying to take the business into a more environmentally friendly direction.

Design is not just a job for us. We live and breathe it and are constantly coming up with crafty ideas and making things in our spare time. You can see what we get up to on our blog: www.fineanddandi.blogspot.com

What do you see for your business in 3 years time?

At the moment most of our stockists are in Australia and NZ so we would like to be shipping more product overseas. We hope to have a larger product range including many new patterns and products. We would also love a flagship store in Sydney by then!

Can brides set up ‘wedding wish list’ with you?

Yes, our products can be found at ‘The wedding list company’ and ‘wedding gifts direct’.

What sort of linen/homewares should brides buy when setting up their first home together?

Firstly it is important to have a style that runs throughout your home. Place mats and napkins are great for everyday but a beautiful set of table linen is a must for entertaining!

Are you able to ship your products overseas?

Yes we can ship our products overseas.

What are your favourite wedding ideas?

We love anything handmade and original to give a wedding a personal touch. Being designers of homewares and napery we also love a beautiful table setting!

What are the biggest mistakes you see brides making?

Not personalizing their wedding. It is important that the day is a reflection of the couples style and personality. This can be done easily with a colour theme or a recurring motif from invitations, to table settings, cakes, flowers, bonbonnier and more!

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Cleverest ideas you’ve seen?

Recently I made over 100 origami lotus flowers out of Dandi napkins that were placed on each table setting with a chocolate inside. They were an absolute hit! They are a fabulous idea as they look great yet are not expensive. (You can see Manuela’s flowers here)

5 things a bride should consider?

– To decide on a theme/style/colour that reflects your personality and is constant throughout all the elements of the wedding.
– Beautiful invitations, – we love gorgeous and original invitation that bring out the personality and style of the couple.
– A photographer who’s work reflects your style. Photos are memories you can keep forever and a good photographer will capture the energy, beauty and personality of the day.
– A gorgeous table setting – It will make your guests feel very special to be celebrating your day with them.
– To always remember that as special as a wedding day is, it is important to not lose sight of the bigger picture and to have fun with the preparations!

Thank you Manuela for joining Polka Dot Bride today! Be sure to check out Dandi– perfect for Christmas presents or to put on your registry!

Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on December 4, 2008 

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Today’s expert is the talented Jackie of the one stop beauty website Beauty Heaven. Beauty Heaven is not only packed with articles and handy hints to keep you look great, but it also has salon listings, expert advice, a forum and product reviews. it’s a great place to head when you need honest advice on your latest beauty issue! Jackie’s an expert in not only beauty but business too!

Tell me about yourself?

My name is Jackie Maxted. I’m 47 years old, married with four children and I run a digital publishing business – which means that we run websites! I’m an ex-PR girl who fancied her chances starting her own business. I started off with a couple of clients and the agency grew really quickly with some great clients – mostly in the beauty industry. After about seven years I was looking for a new challenge and found myself in the HTML world launching a beauty media and industry website called beautydirectory.com.au. After several years of hard work and a fair amount of banging heads against wall (mostly mine!) it became really successful. In 2005 we discovered that our industry site was also attracting attention from women who loved to read about beauty – and beautyheaven was born as a result.

How did you get into the beauty industry?

Well because I was looking after a number of beauty clients (my first was Clairol) I started to learn a great deal about products – especially all the exciting new products, the technologies and their benefits. I’d never spent a lot of time at make-up counters in department stores so I didn’t realize what a huge world of fun it was! Now I’m a huge lipgloss and mascara fan (though I’m still not too sure of myself when it comes to primers!) So while I am in the beauty industry I still see myself as having lots to learn – there are almost 10,000 products on beautyheaven’s database – I’ve hardly even scratched the surface but I do go to our member reviews to read all about them!

What was the catalyst for setting up the Beauty Heaven website?

I was wondering what we could give the 20,000 women who were coming to beautydirectory – apart from an enormous beauty product database. We got together with some great beauty writers and developed the idea of a consumer version of the site. We wanted to include our members in the site – so rather than just telling them about beauty, invite them to contribute to its content. There is so much knowledge out there in the online community and beautyheaven provides the meeting place for beauty-lovers to get together and have beauty fun! We launched it last year and already more than 80,000 people a month come to visit.

