Running a wedding business is a handful, but Zee Scott runs three AND makes it look like a cakewalk!
Zee’s love for sweets and performing led her to become a baker, MC, and marriage celebrant. Admittedly, she doesn’t get to sleep much – not because of work, but because she can’t contain her excitement for life!
In this chat we discuss:
- What it’s like to run several wedding businesses
- Managing burn out
- CRM tools & automation tips
- Being a trendsetter, not a follower
- Being a BIPOC woman in the Australian wedding industry
- How businesses can convey genuine inclusivity
- What’s next for Zee Scott in 2023?
It’s easy to get caught up in trends, especially in the wedding industry. Instead of copying what’s in, Zee sticks to her own unique style. She advises other entrepreneurs to be confident in their value proposition and identity.
As a Black business owner, Zee also shares tips for how businesses can be more inclusive. The first step is to examine your marketing materials and language. Update them and collaborate with different communities. Keep on educating yourself, whether through self-study or through a consultant.
Links & Vendors Mentioned:
Find Zee Scott:
On Polka Dot Wedding: Zee Scott
On Instagram: @zeescott__
Find Dorothy & the Polka Dot Wedding team:
On Instagram: @polkadotwedding
On the website: polkadotwedding.com
This podcast was produced by Polka Dot Wedding
The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders custodians of the land and pay our respects to Elders past & present.
Welcome to The Feel Good Wedding podcast by Polka Dot Wedding. My name is Dorothy, otherwise known as Ms Polka Dot, and I’m the founder and editor of Polka Dot Wedding. I have run my own business for 15 years and I am passionate about the ins and outs and the ups and downs of surviving the small business world. Our business focus episodes are for you as a wedding vendor to learn and to get more than a little bit inspired.
The Feel Good Wedding Podcast dives a little deeper than the stories. Of course, we tell the stories. We tell plenty of them, but we’re also talking about vendor advice, we’re also talking about business advice, and we’re also diving a little deeper beyond those stories. We’re diving into the mistakes and the I-wish-I-dids and the problems and the qualms that these couples have, and that vendors have too. We’ve got so much in store. We’re jumping into season two and we can’t wait to have you along for the ride. Keep on listening and we’d love to hear from you, so make sure you stick around.
The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora, and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians of the land, and we pay our respects to Elders past and present.
I’m really hoping today’s guest won’t be disappointed if I call her a firecracker because when I think of her, that’s what comes to mind. She has colour and life and beauty in everything that she does, but she also has this way of balancing that with really deep subjects and advocacy and talking about what is important to her and what she values and managing to reflect that in everything that she does.
Today, I want you to meet Zee Scott. She is a Melbourne-based wedding cake designer and celebrant, who also used to do catering, and also does MC (ing). I love Zee’s approach to the way that she runs her business and her approach, of course, and love of colour, so I wanted to dive in a bit beyond the wedding stuff, a bit beyond the pretty stuff, into how she’s managing to run a wedding business in 2023 and how she finds her feet within that to be able to hold tight to her values, but still do this beautiful work that is so popular and so loved.
I also wanted to dive in because Zee has barely slept more than four hours for the past, I don’t know how many years. She’s always up at 3 A.M. trying to juggle all this around motherhood and around weddings. I find that really fascinating, so I wanted to dive into it. I’m really looking forward to this chat with Zee and I’m looking forward to seeing what you think. Zee, I am so thrilled to have you because I’ve wanted to do this chat for so long. Thank you so much for joining me.
Zee Scott 02:32
Oh, it’s a pleasure. Thanks. I’ve been very excited since we agreed and booked it in.
I’m really looking forward to it. Tell me all about you – first off to kick us off.
Zee Scott 02:43
Oh, I don’t even know where to begin. If I had to have an elevator pitch, I’d be like, “Crazy woman who doesn’t like to sleep but loves to have amazing ideas she always starts but probably never finishes.”
I feel like that describes a business owner in general though, doesn’t it?
Zee Scott 03:07
Just with anything in life. Even walking around my house, my partner’s just like, “Can you just finish that thing that you started?” and I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll get to it. I’ve got to be in the right mind for it.”
One day. You’ve got time. I did this in my intro, but you do cakes, you do celebrancy, you do MCing, and you used to do catering, though I just saw that I feel like you’re pulling back on catering now, aren’t you?
Zee Scott 03:32
Yeah, just a touch. As you move through business, there’s always a point where you go, “What am I not really enjoying anymore?” I love cooking. I absolutely love cooking, but what was happening was I was focusing so much on cooking for my clients that I stopped cooking at home. We went through a bout there where we were just having so many takeaways that we were just like, “Okay,” and it’s not just me because my partner cooks as well. He’s very good in the kitchen. I just went, “Nah, I’m not enjoying that anymore, so we’ll just release it.”
