BRAMPTON, ON – Melissa Barban’s first paid gig in the wedding décor business was a memorable one.
Nervous about the transaction, she was unwilling to commit to buying what she needed to make 150 purple chair sashes before a client deposit went through. Then, having to scramble to buy material, equipment, and dealing with a sewing machine breakdown, Melissa was faced with what seemed an insurmountable task just 16 hours before the wedding. Sewing straight through the night, she managed to get everything set up and perfect with very little time to spare – and was able to delight her client, who was thrilled with the service and the décor.
Fast forward to 2018, and Melissa is a confident entrepreneur managing Fairytales Creations and Catering, a growing business with 52 weddings on the books so far this year. “I’ve learned so much since that first event,” said Melissa.
She also leads two networking organizations for entrepreneurs, including the 200-member strong Peel Women’s Entrepreneur Group, and is a familiar face with the staff and advisors at the Brampton Entrepreneur Centre.
Her first introduction to the Brampton Entrepreneur Centre was through its summertime event series Connect in the Square. “I went to every one of those seminars. The speakers were great value and the networking opened up new opportunities for me.” The Brampton Entrepreneur Centre is presenting this program again this summer – this time as Entrepreneurs Connect in Gage Park – starting July 19.
Melissa started her business in 2011, trying to manage it part-time in addition to her full-time position as a hotel general manager. As word of her business spread, it became increasingly difficult for her to do both. In 2015, she decided to launch her wedding décor business full time. She resigned from her full-time job and focused her time and passion on weddings and events, and learning how to be a better business person.
She became a regular participant at Brampton Entrepreneur Centre events and seminars. “I truly believe knowledge is power, and if I can walk out of an event with some new business learning, then it’s well worth it,” said Melissa.
Melissa’s extensive background in the hospitality industry and her passion to help others is what drives her to deliver a positive experience to her clients. She’s also added her own ethos to the business, and works hard to deliver affordable event décor and services without sacrificing quality. She recognizes the value of giving back, and her involvement in not-for-profit networking groups and thoughtful approach to her business and client service reflects that.
Her marketing expenses are minimal, reaching new clients primarily through word of mouth, with more than 60 per cent of her business through referrals. Public recognition also helps. She’s received multiple industry awards, and in 2017, Fairytales Creations and Catering received the Brampton Guardian and Mississauga News Reader’s Choice Platinum Award in Wedding Services Category. “It was really a big deal for me to be recognized over some large competitors in the area,” said Melissa.
Fairytales Creations and Catering continues to grow. Melissa currently employs seven people, and is focused on even greater expansion as she builds her team. She’s planning for larger space, partnering with other vendors to offer a one-stop wedding shopping experience in Brampton, and offering an intimate and chic small event space. To support her expansion, she’s again hoping to tap into Brampton Entrepreneur Centre resources through the Small Business Accelerator program this fall.
Small Business Accelerator is a provincially-funded Starter Company+ program delivered through the Brampton Entrepreneur Centre, providing mentorship, training and up to $5000 in grant money. Find out more about Small Business Accelerator and the Entrepreneurs Connect in Gage Park series at www.brampton.ca/bec.
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