We're here to celebrate the wins – big and small. Some are massive, though, like Asheda Weekes' launch of I Do Club. We hit up the Melbournite to talk all things business, offering inspiration for those of us who feel we are yet to feel our calling. Dripping in gold jewellery and an oversized blazer, we can do almost anything (confidence is key).
Let's hear the Asheda Weekes elevator pitch.
Hi! I'm Asheda, founder and writer of I Do Club – a vow writing and consulting service based in Melbourne. I help people piece together what they want to say and articulate their feelings as they write their vows.
Right now I've taken a break from freelance writing (poetry, copywriting, personal pieces for publications) so I can focus my spare time on I Do Club and its recent launch. I also have a day job, working as the studio and project manager at Bossy. Copywriting (can you tell I like being around words?). I'm also in the midst of planning my own wedding.
Top 3 thoughts that kickstarted your biz:
1. Shower thoughts about my own vows. I'm tying the knot next June, and as a person and writer who loves to plan ahead, I had already started thinking about my vows 18 months before the big day.
2. Struggling to find my niche in writing. I felt a bit disillusioned about being a copywriter (or any kind of writer) last year. So I was thinking of how I could intersect my background in poetry, people-focused pieces and copywriting. As a not-so-new fiancée enveloped in engagements, wedding suppliers and planning of my own, it clicked.
3. Attitudes around vows thanks to pop culture and impostor syndrome. Imagine a wedding scene where the main character is panic-writing their vows, or there is an exchange of some awkward, cheesy vows. I think it's seeped into our subconscious, because everyone I know getting married feels the pressure to write their own. And I wonder why people didn't feel excited about something that's meant to extend beyond the big day. So I wanted to change that, and help people.
Top 3 things you wish you knew beforehand:
1. I'm where I need to be. That comparison trap of success can cut like a knife. Seeing young 20-something creatives with their publishing, freelancing gigs and launching small businesses made me feel both in awe and sadness. Seeing young 20-something creatives also struggling with mental health issues AND doing these things felt worse. I always wondered why I couldn't do the same. Sometimes I still do when I'm in a bout of anxiety-induced rumination.
The reality is that I was doing the best I could with the information I had around my mental health and diagnosis with Borderline Personality disorder. I was dealing with some fundamental barriers and didn't have the tools or knowledge to manage it like I do now. Looking back, I was where I needed to be so I could get to this point here – stronger, wiser, healthier and more confident.
Everyone is going through sh*t. We don't need the added pressure of a timeline or upward trajectory to get there.
2. You learn along the way. I thought I couldn't start a business without having all the skills and tools in my pocket. Almost like doing the prerequisites before you hit 'go.' Being surrounded by small business owners and creatives that I've wowed over for years and discovering that half the time they are winging it by learning on the job slowly instilled confidence that I could do it, too. Fake it until you make it couldn't ring any truer.
3. Think of your time like money. If you were charging yourself for your time, what would you like to get out of it?
When it comes to work, and I Do Club in particular, I would have outsourced a lot sooner (it took me six months to decide it was time to invest in a designer for my branding and website). My time was better used to do actual writing and business bits – what a designer could do in one hour would have taken me four.
With wellbeing and relationships, it's all about what serves me and what do I want to nurture. I would be people-pleasing left, right and centre when I was younger, and walk away from social outings feeling stale and unfulfilled. I want to be around people and do things that do the opposite, and try to do this more. So it's about carving out time for those things that are a priority to you, and setting boundaries or saying no to those that aren't.
Top 3 sources of wordy inspiration:
1. The shower, ha. Everyone has a story about their shower thoughts. Mine is stringing together words.
2. Listening to audiobooks that include narrators with varying accents, novels located in several cities and written by authors with different backgrounds. I like hearing the timbre and rhythm of phrases, and how meaning can be altered by tone and cultural nuance.
