Meet Jen and Adam MacMillian, the couple behind their business Gathering Events, inspired by their own wedding over five years ago.
The couple just celebrated their third year in business together and we spoke to them to understand what it’s like to go into business with your partner.
Gathering Events is a mobile boutique bar, and coffee service which was shaped from their own wedding over 5 years ago in James Street Brisbane.
“Back in 2013, there wasn’t an organisation that offered fun cocktails, or service with a style,” Jen says. “We simply set up a trestle table with black linen, some eskies and ‘hired’ friends of some neighbours, we were ‘sure’ probably opened a bottle of wine once or twice in their life.”
What was your inspiration to start the business?
We have always dreamed of working for ourselves, and how that would look for us. In 2013, we secretly organised our own ‘surprise wedding’. After undergoing stealth planning for 8 months, we realised that all of the ‘out-of-the-box’ spaces we wanted didn’t have the facilities to host 100 guests.
After some intense venue searching, we hired a little art gallery in Brisbane, which was perfect. For the bar however, we ended up setting up a trestle table with Ikea glassware and hiring a friend of a friend to serve the wine.
From here, it really got us thinking, and after lots of daydreaming, we came up with our caravan bar concept. We wanted to create a beautiful, yet practical bar experience that could pop up anywhere, at anytime.
When did you know the timing was right?
I think after over a year of planning every detail, we realised the timing was never going to be perfect – so we just jumped in as soon as it started making sense – and of course after we personally built the caravan bar of our dreams.
How did you make your big break?
There was no defining moment for us, instead a lot of hours and an accumulation of small wins that over time gained momentum. In our first few months, we were always on the phone connecting and we worked diligently to create a brand we believed in.
What was the biggest challenge of being in business with your partner?
Finding each other strengths and letting each other run with that. Focusing on what we are good at, and segregating duties to that half of the business only started to develop a few years in.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
Over the first couple of years, we worked day and night to create and grow Gathering Events and to create a lifestyle for ourselves that was sustainable and that most importantly, we loved. Through this time, we learnt to work smarter, not harder. We make time to create processes, and make sure we have a team of heroes on our side – from our bartenders to our accountants. Having these things in place allows us to have faith in switching off when needed, and enjoy some time to ourselves.
What is your biggest learning since starting your own business?
When we first launched we offered a mobile caravan bar service – and that was exciting! However, we started to realise that if we wanted to stay a head of competitors, grow the business and be industry leaders – we had to keep creating. From our caravan bar beginning, we launched our Whisky Bar Experience, range of Pop Up Bars, Cocktail Cart and this year we launched into the wonderful world of coffee with our Coffee Carts.
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
We love long bike rides, golf and a late night hit at the driving range to unwind. We also have two amazing Airedale Terriers, Boswell & Chloe who always make us smile throughout the entire day. If we find ourselves with a few days without any events, we will all jump in the car and rent out a little cabin to disconnect. These trips completely regenerate us, and we come back fully recharged and full of ideas.
What’s one thing other couples should do who are looking to start their own business?
Take time together to talk about your business and life goals honestly. Chat about what you both want from the business, where the business could go and where you want it to go. Make sure you are both on the same page what you want. It is so important to make sure you are both driving towards your own and each other’s dreams.