Jacqui Scruby’s story is pretty inspiring. Whilst on maternity leave with her first baby, she gave up a job in the corporate world to try her luck at launching an online wedding registry for style savvy couples; The Wedding Nest.
Through word of mouth and some lucky media coverage, The Wedding Nest has grown into a thriving business with a second instagram venture - The Well Nest @thewellnest.glow to provide health, wellness and fitness inspiration for brides.
We ask Jacqui how she plucked up the courage to start her own business venture, the challenges she faced, how rewarding an experience it’s been and her plans for the future!
You’ve had a very busy few years! Did you ever imagine a life in the lifestyle/interior/wedding industry?
Not at all. Growing up I was academic and there was always an expectation I’d be a lawyer or a doctor, a path which I followed by studying Medical Science and Law and ending up as a lawyer at a top tier firm. The first indication I had that I was entrepreneurial was developing a sustainability strategy for the law firm when I was appalled it didn’t have one. Then I met my husband (who is also entrepreneurial) – he told me to stop ranting about problems but to pick one, turn it into an opportunity and create a business to fix it!
Tell us briefly what “The Wedding Nest” is all about…
Each of our couples will have a registry that styles their home and styles their table. It’s about seizing that one opportunity where people give you many expensive gifts to completely style your home like a magazine and get it looking like your ‘dream home’ pinterest board. We even us your pinterest board to help advise on your registry and get you to think about the way you entertain so the dinnerware and napery you choose is true to this and gets used! A registry with us has a mix of affordable art, statement furniture and beautiful homewares – but most importantly it’s cohesive and strategically designed to transform your home. We focus on Australian and international boutique brands such as Mud Australia and beautiful non-branded but beautiful pieces like leather Moroccan Pouffees.
When the idea for “The Wedding Nest” came about, how did you push forward into launching the website and not leaving it in with the pile of start up ideas that you no doubt had being an entrepreneur?
I’m of the approach to go with the idea you’re most passionate about, that you have experience or contacts that can be easily leveraged to get it off the ground and that has some degree of traction. Circumstance was also a key consideration – we were launching my husband’s start up at the same time so I had to start a lean business and I’d also found the best business partner is Zoe who also had a passion for interiors and was on maternity leave too, I had access to trade fairs through my mother in law and all our friends were getting married. We really worked back to our minimum viable product – a website that displayed a wedding registry and found affordable web developers to create it. Most things were initially done offline – showing brides hard copy catalogues and then uploading only their final registry selections. We used free products such as ISSUU to create an online magazine with style images of their dream home together with the items on their registry which we embedded in their registry page and Paypal before a bank would let us have a merchant facility. Once we tested the model and had the amazing response we built out the website.
With our new venture @thewellnest.glow we’re focusing on instagram as it’s a manageable platform that requires minimal content but get’s maximum engagement. As it grows – so will our service offerings.
What was the most challenging aspect of launching and growing your online business “The Wedding Nest”?
The most challenging aspect of launching are the aspects you underestimated or weren’t aware of. We had no idea that the Australian homewares industry was so anti-online – they were scared of cheap online buying sites that would diminish their brand, they wanted to protect their loyal bricks and mortar shops and would supply to you unless you had a shopfront believing that online businesses had no overheads and they didn’t want their products online. We had to adapt and pivot our business to overcome these things including firewalls for some gifts to sit behind.
The most challenging aspect of growing is having the time to step away from the day-to-day running of the business to focus on strategy and promoting the business – especially as we have 2 kids each and only work 3 days a week.
What experience did you have in the world of interior before launching the site?
Pretty much nothing – except a love of interiors. My mother in law has done some styling an took me to a trade fair where I saw all the things I wanted for my wedding but realised there was no wedding registry that offered them. When I realised how easy sourcing would be (or at least appeared to be) I was confident enough in my aesthetic to go for it. However, without styling experience I used to know the style I love or hate but don’t necessarily know how to get the exact composition right when styling. I’ve spent lots of time deconstructing what makes a composition, room or image look good and I’m a lot more confident now.
For “The Wedding Nest”, you partnered up with your friend Zoe – what made you want to work alongside her?