3. Minimum Wines' The Theorist and The Community Voice. The content and submissions they curate and produce are an incredibly calming, exploratory and creative read. Plus, their organic wine is delicious.
Top 3 tips for writing 'I Do's':
1. Start planning early. If wedding planning has taught any couple, it's that lead times are key! This should extend to vows, especially if you're feeling nervous about them. Allow 1-2 months to start planning, writing and practising them.
2. Talk to your partner. Vows can still be a surprise for the big day, but a great starting point is to chat to your partner about what you'd like to include. Talk themes, tones and how long they'll be. It's a jumping off point to start fleshing out what you're going to write.
3. Be yourself. Vows aren't a performance, so don't aim to be funny, serious or sentimental if that's not in your nature. It'll help you feel more relaxed to imagine you're just having a conversation with your partner, in the way you would speak to them every day.
Top 3 unknowns you've discovered about the wedding industry:
This is tricky! Though I'm a baby to the industry as a wedding service, I've been copywriting for wedding suppliers/vendors for a couple of years now, so I'm familiar with it. Looking back, and what still comes up for me now, is that:
1. There are so many options and niche services (like I Do!), so couples can do what suits their style. Recent ones growing in popularity include wedding content creators, vox pop or hotline guestbooks and dog-sitting services. And, of course, vow writing services *wink wink*.
2. Suppliers support suppliers. The network is incredibly tight and they cheer each other on.
3. Though this isn't specific about the industry, more than the wedding experience, I've discovered that bachelorette/bachelor parties are stressful AF to plan and coordinate in the lead-up. And this is only from experiencing it as a participant, and the feedback from the bridal party grapevine. Don't get me wrong, they are super fun once it happens!
Top 3 outfit/accessory essentials:
1. Colour coordination or palettes. If you've spent enough time with me, you'll notice I style by colour matching or a tonal palette. Even if I'm clashing colours, I wear two or more of the colours to keep it consistent. I also aim to purchase clothing items with a two+ rule, meaning it has to go with two or more other pieces in my wardrobe. This is also a great hack for packing a suitcase. Girl math.
My favourite go-to 'fit is my beige American Vintage jeans, Primi long-sleeve top in chocolate, a brown Ganni jumper with a splash of yellow, a sleek pair of brown mary-janes and topped off with my beige Blanca blazer. I accessorise it with a Longchamp mini bag and tortoise-shell sunnies and gold jewellery. Oui oui.
2. A handbag that deceptively fits a notebook, novel, iPad and umbrella. My A.P.C. bag (pictured) does it all. I bought it ten years ago in London as my first big-girl fashion purchase, and it is still going strong.
3. Hoops. I have a few piercings, but I always feel a statement pair of hoops can tie an outfit together and elevate a look. If I'm not wearing them during the day, I most definitely am wearing them on a night out.
Honourable mention to my engagement rings – that's right, she's got a stack. If I leave the house without them, it feels like I have no underwear on. (If I'm close enough to home by the time I remember, I will 100% turn around to grab them).
Top 3 desk must-haves (at all times):
1. A constant rotation of hydration: herbal tea, black coffee or icy lemon water.
2. A plain lined notebook and black biro.
Top 3 top-secret Melbourne haunts:
Note: I live in the CBD and spend a lot of my time checking out spots in the city. I have an endless list and barely have scraped the surface (and new ones keep popping up!), but here are some recent standouts.
1. Greta – cafe by day, wine bar by night, and aperitivo hour which makes it the perfect spot to work on your laptop with a glass of vino in tow.
2. Butcher's Diner – for late-night fancy feeds that transport you to New York City. This spot ticks the boxes for cheap and quick eats, quality produce (they supply to some top-tier restaurants in the city) and is the current go-to for a pre- or post-gig feed.
3. Sojourn – for rooftop cocktails paired with people-watching. Plus it's cobalt blue infrastructure nestled in a European-esque laneway gives you that summer feeling everyone else is having.