recent years, Ashfield House has experienced a meteoric rise through the ranks
of North West venues to become one of the region’s most exclusive wedding and
events venues. But what makes Ashfield House so personable and sought-after? Meet Katie Street, very much the beating heart of Ashfield House, and
we were fortunate enough to catch up with her to chat about her philosophy, her
motivation and her inspirations.
How did you
come to be at Ashfield House?
Eight years ago, Ashfield House was due to be converted into apartments.
The small hotel and restaurant was owned by my dad and had been managed by
several people with little success. Due to the recession the apartments deal
fell through leaving us at a crossroads between running at a loss and closing down. I walked into Ashfield
House and I felt something special, I just knew it had huge potential. I quit
my office job immediately and with the help
of my family I set about creating a venue to be
couples talk of ‘the feeling’ they experience when they visit Ashfield House –
what do you think creates this feeling?
We hear that from people every week too.
I think the décor, layout and furniture has a lot to do with it; we
don’t feel like a hotel or even a venue, it feels like a well-loved grand
house. The people who work at Ashfield play
a huge part too – as a team we are completely down to earth and
welcoming to everyone who comes through the
door. People are incredibly important
to us and we give visitors our full attention and as much time as they
need. As a Christian, I believe people pick up on an atmosphere of peace and
joy at Ashfield House; maybe that’s the bit people can’t quite find the words
the philosophy of Ashfield House
Our company ethos is ‘to serve with integrity’.
something we’ve created, it’s more a case of this year we’ve labelled what we
already have. This generous attitude has been in force for a long time and is
an intrinsic part of our character as a business.
As an independent business, we are not driven by profits, but by a
compelling drive to serve to the best of our abilities – both our couples and
each other. We want to be the best and we want to finish work every day
thinking ‘we were awesome today’, not thinking ‘how much money did I make today?’. How you do anything is how you do everything,
and we want to do everything top notch.
Couples choose us because they genuinely love us, not because they have
been given a hard sell, price matched or been over-promised the earth. Our
prices are transparent and upfront.
recently won the accolade of ‘Best Events Team’ at The Wedding Industry Awards
– when recruiting, what qualities do you look for?
I always recruit those with the right personality and attitude to give
the edge over experience or qualifications. I look for staff who are
enthusiastic, down to earth and who will genuinely care about our guests. Our team
is like one big family and it is important that anyone new shares our philosophy
and will fit straight in.
Organisation and exceptional interpersonal skills are key qualities in the team, and many staff members have
gained experience of these in previous roles and other industries. They are able to bring real-world transferable
experience and skills and a fresh pair of
eyes and ears.
I love people who think outside the box as we share new ideas constantly
in an open forum to make sure we not only stay ahead of the game, but shape new trends and ideas.
What – or
who – are your inspirations?
I am continually inspired by other wedding suppliers. When you see how
passionate other people are about the couples they work for, how confident they are in their own product or service
and how much personal fulfilment they get from their chosen vocation is always
I love suppliers who are setting trends and staying ahead of the game,
it’s incredibly brave to put yourself out there and it really inspires me when I witness others demonstrate this.
When it comes to design inspiration I love my Vogue and Elle Decoration
subscriptions. I am extremely nosey and I love people, noticing how we live, what we buy and what we do gives me hints
as to what might just be ‘the next big
thing’. Being an independent venue we are able to act quickly when we
have an idea we’d like to bring to Ashfield.
In an industry built on luxury and excess, I really admire those
companies and people who give back to those
in need. Whether that is donating a proportion of profits, taking part
in events or donating their time and skills to charitable causes. Many couples choose to donate to charity instead of giving
favours. I love that. I’m a firm believer in the power of generosity helping
those less fortunate and think there’s enough to go around. If you’re the one
who keeps it all to yourself, you’re the person who stops the Mexican wave!
Outside of work my hobbies are photography and most
recently videography (my family and kids are my reluctant subjects). I am
grateful to work alongside some of the best photographers in the UK, which is a
dream come true for me.
you like people to describe you?
What a difficult question. I am different things to different people; a mum, partner, businesswoman, wedding coordinator,
friend. I guess I’d be happy if people
described me as ‘lovely’. Whether I am with my four year old daughter,
the gas man, or on the phone to a
challenging customer I generally just aim to be nice.
you like people to describe Ashfield House?
What goes before you is so important in the wedding industry and we have
worked hard over the last few years to set our sights high and build a good
reputation. As a building, I’d like to be described as charming and full of
history and heritage, yet somehow still modern and a little eccentric. We close
each January for renovation and repair works as I never want to be described as
Emotionally, I’d be happy if we were described as ‘lovely’ too. To be
thought of as friendly and homely would be great as we just want people to feel
important and like they belong. I would love to be described as trendy. We work
hard to evolve and stay current and hopefully it shows.
Ashfield House so special to its wedding couples?
Our wedding team is structured very differently to other venues; we are
all the wedding planners and front of house managers. There is always one of us
here, available to answer questions and give advice from the first visit to the
wedding day itself. In the last few months before each wedding, one of the team
is assigned as the dedicated coordinator, to work closely with the couple. Once
assigned, we look after all of the final details and run the wedding on the
day. Those last few weeks enable us to get to know them inside out, enabling us
to take the reins, giving couples complete confidence on their special day.
This is no wedding factory at Ashfield House. We get
loads of feedback from couples and guests who say they felt special and looked
after. It is often a shock when they find out there was a wedding the day before
and there’s one the day after. They can’t believe how seamlessly we operate.
been your highest high at Ashfield House?
Winning the two regional awards for best venue and best events team at
The Wedding Industry Awards was incredible. For me however, the highest high
was to have peers and wedding industry friends tell us how well deserved they
thought the accolades were, this meant more than winning in the first place.
It’s great to be part of such an incredible wedding industry and to discover
how well respected we are. That makes all the hard work worthwhile.
What do you
have in store for your couples in 2017/18?
New year. New Ashfield House. We close for renovation and repair each
January and this year is no exception. We like to keep our plans close to our
chest until the big reveal, partly because we design ‘on the hoof’ and plans
change as we go along! This is our time to shine and we love the fact that our
house is evolving each year.
Couples sometimes worry that we will change the style of the venue and
this is totally understandable if you’re
booking two or three years in
advance. I can safely say that our underlying style will not change;
‘old yet modern’ is the cornerstone of our design. This year will include some restoration works; stripping back
layers of old varnish to reveal the beauty underneath. We were recently given a
photograph of an Ashfield House wedding in 1934 and we are going to restore the
front entrance and front door to its former glory.
One of our plans for 2017 is to re-invent the evening reception and
bring it more up to
date – ‘1996 called, they want their
evening reception back’. We don’t want to be a wedding factory and we want to
make the feel of evening receptions less ‘standard’. For example, serving the
kind of food you would actually want to eat
on a night out is one of our goals. Last year I decided I wanted a
wood-fired pizza oven and a week later it was on the terrace cooking pizzas for
a wedding. That’s how quickly we like to adapt to new trends and ideas.
Another example for the reinvention of the evening reception includes our commitment to
wedding entertainment. Our wedding packages include a resident DJ from DFC with
the option to include an all day wedding host. We’d love to see couples in 2017
play the music they absolutely love, rather than diluting it to try and appeal
to everyone. It is why we partner with other suppliers like DFC, who have a
winning formula when it comes to keeping a dance floor packed all night long.
They’ll help you keep Nan happy while showing you how to incorporate that
hip-hop, Indie, Northern Soul or funky house set that you love. It works