Wife to a chef, and mom to 3 cuties, Kate is the driving force behind the amazing Crystal Barn Country Estate, one of KZN’s most sought after wedding venues. A “Jill of all Trades”, not only is she a business owner, but a wedding planner and florist too!
Kate spills the beans on what it’s like working along side her hubby Scott, finding the balance between being a mom and wedding planner and how she likes to unwind after a long and exhausting wedding day.
Over to you Kate…
Hooray: Please tell us about yourself
Kate: Hi, my name is Kate, I’m a wedding planner and florist. We also own the amazing “Crystal Barn Country Estate” business in the Midlands.
Hooray: Tell us about yourself
Kate: I’m a wife to Scott (a chef) and mum to 3 little ones (Jack, Lily and Rourke). We moved up to the Midlands 2 years ago from Hillcrest for the “chilled out country lifestyle”, um ya, more hectic than ever but I can’t complain, I love my life and job! I love nature, wide open spaces, spending time with friends and family, exercise, adventure and WINE!
Hooray: How did you get into the wedding industry?
Kate: I bought my business, The Wedding Company South Africa, from a friend in 2011 (having run weddings in South Africa and done a fair amount of eventing whilst on the Super Yachts in Europe, the States and Caribbean it seemed like a great fit) . . . In 2015 my husband and I were approached by the owners of Crystal Barn to come up and take over the business. Things didn’t quite pan out as planned and the owners sold the property to the most amazing couple, JJ and Sam Van De Velde, who farmed next door. We went into business with them and have since bought them out and now own Crystal Barn. I am so proud of what we have all achieved in the short time since we have set up the new business.
Hooray: Running your own business can be hard, do you have a daily routine?
Kate: Running your own business can be HECTIC, especially with kids. I don’t really have a set routine as every day is different. Mornings are madness getting everyone off to school. I then normally sit and answer mails before jumping in the shower. Days are generally spent between consults, site visits, checking on and liaising with staff, generating quotes, mountains of email and admin and styling weddings. And then from a Wednesday we are generally collecting flowers and then on site setting up.
Hooray: How do you balance mom life?
Kate: Wow that’s a big one. It’s taken a while to completely find my groove and it’s about continually being able to adapt. Scott and I really have to tag team at times. I also have 2 amazing ladies who help me with the kids, my parents are just down the road and always step in if I need them. I have an amazing team with Gabby and Hayley (who has just joined) who help with the work load so that I can make sure I don’t miss any of the important things (sport, shows etc.). It a continual juggling act and I do often have to make up time spent with the kids during the day by working at night – but I wouldn’t change a thing! Basically it takes a VILLAGE to raise kids and run 2 businesses and I luckily have an amazing one!
Hooray: What inspires you?
Kate: I mostly follow international florist and event planners on Instagram to keep up to date with upcoming trends
Hooray: Can you describe your style?
Kate: My style and Crystal Barn’s style are both quite different and I think that that is why it works when it comes to weddings. We are able to blend the decor and flowers with the venue without it feeling like someone spewed up a Pinterest board (oops did I just say that)! Crystal Barn is big, bold, eclectic, and colourful.
Hooray: Tell us about your ideal wedding client
Kate: Crystal Barn’s ideal client is creative, knows what she wants, between the age of 25 and 35, looking for something different with an appreciation of natural beauty, eclectic decor and good food!
Hooray: What do you love most about your job?
Kate: I love that we get to be such an integral part of the start of a couple’s marriage journey. We get to know all of our clients so well and most become friends and pop in with their babies and news from time to time. I also love being able to be creative, play with flowers and create something that blows our couples away
Hooray: If there was one thing you could change about the wedding industry, what would it be?
Kate: I wish that guests would be more respectful of the fact that they are at someone’s most important day. A lot of guest’s behaviour at weddings leaves a lot to be desired and I think that they often forget that they have been invited to the event by their friends who are paying for everything.
Hooray: What is it like running a venue?
Kate: I love running a venue and Crystal Barn in particular as there are so many elements: Weddings, the restaurant, our B&B, staff, re decorating. It also so special knowing that you have been responsible for creating someone’s perfect day.
Hooray: Who is on your team?
Kate: We have an amazing team at Crystal Barn including Scott, our phenomenal chef, and Gabby who runs our weddings. Sbu is our front of house and stock controller. We have a fantastic team of ladies on housekeeping: Thembi, Nonks, Cindy, Priscilla & Precious, 3 machines in our kitchen: Mlu, Xolani and Thobi and our maintenance and garden team of Willy, Sizwe and Thokozani
Hooray: Tell us about Scott, what is it like working so closely with your husband
Kate: Hmmmmmm!!!! It was very challenging at first as we both have very different ways of working but we’ve talked and worked through it and have found our happy place in terms of not wanting to kill each other!!!! It’s great to get to spend time together during the day and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together in such a short space of time. Scott is an absolutely phenomenal chef and the food at Crystal barn’s weddings is superb. His years of experience on the super yachts cooking for the rich and famous really show and we always have such outstanding comments about the food.
Hooray: Can you tell us the funniest/horrific/most awkward situation you have encountered since running Crystal Barn?
Kate: Where do I start? I think that I can definitely write a book – a very funny one at that!
Hooray: Your favourite way to unwind after a wedding
Kate: Sunday’s are our day off and are spent at our river with family, friends, good food, the dogs and a G&T.
Hooray: If you could go back and tell your young self anything, when you just started this journey, what would it be?
Kate: Breathe!!!! Balancing work and mom life has been my greatest challenge when it comes to having built my businesses. Have the right people in place and ask for help!
Hooray: Lastly, what do you think will be the next big wedding trend
Kate: I see a move towards minimalistic less fussy weddings with regards to food, decor and florals – interactive meals I definitely think are about to take off. In fact for 2019 we are now offering food stalls for pre reception as an alternative to the harvest table with interactive drinks and food stations.
Kate, thank you so much for sharing with us! If you didn’t already know we absolute adore you. You are hands down, the best supermom, bad ass girl boss and incredible human all rolled into one. You are a constant source of inspiration with how you manage to juggle all your hats and we have just loved getting to know you over the past few years! You have used your incredible work ethic, dedication and passion to take Crystal Barn to incredible heights within a few short years and we cannot wait to se what the future has in store for you!