Brittany Frid is the founder of Satin & Snow, in Ottawa, Canada. After establishing the country’s first fine art wedding blog, she decided to start offering design and planning services and is now expanding her team to two additional cities! Brittany is a savvy, driven and out-of-the-box thinker and we were so excited to speak with her and hear her story.
What was your path to becoming a wedding planner? How did you first get interested in the wedding industry?
It certainly wasn’t part of the plan! I was always a creative kid, but when it came time to choose a career I played it safe and went into the legal field. Within three months of starting my career, a newly-engaged friend asked me for help designing her wedding reception. While looking for inspiration, I stumbled across the work of Jose Villa, Elizabeth Messina, KT Merry and other great fine art wedding photographers and my mind was blown. The weddings they shot were artful and designed with purpose and they stirred me in a way that law never could. I knew I wanted to design what I was seeing in these beautiful images but I had no idea where to start.
I noticed a hole in the local wedding industry here in Ottawa, Canada. We didn’t have a decent wedding vendor guide, so I started one called “Satin & Snowflakes” for brides seeking local fine art vendors. The blog took off and before I knew it, I was getting job offers, submissions from across the country for features and requests for design consultations. Three years and a re-brand later, I now lead a team of planners and stylists that allow me to do what I love most: designing fine art weddings.
Tell me about your journey building Satin & Snowflakes. Was it a hard decision to rebrand and shift your focus after you had built such a successful brand?
You have no idea. Satin & Snowflakes was designed to be a free vendor guide, not an actual company. So when I decided to start offering wedding planning and design services, I thought the best decision would be to launch a completely separate company. I launched “Brittany Frid Weddings & Design” in 2013 and had it running in tandem with the Satin & Snowflakes blog. Both were very successful, but the backend was a nightmare because I was effectively doubling my workload and dividing all my marketing efforts into two different places.
In September 2014, I decided to combine my services with the blog and rebrand under “Satin & Snow” (a shorter title is SO much easier to fit on a business card) and it’s been much easier on me ever since. Now my brand has more focus, I don’t have to split my time between running the blog and my company, and my intake has literally doubled.
What are your favorite design elements?
Florals and stationery, hands down. I’m obsessed with contemporary calligraphy and floral design: two services that I’m slowly starting to roll out as part of my design process actually. I believe that whimsical, loose floral arrangements are living pieces of art and the right arrangement will make any room come alive. And there’s nothing better than when guests appreciate the smallest details you spend hours obsessing over, like the hand-torn edges on their menu or how the letterpress feels when you run your fingers over the lettering.
What would you say is the Satin & Snow signature?
Fun, fresh and totally non-traditional parties. I’m not afraid of throwing the rulebook out the window in order to give my couple the best day of their lives. Design-wise, I mix mediums and enjoy finding the balance between masculine/feminine, raw/refined and modern/nostalgic. You typically see romantic lighting and loose, organic floral designs paired with edgy mixed metals and bold graphic design elements. Planning-wise, I have one rule: if the tradition doesn’t make sense, ditch it and make your own.
“I’m not afraid of throwing the rulebook out the window in order to give my couple the best day of their lives.”
Your background is in law. How has that helped you to build Satin & Snow?
I worked specifically in Employment Law so I understand liability and contractual matters better than most new business owners. I still have a lot to learn and understanding how to handle or identify potential legal problems hasn’t stopped me from making mistakes, but I know how to protect myself properly now. Understanding how to build a team, read contracts, create my own contracts and negotiate terms of agreements all contribute to making me a more savvy planner and business owner.
You recently decided to jump all in with your design and planning business. What made you take that leap?
Everyone thought I was NUTS to have a full-time salaried career in law and a full-time planning company on the side. In my very first season, I booked 14 weddings and had a team of 2 helping me occasionally. I worked from 8am–4pm at the law firm, then 5pm–5am on my company every single night. I told myself that once I matched my salary at the law firm that I’d make the leap. In all honesty, I didn’t think it would happen so soon!
What’s the one thing you miss about your old job?
