Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Charles Bronson, founder of Believe San Decors, an event planning and designing company based in Chennai, India. My team and I have been planning memorable events for our clients for four years now. We take up the responsibility of beautifying a special occasion in someone’s life, may it be weddings, birthdays, engagements, corporate meetings, surprises, baby showers, baptisms, and more.
For us, event planning is more than just arranging a bunch of flowers or placing other utilities in a hall. We have an in-depth understanding of our client’s preferences and work towards customizing our designs and decorations based on their taste.
India is a highly spiritual and diverse country, celebrations are always at the heart of people’s lives. While designing weddings for people with varied religious beliefs, in addition to fulfilling their expectations we also have to understand their traditions and incorporate every aspect of it in the decoration.
A church wedding might be simple and elegant while a pavilion wedding might be vibrant and colorful. As an event planner, working with diverse groups of people has given me the freedom to experiment with designs and add a touch of my creativity to it.
We also constantly work on a new design layout. We are very keen on making every event we are involved with unique. I think that is the secret to having worked in designing over 150+ events to date.
Over the years we were able to gain the trust of a lot of customers, vendors, churches, venue owners, hoteliers, and so on. We have also had schools, colleges, renowned churches, and a television channel approach us for creating a set design for their cultural programs. If I have to name a few, we have designed various events for the famous St. Thomas Basilica in Chennai. We have a great association with ‘Stella Maris College’. Apart from designing for their internal college events, I have also conducted a series of guest lectures for the students on ‘Event Management’.
I believe in leading a life that inspires people to excel, and I strive to apply the same in my business as well.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
After becoming a commerce graduate, I went on to study entrepreneurship in Leeds, UK. I had always aspired to build a career that awards a unique identity. I wanted to walk through life on the paths that I had laid for myself. This very thought of mine was the foundation for starting a business.
I believe that when one focuses on being fit, healthy, and happy, one can achieve excellence in their life.
My attempts to create a business model began with a gaming zone. Event decoration was not the first of the business I had put my mind onto. I owned a snooker parlor for over a year before I started 'Believe San Decors'.
There is always a misconception that all the great business ideas are developed in an air-conditioned meeting room where people have a rigorous discussion and strategize on launching it. My story is very simple. I had a small talk with my friends on starting a business of this sort and I found each of us present in that room had a skill that could push us more towards bringing our idea to life. One of us could bring in leads, while the others were good at handling electrical work in the sets, planning the designs, building the sets, and so on.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I have not had prior experience in designing events. My friend Paul Juniya’s father was into the design and was doing floral decorations for events that happened at various churches. He has been a great inspiration in imparting the basics of what event decoration is all about. I interacted with every vendor personally to understand what it takes to sustain and eventually grow in this domain
With my aesthetic sense and the knowledge I acquired through experience I was able to improve my designs and ideas over time. I was determined to make every event grander than the previous one.
Our business did take a while to gain momentum. The first event that my team and I did was a very basic stage set up with a simple pink and blue backdrop. The event decorations that we do today are way more classy and appealing than what we had designed initially.
Describe the process of launching the business.
As soon as we decided on starting the business we were all set to do the field-work. We had spread a word to our friends and families. We started taking up every event that came our way, irrespective of how small or big the occasion was.
50% of the cost of purchasing raw materials such as clothes, flowers, decorative items, lights, and so on for every event was managed by the retainer that our clients gave. We had to make an additional investment to fund the event decoration.
Just like every other startup, reaching a position where we could gain a profitable income from the events we did was tough. We invested the money we made again to design the next event for about 8 months. We have had a professional social presence only in 2019. The clients we had worked for in the past have been majorly through word of mouth and referrals.
During the initial launch and struggle, Rev. Father Arokiya Velankani Stalin (St. Thomas Basilica) has been a major support for our growth. Rev. Father referred us for event decoration to people who sought his help in booking an auditorium or a date for a wedding at the church.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Attracting and retaining customers is the key to being successful in any business. In event management, I think it is the way we interact with the clients. How well are we able to understand their likes and dislikes. Mastering the art of subtle probing to get more details of their choices that could be beneficial in choosing the right theme of colors and other fancy materials is crucial.
Every client walks in with a dream wedding decoration in their mind. A dream that they had for years. It can be at times difficult for one to elaborate on how they want their special day to be designed. Naturally the responsibility of rightly interpreting a client’s imagination and making it a reality falls on the shoulders of every event planner.
I normally set up meetings with my clients at their convenient place to make them comfortable. I assure them of owning the responsibility of lighting up their special day with my work.
It was only in 2019 that we began establishing a social presence for our company. The rule to have a great social media presence is to post appealing photos and captions of the work that you did and provide the audience with a reason to follow your page thereafter. Posting client testimonials can also be advantageous in supporting the service a business offers. It provides the audience with a reason to believe in you.
Screenshot from Google My Business app for one month
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We started ‘Believe San Decors’ in 2016 and it has been a great journey so far. We are now comfortable with the work we do and are enjoying every moment of it. We are planning to take up events at a larger scale and experiment with new designs as well.
We used to rent the furniture, sound systems, and other items previously. Now we are looking at investing in buying most of the materials that will be required in designing.
2019 has been a fabulous year for us. We did events for the friends of an actor (Atharva Murali) and actress (Samantha Akkineni) in India. We had also designed the sets for Sun Network Group’s TV channel. We associate with churches in the city to do a crib design for Christmas eve. Further, we got the opportunity to design during festivals in theatres like PVR Cinemas, shops, and restaurants.
Our plans to increase social media and online presence have drastically increased over the last year. We are looking towards onboarding more clients through these platforms. We were able to do over 150+ events without having a professional online presence. Now we aim to bump this number with the help of effective digital engagements. This idea led us to start a youtube channel in July 2020.
The advice that I would give to you is to grab every opportunity that comes your way to fulfill your goal. The logic is very simple. You have to define your path and walk towards achieving your dream. Initially, just like inertia, your mind and body will resist your forward movement. Once you make it a routine you will automatically reach where you want to be.
Guest lectures on ‘Event Management’
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When I have an event scheduled my day starts at 3:00 AM. I have learned to gain control over my mind and body. Right from the day, I have started ‘Believe San Decors’ everything has been a learning experience. I had the determination to prove that I can make this business profitable.
Not to forget, my dad’s blessings always had a positive influence throughout these 4 years. You can call it an invisible force that helped me every time I required one.
I am happy to realize that I have been a part of someone’s special day. It is the satisfaction of my clients that truly motivates me to do more events and contribute to someone’s smile. Every constructive criticism I have ever received from either my clients or the people around me has molded me into what I am today.
I believe that when one focuses on being fit, healthy, and happy, one can achieve excellence in their life.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I have developed my website using Wix. The Wix premium subscription also comes with an SEO tool. The integration helps in improving my social visibility on Google. Additionally, I focus mainly on designing and editing tools. Event management is all about designing beautiful events, capturing quality images, and showcasing online.
I engage with my clients through Whatsapp business application. It comes in handy with the broadcast and quick reply options which helps me in announcing an offer to my contacts or respond to the prospects immediately.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
It is very important to identify the right service or product that challenges your capability and drives you to excel. One has to have the right idea, constantly work on improvising it, meticulously implement it, and patiently wait to see the outcome.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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