Paula Weber | DET Member Spotlight
1. What is the name of your business and can you tell us a little bit more about it?
“Elope Michigan” … the elegant alternative to getting married at the courthouse.
I offer short-notice marriages in a lovely vintage setting. My service is a niche that caters to couples who prefer a private marriage, with officiant, and typically two legal witnesses, provided. Scheduling can take place in a very short time-frame, and on weekends, weekdays and evenings. I make it very easy and convenient to get married, and in a setting that makes for sweet keepsake photos.
My business began in 2008, as “Teacup Wedding”, an intimate wedding venue with ceremonies taking place in the garden, parlor, and small vintage-styled chapel here at my historic farmhouse in Ann Arbor. It was very well-received and successful. Planning and facilitating weddings is a very fulfilling "job", and my property and setting very much lends itself to such an occasion. I'm not scheduling weddings at this time, however. I streamlined my package offering to be more available for requests for short-notice elopement services, as well as hosting non-profit LGBTQ events on the property.
2. What has been your biggest win as an entrepreneur thus far?
Being self-employed, with 100% of my income earned from my small business, securing property mortgages at a low interest rate based on my ability to provide every document required to satisfy the financial institution was a big win for me. Withstanding that scrutiny validated my efforts of creating an income and my process of maintaining an accurate financial representation. It also confirmed that an investor could see the sustainability and potential of my business model. That meant a lot to me.
3. Where do you find daily motivation and inspiration?
My daily motivation stems from a desire to accomplish. I could be motivated to do (almost ; ) anything that has points of completion. I put a plan in place for both creative work and routine tasks. I set my day/week up with that momentum: make detailed list (on paper), cross off each task, marvel at each big or little task that I completed, repeat. There’s always an end goal of feeling a sense of accomplishment from seeing an idea come to fruition, an improvement made, or event planned. The big picture is that I am completely self-supporting, so supporting myself has always motivated the above.
Inspiration? I’m a word person. I follow a number of inspirational Instagram accounts, knowing that every day I’ll see posts that have the potential to lift me @thediaryofagoddess is my favorite. The Wisdom of the Shamans, Don Jose Ruiz always inspires, too.
4. What is the best piece of advice you have received and who was it from?
The best piece of advice was from a friend who knows me very well and wants me to succeed. I was told adamantly “Do not change a thing. Be you”. It was in reference to what I bring to my business. The reality is that most any business can function under someone who has the particular expertise or skill. What you bring to your business that establishes a connection with clients, sets the tone of interactions, and trust is when you are “you”. I enjoy a sense of humor, I’m comfortable sharing a compliment, and if I see a tie is crooked I’ll hold up a photo for a second to get it straight. When you've created, or are involved in, a business "you" are the added value that clients receive. People are always receptive to, and appreciate, sincerity and kindness.
Best business advice overall, is from the people who secure my services. When they tell me what they thought when they visited my website or received a referral, or they compare the options they had and why they chose my business, as well as hearing how they feel after my services are provided - it’s the best “advice” available to me, and it’s freely given.
5. What is your morning routine?
I wake up very early, whether I want to or not. My mind apparently has better things to do than rest. There are a couple of relaxing, meditative pieces of music on my phone that I play to avoid mentally reviewing my to-do list (8 min. pc. while coffee brews & 20 min. pc. while I drink a mug). I light a candle and drink coffee in bed with my dog every morning. I value this time to be grateful and get centered, because once I’m up, I’m completely accessible by phone, email, and in-house appts. from 8 am - 8 pm.
6. What is your favorite podcast?
I enjoy our local “Gals Podcast” because it’s like listening to a couple of friends talk in a very relaxed style. “This Detroit Life” … because, Detroit! Charlie LeDuff's "No BS News Hour".
7. Something that most people wouldn’t know about you:
The 1870’s farmhouse that houses my business and home in Ann Arbor was purchased as a tear-down in 1996. It had been empty for 12 years. I have completely restored the interior and exterior. Some parts with help but always with my direction and assistance. Over the last 23 years that I’ve owned, lived/worked here, restoration and maintenance have been my job - whether I liked it or not. This is the 6th home that I’ve bought as the worst on the block and remodeled or restored since age 21. I have skills and power tools, but when I sell this property I won’t put them to use again - unless Nicole Curtis needs help.
At 61 now, I’m planning to downsize into an apartment or condo in Detroit in the future, and I am very excited about moving my home and business.
8. If you could go back to when you started your company what would you say to yourself?
I’d probably tell myself that striving for perfection may not be the best use of my energy. When you’re providing a personal service or product that's a very hard concept to let go of because you want to do your best. Having a realistic perspective on the level of quality that you’re providing, as well as your customer’s expectations would help to avoid perfectionist over-kill. It can be mentally fatiguing and a waste of time.
Stay in touch with Paula through:
web: elopemichigan.com or phone: 734-604-8987