Cakes and celebrancy and MCing is enough. Let’s be real.
Zee Scott 04:07
It’s plenty. Let’s wind back the clock and talk about how did you get started in the wedding world and which came first out of catering, cakes, and celebrancy, the triple Cs?
Zee Scott 04:19
Cakes actually came first. Cakes came many, many moons ago. My mom used to teach royal icing back in the ’80s, mid ’80s, early ’90s with Wilton. That passion for baking and stuff came from that end and I used to follow her around the kitchen all the time and be extremely annoying and try and get her recipes and try and learn as much as I can. I used to be an actor. I always felt that I needed a backup career or something, so I said to my mom one day, “Well, I’m going to start making cakes and I’m going to start my own catering business.” She was like, “Yeah, okay. All right. Let’s see you do that,” and I did that and that was fun. It was a nice little side hustle in between auditions and things like that. That took off but then about three years later, my best friend who’s from Australia was like, “Oh, I’m going back to Australia for a bit,” and we used to work on a cabaret show that toured. She said, “Why don’t you come with me because it’s your last year to get a working holiday visa?” I was like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll do that,” and I moved here. I left all my businesses and work and everything at home. Midway through that working holiday year, I met my now partner. By the end of the year, I was like, “Well, if I’m going to stay here, I’m going to need to work out what I want to do.” And so I started up my cake and catering business here.
That was in November of 2011. Shortly after, a few months later, we attended a wedding. Sorry, a few years later, we attended a wedding and it was the most boring wedding for two people who were not boring at all. The ceremony was just this guy. I’ve not seen him in the celebrant world since, so I’m hoping that I don’t bump into one day. He did the ceremony. Every time he said their names, he looked back at his paperwork. It was almost like he was making sure that he got their names right, like he’d done four ceremonies that day and was worried about saying the wrong names. During the ceremony, I looked at my partner and like, “What’s that job?” He was like, “He’s a celebrant.” I was like, “What’s a celebrant like?” and he said, “They just marry people.” I was like, “Oh. Then, I want to do that job.” By the time we got home and he went to bed, I just had this spark and I was like, “Oh, I just want to do that job. How do I get to do that job?” I researched and by midnight, I think by 1 A.M., I think it was, I had booked myself onto the marriage celebrants course to do my course online. I decided that “Yeah, that’s what I wanted to do.” Six months later, I became a celebrant.
So when you do want to do something, you’re pretty quick about it then.
Zee Scott 07:18
Oh, yeah. In my head, I was just like, This is what I want to do. This is like acting but not acting, not in a showy way. It’s just my personality. It’s just really me, and so I thought, “Well, why wouldn’t I want to do that?” It was just the idea that I would just do three weddings a year just to do something fun. Now, it’s become my primary income because I’ve just loved it so much. I’ve been a celebrant now for nearly eight years. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, I think.
One of the things that I’ve been so interested to spy on Instagram stories and even through your bio that you gave me is your lack of sleep. I always thought that was because you were trying to get all your work done so that you could spend your day with your beautiful son, but is there more to it? I learned that you haven’t slept much since you were 18.
Zee Scott 08:10
Yeah, which is a very long time ago. A lot of people think that. They think that since I had my son six years ago, that he was the catalyst to started that off. Actually, it wasn’t. I say from the age of 18 but when I’m speaking to my mum when I went home a couple of months ago, she said, “No, you’ve pretty much been like that from a young age.” There’s always been this excitement to be awake and to do things and that almost like sleeping is a waste of my time. As a kid, my brother and sister would take ages to get ready for school in the morning. It was 6 A.M., I was dressed, downstairs, ready to go, mum would be like, “You’re not leaving for school for at least another two and a half hours. Just calm down.” Over the years as I went into my late teens, it started being at 2 A.M. Then, between 2 A.M. and 3 A.M. Now, anywhere between 2 A.M. and 4 A.M., I would just wake up and I’m good to go. There’s no wake up period. I don’t have an alarm. There’s nothing to snooze. I’m awake once I open my eyes and I’m done. I tried to tackle this a couple of years ago. I decided that I wanted to go to sleep school and try and figure out exactly what was happening. I joined this online sleep school and this psychiatrist had some chats with me and tried to work out exactly why. He said it’s like being a baby when you teach a baby to resettle themselves. It’s like I’ve lost that ability. I’ll just get up and I just can’t get myself back to sleep. I don’t go to bed sometimes until 10, 11 at night. Four hours I’ve worked out is the minimum that I need. Anything less than that, someone’s going to get hurt.
