Written by: Stephanie Scholl
Moving to a new city can be daunting for anyone, especially if you’re relocating your own small business and establishing yourself in a new city! I moved from Washington, DC to Raleigh, NC just over two months ago, and with the move, I took my wedding planning and design business, Stephanie Scholl Events, with me. I resigned from my corporate non-profit job in late July, made Stephanie Scholl Events my full-time job, and moved down South to Raleigh, NC in late August. It’s been a whirlwind couple months, but it’s also been the most fulfilling, affirming, and fun time filled with more opportunities and exciting ventures than I ever dreamed possible. And I am so grateful! Often times, the things that take the most hard work end up having the most rewarding and amazing outcomes, and this is step for my business is no exception. Plus, you then appreciate it even more, right?!
One of my biggest tips for establishing yourself and your business in a new city is to let people and vendors in that city know that you’re moving there! I had known for at least six months before the move that I was definitely moving to the Triangle of North Carolina, though I couldn’t share it publicly (I wanted to finish out the school year with my full-time job in DC!). I went to undergrad in Chapel Hill, so I knew a few people in the Triangle area already (and social media has helped a ton!). In that time, though, I made sure that friends and acquaintances knew that I was moving to the Triangle and would be taking my wedding planning + design business full time. And as soon as I put in my two weeks notice in July, I shared the news (taking my business + moving to Raleigh) on all forms of social media. Building anticipation, letting people know that I was headed their way, and getting excited to meet them definitely helped. When I moved here, I honestly felt like I knew so many people already and have since connected with dozens. Even if you can’t share your move publicly beforehand, there are different avenues you can take to connect with others prior to your move and begin establishing your presence. And then you can dive right in when you do move!
Social media. It’s a game changer, y’all. I’ve talked to dozens of friends and vendors in the last few months about just how much of an impact social media - particularly Instagram - can have, and I can firsthand say that it has changed my business. I would venture to say that 90% of the opportunities that have come my way since I’ve moved have stemmed from Instagram. Organically growing your social media presence and authentically connecting with others can bring in countless opportunities and exciting ventures, and I can sincerely attest to that. I’ve met so many social media “friends” in person, and we have quickly become real friends. It’s amazing how a “blind coffee date” can turn into a four hour long conversation, instant connection, styled shoot collaboration, and new friend. And you never know who these new friends know, and so on (especially if he or she is in a similar industry). It’s also so much better getting to know people in real life than just through a filtered screen, and I am so grateful for the friends I’ve met (or gotten to know better) through social media and the opportunities that have stemmed from there. I have had several premiere wedding venues reach out to me because they’ve loved my Instagram feed and wedding + design skills I’ve showcased there, and they have asked me to be a preferred vendor or have already started recommending brides to me. Brides, my clients, have reached out to me and hired me because of my social media presence. It’s humbling and exciting! Being able to beautifully reflect my brand and my style in an Instagram feed has really established me even before moving here, and I’ve continued to try to ensure that what I post is consistent with my brand, especially since I’m a wedding planner and designer. And when esteemed vendors reach out to you to collaborate because they’ve been dying to meet you and work with you, well, that’s a pretty amazing feeling. Don’t spend all of your time and efforts on a perfectly curated Instagram feed, but don’t underestimate its power to impact your business and establish yourself in a new city.
On a related note, be sure to get to know people in your industry genuinely, and not just for the sake of networking! I’m a definite extrovert and love meeting new people, and I’m also the biggest fan of authentic relationships. I think it can be pretty clear if someone’s intentions are solely grounded in getting ahead or merely marketing him or herself, and I think it’s best to try to really get to know someone, with no hidden agenda. I’ve been amazed by the talented, kind, amazingly wonderful people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, and it’s been so refreshing and fun connecting with them. Yes, we’re in similar industries, and yes, it would be great to work together, but it’s even better when you genuinely love getting to know one another and end up talking and connecting for hours. Truly, I’ve had many, many coffee dates turn into four hours of chatting about anything and everything, and I’m so grateful for the real friendships that have been formed. And then, when it’s time for a wedding or a styled shoot, it’s even more fun - because you know you already adore that person and you geniunely can’t wait to collaborate! I’ve been able to do several styled shoots since moving here, and almost every single vendor I’ve had the privilege of working with has also become an immediate friend in real life, too. When you genuinely admire each others’ work and enjoy working together, well, you know you’ve got a good thing going on!
It’s not an easy thing to meet others and establish yourself in a new city, but one of my biggest tips is this: don’t be afraid to try! You may be really shy or uncertain or intimidated (been there, done that!), but really - what’s the worst thing that can happen? Someone might say no for some reason or another, but what if they say yes? And what if meeting that person brings about amazing things? Don’t let your fears or insecurities or the comparison game keep you from meeting new people, asking to collaborate, growing your business, or establishing yourself in a new city! Chances are, you’re going to reap the benefits in some way or another. I’ve also found that many people, especially if they know you’re moving to their city, really want to meet you, too! Don’t be afraid to initiate things, to reach out and ask, and to introduce yourself to say hi. I know that I love when this happens to me, so it emboldens me even more to not be afraid to introduce myself.
This final tip is small but mighty: bring business cards with you (at the very least!). Before you move, ensure that you have beautiful business cards ready to go (and anything else that might comprise of a gift for a vendor or potential client). Most everyone that I’ve met - at weddings, in meetings, in person - has wanted a business card (or a stack of them), and you never want to be caught unprepared! Having an easy way to showcase your brand and business information is critical, and it’s a professional way to share your contact information.
Even though moving and relocating your business can be overwhelming and intimidating, don’t let it daunt you too much! To me, it’s been the most liberating and fun couple months filled with countless “pinch-me” moments, and I have loved diving right into my new city. I’ve never felt more affirmed that I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing - and I hope that’s of some encouragement to you! Building genuine relationships, looking for ways to authentically collaborate, and sharing your story and your heart for your business are some of the best tips I can wholeheartedly suggest for establishing yourself and your business in a new city.