I first met Rio a while back. She is a woman that knows exactly what she wants. Rio runs the UAE’s leading wedding inspiration website and directory www.brideclubme.com. I wanted to get to know her better and went to her house to have a real conversation with her. Here’s what she had to say about her life, what her plans are for the future, BCME, and what keeps her motivated and focused.
How tall are you?
How old are you?
33 years young.
Do you dye your hair?
Ha-ha – Only the grey roots!
What is a normal day in your life like?
The nature of my work and business, means that every day brings new adventures. Typically, I awake at 8am, make myself a large coffee and start checking my emails. I then get dressed and spend the next 4 hours editing, writing and planning forward, often with my two cats on my lap or around my feet, lol.
The afternoons are usually reserved for meetings which can take place anywhere from a beautiful hotel, to meeting with wedding pro’s over coffee. I then come home, send orders, update listings and the BCME social media accounts (my favorites being Instagram and Pinterest), and grab a bite to eat. My day ends either heading out to industry events, relaxing watching a good series with the hubby or enjoying a Moroccan tea at our local shisha café…
Tell us 3 words about yourself?
Creative, Motivated, Entrepreneurial
How would you describe your home/style?
My home is an eclectic mix of things. I have no issues buying second hand items and equally, I am happy to invest into bespoke pieces when I can financially afford to do so. The same goes for my personal sense of style, I dress according to how I feel.
What is Bride Club ME?
A One-Stop Shop wedding inspiration website and directory for UAE brides to-be and those looking to marry in the UAE. I also like to think of it as a community for brides and vendors alike.
Beautiful imagery within the wedding industry is very important. Equally, brides need and require logistical information and advice relevent to them. At BCME, I believe we tick all boxes. For weddings in particular, we focus on real UAE brides (being a UAE centric site) and feature a myriad of beautful, inspiring weddings captured by a variety of talented photographers. We are very much about promoting the best home grown talent suited to all tastes and budgets.
When did you start Bride Club ME and how has it evolved over time?
It’s a long story, the concept behind BCME started over two and a half years ago but launched in November 2012. Cliché as it sounds, I came up with the idea when planning my own Dubai wedding and finding nothing online here in the UAE in terms of inspiration and finding suppliers. I started casually blogging at www.expatbride.com and then put together the business plan for Bride Club ME.
The site launched with my business partners at the time (CPI) and then I went solo last year. My background in media and hands on experience as a bride in Dubai gave me the confidence to set up my own business. It has evolved as a small site for expat brides, in to well-known, established brand with a variety of readers both here and abroad. I will always retain the personal touch with BCME as its editor.
What are your favourite things to do on a weekend?
I am very much a home body. A vast change to a few years back, when I was partying hard like a typical Dubian. I love entertaining at home, cooking and decorating. To be honest though, I tend to be networking during the weekends and attending various industry events. It never stops, but when I really do have some down time, spending time with my besties and their babies is a must. As a treat, taking a trip down to Oman for a change of scenery is always wonderful. I love camping too and a bit of astronomy combined.
What do you believe makes a great blog?
Aesthetically pleasing, excellent reader usability and informative, consistant content. The personal touch is vitally important too, having a blog with real personality.
Describe your readers.
I absolutely LOVE my readers, they are forward with their compliments of the site and genuinely appreciate all the work I put into helping them, which makes everything worthwhile.
They are usually engaged women within the UAE, but we also have a strong international following by brides, grooms, bridesmaids and wedding industry professionals. The brides to-be are varied in their ethnicity and budget ranges, but they all need and want the same thing – Information and inspiration. We have had a few local celeb readers too, such as Priti Malik at Virgin Radio and Shereen Mitwalli, model, presenter and founder of the Female Network.
What is your ethnicity?
A true melting pot. British Born and bred to a Scottish/English father, and a Sri Lankan Burgher mother (she is a mix of German, Sri Lankan, Dutch, Portuguese and English).
What’s your favorite thing to blog about?
Weddings of course! But on my personal blog expatbride.com, I also talk about the industry and being an entrepreneur, and often write advice articles for wedding vendors. This ties in nicely with my event ‘The Engage Academy’ for wedding entrepreneurs. I also love to blog about my home décor challenges.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
I invested into making my website my business, BCME is fully trade licensed and this is my full time job, so it’s a challenge financially at times and I am still mastering the work/life balance, but as with all small business owners, this comes with time and experience. Needing human resources is a definite and on my agenda.
What inspires you & what keeps you motivated?
People, beautiful imagery, art, nature, travel and architecture inspires me. I am a creative, so I find beauty in many things. My family/friends, readers and industry peers keeps me motivated, and my desire to have stability and inner peace.
What are your top wedding trend predictions for the next year?
At BCME we don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have a pulse on what trends are catching on in the wedding scene. I am a huge endorser of personalising your wedding and I encourage brides not to get “too” wrapped up on having a “trendy” wedding. That said, themes do help in terms of color coordinating and keeping things aesthetically beautiful. We also like to set a few trends with our own styled shoots.
• I think the colour grey (combined with other colours) will be one to watch.
• Using re-claimed items as décor.
• Oversized wedding bouquets are a current trend, but I think this will carry on into 2015. I personally adore them too.
Can you tell us or show us a sneak peek about a recent project that you’re excited about?
I am currently re-decorating my rented apartment one a VERY tight budget, especially my office. It’s hard making a rented place your own, many flats in Dubai have these horrible yellow washed walls and light fixtures, etc, which brings me onto my next website launching later this year……..That’s all I am saying for now 😉
What’s next in your life?
My new website and an exciting event in partnership with someone I admire, so it’s all systems go. But on a personal level, I’d like to travel a little more and possibly think about starting a family in the next year or two….. 😉
Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers or small business owners?
Establish your USP and be unique. What makes you stand out from your competitors? Since BCME launched, many new wedding blogs/websites have and that’s great, but we still retain our individuality in a growing market. Be true to yourself. Prepare to work long and uncompromising hours at the start. INVEST into your business. Most of all ENJOY and LOVE what you do, as soon as you stop loving what you do, your client/fan base will sense it.
Join us on Instagram where we share our artistry & adventures on the daily.