Leticia (right) started Elysium Weddings when she was 21.
Well-established companies, especially ones that have built up a solid reputation, are usually not the nimblest of creatures. If anything, they are typically lumbering dinosaurs that find it hard to keep up with the times.
But an early pioneer of the wedding planning industry, Elysium Weddings, is not only able to keep up with current trends but atypical of established companies, it is prepared to cannibalise itself. But as they say, it’s better to cannibalise yourself than to be cannibalised.
Leticia Hsu started her entrepreneurial journey earlier than most. Economic necessity had her working full-time while studying for a degree part-time when she was in her teens. So by the time she became an adult, she had already had several years of working experience under her belt.
It so happens that the company she was working for was an extreme sports management company that planned sporting events. So, it would only be natural that when she decided to start her own business, it would be in the events management line.
“I started this company when I was 21 years old,” she recalls. “The idea was to create an events management company specialising in corporate events, wedding planning and private events.”
Her heart was really into the wedding planning side of things but at the time, wedding planning was not that common. So, educating clients on the need for such a service was a big challenge.
“I was young and full of energetic spirit, I figured I could sweat it out, survive sleepless nights, endure odd meal times and be creative enough to make it work,” she says.
Fast forward 14 years later, wedding planners are now a must-have for any big budget wedding. So, Leticia was on the right track and being a pioneer, she does enjoy first-mover advantage. Business has been good.
But Leticia, who is currently the president of the Association of Wedding Professionals, isn’t one to rest on her laurels. “I am very passionate about planning weddings, so I keep myself abreast with all the latest fashions and styles from abroad,” she says, adding that she constantly refers to magazines, books and websites to be on top of things, and if possible, ahead of the game. “It’s the passion that has kept me driven to learn more and do more.”
So, what are the trends that people are into these days? According to Leticia, not surprisingly, it’s technology! “What’s popular right now are gadgets – from LED backdrops to ambiance lightings to Instagram photo printing,” she says. “The more high-tech your wedding can be, the more “in” you are!”
The company has grown in ways that you’d expect a well-established company would over the years. For example, it has actually opened up branches abroad, with one in Cambodia and another in Myanmar. And domestically, it has branched out into related fields as well, as such linen and decorative rentals, as well as a company that specialises in eco-resorts for pre-wedding photo shoots.
But like all progressive companies that want to stay ahead of the curve, Elysium Weddings is looking into doing something disruptive. “We are in the midst of launching something really exciting for brides who prefer to DIY and plan their own wedding!” she says.
This is quite an interesting new business model to get into but it makes all the sense in the world. Instead of losing the business of people who would rather do it themselves, Elysium Weddings can capture some of that business by helping them achieve that.
According to Leticia, there are advantages and disadvantages to doing a DIY wedding. The key advantage is that you get hands-on experience organizing the most important day of your life. The main disadvantage, she says, is that you will be very busy dealing with the financials, calling the vendors, checking on the food, the cake, the wine, etc. There is a lot of work involved.
Still it’s something some people prefer. And Elysium Weddings will be there for those who want it that way.
Oon Yeoh is new media consultant.