Digital Bootcamp Asia Podcast

Running a Successful Wedding Planning Business with Cyrielle Mohara

September 11, 2020 Natasha Fang Season 1 Episode 9
Digital Bootcamp Asia Podcast
Running a Successful Wedding Planning Business with Cyrielle Mohara
Chapters
Digital Bootcamp Asia Podcast
Running a Successful Wedding Planning Business with Cyrielle Mohara
Sep 11, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Natasha Fang

Cyrielle Mohara is a French entrepreneur, She started her career designing jewelry for very specialized customers all over Europe and Asia gaining deep experience and knowledge in both markets.

After moving to China for love AND opportunities, Cyrielle started Spectrum Agency, currently one of the most sought-after luxury events and wedding planners in China. Having a strong business background and a very particular style and French flair in her work, she has grown the company quickly and now designs opulent destination weddings for a discerning clientele.

She is the only French wedding planner in China and speaks fluent Mandarin, English, and French.

She has been invited as a speaker to destination weddings congresses, Female entrepreneurs conferences. She is passionate about the luxury lifestyle, travel, design, and female leadership.


Contact Cyrielle Mohara on LinkedIn.

This show is powered by Digital Bootcamp Asia, sponsored by Tolmao Group. Natasha Fang is the Founder and CEO of Tolmao Group, a leading integrated marketing agency headquartered in Shanghai City, China. Recognized for original content, persuasive digital marketing strategies, interactive website designs, and influential event marketing campaigns, she has worked with a variety of clients. Connect with Natasha Fang on LinkedIn.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DigitalBootcampAsia
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dbasia
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/digitalbootcampasia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DB_Asia

Show Notes Transcript

Cyrielle Mohara is a French entrepreneur, She started her career designing jewelry for very specialized customers all over Europe and Asia gaining deep experience and knowledge in both markets.

After moving to China for love AND opportunities, Cyrielle started Spectrum Agency, currently one of the most sought-after luxury events and wedding planners in China. Having a strong business background and a very particular style and French flair in her work, she has grown the company quickly and now designs opulent destination weddings for a discerning clientele.

She is the only French wedding planner in China and speaks fluent Mandarin, English, and French.

She has been invited as a speaker to destination weddings congresses, Female entrepreneurs conferences. She is passionate about the luxury lifestyle, travel, design, and female leadership.


Contact Cyrielle Mohara on LinkedIn.

This show is powered by Digital Bootcamp Asia, sponsored by Tolmao Group. Natasha Fang is the Founder and CEO of Tolmao Group, a leading integrated marketing agency headquartered in Shanghai City, China. Recognized for original content, persuasive digital marketing strategies, interactive website designs, and influential event marketing campaigns, she has worked with a variety of clients. Connect with Natasha Fang on LinkedIn.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DigitalBootcampAsia
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dbasia
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/digitalbootcampasia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DB_Asia

Natasha Fang :

You're listening to Digital Bootcamp Asia Podcast, where entrepreneurs and business owners share their real-life stories and lessons learned on how to start, grow, and excel in their business in the digital era. This show is brought to you by Tolmao Group, an integrated marketing agency. I'm your host Natasha Fang. Cyrielle Mohara is a French entrepreneur, She started her career designing jewellery for very specialised customers all over Europe and Asia gaining deep experience and knowledge in both markets. After moving to China for love and opportunities, Cyrielle started Spectrum Agency, currently one of the most sought-after luxury events and wedding planners in China. Having a strong business background and a very particular style and French flair in her work, she has grown the company quickly and now design opulent destination weddings for a discerning clientele. Thank you for joining Digital Bootcamp Asia podcast. Tell us about your current business. What are you doing? Exactly?

Cyrielle Mohara :

Thank you so much for having me. Really glad to share my experience today on on the podcast. So we I run a wedding planning agency based in Shanghai, but we actually create destination wedding all over the world, meaning we bring Chinese clients to get married wherever they wish. So we have been to Hawaii, we've been to Morocco, France, Italy, and all the amazing places and we specialize in high end, luxury weddings.

Natasha Fang :

That sounds fantastic! Could you share with us how you start a business?

Cyrielle Mohara :

Sure. I've made a bit of background about myself. So I'm French, but I've been in China for 10 years now. And I started my company about four years ago, when I started, the first idea was to do events for brands, conference events. And we also worked with some malls in Shanghai. Because I really saw the need for this type of lifestyle events so we say. And we had an opportunity to do our first way, actually one of the manager from the brand that we did an event for, asked me Cyrielle, I love the events entity for our company. I'm getting married next year. Can you do my wedding? And then I just say yes, of course I can do it. But at that time, I didn't know anything about wedding of course. So I had to learn, you know, ask around what are the Chinese etiquettes or what are the specific specificity for Chinese wedding? And then I just did it and it was great. And from then on, we had a lot of word of mouth and recommendation. And I would say now we have about 80% wedding and 20% events. So we were focusing a bit more on weddings, because I saw the opportunity and the needs for for this type of high end weddings.

