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Twelve Tables - Industry Expert Interview

We had the privilege of meeting Sara and Jean back in 2017 where they were already leading the way in New Zealand with their innovative event design, custom built styling pieces and of course the most amazing Clear Marquees. Not only are they a beautiful couple but are both humble and passionate business owners who are truly carving the path to great things in the Wedding and Event industry.

We asked Sara and Jean to give us an insight into their journey with Twelve Tables and how they first got started back in 2015. We got an inside scoop into some of their most exciting wins in business, advice they have for industry newcomers, balancing married life while working together in business, where they find their inspiration and passion.


Can you tell us a bit about Twelve Tables (how you got started, how you chose the name Twelve Tables?)

"It all started with our own wedding. We were overseas at the time, planning our own wedding and when we started to look for hire items online, we realised some of the styles of furniture we wanted were not available in New Zealand. I (Sara) asked Jean if he could build our wedding tables and bench seats – with images inspired by beautiful homes and interior blogs. At the time of planning, we only required 12 tables (hence the rather random name). – Throughout our wedding planning and our 1.5 year OE, we were also trying to develop a business idea that we could start as a couple- as our dream had always been to work together.

Every day we had new business ideas; (I wish we had written them all down!) The business which we had decided on was an ice-cream business (we had previously owned a mobile wood-fired pizza business which we sold prior to our travels). So, we developed the business plan, purchased an ice-cream machine (all while still traveling) we even created a name, and we still own the web address for it! While traveling we developed recipes and had a pretty solid plan that after our wedding we would start. – As we got deeper into planning our own wedding the “need” for not only beautiful hire items, but quality professional service within the “NZ wedding industry” became more and more obvious.

So, after being approached by people to hire/buy the furniture Jean had built, we decided that we actually had the perfect business sitting right in front of us, so hence why Twelve Tables was born (and the ice-cream business got put on the back-burner)"


If Twelve Tables were a person how would you describe him/her?

Sara would describe her as: "A beautiful strong woman. She’s elegant, honest and modern and clean"

Jean describes her as: "A tom-boy who loves getting dressed up in the weekends"

How do you find your inspiration when it comes to creating beautiful styling pieces and furniture?

"European homewares- fashion and homeware blogs and magazines. We try our best to look outside of “the wedding industry” for inspiration.

We’re forever developing and designing new ideas that have often stemmed from a small idea (e.g. a corner of a couch, a cabinetry unit or kitchen bench). We have a drive to be different, to provide quality, functional items.

We’re also lucky in that we frequently get asked by couples (we’ve had several couples who have been interior designers, or work in creative industries) who have come to us with concepts to design and create for them. -Nothing gets me more excited than that, a lot of our favourite items have been “custom builds” for our couples, and now are for hire for a future couples!"


Do you have a favourite quote or moto?

"It’s important to us that, absolutely every Twelve Tables couple is our main priority. We want them to have an amazing experience from start to finish and really feel like they are our main and only priority."


What motivates you both in business?

"A drive to work together (as husband and wife) and to have a positive difference in people lives.

Within the wedding industry, providing a service and products that couples wont or can’t receive elsewhere. No Clear Marquee provider has a marquee that is as clean and well-presented as Twelve Tables. There are companies that are “popping up” in an attempt to replicate what we do, which motives us to continue to put in the many hours and hours of cleaning, building and “behind the scenes” – all things that can’t be replicated."

For people new to the Wedding Industry – can you tell us what some of the biggest challenges in business can be?

"Often the most important things to starting a successful business are forgotten or not done well because you want to start on what’s “fun” or “easy”. For example, you may be a creative who is incredible at creating amazing floral installations, but remember, as a business owner you wear so many hats that often these other “jobs” take you away from doing what you’re actually great at.

Starting out as a small business with little cashflow to employ others, means you’re not only the “creative”, but you’re the ‘administration and accounts “girl/guy”’ you’re the advertising and marketing “girl”, you’re the operations and process manager”, you often wear so many hats that this takes you away from what you’re actually great at. Which can destroy you before you’re even off the ground. Clearly outline how you see your business in the future, you can start to build the processes early (maybe this is a business plan)- to allow you to grow, because the sooner you can employ others, this will then allow you to focus on what really lights your fire (what you’re naturally great at)."


If you could give someone wanting to get into the Wedding Industry a small piece of advice or words of wisdom, what would it be?

"Follow your fire, do something that excites you beyond words, be original. Have a plan – it needs to be an idea that will be something that’d be happy to discuss every hour of their day."

We love the fact that you run not only a rad business, but you are married! How do you find a good balance between business life and home life?

"We don’t have a balance. There is little to no work/life balance in our life. Lucky, we love our business, we’re incredibly in-love and we’re a great team. We love spending every hour together, but it does often mean we’re not spending quality time. We’re still working on “how to switch off” and really connect again as a couple beyond Twelve Tables."


We see you both (and Twelve Tables of course) travel to the far corners of New Zealand. Where have been some of the most breath-taking views and places you have encountered?

"Every site is special in it’s own way, it’s actually the people/the couples and their families that make a location beautiful. – this sounds really corny, but it’s true. Often family properties are our favourites, they’ve been prepared for the particular wedding for months (sometimes years) and you can always “feel” that."

Where do you see Twelve Tables in 5 years time?

"Outsourcing more help from professionals in their fields (we do this well currently, but need to continue to and build on this) so we can continue to do what we’re great at (while wearing “less hats”)."


What have been some of your most exciting wins in this industry you can share with us?

"Very early in the development of Twelve Tables, we were approached by a large New Zealand business asking if we could do all the furniture “fit outs” of their restaurants- NZ wide. We recognised that we couldn’t commit to this, but it was a lovely reminder so early on, (when there’s often more doubt) it validated that what we were producing was beautiful.

We also work with the best wedding stylists in New Zealand, it’s always a “win” to be asked to create for these stylists who trust us to bring their visions to life."


What do you think is one of the essential things when planning a wedding?

"That you’re absolutely totally gobsmackingly IN-LOVE. Then in terms of planning your day, focus on what’s important to you and don’t stress about making your day “Pinterest worthy”.


What would be one of the most rewarding parts of your job/business?

~ Working as husband and wife and sharing other couples love stories.

~ When developing and seeing a concept come to life.

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