Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Tina Crawford I started Paradise Cove at Lake Grapevine, a wedding and special event venue in Southlake Texas. We also offer overnight glamping experiences on the property for those that would like to go camping in a glamorous way.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I started in the food and beverage industry when I was 16 years old and basically never left. In 2001 Bill Hammond and I renovated a local restaurant that happens to be across the lake from the property Paradise Cove is on. Just before the completion of the restaurant project, I found out this property was coming available. Honestly, at the time my plate was full with the restaurant but since this property was waterfront and on the same lake as the restaurant, we decided to grab the lease but not really knowing what we would actually do with it at the time as the building and property were in poor condition.
Shortly after I started here a girl called and informed me that her wedding was scheduled here as she had booked through the previous owner but they had not told me about her wedding. The bride was panicked so I did the right thing and honored her booking and hosted her wedding and the rest is history! Over 18 years later I still remember her wedding and the moment I first felt the passion for wedding planning! To this day I am still the lead coordinator because I still have the same passion I had 18 years ago.
After I hosted the first wedding I got the vision to renovate the property and that is when Paradise Cove at Lake Grapevine was born.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I worked with a landscape designer to create a long beautiful bridal walkway that leads to a large stone gazebo. Along the walkway, we added 3 stone arches to create a variety of areas for pictures. We also added landscaping around the venue to accent the lake view guests see from all angles of the business.
If I would have hired a bookkeeper from the beginning I would have saved a fortune and also taken a huge amount of stress out of my life.
Once we had the design plan we started marketing while waiting for the project to be completed. At that time brides were planning their weddings about a year out so I was able to start booking future weddings immediately by showing clients what we were working on and what the result would be.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We started by advertising in all the local wedding print magazines and since we are the only location in the area on the lake we had a really good immediate response to our advertising, booking’s accelerated by word of mouth after a girl named Amber booked her wedding here. Internet chat groups were very new at that time so Amber started chatting on various wedding chat lines telling other brides about her experience with myself and my staff and the next thing you know one bride after another made their way here.
To this day Amber and I are still friends. Since I also have a passion for helping others I got involved with The Grapevine Rotary Club, The Grapevine Chamber of Commerce, and a variety of other local nonprofit organizations. I donated the venue and catering to help nonprofits raise money and also donated weddings for wounded soldiers. Continuing to help others in need will always be a huge part of the business and my life.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our waterfront view is the main attraction here but we also keep pricing affordable so every bride can have her dream wedding here. I am also involved in the community through the Grapevine Chamber & Grapevine Rotary Club as I believe full-heartedly in helping others so we donate the use of the venue to nonprofits for fundraisers, volunteer appreciation dinners, etc. being active and giving back to the community has been an instrumental part of people finding out we are here. It has also been through word of mouth that we are a special events venue and not just a wedding venue as we host celebrations of life, birthday parties, and pretty much any other special occasion.
We are also adding to our business as we now have a yurt for overnight glamping (glamorous camping) adventures. Our yurt is the first one in the area so it has received a lot of attention after Good Morning Texas came out for a segment of their show.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Under the circumstances with COVID this past year we are actually doing really well as a business as we have adapted to the needs of our clients during this time. We have been creative with our event options as we are focused on smaller events rather than the large events of the past. We are also considering adding to our glamping experience as our yurt has become so popular it is booked most of the time.
I also have a newfound awareness of the unique biodiversity we have in the area and on our property. Over the last nine months, I have had the opportunity to learn about the remarkable nature offerings we have here from a Biologist named Ray Chancellor that has been studying the area for over 25 years, and a local photographer Chris Sanders who opened my eyes to biodiversity through his amazing photographs and his passion for the local nature and birds.
Now we are incorporating ways to help the habitat by providing food for deers, birds, butterflies, and bees. We are actually in one of the region's migratory bird stopovers and the unique flora, fauna, and water source from the lake creates a diverse flyway for bird migration all year round. This is a personal passion of mine now that I get to share with others and hopefully because of our efforts one day we may become an Eco-tourism hot-spot. Ecotourism is an excellent vehicle to generate both revenue and conservation at the same time.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have learned to be patient and to let others do things that they specialize in that I am not capable of doing. I have also learned that though I am the owner of the business our bookkeeper Dawn has the authority over finances as that is her specialty so she keeps me in line when it comes to finances and that is a true blessing.
If I would have hired a bookkeeper from the beginning I would have saved a fortune and also taken a huge amount of stress out of my life. I regret the fact that I only hired Dawn 5 years ago before then I tried and failed to manage everything financially on my own.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our Google reviews are a critical part of our business as clients looking to host special events and weddings typically go to google first. We also use WeddingWire and we keep our Facebook and Instagram up to date with new pictures constantly.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The Bible is the most influential book for me as I am proud to say we are a faith-based business! When I started the business we did not have the social media platform that we have now however I am still able to use the current platforms to keep up with the ever-changing wedding trends. Pinterest and Facebook are instrumental in helping us stay ahead of the game!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Believe in yourself and follow your dreams! Do not jump in, be patient, and consult with others that have experienced enough to guide you into making better decisions.
Always remember that being the owner doesn't mean you are the maker or the breaker of a business, a good business runs off a good team! Loyalty is as loyalty does so take care of your team and give them credit for their part in the success of the business.
Be kind to others and always give back when you can to the local community and through organizations like Rotary International that help others Worldwide. If you are unable to give back financially take time to volunteer and also encourage your team to volunteer.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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