So many things – we shared the same aesthetic – Pre-Pinterest days our ‘dream home’ folder had the same pages ripped out from magazines. We were friends but through my husband so there was no long term friendship issues to consider, we have the same work ethic – high intensity, just do it and get it out the door attitude rather than being perfectionists, we were both on maternity leave at the same time and we had complimentary skills – Zoe has a PR background and I had experience in compliance and setting up my husband’s business and access to trade fairs.
Does your interior style differ to Zoe?
No! We seriously buy, covet and love exactly the same things. Our style is monochrome coastal with lots of textures plus some greenery from foliage. Zoe has my dream house! Even though we have the same personal style we also appreciate all styles which is why they are represented on The Wedding Nest – Contemporary, Boho, Colour, French and Eclectic.
Our approach to lifestyle and fitness is also similar – we are all about no sugar, full fat and celebrating wholefood approach to eating – we both love exercising outdoors everyday and both get up super early to do so.
How fast did the business grow? When did you realize you were on to something good?
We knew we were onto something good immediately and we were so passionate about creating the wedding registry we never had we never doubted it’s growth. However, we have chosen to grow in a sustained manner and keep our business boutique – for us it’s about getting the right style savvy bride rather than every bride in Australia. To do this our service is a little exclusive – we have a limit to the number of couples we accept each month. We do this so we can focus on our families rather than trying to scale a huge business with huge investment and a huge team to manage.
How challenging has it been raising two children alongside two business ventures?
Very – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I probably work harder than ever but it’s on my own terms and I have significant amounts of quality time with the kids each day. We head to the beach in the morning and I start work (on my work days) at 9.30 and finish at 4.30. I work from home 1 day a week and I’m always available to take them out of daycare to go to a Wiggles concert. But it also meant I was back to work – albeit with the baby on the floor – 3 months after having my second. Investing in and growing 2 start-ups means that we don’t have the money we’d have if we’d stayed in our normal jobs so we’ve had to be creative from airbnbing our apartment to house swapping for holidays – it’s all about collaboration!
Tell us about your next business venture – “The Well Nest”?
Zoe and I saw a real gap for health, wellness and fitness inspiration for brides – so with our background in health (Zoe is a nutritionist and I’ve got a Medical Science degree) and a passion for health and fitness from our own personal experience suffering from an auto-immune disease, IBS and having 2 kids each – we created @thewellnest.glow
. Nearly all brides use their wedding as a reason to lose weight but it’s a great opportunity to not just lose weight but improve your health and wellness for the longterm. Doing everything at once is overwhelming so we’re encouraging brides to join us on 30 day challenges to help them find their own ‘glow’ which will be different for everyone. Challenges will be everything from getting more sleep and exercising early, to diet challenges, cleanses and exercise challenges – including HYPOXI.
We’re holding an event ‘Breakfast with Jessica Sepel’ at the new Boathouse at Shelly Beach Manly next month – follow us on instagram to find out how to buy tickets!
How long have you been using HYPOXI?
I’m nearly at the end of my first 6 week session and I’m loving it. I am a gym goer and lover of high intensity exercise and HYPOXI compliments this perfectly. I do both because I realise that as much as I love it – HIIT training is not as good at targeting and burning fat of my problem areas. I also love that with HYPOXI I’m not just exercising but getting sh*t done!
Do you multitask during your HYPOXI sessions?
Yes! I either try to read a book – which is something I never do unless I get up at 5 in the morning. Lately it’s been non-fiction entrepreneurial stuff like Lisa Messengers books or I use the time to improve our instagram account which often gets neglected – I process and crop photos on my phone using Afterlight, add hashtags, engage with others. I also often borrow a clipboard and pen and sketch or jot down creative ideas. I was trying to plan how to style our stand at a wedding fair the other day and I kept drawing blanks – when I had the time to sketch while doing HYPOXI it came to me instantly.
Do you find it easy fitting HYPOXI into your busy schedule?
Like anything you need to prioritise it if you want it to happen. My health is really important to me so I make the time and I know unlike other exercise, I can keep working while I’m at HYPOXI so if need be I can take phone calls, write emails and keep on top of things. Surry Hills is so easy to get to, there is always a park out the front and I’m in and out in under an hour and have worked too.
Have you noticed any results so far?
Yes! I’ve already lost 7cm so far which is huge considering I was fit, health and trim when I started. Like a lot of girls – despite being in peak health my problem areas (inner thigh) continued to have fat stores while my rings were lose and chest bony – so unfair. HYPOXI has trimmed down my problem areas – finally!