Wedding Business Solutions Podcast The Niche Series - Nil Saltuk - Weather or NotThe Niche Series – Nil Saltuk on her unique niche, Weather or Not

Nil Saltuk has created a unique niche within the wedding and event world, providing products for inclement weather. In this new episode for my series “The Niche”, Nil and I discuss how she created her niche, or rather how it came to her. All of us are presented with opportunities, not all of us have the vision to see them, or the will to capitalize on them. Listen to this new episode and hear how you can capitalize on the opportunities that come your way, so you can carve out your own niche!

About Weather or Not

Weather or Not is a perfect example of a niche business. Focusing only on personal accessories to keep events protected from Mother Nature, Weather or Not is very focused on their mission: help people celebrate comfortably and safely by providing resourceful solutions delivered with integrity.

President & Owner, Nilufer (“Nil”) Saltuk, was inspired by the custom of hospitality from her Turkish roots. As a former wedding planner, she designed events where the weather could really ruin her plans. Thus, she was inspired to start the same trend here in the United States.

Weather or Not has you covered – in sun, rain, cold – whether you need to protect your guests during their experience or help them just get from point A to point B.

Contact & Links to find out more about Nil and Weather or Not

If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at Alan@WeddingBusinessSolutions.com or visit my website www.AlanBerg.com

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Below is a full transcript. If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at Alan@WeddingBusinessSolutions.com or contact me via textuse the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362

Please be sure to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review (thanks, it really does make a difference). If you want to get notifications of new episodes and upcoming workshops and webinars, you can sign up at www.ConnectWithAlanBerg.com

– When it comes to niching your business, my next guest has something really unique and you’re going to want to hear this. Welcome to another special segment on Niching Your Business. And when I thought about this series, I immediately thought about my next guest here. And she’s Nil Saltuk in Colorado, Nil, how you doing?

– I’m great, how are you Alan?

– I am doing well, thank you. And you have a very unique business that every time I mention it to someone, and you’ve gotten at least one customer that I know of from a friend of mine, a wedding I was going to, I mention, I say what it is, and everybody is always like, that’s such a really good idea. So, what is your business name and what do you do?

– Yes, the business is called “Weather or Not”. And what we do is focus on keeping outdoor events covered from mother nature. So, if you’ve ever been to an event where, you know, the rain starts to drizzle or the temps start to drop, and you’re wondering, oh, if I just had a blanket or umbrella, that’s what we do.

– And speaking of which I was going to a wedding in October here in New Jersey and about six or seven days before, my friend, whose son was getting married, he’s my best friend from college. And he said, you know what, it’s going to be cold. And I said, I know somebody. And we always joke that we live in New Jersey. So, you have to have a guy, so you’re my guy. There, there you go. You’re my guy.

– Thank you.

– And I said, you know, I have a client that… we had just had our consultation, actually, you and I Nil, …and this is what she does: Blankets, shawls, umbrellas for inclement weather. He goes, oh, what a good idea! Give me her information now. And no joke as soon as I gave it to him, he reached out to you. You were great, you got it to him. And on the table next to the jars of honey favors, were these beautiful green, brand new blankets and my wife and I had them on our laps, because it was 40 degrees in the tent. Even with the heat, it just still wasn’t enough. And it was the perfect thing. Nobody said: “What are there blankets here for?” Everybody was like, oh cool. There’s a blanket over here. So, how did you come up with this idea? And by the way, Weather Or Not for those of you who are listening, if you didn’t look at the title it’s spelled W-E-A-T-H-E-R, which is very cute by the way. It’s a great idea, but a lot of people have great ideas and they don’t act on it. So, where did this spark come from?

– So, I was a wedding planner a bunch of years ago, and I had a good friend who was also a planner. And one day we were just chatting and I said, “You know, it would be great if someone had shawls for…” and she finished the sentence and said “rent”. And I was like, really? And she said, yeah, it’s a good idea. And I thought, well, because I’m from Turkey and in Turkey, a lot of times when you go to an event outdoors, the caterer would bring blankets or shawls. They have them at restaurants. So, you know, it makes sense. It’s a hospitality thing. And I just thought, why don’t we do that here? So, and she said, well, if you’re going to do shawls, you have to do umbrellas. I thought, well, who the heck would rent umbrellas? Oh, right okay, so it made sense. And that’s how we got started.

