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Vaishali Shah - Wedding & Event Stationery Specialist, Founder, Lead Designer & Creative Director of Ananya Cards from London, UK and Dubai, UAE

Q1. How and when did you start your Entrepreneur Journey to serve in the Wedding industry? What inspired you to start your own business? My ...

Q1. How and when did you start your Entrepreneur Journey to serve in the Wedding industry? What inspired you to start your own business?

My journey as an entrepreneur started eighteen years ago actually! I come from a family of very entrepreneurial, independent, and creative people, so I always knew I’d want to launch my own business someday. At a time when I was already running my own very successful branding and marketing agency, one of my cousins asked me to help her by designing the stationery for her wedding, which I was delighted to do. At the end of the wedding three guests reached out separately to say that they had loved what I'd done, and wanted to hire me for their own celebrations – and it all grew from there! This first family wedding led to some really rewarding work creating bespoke, luxury stationery with a cultural nod, and that’s been my focus ever since.

Q2. Kindly describe more about your business, your role, products/services.

I’m the Founder, Lead Designer, and Creative Director of Ananya Cards, and I have a team of partners based around the world. My services all revolve around supporting my global clientele with high quality, unique stationery for their weddings, life celebrations, milestone birthdays, private parties, gala dinners, and more. I offer a full range of products for all stationery needs, from save the dates, to invitations, menus, signage, digital content, as well as specialist printing, luxurious finishing touches, and truly bespoke designs.

Q3. Please share about the unique feature/specialty or USP of your Product/Service.

I would say that my specialty is creating designs that celebrate cultural heritage, that are infused with my couples’ personalities, and that are genuinely one-of-a-kind. I chose the name “Ananya” because it means "without equal" – a concept at the very heart of all the distinctively individual pieces in our extensive portfolio of work.

Q4. How would you explain the importance of your role in a Wedding?

Wedding stationery is one of the very first elements of the wedding journey, as it’s the first glimpse that guests will receive of the celebrations to come. Save the dates and invitations set the tone for the events, and are key to building the excitement! On the day of the wedding, the stationery is an integral part of the guest experience, with signage, orders of service, table plans, place cards, food and drink menus, and lots of other bespoke details. Even after the wedding, the stationery continues to play its part, as we create meaningful thank you cards for our clients to share the love with friends and family.

Q5. What are the most common challenges you face?

I would say that there are two main challenges we face with the wedding stationery work we do here at Ananya. The first is adapting to client’s needs and timescales – as often this requires designs to be created, amended, printed, and delivered within quite tight turnarounds. The other main challenge is that of aligning a client’s expectations with their budget, which can be particularly tricky if they have been exposed to a lot of different ideas on Pinterest, without a prior understanding of the investments needed for certain types of printing, details, and quantities.

Q6. How do you deal with these challenges?

We deal with the timings challenge by having really open, honest communication with our clients, working very closely with them to deliver the work in as high a quality as possible in the shortest time we can. In no small part, this is possible thanks to all the fantastic relationships we have built with printers all over the world! As for the budget challenge, we feel very passionate about educating our couples so they can make informed, empowered decisions on what is best for them and most closely aligns with their priorities. It comes down to understanding their needs, giving expert advice, and being a wedding planning partner they can trust.

Q7. Could you share one of your most unique creations/experience for/of a wedding?

We had the joy of working on fabulous Sikh wedding in London a few years ago, which was held over the course of multiple days in both family homes and gorgeous five-star hotels. We loved the design brief for this one, which involved florals, delicate, exquisite roses being woven into the stationery for each individual part of the celebration. We worked with romantic pastel colours, and added textural gold details which made the paper simply divine to touch! We worked with this couple to create not only the stationery, but also bespoke artwork, monograms, patterns, and motifs, which were used all through their décor too – such as their dance floor and their signage. It was an elegant combination of Western elements with Indian influences, perfectly contemporary while still paying homage to their family heritage.

Q8. What type of collaborations would you like to explore in future?

Here at Ananya, we love to collaborate with other wedding professionals, of course, but also relish the opportunity to connect with high end Fashion Professionals, Interior Designers, Chefs and Chocolatiers, and so much more! For us, a passion for creativity and an alignment of ethos are at the very heart of every collaboration, and we particularly enjoy initiating “unexpected” partnerships with luxury brands in other industries!

Q9. What is your vision for the next five years?

With a newly launched base in Dubai, one of our main priorities will be expanding our brand and business within the UAE, while continuing to strengthen our client and vendor relationships in the UK and Europe. The next five years will see us growing this brand to further international markets, such as the US, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Q10. What would you advise new entrepreneurs who want to start & sustain in the business?

I would say that the most important ingredients for a successful entrepreneurial journey are: a passion for learning (especially from mistakes!), showing up and taking lucky opportunities when they come your way, working hard and staying true to your values while doing so, being visible and authentic, and – most importantly – embracing your niche. Ask yourself: what are you doing that is different… or better?

Ready to craft your dream wedding stationery? Please contact Vaishali Shah at Ananya for a personalised consultation.

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Interviewed & Edited by: Khushboo Chotaliya - Author & Founder of Sanskari Decor from Mumbai, India.

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