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Elana Lancit - CEO of Sweet Beginnings

1. You have an interesting business with A Sweet Beginnings. How did it all come about?

I got really excited about planning shortly after my own wedding just over 10 years ago. I noticed a big gap in the wedding planning industry because there just weren’t enough specialized services for brides when I was planning my own wedding. I started the company understanding that a bride wants to be a princess on her wedding day – but I wanted more than that. I wanted brides to feel like goddesses, and be able to provide personally tailored events to suit the style and personality of each client, whether it was a meeting for 30 or a black tie gala for 300! I have always encouraged brides to be a part of the design process from day one, and I think that’s what makes this such a successful company. Sweet Beginnings was groundbreaking and unique to the industry because of this hands-on, one-on-one approach to customer service – and personalizing services to brides.

2. What is the greatest thing about being in business for yourself?

There are so many amazing aspects about being in business for yourself. The most important to me is I get to spend quality time with my children and not having to worry about taking a “Day Off” once in a while if one of children gets sick, has a sporting event or a school play. It also gives you the flexibility to create your own hours and set your own schedule, not to mention being your own boss! You are allowed to create and implement your own vision for each event, something that often doesn’t happen when you’re working for someone else. It also means that the work you do is more satisfying and fulfilling because you have the ability to use your own creative vision to shape the end result. You alone are in control of your own success, which is a very powerful feeling.

3. What is the wedding planning market like?

The wedding market is red-hot right now. It is exploding, and getting busier by the day. A lot of it has to do with the hectic pace of our daily lives. People are so busy – whether it’s with work, or school, or family – that they simply don’t have the time to plan their own wedding. More and more, people are turning to professional wedding consultants to help them on their big day. It also has a lot to do with the amount of attention the industry is getting in magazines and popular culture nowadays. People are wizening to the fact that wedding consultants will save them time and money, and that you can use your consultants’ years of experience and industry contacts to help you get the best value for your individual budget.

4. Let's talk about your franchising opportunity?

People who franchise with Sweet Beginnings are in a great position to enjoy great success. Our company has an excellent reputation in the industry, as well as being positioned to take advantage of a unique market niche within the industry. It is a low initial investment for everything you receive. You control an exclusive territory with multiple revenue streams, and strong potential for referral business. It’s a highly rewarding business to run, with name brand recognition. More than this, we are a very supportive franchiser. Our vision is for new owners to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves. We stand behind each of our franchisees, personally overseeing their training and making sure that each customer is “treated like a queen”. We provide a comprehensive initial training program, as well as hands-on and ongoing support to the franchisees, because we want them to succeed. We like to think of them as part of the family.

5. Why do you believe that yours is a great franchising opportunity for women?

It starts with the very core beliefs of our company. The franchise philosophy of Sweet Beginnings was built to be friendly and female focused. We offer a proven business structure with the strength and experience of our company to provide women with a satisfying business partnership. We can offer women a flexible lifestyle and work schedule, making it the perfect business for those with families, and other commitments. It’s a great opportunity for any woman, whether they have a family, or are a stay-at-home mom, just got married, or single. To be certain, wedding planning is a woman’s industry. I mean, who would do better than a woman to help brides plan their special day?

6. Who would be your perfect franchisee?

Our perfect franchisee would be someone who loves to organize events! Ideally, we look for someone who has good people and relationship skills, business insight, and a strong desire to succeed. Although hospitality experience is not necessary, a background in sales and marketing is helpful. To truly embrace the Sweet Beginnings system, a good franchisee needs to enjoy working with the public and believe that the customer is queen! We look for enthusiasm in candidates – it’s a key factor for success. We want people who are motivated to succeed, because building a successful franchise takes dedication and hard work.

7. How successful is your business today?

The business is wildly successful, with a reputation of being the very best in the industry. Since beginning franchising just over three years ago, we have grown to 20 locations in North America, with many more on the way. I strongly believe that the company is going to continue to expand rapidly, because of its highly successful approach to delivering one-on-one customer service to our clients, and its unique position within the Wedding Consulting and Event Planning industry.

8. What are your plans for growth?

Our plans for growth are aggressive and expansive. My personal goal is to have 50 franchises, something that is rapidly becoming a reality since beginning franchising just three years ago. We already have 20, with more opening every month. Right now, we are expanding farther into the United States, and breaking into the very lucrative Asian market. Eventually, we want a Sweet Beginnings franchise in every country. To be present in every country, and known as the best in the industry is about as good as it can get.

9. Do you believe that women can have it all?

Absolutely. More and more, I do believe that women can have it all – the family and the career. And this is reflected in the Sweet Beginnings mandate to support women who become part of our team. Knowing the success I have enjoyed running my own business makes me want to support other women – and let them know they can enjoy a high level of success, without having to sacrifice seeing their family, or give up the opportunity for financial gain. Owning a franchise puts you in control of your own success, and teaches you how to drive it to become a solid asset in the future.

10. Any advice for our mompreneurs?

My best advice is that you don’t have to lose your sense of self when you make the decision to run your own business. You really can have it all -- The family, the career, and the social life. I believe that you can bring more to your family if you have outside interests. Owning a business will not only provide your family with a better standard of living, but will give you the confidence to exceed in all aspects of your life.

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