This summer we’ve teamed up with the stunning Oxfordshire wedding venue, Poundon House, to give you the chance to WIN one of our beautiful, personalised English Summer notebooks.
As part of our #businessofbliss series, exploring what it takes to turn a private passion into a successful business, we interviewed Natalie Fernbach, co-owner and manager of Poundon House.
Her family has worked with incredible dedication and hard work, pooling their varied creative energies into bringing new life to this beautiful family home.
Tell us about what you do, and how you got started.
Poundon House is our family home. Having grown up there, and hosted a number of parties, we knew it would make the perfect wedding venue, as well as yoga retreat venue. It’s a large country house but also very welcoming and designed in 1908 for weekend get togethers!
For us, it was a new area to develop a wedding venue business but it’s been great fun, and now that we’ve been hosting events for nearly 10 years, we still love having the house full of happy people!
My sister Alicia became a yoga teacher and she and I recently started &Sister; we collaborate with inspirational teachers and brands to host beautiful wellbeing-orientated weekends.
What are your inspirations and driving forces?
Above all it’s our love for Poundon House and its gardens and countryside, and the desire to share this beautiful place that drives us. Making every person who comes to Poundon House feel welcomed, and to make them leave feeling they’ve had the most incredible time. We call it a “Poundon bubble” where you forget the outside world, and for a weekend immerse yourself in enjoyment, relaxation and celebration.
On a more everyday note, inspiration comes often from social media, and our own families’ huge source of creativity. Working with family for us really has its benefits as we all work brilliantly as a team, get on well and each have our own strengths and skills that complement each other.
What have been some of the biggest challenges of getting to where you are today?
Probably having to take things at a slower pace then we’d like as there are only so many hours in the day we can work!
Are there any learning curves that turned out to be blessings?
With every event we do we learn something. With events you don’t get a second chance, it has to be perfect the first time. So in terms of organisation, we’ve now taken a lot more of the tasks online so couples can share all the details of their planning with us, and there won’t be any last minute panics.
With all of our businesses, we do all our own websites so we’ve had to learn a LOT about tech. This has been very time consuming but so worth it in the end as we can now manage our own website, online forms and social presence etc.
I think one of the biggest learning curves was becoming a mother and having to find ways to manage family with business. I didn’t take maternity leave so there was a lot of juggling. It’s really lovely that we’ve all got young children here together at Poundon, so we have helped each other out a lot, and the kids get to love and share the house as much as we did when we grew up here.
What have been the major highlights or turning points of your career so far?
We’ve been nominated for several awards, the most recent to be the Country House Wedding Venue of the year in the UK Wedding Awards and I’m hoping next year will be our year to win!
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
In the wedding industry there are some unbelievably talented people - from florists, to cake-makers, to dress designers. A wedding day is now a really creative exercise, and we love seeing our couples bring their personality into their wedding.
Whose notebook or sketchbook from history would you love to get your hands on and why?
I’m so excited to visit the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A where there will be on display some of her sketchbooks that have never been seen before. I love seeing artists’ sketchbooks, and the ideas behind their work. Sketchbooks and notebooks are really the most honest insight into a person. Sometimes you do feel like you are prying as they are so personal.
Which notebook or sketchbook of your own would you save from a fire and why?
Good question! I used to keep a lot of sketchbooks when I travelled, so I suppose I’d rescue my old diaries to remind myself who I was before I had children and became a grown up...
What’s coming next for you and your work?
The weddings are going very well, so now we are concentrating on other aspects. Alicia and I with & Sister have some very exciting retreats planned for the autumn, as well as other workshops and events.
Also we have just finished building a Straw Bale Barn which is now available to rent through Airbnb at Poundon House, and I also have my interior styling work through Cullum Design. So, there’s lots going on.
What are your wildest dream for the business or your own creative journey?
I’d love to do more exciting projects at Poundon House, for example, a pop up dinner in our Green Houses (inspired by Petersham). I’d also love to take our property-dressing business into product design and retail (you could say inspired by Soho House!) and for &Sister, I’d love here to start to design wellbeing products too. Basically, to move from our more service industry to products – but all eco, healthy and wellbeing-conscious. And inspired by the beauty of Poundon House.
To WIN our beautiful English Summer notebook in partnership with Poundon House enter the competition here.
Competition ends midnight 1st July 2018.