Thirteen years ago this month, I registered the website rocknrollbride.blogspot.co.uk so I had somewhere to talk about planning my wedding. The year was 2007 (before Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook groups where a thing) and the way most of us connected with other people online was through closed forums or websites such as LiveJournal and MySpace.
The now defunct You and Your Wedding website and forum was my hang out of choice. I was in there every single day posting about our wedding ideas and getting inspiration from the other members. I made some great online friends. I’m not quite sure where the idea came from, but one day I decided it might be fun to start my own blog (this new thing that I’d seen a few members talking about) where I could host my own content, create my own logo and upload as much or as little as I liked. I enjoyed the forum, but a lot of it was too traditional for my tastes and forget about finding ideas in magazines, it was much of the same. I still bought and obsessed over every single one though, desperate to find some unique ideas that I could incorporate into our own day.
The first official Rock n Roll Bride website was a gem, let me tell you…! My favourite part of this is that we got married in April 2008, and you can see that in May I was already writing a post about potential vow renewal outfits. Jeez Kat, chill ya boots!
After the wedding, I kept on blogging, sharing other people’s weddings from the forum, as well as content I started to find on places like Flickr and via other blogspot blogs. Then, at the end of 2009 I accidentally locked myself out and deleted my entire site (that’s a story for another day!) which is what was the catalyst for me deciding it was time to ‘do this properly’. So, I bought the .com and Gareth transferred everything over to a better blogging platform.
Enter stage left: the inaugural rocknrollbride.com! Isn’t she a beauty? (LOL!)
By this point I had started to connect with people offline, who were also launching wedding businesses and were looking to do things differently, too. I booked a few paid advertisers and I was getting sent weddings from all over the world from people who wanted to be featured on the site! I did a couple of shoots (with me modelling, some were cute others were terrible) and even managed to do a trade with a designer who created a header for the blog. I was on my way!
Things grew quickly at this point. A couple of other UK based wedding blogs had sprung up and the industry was starting to pay attention. I got invited to fancy events and catwalk shows, I was interviewed by the press, and by the end of 2010 I was earning more from Rock n Roll Bride than I was from my full-time TV producer job. It was time to take the plunge and run my business full time – scary!
In 2011 I found Nubby Twiglet (now better known now as Shauna Haider from We Are Branch). She was an artist and budding graphic designer and I loved her style, her blog and her design work. Even though she was in Portland, Oregon, I approached her about rebranding my website. She designed me a new logo, blog header and some navigation icons for the grand sum of $200, and I did a new photo shoot with my photographer friend Emma Case to celebrate.
Also in 2011, Rock n Roll Bride was invited to exhibit at a wedding show, and we decided to create a free ‘magazine’ to give out to attendees to show them what we were all about. The magazine was so popular that we decided to do a regular, yearly edition, which we then sold on our website between 2011 and 2014…
I also hosted a couple of parties in 2011 where wedding industry folk could come together, drink, mingle and dance the night away. It was really just the perfect excuse to get offline and meet in real life. I met a lot of people at these events who I’m still friends with today.
2012 was a big year for us. In February, I travelled to America for the first time for work to attend WPPI, a huge conference for wedding photographers in Las Vegas. While on that trip my friends Lisa Devlin, David McNeil and I met up with Shauna and our mutual friend Gala Darling, who happened to be in town at the same time. We all loved having our photos taken so it made sense that we’d arrange to shoot with Lisa and David at some point. We ended up having such a great time that we spent the whole week together (which was a huge win for me because they’d booked a way nicer hotel than I had!) and started talking about doing a workshop about blogging together…
Over the previous few months I’d been doing small workshops sharing blogging and social media tips for wedding suppliers in the UK, and they’d be trying to figure out a way they could travel and get paid for it… And so the idea of The Blogcademy was born (using the photos from Vegas to promote it of course!)
The Blogcademy was an crazy whirlwind success. Our first class in New York sold out in 24-hours, and over the next three years we travelled the world teaching women (and a few brave men) all about blogging, branding, getting brand deals, social media (and so much more) over a two-day workshop. We taught over 1000 people, travelled to New Zealand, Australia, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Canada and all over the United States… In total I think we did about 35 classes and went on to launch an online version of the course which is actually still available (and continues to sell) today.
In 2013 I connected with Sophie from Crown and Glory because she attended The Blogcademy as well as one of my previous solo workshops. We hit it off and decided to collaborate on a collection of flower crowns and headpieces. Our first collection was a huge hit and we went on to do two more before we stumbled on the idea of trying veils (because duh!) and we’ve never looked back.
Four veil collections later and we’re still going (with a little break in between for Soph to have a baby). We’re planning to launch some new designs early next year!
Then, in 2015 I got a call from a publisher, who produced another wedding magazine. They’d seen what we were doing with the Rock n Roll Bride magazine and asked us if we wanted help making it a bi-monthly magazine and get it into real life shops! Long story short, we partnered with them for three issues (Jan/Feb 2015, Mar/Apr 2015 and May/June 2015) but we weren’t too happy with how things were panning out. It was time to go our own way again…
That six-month period was like magazine boot camp. We learnt so much about the ‘proper’ way to do things and when we brought everything back in-house and re-hired Shauna and her team to do the design work, we were in a much better position to make this thing really work. Although it was scary (in fact one of the scariest things we’ve probably ever done) it was also the single best decision we’ve ever made for our business.
But wait, there’s more (are you still with me!?) at the start of 2018 I was offered a book deal with Ryland Peters & Small and most of that year consisted of me huddled away in my office writing and shooting for it. The book was released in January 2019, shot straight to number one on Amazon in it’s category and continues to sell copies every single day. We had a kick ass party to celebrate complete with an enormous pink and purple balloon wall and a unicorn cake.
I also collaborated with Little Mistress on a collection of bridal and bridesmaid dresses this year too!
February 2020 saw the first ever Rock n Roll Bride Live which was an in-person conference meets wedding fair meets party. It was such a brilliant day, and while we planned to do another one in November, this has now been put on hold for obvious reasons. We will definitely be doing another one later in 2021 though so watch this space.
The last couple of years I’ve started to expand the non-wedding side of my business with the launch of The Confidence Club course/ mentoring programme and podcast. There will be more goodies related to this coming soon.
The last thirteen years have been transformative in so many ways, not only for this little blog of mine that became a business, but for me personally. I’ve never felt like I had one big moment where I ‘made it’ (whatever that means!) but rather that there was a series of little moments and triumphs stitched together that eventually lead me to exactly where I needed to be.
One of the things people ask me the most when we speak about business is what steps they need to follow in order to find the success they crave. And while there’s no magic pill or secret formula to follow that will guarantee success, what I can tell you is that you just have to get out there and try. Be tenacious, be consistent and look for opportunities everywhere.
If I can do it so can you. Don’t take no for an answer. Work hard, trust in the universe and follow your goddamn dreams.
Thank you, from the bottom of my sparkly pink heart, for all your love and support over the past thirteen years. Whether you’ve been following since the beginning or you just discovered us today, I am so grateful that you’re here. It’s a cliché but none of this would have happened without you guys.
Happy birthday Rock n Roll Bride, you truly changed my life!