Natasha Fang :

So what has been the biggest challenge? And I think my input is like this year, especially the COVID reason. Almost all industries, so for your industry, also what has been the biggest challenge for you this year?

Cyrielle Mohara :

So we had a lot of challenges. To be honest. I think as an entrepreneur, and especially as a foreigner entrepreneur in China, you have a lot of challenges. But definitely this year, I think COVID is something that we couldn't control. And when it all started, I was very optimistic and positive and I told all my brides, don't worry You know, it's gonna be better your wedding is in June we can still go to Italy. It's gonna be amazing. And as a situation a fallback actually you realize, okay, I think it might not be as, as what we hoped for. So let's plan you know, let's have plan B, plan C and see and let's adapt because that's also what you have to do you have to be flexible and adapt to your business. So for us this year, we've been focusing on this nation wedding in China. So this is also what are we trying to promote to our clients. Let's say some of them wanted originally to get married in Bali. We offer them to get married in Sanya, which is very similar right? And also have beautiful five star hotels. So that that's still an ongoing challenge, I would say but at least now we have adapted a little bit and we're looking forward to next year. That once gets better we can again start traveling and we can do overseas wedding. Because this is still a very big market for for Chinese couples, they they love going overseas, you know, Europe, Italy, Bali, Thailand, they still want to have their dream wedding in these venues.

Natasha Fang :

So what is your top favourite wedding destinations over the years?

Cyrielle Mohara :

So of course I would have to say France. Because I'm french, right? I need to support a bit of my country. But it's it's hard to have a favorites. I think we've been to a pretty amazing location. And we've worked with stunning venues and hotels. And so I would say yeah, Europe is still one of my favorites it's just you have amazing vendors, amazing food and wine and you know the lifestyle that you get is very different so the clients they love that. It's something completely new for them, but for Chinese also is Southeast Asia also very popular, such as Bali and Thailand. And I think one of the main reason is also you have to direct flight so it's quite a convenience that's also something to consider and you have amazing service amazing hotels. And of course, the view I mean, you cannot compete with the view from Bali from the Bali clifftop villa or you cannot compete the view with on the Atlantic sea.

Natasha Fang :

So, we both think the also events industry I would say like you also mentioned some product this is also like event production and I know when you either organize a wedding or like organize an event there are many things have gone wrong. So can you describe us and what is the like a your workflow in daily basis if you are at a wedding So, like what are the things you need to take care of? To make sure the wedding has been running smoothly especially during the wedding day.

Cyrielle Mohara :

Sure. So I actually planning a wedding is is quite complex and even more for destination wedding because destination wedding you pretty bring you pretty much bring hundred guests to a completely like to a foreign country and you have to organize everything from afar. So it require much more organization, preparation,planning and also logistics from usually we start it depends we start from a year to six months in advance and we have a pretty smooth system I would say where you know everything is taken care of from the design from the hotel. From the day of random. So we prepare all of these things in advance. But as you say, You're also being in events, you know that you prepare everything up to the last details. And maybe on the days it's gonna rain. You know, what what do you do? So that's why we have Plan B or Plan C, and the most important on the wedding day, and this is also what I tell my team is that doesn't matter what's happening on the day. You just find ways always and you stays backstage. I don't want the clients to know that anything is happening. We just always find a solution. Anyway, that's, that's our job. And I think that's also why the clients look first because they don't want to have to deal with the problems. They want to give it to someone else and enjoy. So, yeah, stay backstage and then when the plan is good, everything is fine. And then at the end, of course, everything turn out fine.

Natasha Fang :

Then what also was the like a biggest challenge for you like a facing like Chinese clients because of all the cultural differences, different misconceptions how they understanding how the perfect wedding should be, you should ask some stories encountered dealing with I will say difficult clients in China.

