Graphic Design alumna Lauren Dillon has, quite literally, carved out a sweet little niche. She’s found a teeny tiny studio space in trendy Bath Lane, where she fills a gap in the lucrative wedding market. The space has Lauren’s work style all over it. It’s a compact, contained world of exquisite on-trend colour, splashes of copper and leafy foliage.
“It’s only small, but it’s all I really need,” she says. “I don’t do any print advertising, so it’s nice to have the presence of the street.”
Lauren Dillion Designs is sandwiched between a bridal boutique and a jewellers. It’s a hot location for a wedding and party stationery designer. Many of her customers come from the passing parade of brides, the rest are from word-of-mouth referrals and social media. And it all started by chance.
The Kyabram born-and-raised Lauren moved to Bendigo to study a Bachelor of Graphic Design at La Trobe after high school in 2012. She says her first year was largely about the social side of uni, but in year two she started to think seriously about where this qualification might lead her.
“It is really hard to get a job as a designer, and if you do you’re starting at the bottom, so lots of people end up doing their own thing,” she says. Although at that stage she still didn’t know what.
Lauren found a part-time retail job to support her studies at Bath Lane gift and stationery shop Organise My. “A lady came into the shop one day and mentioned she was doing her own wedding invitations, and I said I could probably do them for her,” Lauren says.
“She had four bridesmaids who were also engaged, so I had five bookings under my belt within three months. Having someone so nice who I didn’t know but who was willing to trust me gave me the confidence to know I could do this.”
In November 2014, Lauren finished her final course requirements, then opened the studio with 40 wedding bookings locked in. “It’s a big industry and there are so many opportunities,” Lauren says. “The average wedding now costs $42,000.
“I was happy to get away from the marketing side of graphic design. Growing up, I used to do a lot of scrapbooking with my grandma. Designing wedding invitations and working with paper reminds me of the craft I’ve always loved. And I’ve found a niche in the market. My parents are both small business owners and my partner is an accountant, so I’m lucky to have that guidance in starting my own business.”
Plus, business is now growing alongside the life of her customers. After almost two years Lauren is now seeing those first brides welcome first babies into the world. And of course they need personalised stationery to announce the new arrivals. Lauren says being a part of people’s personal life has helped her feel like part of the community. That, and working in the heart of town.
“Not growing up in Bendigo, I’ve come to love the city,” she says. “Working in town I see everything I didn’t appreciate when I was at uni.” Discover more about Lauren’s business at her website laurendillondesigns.com.au