– So, interesting, I’ve traveled around the world. I’ve never had somebody, umbrellas for sure. Like every hotel I go to, they’ll give you an umbrella. If it’s raining, they’ll give you an umbrella as you’re going out. I’ve never seen, of course, I don’t know, they would give one to me anyway, but a shawl or a blanket at a restaurant. I’ve spoken in 14 countries, I’ve been to more than that. So, that’s interesting, so Turkey, this is just the thing, right?

– Yep, a lot of, well, you just stumble anyway. And a lot of times, you know, just to keep people cozy and there are a lot of outdoor dining opportunities there. So, some restaurants don’t even have indoor spaces because their view is so beautiful.

– Right.

– So, yeah.

– That’s very interesting. Oh so there’s the spark there, okay. So, she said “rent” and you were like, “huh, okay, “People would do that.” And then umbrellas, you have to have umbrellas. So, now we have shawls, we have blankets, we have umbrellas. So, okay, there is the idea, but then you need to do it. So, did you get the stuff and then see who needed it? Or did you see who might want it and then buy the stuff?

– Oh, good question. I had a focus group to start. So, because I had the planner community, I think we had about 10 people involved and I asked them to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. And I think it came back around 8.5. So, I got all the pricing opportunities there, like figured out what they thought their clients would pay, what the average wedding, I started out on the wedding side. But the average wedding budget might be, that would be interested and available to do something like this. Yeah, so I felt pretty confident getting started. I didn’t buy a lot of inventory to begin with. And also we thought, so I was working with my friend Lori in sales and she and I both thought that people would want colors, you know, to match their event color.

– Okay.

– That’s how we started with a lot of different color variety.

– Okay. All right, well, so two things there, first of all, you sounded very corporate there for a little bit. We had a focus group and we rated this and all. So, you must have a corporate background then.

– Little tiny bit, but not in marketing at all. I just, I shouldn’t have said a focus group even, but just like a ping of people that we knew.

– It’s a focus group, that’s exactly what it is. Anytime you’re asking people, what do they think, it’s a focus group. I had somebody call me yesterday and he said, I’m thinking about putting this event on, in Kansas City, in late July, early August. I have this theater, it’s a great thing or whatever. What do you think? I said, it’s not what I think, because I can come. It’s is there interest? Are people too busy because they’re doing weddings? You know, do they have money yet? because we didn’t have money. They had time, they didn’t have money. Do they have money and not have time, right? Let’s see what that is. I said, just ask some people. It’s a focus group. You don’t have to put them in a room with a camera and a one way mirror to do that. So, you go to buy inventory and this is a big thing for people. because you need the inventory available. People want colors. That’s a big statement, “people want colors.” How did you decide what colors to buy and how many to buy?

– Good question. We started out with our first clients, I bought just for them. So, a couple of the people that we worked with in the beginning were people from the industry that were actually getting married. And so I ended up with some dark pumpkin and merlot shawls and some light pink and things like that. And then over the next couple of years, we realized that that wasn’t really what people were looking for, because their guests would arrive, dressed in a certain attire. And then they would look at the red shawl and it wouldn’t match. So, we decided to pull back a bit and Lori’s background was wardrobe styling. So, that was a huge plus for Weather or Not, because she could bring that skill. And she said, how about we shift to neutrals? So, that’s when we shifted a lot of our product to whites and ivorys, blacks and chocolate.

– Right, which again, that was my thought, well, that’s not going to go with everybody’s. But of course, if you’re cold enough, you’re going to wear it. But that’s not the point. The point is you want them to put it on and feel good when the photographer is walking around taking pictures and things like that. So, now, but the idea of renting versus buying, do more people rent from you or buy?

– Rent, absolutely.

– Okay.

– We don’t have as much, I mean, you can buy a shawl anywhere almost, you know, so we don’t have as much competition in the rental space. And also I’ve heard some really interesting feedback about people wanting to be green and to reuse and you know, be aware of resources.

– Right. So, interesting with my friend, he decided to buy because he’s like, I don’t want to be bothered with collecting them and sending them back. That was it. He’s like, this is a great idea. I’m doing it right now. And him, as the father of the groom, it wasn’t even a matter of like, who’s going to pay me. It’s like, I’m paying for it. It’s done. And I said, you know, where do we give them to you? He said, no, no, no, take them, everybody take them. And it just became the other favor, right? The other favor there, which we love them. We’re like: two brand new blankets. And they were green, you know, sitting on my lap under the table who cared? Who cared what color they were? Doesn’t matter. So, they were very green, but not in the echo way that you were saying over there. So, neutral colors, okay. What about the umbrellas? What about colors for the umbrellas? Because that’s not necessarily, you’re trying to match the fashion. You have so many things you could do including I guess clear, right?