Cyrielle Mohara :

I would say we're pretty lucky, we didn't have difficult clients. And I think one of the main reason is that we, we also have a clear positioning. And a lot of our clients come from recommendation or from, you know, from our from my network or from past clients. So this is really the first point means that these clients, they already want to work with us. And they really are our target clients. They really like our style, they really like our way of doing things. So I think when you were so I would say choose your clients it helps a lot to avoid this type of miscommunication. Because we we have some types of clients that come from, let's say, social media. And when you meet with them, we actually realize, look, I think we're not a match. Because what they're looking for, or the idea they have for a wedding is not what we would deliver. You know, for us, we're very much about keeping umm memorable experience, and our style is also more french. But if you want something, if let's say they want a very traditional wedding, they will not look for us to be honest. There are a lot of agency that would match their request and their requirements. So they would go for this agency, and I think that that helps a lot, really to have no miscommunication with the clients after that, like once you've signed them.

Natasha Fang :

I agree. So the primary leads resources for you in China as word of mouth referrals.

Cyrielle Mohara :

Yes, yeah.

Natasha Fang :

That's has been interesting also, for me running a marketing agency. It will be tricky for me to say also not really the social media.

Cyrielle Mohara :

But I mean, of course we have social media and in China you need to have a social media presence is very important. I think one of the main reasons why most of our clients come from referrals is also we do more premium. So, when you have you know, when you have friends recommending you, this wedding planner is just so personal. I mean It's your big day, you do not want to give it to someone that you trust and you like and I think it's different. So maybe with your agency, is that for us, we spent six months with this couple and we really get to know them. We know their family, you know, it's very personal. So of course you want to give it to someone you like.

Natasha Fang :

Definitely. Also, I guess it can be becoming very emotional at the day of the wedding. The wedding itself is like the baby is born. Right? It may be very sentimental.

Cyrielle Mohara :

So sure, it's very, it's a big milestone. And it's a big milestone for everyone. But I think even more for Chinese couples because it's a funny thing. It's the wedding is with a couple but also for their parents for the family. So it's a very big and important moment.

Natasha Fang :

Yeah, definitely. And may I ask what keeps you going over the years like leaving China? Especially also, you're running such a challenging, like wedding planning business. Like what keeps you going every day having this like positive attitude to just continue doing what you do.

Cyrielle Mohara :

I would say I think it's my husband, he is always really pushing me to do better, right. Don't give up. And I think yeah, I think if I wasn't with him I would maybe be difference so that's why it's important to also have a good support system that you feel okay I'm not doing this alone. You know I have a family supporting me I have friends supporting me other entrepreneur. It's very important to develope the network and the support system.

Natasha Fang :

That's amazing to hear the man behind.

Cyrielle Mohara :

Yeah, the man behing but he is also a businessman entrepreneur. And I think he yeah for me, he cannot imagine that working for a company is a very competitive and how do we go go for it. Go for the opportunites.

Natasha Fang :

Oh, Yeah, definitely, in this new era, I think also in Shanghai, in China, it's called China dream. Because I think, women here do have a lot of freedom to get a support from the family and run their own business here in China. I've seen the rise of entrepreneurship, female entrepreneurship in China be going crazy over the years. So what trends in weddings are you seeing today?

Cyrielle Mohara :

For the past two three years, the destination wedding was really booming. So destination wedding meaning overseas wedding. That was a big trends. I mean, it still is, of course now because of the COVID it's kind of on pause. But I still believe it will catch up. Because I see from my couples, they usually have one destination wedding abroad and then they will come back to China and have a second wedding, which is for the parents for the family in their hometown. And they still asking me, you know, I still hope I can do a wedding abroad. This was my dream wedding and I still really want to go there and enjoy with friends and my parents. I think it's a different feeling when you do a wedding than a more traditional wedding banquets in China. And also one of the other trend is really custom is customization. So they want a more personalized wedding. You know, I know don't know if you have attend some of the Chinese wedding the very traditional one. It's just you were there and then Okay, there's a stage and then you eat and then two hours later you leave. So the younger generation they don't really like that anymore. They say, look! At the end of the day is my wedding. So want to do something that show our love story that show my personality. And I think that also shows not only in wedding, but in fashion or in everyday life for the young Chinese, they really want to show their own personality. I see.

Natasha Fang :

So if the parents are paying but the couple want different things, how do you make sure you're aligned with both expectations?

Cyrielle Mohara :

Yeah, so it's a game of, you know, being in the middle and moderating people. But I think also the parents now understand, they they are more flexible, you know, the parents understand that it's not only for them The wedding is also for the couples and they try to find a middle point where everyone can be happy.

Natasha Fang :

Yeah, I'll say the parents that also becomes more open-minded in this day and Sure. Do you think also do you think the digitalization in China also has helped pushing the wedding like a planning business forward? And can you share a little bit about what you have adopted in in the in the digitalization way to help you either like get a client, run the business also perhaps also you have to you know, the in wedding in the live event and they also had the V photo which is the live photo.

Cyrielle Mohara :

Yes.