At least you need some sleep.
Zee Scott 10:03
Just a bit.
You are human. You are a human. That’s good to know.
Zee Scott 10:07
The middle of the night is pretty good too because when it’s quiet, all the creativity can flow. There’s no one annoying you.
Zee Scott 10:16
Exactly. I’m very fortunate that my partner and my son, both will sleep through anything. I will get up and I will bake. I will have the mixer on. I can Hoover. I can Hoover right up to the bedroom doors upstairs and they won’t stir. I’m very lucky in that sense that it’s not a problem that I do that.
I think it also gives you the time. I mentioned catering, I mentioned cakes, I mentioned MCing and celebrancy, but you’ve also got the mini wedding celebrating business. You have so much going on. How do you approach it? How do you make sure that you keep that energy and enthusiasm going with all of the aspects of the business and juggling all of that without losing your mind?
Zee Scott 11:08
I’ll be honest. I have a CRM that helps a lot.
What’s your CRM called? What’s the brand?
Zee Scott 11:16
I’ve got 17hats. 17hats came into my life probably about four years ago now. What I found was obviously when I’m up so early, I’ll prep a load of emails. What I used to do is just put them in drafts and then I’d have to go back at 8 A.M… Yeah.
So it doesn’t look really ridiculous that you were typing in the middle of the night.
Also, you’ve got to set those boundaries. You don’t want people to think, “Oh, yeah. She’s up. She’s got this.” 17hats came into my life and then I realized that I could do all of my work at two, three, not that I always do work at that time, but I could do it and then I just schedule everything to go out. Now, I’ve got emails, I’ve got couples that are marrying in November next year, and all of the emails that are to do with their ceremony are all scheduled, ready to go out throughout the whole year next year.
So you batch, really. Batching is underloved in business, I think. I love a good batch.
Zee Scott 12:19
When I see some of the celebrants and I say to them, “What are you doing? Why are you doing all that stuff? You got to have a workflow.” For me, I’m all about processes. I used to be an HR manager. People often say, “How did you fall into that? It’s so not what you would normally do,” but for me, being an HR manager is learning about processes and having systems in place. That kind of thing gets me very excited.
Oh, you’re talking my language.
Zee Scott 12:47
Don’t even get me started about Excel. Oh, my goodness. Give me a macro.
Give me an ordination, I’m happy. Where’s your happy place? In ordination land.
Zee Scott 13:02
For me, having all these bits of the jigsaw come together just from my organisation skills and also being able to look at something and go, “Yeah, this is what needs to happen, a process,” and on 17hats, you have a thing called a workflow. You can say on that, “Okay, once you’ve joined a couple up, then make me tick a box to say that I’ve sent them their contract. Let me tick a box to say that I’ve done this.”
Tell me what to do.
Zee Scott 13:30
Yeah. Once you’ve set that back of house, then you’re good to go. You’re ready. You can hear the excitement in my voice. I’m like, “Oh, my God.”
I know. I got to be careful because I could talk about automation systems all day long. I’m like, “No, no. We have other things to cover.” They do float my boat completely. One on completed automation. Let’s meet again. Let us know if you want that episode because we’ll make it happen. Is it then your passion for what you’re doing that stops you from being burnt out when you are so busy?
Zee Scott 14:08
Yeah. Part of that, again, working, looking at systems and to-do lists and things like that is that I will always have a couple of days in a month where I go 100%, I am not doing anything. I have just days of sitting. We literally in our house called them my burnout days. They’re just days where I will get in the bedroom, I’ll get into bed, electric blanket on, and I will just binge-watch movies. Movies that I’ve watched a million times before, movies that I don’t need to focus on so I don’t need to think, just like Beverly Hills Cop 2. I’ve probably watched that movie this year alone 150 times just because it’s something that I can switch off and laugh in the right places. You’ve got to be able to allow for those burnout times in order to allow your passion to push you through on all the other days.
Yeah. I think that’s really important. You were one of the very first cake designers to bring back the retro iced cake. I presume in some ways that was probably influenced by your background in icing and your understanding of it, but nowadays, they’re everywhere. I remember you were one of the very first people that did them. I know that you’ve commented on, I’m trying to put this really politely, other people using your images without crediting you, using your designs without crediting you, etc. How do you manage that in an industry that is essentially driven by copying because everyone is so trend-based? I feel like that’s a really sticky subject in business world.
