To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, we asked some small business customers from all over the world to share the highs and lows of their experience for aspiring entrepreneurs of the future. Today, we speak to Kristina Ercolano, owner of New Zealand decorative lighting company La Lumiere.
La Lumiere is the perfect example of kiwi number 8 wire mentality. Born from an innovative idea that started in a living room in Kingsland, La Lumiere has become a successful venture that creates impressive five day installations. Yet standing in the midst of a warehouse packed with everything from icicle lights to huge crystal chandeliers it still seems remarkable that it all sparked from handmade rose lights 11 years ago.
From rosey beginnings
It all began after someone spotted Kristina’s rose fairy lights in a designer sale and asked to hire them for an event. Initially Kristina dismissed the request but later, as she mulled it over, the idea began to take hold. After some thorough research she discovered that not a single company in Auckland hired fairy lights. So she grabbed the ball and ran with it. She hasn’t looked back since.
Kristina’s background is in film and her first entrepreneurial venture was an art department company that designed sets for TV commercials and films. So while Kristina knew all about setting a mood it was a brave move to dive headfirst into a world of veils, champagne and large scale events. But, through gut intuition, hard work and an eye for detail, La Lumiere has become the premiere event lighting and draping company in Auckland.
La Lumiere was brought to life through Kristina’s own savings and a small loan from a good friend who was in business. From there she was able to buy her first lot of stock. She didn’t pay herself the first year and continued to keep putting the money back into the business. She explains with a grin that whilst that worked well for her then she hasn’t missed a payment since.
Lit for the occasion
La Lumiere is a decorative lighting hire company that designs and installs lighting for events. But they don’t just stick some lights on a tree and that’s it. Instead, every event is meticulously and creatively designed to create just the right atmosphere. Whether you’re wanting a glamorous romantic wedding or an industrial event Kristina and her team will bring your dream to life.
La Lumiere has come a long way from a one woman band and currently has seven full time employees and ten contractors. The last three years have had noticeable growth which Kristina puts down to the relationships La Lumiere has formed with venues and other suppliers as well as an extended range of lighting and draping options. The relationships they’ve cemented with venues are key for La Lumiere and they’ve become the preferred supplier for most venues.
Their growth has been so considerable that they’ve also taken over the warehouse next door to make room for their expanding stock. This also gave them the opportunity to open the La Lumiere Boutique a stylish, scandinavian-esque store that sells quality lighting as well as a range of lighting inspired products. Opened just last year they’re gearing up for a busy Christmas period.
As they expanded they realised they needed to move to an online accounting system that would allow them a clear overview of all their payments. With so many clients, venues and stock they needed a system that was easy to keep track of all their payments and reporting. Their accountant suggested Xero. Kristina says that although she had little experience with accounting she’s found Xero easy to navigate and it helps her have a clearer picture of how the business is performing.
Kristina’s adamant that lighting is essential for any event. As far as she’s concerned without lighting there is no atmosphere. It’s knowing the right lighting to set the mood that is the real art to what La Lumiere does.She explains that while pretty fairy lights and lanterns create festive vibes, chandeliers create instant glamour. Looking at the transformations that La lumiere has designed it’s undeniable that lighting has a transformative power and with the right touch it can create magic.
Persevere and keep positive
Kristina explains that while her entrepreneurial journey has had lots of ups and downs and learning curves along the way it’s been a really positive experience. She says that the main thing is that she still really loves what she does. Her advice to budding entrepreneurs is to surround yourself with likeminded creative people and everything else will fall into place. Acknowledge that mistakes will happen but learn from them and move on. Having a supportive team, who collaborate and build together is also an essential. Lastly she emphasises trusting your gut feeling and to always persevere and keep positive.