– Yep, yeah, clear, big popular one. And then we did stick with neutrals there too. We started out adding red and blue and those are more for corporations. A lot of the social events want them to be available for rain or sun, but they want them to kind of blend into the background. They’re gorgeous in photos, even if they’re white or cream. So, I like that aesthetic. But seeing a sea of red umbrellas for, let’s say a wedding is kind of a little bit, you know, eye-popping.

– Right, who was the artist? Wasn’t there, was Magrite or someone with the, was that Magrite?

– I think so.

– Okay we’re getting art-geeky now, okay. So, but I’m sure you’ve also done rainbow colors, right? There probably some people that have wanted the rainbow colors on the umbrellas, right?

– Yeah.

– So, what’s like, when people are doing neutrals, do they rely on you and say, you know, give me an assortment of neutrals, or are they going in generally for one color?

– One color, yeah. We thought they might do a pallet of like ivorys and then that just, it doesn’t work as well as we thought so. Yeah, we typically do, white is our number one and then a nice, like off-white is our second most popular.

– I was gonna say ’cause white could be a little bit stark as well being very white, but it’s going to go with everything. So, there you go. So, we were talking actually, you had another consult with me. We were talking about the pivot a little bit, which is another series I have here. But with the pandemic, it started with the spark of restaurants in Turkey, and you had that idea over there. Has this gone outside the event space to restaurants as well?

– A little bit, yes. I’ve spoken with some restaurants. I see the opportunity, especially as people will feel less comfortable sitting indoors. Giving people the opportunities to still dine at their favorite establishment, but on the balcony or on the patio. And the thing that I’ve learned from using them myself is that I like to use the blankets on the chair itself to keep myself warm because sometimes the metal chairs are really cold, that type of thing. And a lot of times people will bundle up as a jacket, but their legs are still cold. So, the lap blanket really helps out.

– That would be great for my dad in Florida. Because he wears shorts. He’s 90 years old, going to be 91 next week. He wears shorts all the time. He will put a jacket on if he’s a little chilly and the only time he wears long pants, he calls him his big-boy pants, is if he has to. Like, they’re going to a restaurant and my sister will say, hey, you know, pop, you have to put on your big-boy pants, right? And they’ll go there. But I could see him, you know, the leg, it can get cool at night sometimes in some places I could see the, you know, on the chair, that’s a great idea or on the legs over there. So, blankets, shawls, umbrellas, inclement weather involves other things. Any other accessories that came along with that?

– Yeah, so we expanded our line by asking event planners, what they were looking for and the concerns that they had. And our next product was faux fur Blankets and some planners up in Aspen brought that idea to us and said, could you get these? And so they use them on fire pits, like seating for fire pits, that type of thing, lounge areas. We added ponchos because of Heather Dwight up in Boulder, Colorado, is a wedding planner. And she mentioned, you know, it’d be really great if we had ponchos and you know, the response from some of the other people I spoke with was like, well, do people want to get dressed up and wear a poncho? She told me the background to that was that she had a very high-end wedding and the women’s gowns were very expensive. So, even going to the car, she was worried about, you know, silk being ruined and things like that. So, and I’ve also had feedback about people getting on a chairlift to go up to the top of a mountain, which is oftentimes where people get married in Colorado.

– Right.

– And protecting their attire while they go up.

– Right, so something longer, it’s not just keeping me warm now. It’s also the protection. And I think you would also had told me about an event that could be fully tented, but there’s a gap from the parking lot to get to the event space, right? Or between the event spaces, right?

– Absolutely, yeah.

– So, is there, I guess somebody’s then at the parking lot with the umbrellas or with the, whatever, the ponchos?

– Yeah, sometimes the valets will use them too. So, as they escort people out of the car, they’ll hand them an umbrella.

– Great idea. And for the companies, the corporations, are you doing logo stuff as well?

– Yeah so that you typically buy and then we logo embroider or silk screen on the umbrellas, whatever they like.

– Great, okay so the thought I had, the first time we were talking and I still have with people renting is, how much of it comes back?

– I’d say like 98% of it.

– Okay.