Zee Scott 15:44
It totally is. To be honest, I remember back in the beginning when I first started doing it, as you said, this is in me. My mom showed me this and she was taught to do this and I watched her. For me, when I first started doing it, I saw her do it and I wanted to do it years ago because there’s this wonderful baker in the UK that has been doing these cakes forever. She started bringing back retro cakes a long time ago. I remember looking and thinking “Wow” and my mom was like, “They’re never going to come back. That style is not coming back. It’s silly.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll just leave it alone.” A few years ago, I was like, “Actually, I want to do it. I just want to have a go and see what it’s like.” Now, the only way I can keep moving forward and yes, instagram/social media is now flooded with these vintage cakes. How can I say it again without being rude, but the hold I have on that is going, “Oh, yeah, you guys can do that style, but look what I can do with this because I’ve got the knowledge and the skill to take that one step further.” All of the piping tips, for example, the smaller they are, the more skill you need to have in working with them. A lot of the other cakes that are out on the social media use these larger tips. I can sit and look at a cake and I can tell you exactly what tip they’ve used and I can go, “Yeah, that’s one of the easier ones.” My cakes now, for me, I have to just keep evolving. I have to keep taking it to the next step. I don’t follow many cake accounts on social media. I don’t take my inspiration from other people. I just literally look at a cake and think of the people that are making it for and go, “Oh, yeah. You want to get this. You deserve that. You look like that. You can have that,” and then I just pipe and stop when I feel like piping. I don’t sketch, I don’t design, it just has to come from within. That’s the only thing that I can hold on to is go, “The creativity is in me, the skill is in me, and I’m not looking to anybody else for that inspiration. They’re going to have to get it from me if they want it.”
Is that what helps you continue to evolve, just continuing to come back to yourself and reminding yourself? I suppose it’s self-talk, which sounds a bit cheesy or whatever, but it is self-talk of just coming back to yourself.
Zee Scott 18:13
Absolutely. That’s with everything. I was talking to my sister the other day and we were just saying there’s a lot of things that people, especially with businesses and it is coming from social media, where people just go, “Oh, I like that. I can easily copy that,” but then you’ve always got to be like, “Well, that’s okay because I can just take it to the next step and you’re not even ready for that because you’ve got to watch what I’m doing.” That’s the only way that I’m driven is just by going, “Oh, yeah, cool. Do what you want. I’ll just do something else next week instead.”
Yeah. I feel like that’s so reflective of your business because it is just so colourful and joyous and happy, but it’s got that beautiful balance with “This is what is right in the world and this is what I value” and that integrity around that. How did you manage to find your feet with that in the first place and stay so strong with “This is who I am. I don’t care what is trending and what is cool and all that kind of stuff. This is just me and that’s enough”? I feel like that’s where most vendors are getting stuck right now. It’s really easy to change your branding because everyone else is changing their branding or whatever it is.
Zee Scott 19:21
You’ve got to be true to yourself. You got to know yourself. That’s something that my mum will tell you the same. My full name is actually Zuleika but no one ever calls me that, not even my mum. She calls me Leika and she’ll be like, “Leika’s just her own person.” I’ve always known from a young age. I can only be me. I can’t be anybody else. This is why I’m not easily influenced by what’s happening with anyone else because I just think, “Well, you can only be you.” The only thing that it took me your while to learn was going on social media and being yourself.
You need to be confident about that and you need to stand up for yourself because every now and again, I’ll post something on Instagram which will make somebody, one person in how many millions or billions in the world, and one person will be offended and one person might decide to DM me and share with me their disappointment in whatever that I’ve shared. I just go, “Okay, yeah. Great. Good. Sure. That’s alright. See you,” because I just think, “Well, this is my space. It’s my space. It’s my safe space. It’s a space that I’ve created that hopefully anybody else that comes into feels safe and can also look and go, ‘Oh, yeah. Wow. Okay. She’s a real person.'” At the end of the day even though I’m a business, I’m still Zee Scott. I’m still this one person doing these things and I’m allowed to have character and personality. I will say, “It’s not just a cake page.” Some people will message me and say, “Oh, can you stop posting things other than cakes?” and I’m like, “I could, but I won’t because it’s also my page.”
That confidence in that I feel like is really difficult because it can be easy to say, “Well, be yourself,” etc., but continuing to do that when it’s not necessarily the thing that people are applauding or loving is really hard.
Zee Scott 21:27
But then you’ve got to go, but some people obviously are loving it because no matter how many followers you have, those followers that are there, are loving what you do, so why are you bothered? Why is anyone bothered about that one person who’s unfollowed you or the one person that’s contacted you and said, “I didn’t like you sharing that?” Well, okay. You’re gone. Okay. Nice to know you, but that’s not in an arrogant, disrespectful way. That’s just like okay, if I go into a certain shop and I don’t like the vibe in there, I go, “Oh, this isn’t for me,” and I walk out. I’m not going to go up to the sales assistant in there or the staff in there and say, “Hey, I didn’t like this shop, just so you know.”