I was extremely fortunate to have the most incredible boss in the world. She loved that I was running my own company on the side and helped me not only with legal support but with encouragement, life advice and a whole lot of tolerance for the days I came in exhausted from working all night. As a 20-something woman trying to run her first company, I tell you there’s nothing better than having the support of a great woman behind you for the times you’re nervous or just need someone to talk to.
What’s the one thing you don’t?
Being a creative, ambitious and independent woman in the legal field (a field that doesn’t take to changes in practices kindly) is like keeping a bird in a cage. You can’t climb the corporate ladder, your salary is generally capped unless you are a lawyer, and doing anything over and above your job description is generally under-appreciated. It was a struggle from the beginning and I knew that I’d always be fighting for companies to reward creative thinking and ambition instead squander it. That struggle never ceased, so I did what I knew would make me happy and left.
How did your process or priorities shift after you started working on your business full time?
For starters, I sleep a lot more and I’m caught up on all the latest Netflix Originals. I would say that my work has become so much easier to manage now that I have all this free time, but I still haven’t mastered healthy habits like eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. I’ll put that on my to-do list…
Tell me about what your process looked like before you started using Aisle Planner.
It was a nightmare. At first I was creating all my precedents from scratch in MSWord. Then I wised up and found an event planning software that I thought was going to change my world. It was archaic though and a massive pain to work with; so much so that my assistant eventually refused to work with it. I started hunting for better solutions after last season, which is when I found Aisle Planner.
How has using Aisle Planner helped you organize and grow your business?
Aisle Planner has been revolutionary. I was literally contacting software developers to price out how much it would cost me to create my own planning software because I knew that I needed a beautiful, cohesive and easy (but sophisticated) program to manage all the annoying parts of running multiple client files simultaneously, like communication tracking, timeline management, contract storage, budget monitoring, contact details, etc. The second that I came across Aisle Planner, I knew that I had found “the one”. Everything that I wanted was there, and SO. MUCH. MORE. I can’t live without it, my team adores it, and my clients think it’s genius. It’s one of my biggest selling features now. The Design Studio in particular has been extremely helpful considering that I focus on design with my clients.
It looks like you have a fabulous team! Any advice for planners looking to build one themselves?
My interview process is very intense. First, I start with champagne and doughnuts. Then, I grill all interviewees about their favourite restaurants in the city. If they like my favourite spots, they pass onto the next round which involves a team meet-and-greet. Basically we eat more doughnuts and gossip about everything and nothing.
Honestly, I don’t care what level of planning experience my team has. I have no background in event management myself, so if someone jives well with my team, has great work ethic and appreciates my aesthetic, then I know that they’ll be a great fit. My team is the bomb: I have a teacher, a baker, a journalist, a politician’s assistant and an interior decorator on my roster, and they are all brilliant women and damn good wedding planners. I am proud to call them my friends. I think my team is stronger because we all have diverse backgrounds that contribute in the most unique and underestimated ways.
“My team is the bomb: I have a teacher, a baker, a journalist, a politician’s assistant and an interior decorator on my roster, and they are all brilliant women and damn good wedding planners.”
I know you have some amazing goals for Satin & Snow! How do you organize your days and collaborate with your team so that you can keep making progress towards achieving them?
I’m extremely open with my team about what direction the company is headed in and how we’re going to get there. Our diverse backgrounds create opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have on my own, so the more I include them the better the company’s odds at success are. We use a couple different programs that manage our team calendars and tasks outside of client files, but Aisle Planner has really become the heart of our company. I’m able to assign tasks like nobody’s business and having regular, open communication through the program makes managing a large team so much easier!
The next couple years seem like they are going to be really exciting! What are you most excited about for the future?
There’s so much I want to do and so little time! I’m already expanding my team into different cities and within the next year I would like to have fully operational teams in both Toronto and Montreal in addition to Ottawa. Also, Canada’s fine art wedding scene is really starting to blossom right now and I’m in the process of creating the country’s first fine art wedding magazine featuring exclusively Canadian content to show our beautiful northern brides how talented our country is. It’s a huge undertaking but after years of featuring Canadian vendors on my blog, I think I’m ready to take the leap!
See more weddings from the all-star team at Satin & Snow at satinandsnow.com