Natasha Fang :

Can you share about how the digitalization has helped move forward your business? Yes. It's very important in in China. So, I think there were there are a few points. One of the first one is the social media, which as I say important to have online presence in the Chinese social media. So Xiahongshu, it works really well for us, because I think Xiahongshu is mostly female, and then they go to a travel, beauty,bride fashion, wedding. That's like for this type of Industry talks for you well. And then the second point is, of course for us, because planning involves a lot of parties, from our design team, our planner, our clients, so we really streamline the process to make it easy for everyone. So of course we use WeChat a lot. But we also have our own internal system, project management system, which makes sure that we don't miss the line, we don't miss the detail that need to tell everything to the client mention every document is in that is in one place. So everyone in the team knows, doesn't matter. If you're a designer, you also know what would be the rundown for the day, you know, all the details. And that's a very important point, too. And especially when we do overseas wedding, then maybe I'm in another country, but the team is in China. So we have this place where we can share everything. And also share with the clients and for the client is the same they can follow the process and also know from their sides. Okay What what is my to do what is my deadline and they can see what we're working on. Yeah, I love the idea share about the using project management system I think when you running a wedding planning business with so many deadlines and so many details if you don't pay attention to detail things can fall apart, it's very important to think about how can use this system to you know, utilize the internal management as well as managing the client. And also at the end of the day. The wedding planning business is about managing people. So yeah, you manage a client. Can you share about the what are you having any cultural conflict with your team in China? deliver your vision to them, make sure they complete what's been asked.

Cyrielle Mohara :

That's a good question. My team is, is Chinese. So we have Chinese designer and planner, I would say you have to select a good team. Also from the beginning, I think it's kind of the same. And especially when you have a smaller team, you need to make sure you have a coherent team and they all you know that everyone is on the same page. And they think in terms of design I'm pretty lucky that I found designers actually share the same vision. And they also share the same request for quality. And I think, maybe one thing that I sometimes or maybe at the beginning I was more it's a confilct to the staff is that, you know, in China a lot of times you should ask them to do something and then they say, Oh, it's done. chà bu duō. I'm sure you heard that right? And then I say, No, it's not chà bu duō you do it like this, if you don't do it and don't do it at all, and that's often not only with my staff, but also with the suppliers more, because the suppliers, they say the production company on the lighting company, right? I said I wanted exactly like that. And then they give me something which is 70% or 80%. I said, No, I want it hundred percent like that, ok chà bu duō . So it takes a long time to train and explain that know, between that level of service, I expect that don't give me you know, half done, job and just said, It's fine. You know.

Natasha Fang :

I think also, all the training and education you provide to your employees, they became huge, valuable assets for your business, because it's difficult to get a good talent, these days but to keep that retain them and try them. So if you do it well then can, they can be very valuable for your success in China. So what Yeah, what advice would you give to somebody who wanted to start a similar business?

Cyrielle Mohara :

If they want to start a similar business in China, or anyone the world.

Natasha Fang :

Could be in China or you could be targeting the Chinese audience.

Cyrielle Mohara :

Yeah. For if I say, if you want to start a business in China, I think it's not only for the wedding. You really have to build your network first. The network, I find it very important, and I've been here for 10 years, but you see I was in an event agency four years ago. So I already had that network. You know that guān xi (relationship) And that's a lot. I think if I just freshly landed in China, I don't know anyone and start to do wedding or events it's more difficult. Really. And for the wedding, if you want to start a wedding agency, and you were around the world is all about experience. That's not something you can learn from books, or you need to go on site and experience. I actually had a friend who asked me, she's in France, she asked me a few months ago, she wanted to start a wedding planning agency. And I said, Do you have any experience in working with events agency? Have you done any events? And she said no. And I told her, I would advise you to go work with someone first, or maybe go work as a freelancer with you know, some agency. So you can get that experience because doing events is really you cannot replace experience.

Natasha Fang :

Well, I guess for anyone like who is interested in starting a similar business in China, or in Shanghai, they can always come and reach you. And then

Cyrielle Mohara :

Of course.

Natasha Fang :

They can start from intership at your agency first, right? So please tell our listeners how they can reach online.

Cyrielle Mohara :

They can reach me from LinkedIn from from my LinkedIn profile, which is Cyrielle Mohara. And then we also of course have our company WeChat account, Xiahongshu, Weib, our website and Instagram. So I think you give all of these notes ,right?

Natasha Fang :

Sure.

Cyrielle Mohara :

Okay.

Natasha Fang :

Thank you so much for joining me.

Cyrielle Mohara :

Thank you.

Natasha Fang :

Untill next time.