– So, most of it comes back. We do, if people are worried about that, we help them, we suggest that they put up a sign next to the items, if they’re going to have a big collection area. Sometimes they might have somebody announce it. But most of the time they come back and then I’ve actually gotten calls from the east coast, from like a DoubleTree hotel because our items have our logo and our phone number on it. And one gentleman called and said, I have your umbrella here. Can I send it back to you?

– It’s going to cost you more to send it back to me than the umbrella, right?

– Right.

– That was like the time I left a charger in an airport and they contacted me ’cause I had, no, it wasn’t a charger, It was a splitter for like a three-in-one splitter. Because I always carry those. It’s a great travel thing. If the outlets are all being used, you can say, “Hey, can we share?” And you put that in. And I had had my name and my phone number on it and they called me and I was like, you know, it’s a $1.89 Just don’t, that was if I was still in the airport, fine, I’ll come and get it. But otherwise, no, don’t bother with that.

– Right

– Yeah. What about, do you do those things for the heels? So, they don’t step into, I thought that was a great idea as well. Because I see all the, you know, the spiked heels at these events that are out on grass and all of this, and you know they’re sinking in. You know that’s happening. So, what are the other extensions? So, we have ponchos, we have those heel things. Is there anything else?

– Parasols, paper parasols and fans. So, people who are dealing with the heat, yeah. We’re actually sending some out this weekend. So, the other part about what we do is like, we’re totally open to new ideas. So, I always ask people, if you think of anything, bring it to me. I’d love to take a look at it, see if it works for our clients and our offerings. So, we just stick to personal accessories though, we don’t get into heaters and tents and all the other stuff.

– Right, yeah. But again, the idea of this, I love the spark and you know, if you’re listening, ideas don’t do anything. You have to take action on them. The fact that you then went out and said, let me see what other people think. Other people think it’s a good idea. You said you got an 8.5 out of 10. That’s a pretty good one over there, ’cause there’s always somebody that’s going to be like, nah, that’s not a good idea, right? That’s okay. And you know, if everybody thinks it’s a great idea, it’s like, okay, that’s good. But give me some feedback, right? Give me some friction here. Show me where I can reduce that friction point. So, that’s great. And the other thing that we heard is you started with your first customers, you bought for them instead of buying all this inventory, and now what? I had, somebody come up to me at a photo booth expo one time, and he couldn’t afford consulting with me. He didn’t have a website. I don’t know how that was his plan. He had bought so much photo booth equipment that he couldn’t afford advertising, marketing, consulting or anything. And I said, so what was your plan? Like, what was your plan to let people know what you do? You know, if you build it, they will come? I don’t think so. You know, because they didn’t have a website, which was crazy. So, you have all these things here, what’s next for you?

– Oh just growing the business and really expanding outside of Colorado. We do ship nationwide now, making sure people know we’re here. Because I love hearing, oh my gosh, I can’t believe that you guys exist. I can’t believe someone does this. I just happened to Google umbrella rental or blanket rental or something.

– Right.

– And I want to be able to continue that. And I have a daughter who just really wrapped her arms around Weather or Not, and she truly believes in what we’re doing and it’s all about hospitality and enabling people to show their guests that they care.

– Great. How old is your daughter?

– She’s 12.

– Okay, yeah so we can put her to work, but not so much yet. Okay.

– She writes my thank you cards.

– Okay, that’s good. So, you’re looking to expand, so you’re looking for a salesperson? Is that how you can do it? Right?

– Yep.

– Do you have affiliates as well? Is that something you do?

– We don’t currently, but that is something I have entertained, yes.

– Because if you think about, who could tell their customers about this? Venues could tell their customers about it. Caterers could tell their customers about it. Photographers, planners, bands, DJs, officiants, right? Anybody could tell their customers about it. So, we will certainly have your contact information in the show notes, what is the web address?

– It’s www.WeatherOrNotAccessories.com

– And that’s W-E-A-T-H-E-R, WeatherOrNotAccessories, right, we will definitely put that in there. So, Nil thank you so much for joining me and for sharing your story here. So the website’s the best way for people to get ahold of you?

– Sure, yeah, that’s perfect.

– Okay, we’ll put the contact information in there as well. Again, when I thought about niching, I was like, this is a great niche because every time I mention it, somebody goes, huh, that’s a great idea. So, there you go. So, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

– Thank you, Alan.

I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is Alan@WeddingBusinessSolutions.com. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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