Lenka Lockley and her husband Mark Lockley own the Ambience Venue Styling franchise in Derbyshire. The creative, business minded, duo joined Ambience as franchisees in September 2015.
Mark had a long and successful business career, primarily managing venture capital backed businesses in Marketing Services and Point of Sale. More recently Mark acquired and is running two print businesses. Lenka was running her own business restoring and selling period furniture, antiques and collectibles.
We wanted to find a business that Lenka could run and use her design and creative skills, as well as her passion for being hands on, making and creating things. Marks role would be in general business, finance and administration.
The whole idea was finding something that we could do together, enjoy and over time earn a healthy second income. This was always going to be full-time for Lenka and part-time for Mark.
Neither of us considers ourselves to be marketers. We both know from experience that the hardest thing in establishing a successful business is in the marketing and establishing how to let customers know you are there and know where to find you. We were very confident on our ability to deliver the service levels expected and grow a business, but how to attract customers was our biggest fear.
If we were to start a business from scratch and plan a professional marketing campaign with an SEO optimised website, printed collateral, email campaigns, sample client testimonials etc. this would be (a) very time consuming, (b) costly, and (c) no guarantee of success.
Purchasing a franchise simply gave us a head start, we were buying into a proven market-leading brand with an established route to market. In short we got:
In its market, Ambience Venue Styling is the only established National Brand. The wedding industry while not recession proof appeared to be a market where people are still prepared to spend disposable income in tough times. The market appears very fragmented and offers the opportunity to establish a market leading position if the proposition and service is right.
It enabled Lenka to use her design and creative skills and be hands on creating themes and styling that would stand out and bring immense happiness to many many couples. It was in the price bracket we were looking to invest.
The Franchisor appeared to be empathetic to the needs of Franchisees as opposed to looking to exploit them (the franchise world is full of unscrupulous Franchisors). The purchase process was very straight forward, quick and painless. While we were aware that there was an exiting Franchisee (as we purchased a resale) it very much felt like we were purchasing a new Franchise.
As with establishing any new business, it has been challenging and hard work for the couple. This is certainly very much full time for Lenka and Mark supports where necessary.
It has been very rewarding in that in a relatively short space of time we have established a successful business, which is making a difference to people’s lives and starting to become a local brand known for outstanding service.
Financially with all the start up costs the business was break-even in year 1, but we expect to turn a profit in year 2 and a healthy return from year 3 onwards. We have met some lovely people and had some fun working together.
Our aim is to develop Ambience Derbyshire to become clearly recognised as the best venue dressing business in the area. If you want your wedding to be really special and want the best support possible, come to Ambience!
Their plan for the future is to grow the business to scale to employ sub-contractors to do some of the more essential but repeat work, this will then allow Lenka to focus more on creating, planning and organising. Earning more from her creative skills and allowing the couple’s dreams to come true.
We are also looking into partnering with an “alternative venue” where the venue hire costs are relatively low for what would essentially be a blank canvas, allowing enough budget to spend on transforming, styling and dressing the venue to create the perfect tailor made wedding.
Above all else we want to grow a fantastic business and have some fun doing it together as a husband and wife team!
We caught up with Laura and Hannah from Ambience Hertfordshire as they approach their two year Ambience anniversary!
Sandie Edgar launched Ambience Edinburgh in April 2008 and has recently signed her third term.
Tina swaps her career in visual merchandising for wedding venue styling!
Emma and Adam launch Ambience in Teesside. They joined Ambience as stylists in early July 2017.
Donna Wojtas is the proud owner of Ambience Venue Styling Bradford and Halifax. Donna joined Ambience as a stylist in October 2014.
Hana came from working in retail for over 13 years and she joined Ambience as a stylist in January 2016.
Hannah and Laura are proud owners of Ambience Venue Styling Hertfordshire. The sister team joined Ambience as stylists in October 2016.
Laura Clark tells us that she started her Ambience Venue Styling business to have a more flexible work life balance.
Buying an Ambience franchise was the best thing I’ve ever done. I had the regular concerns that all people considering buying into a franchise would have as well as the fear of the self-employed world but after going across to Head Office and meeting the team there, I quickly began to realise that I had stumbled across something amazing!Laura Clark - York Franchisee
Joining Ambience has allowed my husband and I the change in lifestyle we were searching for. Back in 2008 I was ready for a fresh challenge and my husband, Gareth, was disillusioned with his current employment. Each of us brings something different to the business which has enabled us to compensate for each other’s weaknesses whilst exploiting the other’s strengths.Sandie Edgar - Edinburgh Franchisee
I knew joining a franchise would give me the support I needed to start my own business, as Ambience was well established and had many stylists; it gave me the confidence to join. Once I decided to join, I had a long list to work through for setting up my business. It was all the basics that needed to be in place before my area/region went live. I’m so glad it was done before I started!Tina Smith - Suffolk Franchisee
Offer your clients an unbeatable selection with the UK's largest wedding styling library, which puts 100s of hire items at your fingertips.
A winning workflow backed by a comprehensive suite of professionally designed marketing templates and business forms. With Ambience template documents.
Run a local business with a national reputation and keep your phone ringing throughout the year.