This is a very good point. I never thought of that synergy. Yet, we’re also eager to tell everyone on social media when we’re not happy with someone.
Zee Scott 22:26
I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I’m sorry that you feel that way, but I’m not sorry in the kind of “Oh, my goodness, I’m so sorry.” I’m just sorry in the kind of “Okay, I appreciate your feedback but it’s my space, so I’m not going to stop sharing what I want to share just because you don’t like it.”
I feel like this is part of the conversation that is never talked about. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about being a BIPOC woman in the Australian wedding industry is when Black Lives Matters came out and everyone was posting the Black Lives squares, you posted a video and it talked about your experience being in this job. You were talking about the difference between not being racist and being anti-racist and it really crystallized everything around that for me. Of course, I wasn’t racist. Of course, blah, blah, but I wasn’t, at that point, personally doing anything that was anti-racist and actively making those decisions. I wanted to dive into that with you because you have been such an advocate for not just BIPOC inclusivity, but all kinds of inclusivity. We know it’s just never about one segment of the audience and their marketing and all that kind of stuff. How does your life unfold as a BIPOC woman in the Australian wedding industry? Is there anything that affects you day-to-day with that? Is there a struggle around that for you?
Zee Scott 23:50
I guess it’s twofold. Yes if I let it and no if I don’t. I often sometimes think way before, when I first started promoting the cakes and everything like that, I’ll be honest and say I think there were a couple of times where people were a little bit, I guess shocked is the word when I’d turn up and deliver their cake or whatever. You could tell there was like, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were Black.” I hate talking on the phone. I’m just not a big phone talker, but even when I do talk on the phone, I think people will sit, they go, “Oh, you’re British. Oh, okay. You must be White.” When they meet me, it’s like, “Oh, did not expect that.”
Back in the beginning, I’d be sending things out or whatever and if someone declined something or said no, I did have a moment where I was like, “Oh,” and then I didn’t really have loads of pictures on my website of me because I had a separate website back then. One with just my cakes and catering, and then another one for my celebrant business, plus my celebrant name was, still is, The British Celebrant, which throws people even more. After a while, I started becoming more confident. I just went, “Oh, actually, let’s just merge these things. Let’s show my face, people have to know who I am because I’m proud of my business. I’m proud of who I am. This needs to be shared.” I just put everything in one, started putting my face on everything, putting my face on Instagram, putting my face on my website, putting my face on my business cards. Everything that went out said, “This is me. I’m here. I’m in your face. That’s it.”
I’ll be honest, over the last three to four years, I can’t say that I’ve felt any resistance within the industry and being booked as either a baker or a celebrant. Like I said, I don’t know because maybe people just don’t get in contact with me because I’m Black and that’s okay, but generally, my businesses are pretty successful. No one has ever outright come and said blah, blah, blah.
Well, that’s good.
Zee Scott 26:26
I still get that in the shops and stuff. I still get that weird feeling out and about and within Australia, for sure. There’s been a big boost in couples of colour being shown on people’s websites and things like that. As you said, I think that’s the same with all minorities or sections. I feel super proud that everyone is starting to go, “No, it’s okay. We can have inclusivity. We can have everyone at our website without feeling like if I put that on my first page, is that going to offend anyone?” I think that was a problem. I think that was what a lot of people thought back in the day it was, “If I have somebody of colour on the first page of my website, does that then put other people off?”
Even in the world of Australia as a whole, the amount of big businesses that are starting to now have big advertising campaigns with people of colour as their primary picture, you’re seeing it. It’s getting better every time. Even the other day, I think it was one of the big name stores had an advert on the telly. Every other shop was either a person of color, and then it went back and then it had somebody else and there was somebody else came in with a wheelchair. I was like, “This should not offend anyone in everyday life,” but then you think back to a couple of years back when a UK store did a big Christmas campaign with a family of color and they received more complaints than I think it was something absolutely terrible that happened. They received more complaints than they received about news coverage about this thing that happened. Just people go, “I don’t relate to this. Why is it on my telly?” It was just a family enjoying a Christmas Day lunch, but because it was a Black family, there were all these complaints that came in. I just went, “Oh, okay. We’re still there. Okay.”
Yeah. You get that reminder every now and then. You think you’ve really moved forward? How do we then as a wedding industry in Australia which is predominantly White, predominantly able, predominantly cis, make sure that what we’re doing in our businesses is not just tokenistic and not just, “Okay, we’ve got a Black couple. We have to make sure we slap them up on our feed,” and then tick the box or whatever?
