Lockdown Leads to the Birth of a New BusinessNeil Hardie
When two childhood friends from Arbroath reconnected over lockdown pregnancies the idea of a business was born.
Charlene Wilkie and Becky Phillip became friends as teenagers, but the pandemic led the pair to become closer than ever.
Mum-of-four Becky worked part-time in a call centre as well as making wedding flower displays and bouquets.
Mum-of-two Charlene worked for Sky while also selling handmade crafts and personalised gifts.
After she was made redundant, she met up with schoolfriend Becky as they were both expecting lockdown babies – and a third unexpected lockdown baby ended up being their business The Special Occasions Planning and Hire.
In July 2021 the pair completed their wedding planning diplomas and the business grew quickly.
As well as weddings, The Special Occasions can plan and decorate birthday parties, baby showers, Christenings, hen and stag dos.
“You name, we do it,” said Becky with a laugh.
“We wanted to do something different that Arbroath didn’t have.
“Our first big event was in May last year, and its been crazy since then.”
The pair’s decor and props have quickly become big party hits. Crisp walls, Champagne carts, shot walls and photo booths are just some props they supply. ‘Special Occasions’ largest creation to date is a 6 foot flower wall made from scratch.
Charlene said: “We’ve got an unique offer and we always put our own spin on things. Often we’ll see things online and send it to each other at two in the morning so we don’t forget.
“We’ll also do a personalised gift to go with our shot wall or prosecco cart.”
For each event, the pair head out to get all the decorations set up and tidy up after. Despite having six children and four dogs between them, they say “it just works.”
“Since a lot of it is weekends, our husbands can watch the kids while we go out and do what we need to do,” said Charlene.
“But there are days when we work from nine in the morning until nine or ten at night.”
Becky and Charlene hope to take on their first member of staff soon as, with up to four events on in one weekend, getting everything done in time can be hard with only two pairs of hands.
There are no signs of business slowing down as they have bookings for 2024. Becky said: “There’s a lot of competition, but we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.
“One of our main goals is to be affordable, because as soon as you mention wedding, prices triple.
“We know how expensive it is, so went to give brides and grooms the chance to have everything they want within their budget.”