Sara Mulder, founder and creative director of Bella by Sara, has learned to adapt in difficult times.
As the founder and creative director of Bella by Sara, one of Austin’s premiere wedding and events florists, Sara Mulder tells young women to “love what you do and do what you love.”
Before working in Austin, Mulder started her journey with a background in interior design in her native city of Lima, Peru. However, she soon found her creative passion in the event-coordination industry. She then gained extensive experience with her own event planning and design business, Sara’s Creations.
The first job Mulder landed in Austin was with a home-decor business. After a few years of experience in event planning and interior design, she found that her absolute favorite aspect of her job was floral design.
She was determined to expand her knowledge. She obtained a certification in floral design, wedding planning and event design through Preston Bailey and Lovegevity’s Wedding Planning Institute. In 2009, Mulder founded Bella by Sara with hopes of filling others with a passion for beauty.
With more than 15 years of experience in the Austin event industry, Mulder learned how to stay relevant in its ever-changing landscape. These are her tips to evolving with your industry while staying true to yourself.
Invest in yourself.
One challenge that has shaped how my business has grown over the past decade is the competitive nature of the Austin event industry. As an up-and-coming event florist with several years of event coordination experience, I learned that investing back into your own business and yourself as a professional is crucial in keeping up with competition and providing the best for your clients.
Listen to your passion.
My first business was in home decor. But after so many years my passion for design faded and my interest in floral design grew rapidly. By refocusing my attention to florals, I was reinvigorated and inspired to continue as an entrepreneur. Just in a different way than I initially thought. Listen to your passion and don’t give up on trying to follow your dreams.
COVID-19 definitely had a negative impact on my business. We are living in unusual times, making it very difficult for wedding industry professionals. It is unprecedented. Without clearly understanding what is happening today, it has become infinitely harder to predict what will happen in the future. For most industries, 2020 was a year of flexibility. Traditional events were no longer in demand. So I made a quick update to my services and included elopements. That flexibility to change is what helped my business stay afloat. As a wedding professional, my priority is taking care of my couples. Letting them know I’m here for them in any way they need. Making their wedding day special no matter what is happening in the world.
Learn to adjust in difficult times.
The past year undoubtedly pushed the events industry into plenty of challenges. But it has been absolutely inspiring and wonderful to see the ways in which we innovated. We worked with clients to adapt their previous plans to be more pandemic-appropriate in any way. With every new challenge I face, it’s extremely rewarding to continue to adapt, pivot and provide a better service for my clients. There’s so much to be said for the satisfaction and pride that comes from putting time and effort into your own business and seeing it come to fruition.
Collaborate with your peers.
Spending time working with industry peers is not only inspiring and creative, but also helps you feel like a part of a community. Another element that drove shifts in my business is the advent of collaborating with fellow industry professionals. There is so much meaningful learning and purposeful work you can do when combining your strengths as a small business with those around you. I’ve come to deeply cherish the friendships of fellow vendors and lean on them for support.