Oaken Event will be bringing Atinuda 2 this year and it promises to be bigger and better. To kick start her second edition, Atinuda features speaker Christina Holt founder and director of Wedding Concepts South Africa.
Christina Holt who was a speaker at last year’s Atinuda 1 spoke at length on the importance of detailing in weddings “The luxury is in the detail if you really have thoughts of all the smallest things.” Christina said. She also spoke about the beauty of destination weddings and the personal touch she adds to create the best experience for clients, which was a valid information for beginners in the event industry. It is no surprise she is back for the second edition.
Photographed by renowned photographer TY Bello, Atinuda’s team asked Christina Holt series of questions to help us understand the success story behind her brand and how she manages work and family.
Check out the interview.
Atinuda’s rep: What advice would you give other ladies in the event industry
Christina Holt: Keep sharing with your peers and competitors – so the whole (no doubt extremely competitive industry) elevates itself – and not just individual businesses.
AR: How do you balance work, family and the home with a very demanding job?
CH: I always joke and say I am in the office 24/7 because one can’t ever stop thinking, planning and scoping. But I have an extremely supportive husband (who is also part of the business) and a fabulous team that I delegate to – so I actually manage very well. I have also learned to align expectations with clients who now understand that I am not available around-the-clock and also have a personal life.
AR: Can you share with us some of your greatest highlights and achievements?
CH: I am really proud to have grown Wedding Concepts from a small business to a brand with a global reputation. Of course, some of our projects stand out in their own ways and the fact that we recently won the Luxury Lifestyle Award as the best event planning company in Southern Africa is a real highlight too.
AR: What advice would you give young entrepreneurs that are excited about venturing into the event industry?
CH: Gain some experience with a reputable company first and don’t just jump into starting your own business without that. Finding a niche is vital to it this very saturated industry – be clear on what you stand for as a business and don’t compromise on that.
AR: How best will you describe creativity and uniqueness?
CH: Creativity is something that permeates your business – to me it’s not just about the look & feel of an event/wedding, but creating an atmosphere of expression and ideas sharing in the business. Of course, this extends to the creativity we bring to our projects. Our uniqueness is to offer a luxury & highly personalised planning experience at the top-end of the market – you don’t come to Wedding Concepts for a “pre-packaged experience” or to negotiate our fees.
AR: As a powerful force to be reckoned within the event industry, what do you think has put you in such a recognised position?
CH: We don’t do weddings for everybody – but having had the vision to create our business in the luxury niche and working with discerning clients from across the globe is a part of our success. Having said that – a little bit of good luck and a few fabulous projects with enthusiastic client referrals helped along the way. I also enjoy sharing our business knowledge as an international speaker – which helps to spread the Wedding Concepts word.
AR: Share with us secrets or tips that have kept you relevant through the years.
CH: Don’t compromise your standards or work outside your marketplace – just stick to your guns and your niche. Build and lead a team that you can trust – reward them generously (they deserve it).
Encourage new ideas and creative partnerships. Acknowledge that you never stop learning and be prepared to be challenged – because you will! Marketing is vital across all digital & print platforms – but also in PERSON! This can’t be replaced.
AR: Do you have any exciting project coming up?
CH: Yes we do! Next week we are off to Zanzibar for an amazing destination wedding with guests flying in from all over Africa & the world. Personally, I am off to Thailand in 2 weeks to speak in front of 400 industry experts at the annual Destination Wedding Planners Congress and there are much more.
AR: Share with us one of your biggest event mistakes that eventually became a major lesson or stepping-stone.
CH: Not listening to my intuition and for example taking on a project when we shouldn’t have. The powerful lesson is that you learn to say no.
AR: How would you describe the evolution of the event industry?
CR: The event/wedding planning world has grown into a globally recognised major industry, with exciting opportunities across countries & cultures.
Planning a destination event/wedding thousands of miles away is easier than ever and a growing trend. Technology & social media has had a huge impact on our market – where cookie-cutter weddings are commonplace and everything is shared “in the moment”. Generally, it’s become an incredibly saturated & highly competitive market – which makes it even more important to forge strong partnerships (locally & globally) and remain relevant.
AR: Share with us some of the valuable lessons you took away from the Atinuda Experience, which held in 2016.
CH: International marketing is vital for us and Atinuda provided a great platform to connect us with one of our target markets – Nigerian event professionals and also potential clients. Personal connections are at the core of our planning service and Atinuda was a wonderful platform to create these partnerships with some of Nigeria’s event & wedding experts.
On a very personal note: I’ve built friendships across borders with some of Nigeria’s leading event ladies (Ayiri this one’s for you) and it’s fantastic to able to reach out for advice from businesswoman to businesswoman – and share some of the daily dramas we all experience!
AR: How would you describe your visit to Nigeria?
CR: Enlightening, eye-opening and filled with the special vibrancy that Nigeria holds. It was an amazing trip into the heart of Lagos and its people – and I would love to go back!
AR: How would you describe the growth of the event industry in Nigeria?
CH: Being based in South Africa I can’t really comment about the local market – but we have seen a noticeable growth in couples choosing South Africa as a wedding destination of choice. Approx. 20% of our clients are Nigerian.
Makeup: Bimpe Onakoya | @Bimpeonakoya
Lead Stylist: Zubby Definition | @Zubbydefinitions
Assistant Stylist: Anita of Soul of Urban People Style Ltd
Atinuda Director: Mrs Ayiri Oladunmoye CEO @oakenevent
Coral Beads: Zubby Definition | @Zubbydefinition
Aso-oke: BIMMMS24| @BIMMMS24
Photography: TY Bello | @Tybello
Production Company: Oaken Events @oakenevent | Atinuda Team @atinuda_
Hairstylist 1: Zubby Definition | @Zubbydefinitions
Hairstylist 2: Daboiku Shesan Nuel | @shesannuel_