Zee Scott 28:56
You got to back that up. You got to back it up. Over the past couple of years, a lot of people have contacted me and said, “Oh, we’re interested in doing a collaboration shoot and we’d love to have you in” or “Do you know anybody that would be willing to be the bride and groom or brides or the party to marry?” I’m just like, “Okay, I appreciate that you’re coming to me, but talk to me about what you’re going to do with that afterwards. Is it just going to be ‘I just need a picture to put on my website’? What are you doing? Are you updating hashtags? Are you promoting within the groups that need to see it?” I don’t think many people know that there are lots of groups – we’ve got Jamaicans in Australia. We’ve got a group that is just called that and they’re constantly coming to me and going, “Do you know anyone who would feel comfortable to be a photographer for our wedding?” or do this, do that. I’m like, “Once you say, I’m open to that community, you then got to back that up and get out there and say, ‘Yes, we’re here. Can we help? How can we help you?” It’s more than putting a rainbow flag on your website. You’ve also got to back that up again. Unfortunately, I did a wedding a few months ago where I had two lovely blokes getting married. They’re happy for me to call them that. They had this photographer there who then just went on this whole “Okay, so which one of you is the bride?”
Zee Scott 30:40
I was like, “For real?” Obviously, I got annoyed and I was very held back about it. I was very professional and I approached him about it. I just went, “Hold on.” When I reviewed him afterwards, he had this big rainbow flag on his website, and I was like, “Yeah, you’ve come up with that, but you’ve not backed that up. You’ve turned up and then you’ve put in all these horrible things, made my couple feel uncomfortable.” That’s what I mean by backing it up. Don’t turn up and then do that.
Find out the language. There’s so many resources out there for the language, etc., the things you probably shouldn’t be saying and all that kind of stuff. It takes a lot of self reflection I think as well that a lot of people aren’t prepared to do.
Zee Scott 31:37
Yeah. Being able to review and accept, but I think unfortunately, some people do it for the money. They just go, “Yeah, we’ll put this flag on. We’ll put the acknowledgement of country at the bottom of the website. That will mean that they’ll book us, but we don’t really have to do anything different. I can still be me”. Well, no, you need to back that up.
One of the things I hear from wedding vendors is “Of course, I’d work with LGBTQI couples. Of course, I’d work with BIPOC couples,” but none of them approached me. None of them book me. We talk with that in Polka Dot Wedding about, “Okay, you’ve got to be showing couples on your website. You’ve got to be doing things like styled shoots. You’ve got to be connecting with the communities,” all that kind of stuff. What is your advice then to vendors that are a bit like, “Well, they’re not booking me. How can I show diversity if they’re not booking me?”
Zee Scott 32:28
Like you said, the main thing is connecting with the community. Use your social media. If it’s a special day or like you said, if you’ve done a collaboration shoot, share that, but also have the right wording, update your website. Don’t have on there “bride and groom.” I work with a few celebrants on their admin. That’s just an extra thing I do. Some of them in their terms and conditions, it will still say “bride and groom” or on their contact form because people sometimes set and forget. Have a little moment, go through all of your website. Go in as a client or as a potential client, go through all your paperwork, go through your website, and make sure that your wording and everything on your website and all your paperwork reflects who you want to attract and talk to them.
There’s no point saying, “Yeah, I’m open,” and then on your contact form, it doesn’t ask people what their pronouns are, for example. Then straight away, that person’s going there and might say, “I don’t feel safe here because I’ve not been asked that. How are you going to approach me when you contact me? How are you going to say hi?” Things like that. I think that’s one of the main things is go through everything and make sure that you’re all up-to-date and you’re reflecting with that person. Acknowledgement of country, make sure it’s correct wording, there’s so many different options. If you’re not sure, communicate with somebody in that community and just say, “Hey, I’m reaching out,” but also don’t then just go to the one because I found that as well.
The one BIPOC person and say “Hey, speak for everyone right now.”
Zee Scott 34:32
If you are going to go to them, you could happily say, “Is this something you do? Can I pay you? Is it a service you might offer?” We’ve got a wonderful mum at my son’s school who is part of the indigenous community and she said to us, “If you want help, I’m happy to help for the everyday stuff.” I approached her as a wedding vendor and I said, “But can I pay you to help me out step-by-step? I want to know, go through the map with me. I want to make sure that when I do an acknowledgement of country, that I’m not just doing a blanket, ‘This is for all of Australia.’ Can you go through with me?” She was like, “Yup, that’s fine. You just let me know what you need,” and so I’ve paid her to give me that wonderful in depth….. I’m using her knowledge, but I’m not just using her.
