When Will proposed and we started our wedding journey there was a LOT of decisions to make that took me hours and hours of deliberation.
What to do about wedding gifts was not one of those decisions. We knew we wanted to offer our friends and family the opportunity to buy us actual gifts if they wanted to, and being the fussy sods that we are we wanted to be able to set up a gift list that wasn’t restrained to just one brand.
Enter Prezola – a gift list service that curates items from hundreds of brands! It was perfect and I have been full of admiration for the couple that set it up ever since.
I mean, what a BRILLIANT idea!
So I am pretty thrilled to be featuring Ali here, co founder of Prezola along with her husband Dom. Ali has also gone on to launch her own brand of home wares Ali&Co which is pretty cool if you ask me.
Read on to find out how Ali came up with the Prezola idea and what life has been like since!
Tell us about Prezola
Prezola is the UK’s leading independent wedding gift list company offering couples the ultimate choice from 100s of homeware brands. From high street and boutique to designer and luxe, Prezola is the modern gift list choice for stylish couples. We also own gettingmarried.co.uk, the UK’s leading wedding website creation platform.
Where did the idea come from?
I had the idea in 2008 when friends and family were asking what I’d like for my birthday and subsequently receiving some, shall we say, ‘dubious’ gifts. I always think this makes me sound so materialistic – I’m really not! I discussed the dilemma with Dom, my husband and co founder, and explained I would love an online platform like Pinterest, where I could add all my favourite gift ideas and share them with friends and family. That evening, after a few glasses of wine we thought up the name and registered ‘Prezola’. So the company and I share a birthday!
What were you doing before hand?
I was working as an interior designer. I have a great passion for textiles and furnishing fabrics so while bringing up the children I completed an interior design diploma. These skills have come in very handy as we have developed and sold quite a few houses during our married life!
What made you want to take a career change and set up your own business?
As a couple we always knew we would set up our own business at some point. The idea of building something of our own together was really exciting. Dom had been working hard in London and staying away from the family and that was starting to take it’s toll. It seemed the right time to jump in and start something new.
How did you get started?
Literally a blank A3 notepad. The website was the starting point. We sold my car in 2011 and hired a great local agency to build the site for us. We started as a general gift list company, but this was going to cost A LOT of money! The real lightbulb moment was when we realised we had a great idea but needed to focus on a niche market. Wedding gift lists were already a tradition so with my love of interior design and passion for shopping it was a no brainier. We had the new website up and running in time for Valentine’s Day 2012.
What has been the greatest challenge so far?
One of the main challenges we had to start with was encouraging brands to come on board. As we were an online-only business many brands turned us down to start with as we didn’t have a shop. That’s all changed now thankfully, and we get so many requests from brands who would like to be included in Prezola which is great!
And the greatest success?
Our unique product and brand curation. With over 30,000 products available from over 300 brands in total, this is my day-to-day area of the business and I love it! Over 100 incredible brands choose to partner exclusively with Prezola in the wedding gift list market, and couples love the incredible choice that we offer.
What’s a ‘normal’ day for you?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a normal day as every day is different! I manage the Product Team at Prezola who look after the brands that we represent. There could be a brand visit either at their showroom or a visit to Prezola HQ where we will see any new ranges and products and discuss sales and marketing strategies. My activities change throughout the year as we are so seasonal. We are currently working on our 2018 Prezola ad campaign, which means calling in a lot of product and organising a photo shoot. Lot’s of logistics involved, but great fun!
What is your favourite part of your job?
Meeting the companies we work with and discovering new and interesting home ware brands. It is so important to me that we have great relationships with each and every one of the brands that we promote. Last year we introduced our own brand Ali&Co to Prezola and it has proved very popular. For 2018 we will be expanding the range dramatically which is very exciting. Choosing the collection and how all the pieces work together is something I love.
What do you think is the biggest driver in your success?
We have built an amazing team at Prezola. Employing staff is never easy and can be a challenge but I truly believe that if you have passionate staff that are happy and motivated in their job, this can drive a business to success. So much of our business is based on recommendation so our customer service has to be top notch!
Do you have any tips for my readers who have their own business or are thinking of setting up their own business?
I have three key pieces of advice…..
- Know your audience and understand how you are going to market to them.
- Surround yourself with people who complement you and your skills.
- Always go with your gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
AND JUST FOR FUN:
Favourite thing to do on a Sunday? Lie in. Walk the dog. Roast dinner with Dom and the kids…..and relax!
Favourite travel destination? Currently The Betsy in Miami, but Dom and I are going to Marrakech later this month, which I think will become my favourite destination! It’s very important for us to escape regularly. Mixing shorter breaks in with longer family holidays is very beneficial. One of my mottos is ‘always have something to look forward to’.
Favourite way to relax? I am so lucky to live and work in beautiful Bath, so a great way to relax is just to go out for a walk and take in the gorgeous scenery and Georgian architecture. We have so many lovely restaurants so I enjoy nothing more than a nice meal and glass of wine to relax after a long day at work. I also love the theatre, reading and flicking through interiors magazines for inspiration.
Favourite blog or Instagram account? Someone who always makes me laugh on Instagram is Kat from @doesmybumlook40. For interiors inspiration I love @madaboutthehouse and @mywarehousehome.
Favourite flowers? I just love hydrangeas.They add wow factor instantly.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given? “Pick your battles”, and it actually came from Dom. Whether it’s dealing with teenagers at home, choosing new brands to list at Prezola or juggling everything, deciding where you can add maximum value is crucial. Its very easy to go around in circles otherwise.
Keep in touch with Ali and Prezola here:
You can read more career profiles here.
Photography: Images of Ali and Dom courtesy of Emma from Heart Full of Tea / All others c/o Prezola