Hi, my name is Vanessa, and I am the creator of this website and the After The Wedding name change kit.
It all started after I got married and changed my name to my husband's name, and realised there had to be a better way! I gathered all the information I had collected and started giving it out to friends who were also getting married (and offending one or two on the way who had no intention of changing their name oops!).
Then a friend suggested I cast my net wider and offer the kit of information up on the internet. I had no idea how to even start going about that, but luckily a friend of my husband's was in IT, and he gave me some pointers.
So there began my rapid learning curve of how to get information up on the internet.
After a while, the name change kit got quite popular. I was giving all the information away for free at this stage, but keeping the kit and website up to date and answering all the emails that started pouring in became quite time intensive. For quite a while, my friends and non-paying customers had been telling me that I should charge for the kit. So I did. But I have to admit that I didn't like doing it. I really didn't believe in myself or my product and didn't think it was worth paying for.
However, my customers did. I started getting, and still do get emails from happy customers saying how much they love the kit and what a bargain it is. Of course, the name change kit today looks nothing like it way back in its humble beginnings!
My first website was The Smart Bride, but after a while I realised that name didn’t really encapsulate what I was doing. So in 2008 I changed to After The Wedding – simple, and a good explanation of who the website is for and when! I am incredibly proud that I created the first name change kit that brides can download. Since then there have been a few copycats emerge, which at first I found incredibly disheartening. I put a lot of hard work and sleepless nights into my kit and to have someone come along and ‘steal’ my idea (and sometimes my content, word for word) was heartbreaking. But, I have come to embrace business as what it is – business. It has its ups, and it has its downs.
In the past 11 years I have learned a lot about creating something that I believe in, about trusting my instincts and distinguishing the voice inside that says “you can’t do it!” And I am incredibly fortunate to be able to help other people in the process – even if it is just saving a newlywed a bunch of precious hours and some frustration.
A few years ago I was interviewed for an article about women in start-up businesses – so I thought I would share it with you – hopefully it will give you an inside peek into After The Wedding. Oh, and thanks for stopping by!
I never made a conscious decision to go into business with the name change kit – it kind of just happened! A lot of people I meet are surprised when I tell them what I do, but I have to tell you, no one is more surprised than me!
I want my customers to be able to visit a pretty little website and complete their wedding journey by changing their name in a straight forward way. I want to save my customer’s time. I want to save them frustration. I want to make it easy!
The people in my life were really the ones who ignited my decision to turn this into a business. In fact, in the beginning it was all about recuperating costs. I was running the whole thing and giving the kit away for free. It basically was a business (there was a product, a website, and email support); I just wasn’t bringing in any money to pay the expenses or for my time. My husband has been incredibly supportive and encouraged me to get it going. What will keep it going? My customers, definitely. I have met some of the most amazing women and the encouragement that lands in my inbox is better than words can describe. The feeling of helping someone, or encouraging someone is fantastic.
That’s a hard one. I’ve looked at marketing materials and guides in the past, and they’re quite focussed on creating a brand and getting repeat customers. But I guess my goal is the opposite. I want to give my customers what they need (help changing their name) so they never need to come back again!
I focus on Australian brides who want to change their name. It doesn’t matter if they are married in Australia or overseas, or want to change to their husband’s name or something else. I even help grooms change their name too! I’ve been asked to help non-citizens change their name too, but, unfortunately, I don’t have any connections with overseas authorities, so I don’t have the expertise in that area.
I like to keep it personal, and I hope my customers notice. All of my emails are personally written by myself or my amazing assistant, and between us I reckon we know absolutely everything there is to know about changing your name in Australia! Speaking of that, I think another point of difference is our knowledge base and industry connections. A lot of other providers give out incorrect information, but I think the connections I have developed with government departments ensures that the information I provide is spot on, and that little bit extra special. Oh, and this means I’m able to keep the name change kit super up to date. I receive emails from government departments almost weekly, letting me know when they are about the change a website or a process, and also with updates to their forms. I also do my own research and check that the kit is up to date on a weekly basis – usually every Friday. Sometimes I send out updates every two weeks, sometimes once every six weeks – it just depends on what has changed and how critical the change is.
Keep it simple. That is the basis of my whole business. Keep the website simple. Keep the process of buying a name change kit simple. Keep the presentation of information simple (extraordinary, but simple!) Make the process of changing your name simple. Keep access to name change kit updates simple.