Yeah, which is a big problem as well. I suppose it’s not just with people in communities that are underrepresented. It’s with every creative conversation. “Can I just share you a coffee and you tell me everything?”
Zee Scott 35:38
No. Because this knowledge is more than a coffee, I tell you what. You’re going to have to pay me a bit more than $4.20 for a long black.
The BIPOC community in particular has done a heck of a lot of unpaid labor in the past. Black Lives Matters. Black squares.
Zee Scott 35:56
I can’t even tell you how many emails I’ve received, especially during that time. I laugh about it with my partner, but just going, “Oh, let me just reach out to that one person I know.”
Not me, not me. I’ll email you today because I promise, I’m not like them.
Zee Scott 36:21
“Just because I know you’re so open, Zee.” That one person that “I know you’re so open and you’re happy to share,” and I’m like, “Okay, I get that. But, you know…..”
Exhausting, is it? It must be exhausting.
Zee Scott 36:32
Oh, gosh, it is. Again, it’s one of those things where you go, “Oh, I bet you if I put on a session or something and said to people, ‘Pay $15 each and come and learn about all of this.” They won’t turn up. Of course, they won’t because then they’ve got to pay for it. Like you said, it’s like, “Oh, Zee, are you down for a coffee?” Then it’s like, “Oh, drink mid coffee. Can I just ask you a couple of questions?” Oh, okay.
If you’re not in those minority communities, so if you are able versus disabled or whatever it is, you have to be prepared to A) pay up the people who are educating and put the time and work in rather than just ask, “Can you just tell me by email?” and then I’ve done my work.
Zee Scott 37:15
Copy and paste?
Yeah. I’ve tried. I’ve done my work. I’ve asked Zee for a coffee. What more do you like? There’s a lot of work to be done in that, I think, and it’s ongoing forever.
Zee Scott 37:25
Yes, that’s the thing. That’s what I keep saying to people as well. It’s not something that’s going to be sorted overnight. We’ve seen, unfortunately, things happen in the news this week, but it’s not over. It’s not. As much as we were trying to teach at this level, when I say this level, I mean as adults, we then got to look to the future and look to the ones that are upcoming. What these kids see, they’re sucking that in, and we’ve just got to be better people. We’ve just got to be better people. Look, I’m just getting emotional about it. We cannot just go, “Oh, yeah. They are okay. They’re getting what they need.” They’re still seeing things. I don’t know how it happens. I don’t have the answer myself, but all I know is that I’m doing my best as a person to be a better person so that my six-year-old looks to me and to my partner and goes, “Okay, that’s wrong. Mom and dad are upset about that. That’s obviously wrong,” and then I speak to him and I’ll tell him. Obviously, I won’t tell him details, but I will share with him and say, “Look, this is something that we need to be aware of.” My child is a mixed-race Australian. I’ve got to say to him, “There’s some things that you will do in life that your friend will get away with, but you won’t.” It’s hard and it’s a hard conversation but as adults and as parents and anybody who is a guardian of a child, that’s your job as far as I’m concerned. That is your job to make that future better.
Yeah. I think it’s our job in the wedding industry to make it better. What other things would you say that the wedding industry could do to better themselves in inclusivity and inclusion and diversity and all that kind of stuff?
Zee Scott 39:23
Like I said, first things first, get on all your marketing and your communications and everything and make sure that they’re reflecting your views. I mean that both ways. If you don’t want to work with people, be big and say you don’t want to. Own it. Don’t waste my time. Don’t waste anybody’s time. Don’t make money from anybody that you don’t have to make money from, would be my first thing. Educate yourself. Like you said, the collaborations are great. I think whether you’re doing a wedding that has people from different communities in the collaboration team or that you want that to be viewed, it’s up to you. It’s up to you what you’re trying to communicate with that collaboration. Collaboration is really important. Backing that up then as well, and just making sure that whatever message you want to send out there, that you’re then making sure you’re revisiting that all the time.
Yeah. I don’t want you to feel like we’ve made you the spokesperson. We need to come back to something fun. You’re the automation queen as a fellow automation adorer, tell me your favorite tech apart from 17hats. I want to end on something light because I feel like you’ve given us so many good nuggets.
Zee Scott 40:59
Oh my gosh, there’s so many things. 17hats is the only thing I use.
Well, 17hats is the golden one. I feel like that’s a pretty good recommendation though.