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The Return Of Cherry Chapstick

What are your aims for your business?

In the digital world everything changes so quickly so one of aims is to offer today’s best beauty information combined with use of the latest technology. We LOVE interactivity between us, our members and the beauty brands so we always aim to deliver high quality content and a great environment for having beauty conversations. Beautyheaven was the first website of its kind in Australia and is certainly the biggest – no other beauty website has such a vast and expansive directory of products with real womens’ reviews.

How do you keep your website fresh and different?

Spending time on other websites around the world is great research (and you can do your Christmas shopping at the same time!) so we are always on the look out for new ideas. We also speak to many people from the industry to hear about the latest and greatest new technology. At the end of the day though, we never change our site for the sake of it. Our regular visitors seem to love it just the way it is so we keep it fresh with daily updates and lots of things that our members can get involved with – having live chats in the forum, using video and having our own members profiled.

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What sets you apart from others?

We like to think its because we do what we do really well! Because we’ve been around the digital world longer than most (we started online in 1999) we have gained a lot of valuable experience and insights so we generally know what we’re dealing with and what we are working towards. Having said that, there was one horrific day when I woke to discover that both our sites were gone – they had been affected by an explosion in the US and we lost them both for 24 hours! That has gone down in beautyheaven folklore as The Houston Crisis of 2008!

How do you keep on learning?

Talking to people who know more than I do is really useful – when I first heard about Second Life (www.secondlife.com) in 2007 I couldn’t quite get my head around why millions were spending so much time on this site. But this is simply an expression of changing behaviours of people around the world. If you can grasp this and take advantage of it (doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it too!) then you’ll be able to deliver the appropriate experience to your own audience. I also read, research and read some more – everything helps!

What inspires you?

Depends on the day! Today it would be sitting on a deserted beach looking out at a wild ocean – but that’s because I’m stuck in the office pounding away on my laptop to get through my ‘to do’ list! Beautiful outdoor places inspire me – they help to keep all my ‘issues’ into perspective and allow me the space I need to keep growing.

What inspires you about Australian women?

I’m not sure about this – shall we name names?

What is your number one tip for brides?

Stick to what suits you – today is not the day to be experimenting.

What are your favourite wedding ideas?

I think it’s a highly personal thing but I’m in the less showy, more close friends and family and everyone letting their hair down, having one too many champagnes, dancing round handbags and enjoying themselves camp.

What bridal beauty trends do you see in the future?

As with everything else, trends are pretty much dictated by the catwalks – in terms of bridal designers you can’t beat classics like Vera Wang and Colette Dinnigan.

What should brides start with when they’re planning their skin care routine and make-up for their big day?

As I said before, while it’s your special day, it really is best to stick with a similar or well-rehearsed skincare and make-up routine, you don’t want to go trying any creams or masks that you haven’t used before in case they aggravate the skin. So avoid any new treatments at least two weeks before the big day – and stick to the products you know and love the best.

What are the biggest mistakes you see brides making?

Selecting dresses or make-up looks that don’t flatter – that usually means following trends rather than going with your own sense of what feels right.

Cleverest ideas you’ve seen?

My favourite bride of all time was Caroline Bessette when she married John Kennedy Jnr – such beauty in simplicity.

Could you give us 5 tips and tricks for the bride?

1. Do your research – find out when stores are having their sales and be prepared to camp out front to get that perfect dress heavily discounted.
2. Plan – don’t go leaving things to the last minute, this will only stress you and your skin out.
3. Practice – you’ll feel prepared and calmer that you know what you’re going to look like on the big day.
4. Experiment beforehand – if you’re unsure of what make-up and hair looks to go for, be sure to trial them out (long before the big day), you don’t want to be thinking, what if?
5. Do not spray tan/get a chemical peel or anything else the week before your wedding: live by the mantra that it would be just your look that this is the time it goes wrong.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and tips on Polka Dot Bride Jackie! See more of Jackie at Australian’ beauty website Beauty Heaven