Brittany Pigorini is the Founder and Creative Director of Birch and Brass, a vintage wedding event rental company based in Austin. She created her company after discovering a need for unique decor in her own wedding, and has grown her business with her impeccable design and business savvy. Read on to hear her story and discover how Instagram has played an integral part in growing and marketing her brand.
While planning my wedding a few years ago, I was struggling to find décor that matched my vibe. Everything at the time was burlap and wine barrels here in Austin. I've collected antiques since about age 5, and I decided to incorporate my own collection instead of utilizing another rental company. I brought in everything of my own: flatware, napkins, glassware, china, lounge furniture, etc. With many previous years in experiential event marketing and running event marketing campaigns throughout the US, I was pretty well-versed on the events industry before opening my doors. I figured that I couldn't be the only bride looking for something less traditional but still highly curated. I was up to 8 storage units of furniture and knew I needed to run with this wild idea, even though I had never considered myself to be a creative person until this point. I opened up shop nearly three years ago, in August 2014.
My business name comes from two of my favorite décor elements used at my wedding, which also happens to be spread throughout my house, too.
Social media has been our primary form of marketing since before we even opened. I worked on gaining a strong social media presence the second that I knew I was going to launch B&B. Coming from a background in marketing, I knew that free marketing was going to be my best friend! To this day, Instagram and Pinterest are the main outlets we focus on with our marketing efforts. We pre-plan our posts in advance to help simplify the process. We'll capture day-to-day life, such as a local restaurant with beautiful décor, and we also like to share a little bit of ourselves in the posts. In a world where everyone is trying to sell you something, sometimes it's nice just to step back and appreciate the beauty of life. We like to mix up our posts with our travels (since it's my main source of inspiration), inventory, client's events, and behind-the-scenes snippets into our business. We're not afraid to share the messier side of this business on Instagram Stories because let's be real – our warehouses look like a tornado hit when we have busy weekends.
I wish that I had better advice on how we grew our following, but I'm honestly not a social media expert. I studied Journalism in college, and I've always loved to write, so I think our captions provide a bit of personality to our brand. I'd also say that being consistent in posting is critical. Unfortunately, the new algorithm on Instagram has me completely stumped, so I'm working on a new strategy for how to reach our followers more efficiently.
The largest obstacle I faced when opening my business was that it wasn't feasible to run this company alone. I couldn't lift the furniture myself, so I always needed to recruit friends to go to the flea markets with me. Once it was placed in my warehouse, I couldn't organize my space without help. Deliveries required a second set of hands, too. I quickly realized that I needed to hire someone, even if we weren't profitable yet, and I brought on my first employee within weeks of opening. Birch & Brass wouldn't be where it is today without the help of our Product Manager, Ashton. I didn't pay myself in the beginning so that I could keep her on-board because I knew that she was that valuable to my business. We worked M-F and then headed into the weekends for late-night deliveries. Clients were always shocked to see us petite ladies carrying sofas or setting up farm tables, but we didn't have any other option. We did whatever we had to do to ensure Birch & Brass would thrive. The biggest lesson I learned was that my business was 80% logistics and strategy, and only about 20% of what I do is "creative." On a daily basis, I'm not frolicking around flea markets or answering emails while relaxing on a gorgeous tufted chaise lounge. I spend most of my time handling delivery routes, managing my staff, drafting proposals, and formulating spreadsheets. I have to ensure that everyone's orders get from A to B and then from B to A within very limited time-windows. We operate 24/7 and 365 days a year, so my business doesn't sleep – I get calls at all times of the day and night about orders. My rental collection might be beautiful, but the behind-the-scenes is a lot of number crunching and heavy lifting.