Zee Scott 41:09
For me, it is. Obviously, there are lots of other options that people can go with. I know there are lots. I found 17hats is the most usable platform for me. Easy to work with, easy to input. It’s a lot of work when you first start out.
As everything is with automation.
Zee Scott 41:28
Exactly. You’ve got to put in the time and get that back of house sorted. Again, bring it back to my top one, Excel. Once you’ve put in everything in a spreadsheet, you can go in one day and just go, “I’m just going to put a number in here,” and then the whole spreadsheet just goes, and everything just pops up. It is like, “Yey.”
We have to talk about Zapier. Let’s not even go about Zapier and automation. With Zapier, we might be here all day. What is next for you? In your list of six businesses and seven projects and amazing amount of things, what is next? What does 2023 hold?
Zee Scott 42:06
Oh, my goodness. You’re going to laugh here because I am pulling everything back.
Less catering. What else are you pulling back?
Zee Scott 42:17
Well, not necessarily pulling everything back, but I’m focusing a lot more on, like I mentioned before, when I work with a lot of new celebrants and teaching and stuff. I feel like there’s so much within me that I can give that I’ll be doing. There’s lots of tutorials and things about to happen.
You do do piping classes as well, which isn’t celebrant-related but cake-related.
Zee Scott 42:40
Yes, exactly. I’ve got now the wonderful Zee Scott HQ. It’s a great space for me. It’s like my studio is my office. It’s a workshop space. It’s a mini wedding space. It’s everything that I wanted in one room. I feel like I’m getting a bit old now and I just want to do as much as I can in one space and not travel all around Victoria.
Yeah. You have a co-working office with a bunch of other Melbourne wedding vendors, don’t you?
Zee Scott 43:11
Yeah. It’s one big building and we’ve all got our own rooms. It’s wonderful. We’re all very different, but very much the same. All quite vibrant, it can get nice. It’s lots of fun. We’re all women, we’re all mums, and we all support each other. I’ve been there now for four to five months and it’s just a wonderful space to be able to go. I always thought I’d always work from home no matter what, and then this opportunity came up and I was like, “Wow, yeah. This is good. It’s nice to have a space where you walk in and it’s colorful. It’s really colorful as well.” You walk in and you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m ready.” I’m so much more productive when I’m there than when I’m at home.
Do you think the difference between home and work mattered in that sense?
Zee Scott 44:02
Yeah. I think that again goes back to why I’ve dropped the catering. It’s because my home kitchen is my registered food kitchen, so I’d get up and I’d go straight into the kitchen and get everything done. Then, I’d go and sit in my office which was still within my house.
So you never got away from it.
Zee Scott 44:20
No. Then I’d go and prep dinner. I’d be back in the kitchen and I’m prepping dinner and I’m making everything like that. Now that I’m not doing the catering, the cakes to me are easy. I know they don’t look easy to a lot of people, but for me, I just do my cakes here, then I put them in the fridge and then I go to the studio. I do whatever I need to do there and then I come home. I’m then ready to cook dinner for me and my family and do that with love and enjoyment as opposed to “Oh, do we have to eat tonight?”
Because of being in the kitchen all day anyway. That must help your boundaries. It must be amazing for your boundaries then as well.
Zee Scott 44:57
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, when I get up at 2 A.M., I don’t always go straight into work. Sometimes, I get up and clean. People also forget that my family live on the other side of the world. I jump on the phone with my mum or my dad, and we have phone chats when it’s 3:00 in the morning here. It’s not always work when I first get up,
Just life. Life and things to do. Well, it’s been the most wonderful 45 minutes and thank you for sharing so much of your knowledge and so much of your experience and business with me. It’s been such a treat.
Zee Scott 45:37
Thank you for having me. I go off on tangents a lot.
I love a tangent. Thank you so much.
Zee Scott 45:45
I am so thrilled that we got to kick off 2023 with Zee because I have been looking forward to this chat for the longest time. You can find out more about our interview over on polkadotwedding.com/podcast or weddingpodcast.com.au. I have got the full transcript over there, written and included all Zee’s links, including her links to her Polka Dot Wedding profile.
If you’re a wedding vendor, we would love to have you as a part of Polka Dot Wedding. We’re not invitation only. We welcome everyone and anyone because we believe that we want couples to find vendors that suit them and not us. We have so much in store for our vendors. We drop into your inbox weekly with business tips and tricks. We feature you across the site in multiple different ways. We stalk you. We review you. We do everything we can to make sure your business is marketed through Polka Dot Wedding beautifully.
We can’t wait to meet you. We would love to have a chat, so drop us an email or send us a message because we would love to get to know you. We will be back in two weeks with another episode from season two.
Zee’s headshot captured by Dan Brannan