When a company goes above and beyond for their clients, it’s remembered, and it’s talked about. Whether that’s thoroughly responding to emails in a timely manner, making sure that your entire staff is properly trained (example: ensuring that they are inclusive with their communication), or sending a little surprise-and-delight when a client signs with you can do wonders for your customer relationship. Always remember that our daily grind is their biggest day of their lives.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Brittny Drye. Brittny the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., the leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publication. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29,NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She is a Knot Pro educator and serves on the 2018–19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Wedding & Events.
Thank you so much for joining us Brittny! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been in the editorial space — I went to school for journalism and interior design actually, and started my career working at shelter print pubs such as Elle Decor. When digital media started becoming its own beast, I switched over to web content in the general lifestyle realm, and freelanced for a few wedding blogs. It was then that I realized just how separated the wedding industry was and that no one was being truly inclusive with their content — they were either talking to a bride marrying a groom or it was focused solely on LGBTQ weddings. I saw a void in the space for an inclusive wedding resource, and that’s how Love Inc. was born.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
In the beginning, it was challenging to communicate the need for a resource like Love Inc. Society in general seemed to be pretty content on separating hetero and LGBTQ love, and while many wedding pros were open to working with LGBTQ+ couples, they didn’t see a need to tailor their marketing efforts to be inclusive. But I continued to push with my vision. As more stats came out, more states passed marriage equality laws, and more same-sex couples were getting married, people began to understand the importance of being equality-minded™, a term that I actually coined when coming up with the branding for Love Inc. to differentiate from simply being “LGBTQ-friendly,” the term that was, at the time, used to communicate if you were open to working with same-sex couples. Being equality-minded is a mindset: it’s the way you run a business, it’s the language that you use, it’s just how you are.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
The need for actual change in the wedding industry drives me. The industry, as a whole, is still extremely heteronormative and I read too much content targeting the “bride.” I hear too many stories of LGBTQ+ couples being discriminated against. And I’ve made it my personal mission to do everything in my power to evolve it.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Creating your own niche in an industry that is as established and embedded in tradition as the wedding industry is a pretty lofty pursuit. So just the initial creation of my company was a challenge. I didn’t have any real knowledge of website design, legal, etc., so I sort of hodge-podged my way through — and on a nearly non-existent budget, at that — relying on friends and friends of friends to share their expertise that I will forever be grateful for. And aside from writing for a few blogs, I didn’t exactly have a deep connection to the wedding industry, so the first year was a lot of networking — connecting with wedding pros and brands. Building those relationships from the ground up, while also trying to build a business, was challenging but it made a huge difference in growing Love Inc. I owe so much of my success to my relationships and people who believed in the Love Inc. mission.
So, how are things going today? 🙂
Things are going really well! During a time when a lot of online publishers are seeing a decrease in traffic, Love Inc. continues to have top traffic months. And I’m taking my equality-minded education on the road and speaking at various event business conventions and local event group chapters around the country.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I still cringe at the thought of it, but in the first year, I was setting up my out-of-office auto email and the default setting was, for some reason, set to respond to every single email I had received with an OOO response. At the time, I had been in business for about five months, and suddenly, every person I had corresponded with received an OOO email — some even multiple emails! — from me out of the blue. I was mortified. I quickly learned the importance of paying close attention, particularly when it comes to tech!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The very essence of what makes Love Inc. is how we stand out. We stand for inclusivity and equality-mindedness in an industry that is ripe with hetero- and cis-normativity.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Learn the word “no”! Having an understanding of the unique value that I bring has made a huge difference in the opportunities and partnerships that I participate in. After the first year of saying “yes” to everything, now in year five, it feels really great to have learned the word “no.” It forces you to really analyze and be intentional with where you spend your time and budget.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Oh gosh, so, so many. First and foremost, my life partner who has always been incredibly supportive of Love Inc. and my vision and ambition. I have a core group of fellow wedding publisher friends who I have leaned on for advice countless times. And I could never pull off our magazine issues without the creative design of Abby Downing, the fashion styling of Krista Roser, and the copyediting of Jill Baughman, who have all been an integral part of Love Inc. since the very first issue.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Along with creating content that is inclusive and being a valuable resource for both LGBTQ+ and hetero couples, I actively educate wedding pros and brands on how to make their businesses more equality-minded. My efforts have allowed me to become a leader in the space and help evolve the wedding industry as a whole to be more inclusive.
What are your “ Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Wedding Industry” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Passion & Perseverance: This isn’t a get-rich-quick industry. You have to have a passion for your work, and the drive to get through those tough early years.
- Strong Vision: The wedding market is oversaturated, but the companies that do well are the ones that have a strong brand/vision. Take a deep dive into what makes you special and sets you apart from everyone else and capitalize on that, and make sure your branding and marketing messages communicate it. Like-minded clients will soon follow.
- Be Kind: So much of the wedding industry is based on relationships: referrals from previous clients, referrals from fellow wedding pros. Try your best to be kind to everyone — you never know what role they may play later down the road. Also, be active in your community — go to networking events, join local wedding group chapters such as ILEA and WIPA.
- Quality Customer Service: When a company goes above and beyond for their clients, it’s remembered, and it’s talked about. Whether that’s thoroughly responding to emails in a timely manner, making sure that your entire staff is properly trained (example: ensuring that they are inclusive with their communication), or sending a little surprise-and-delight when a client signs with you can do wonders for your customer relationship. Always remember that our daily grind is their biggest day of their lives.
- Quality Online Presence: Your website and social media are likely going to be a couple’s first impression of you, so make it count. With today’s online tools and templates, it’s incredibly simple to create a beautiful website. (And don’t forget to make sure your language and imagery is inclusive!)
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I like to think that I’ve already had a hand in starting a movement toward becoming more equality-minded. Wedding pros have adapted their marketing strategies, a major media company evaluated their editorial and social media content after I had the privilege of sharing my expertise to their teams, and I’m continually sharing my expertise to help bring inclusivity to the wedding industry.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find us @LoveIncMag across all major platforms.