250 Hen Parties! My Journey...
Thats over 5000 Hens I've dealt with!
When I look back now at my last 7 years in Business, it does seem a bit nuts, especially as I started out very much in the Wedding Industry. Big Events. 100/150+ people. The Team. The 6 metre Bars. The Long Wheel Based Van. The Unit. To think that I started off in 2012 with a kind of vision of growing the Business to do more and more events…and bigger events. That’s what you did right? Grow your Business! Well that’s the circle of influence that was around me.
To be successful, “I had to take on bigger Events and have a whole team behind me. Make multiple 6 figures. Even Franchise!”
How flippin wrong were they?! Hence why I’ve long left that circle of influence behind me.
No, to be successful, all’s I had to do was grow my Personal Brand. And after 250 Hen Parties and some 350+ Masterclasses later (not to mention 150+ short “Presentation Masterclasses”), I think I’ve done that so some degree of success. You see I realised in 2015, that I hated…absolutely HATED… what I was doing. And the whole point of running your own business, is that you’re supposed to LOVE what you do. Well I can safely say, in 2019. I’m in bloody love! I’ve found my thing, or one of them at least.
But my journey hasn’t been that easy.
And not the way you may be thinking...as in actually getting the Bookings. Luckily, that HAS been the easy bit.
You see. If you’d have seen me in 2012/2013, put me in front of a group of people, I’d crumble. I was no public speaker. Behind the Bar making drinks, I was the epitome of customer service. Out on the floor roaming around the Bar or Restaurant, tending to guests, again, absolutely fine. Put me ‘on Stage’ in front of a group of people, where all eyes were on me…the centre of attention… yeah, that was a completely different scenario. I couldn’t imagine talking in front of 6 people, let alone the 200+ I did a couple of years ago for a Keynote gig… “What the £2m Gin Industry can Teach you about your Business”. Whether it stemmed from school or not, I have no idea. But I remember back then I had zero confidence. Never one to put my hand up. Hated being at the front presenting to class. Dying inside if the Teacher asked me to answer a question. It’s a familiar story for a lot of people.
But. Thankfully all that changed in my late 30s.
As I was approaching 40, I found this newfound confidence. A whole mixture of knowing my industry inside out. Being respected by the younger Bartenders. Being in front of people who wanted to learn. Years of managerial and leadership experience. But most of all, the Networking Group that I joined (4Networking) gave me that platform to practise, practise and practise. This was the presentation style Masterclasses I mentioned. Little 20 minute slots, designed to help you speak and sell yourself. To become known as an expert in your field. I travelled the country for 2 years doing my ‘Cocktails and Shakefaces’ presentation. It took me 5 whole months to pluck up the courage to do number 1. But with 2 weeks to go, I was so ready. The confidence I got from that very first one was amazing and lead to quickly being asked to ‘perform’ it around the whole network, from Newcastle down to Devon! From Liverpool to Kent. From Cardiff to Great Yarmouth.
For me, this was the single biggest thing to come out of Business Networking. I was never in it for the Business. It was my learning and development platform. My direct ROI was probably in the minus £5k plus over those 2 years! All that diesel money. All those hotels. All those Meetings. All those Nights out. All that time. £5k is probably on the cautious side.
BUT, without that platform, I wouldn’t own my Hen Party Cocktail Masterclass niche. I certainly wouldn’t have had the bottle to do my first Hen Party. 22 Hens. Thirsty. Chanting my name. Being stereotypical “Hens”. I remember I was nervous as anything. I hardly breathed on that long drive to Sleaford. I knew I could make drinks. But how the hell to I keep 22 Hens entertained for 2+ hours. Needless to say, they were bloomin lovely and it just felt so natural. They didn’t even know they were my first. I was still very much a Wedding Business then, and it took another 2 years to fully transition. But now, 7 years into my business. I am well and truly in my comfort zone. To the point where every quote that goes out, starts with “Thank you for taking the very first step to the second best night of your life. I’m that confident you’ll have a great night, that if you don’t, I’ll offer you a full hire fee money back guarantee, should you have anything less than an AMAZING time, because of me”.
That is quite a mantra to hang your hat on. But I’m happy to say that 250+ Hens in, not once have I had anything short of “Amazing” come back at me via Email or Social. I’ve made soooo many friends. I now get a lot of repeat bookings from previous Hens, for Birthdays, Corporate Events…or other Hen Parties. And even now 3 Divorce Parties from Hens back in 2015 and 2016!! I know. DIVORCE PARTIES!! Now that’s a niche to own!!
Actually converting from Weddings to Hens, was pretty easy too...
Gutsy. It took Balls which I never thought I had. And to be honest, I didn’t actually contemplate what I was doing at the time. But it was easy. I just decided in 2015 that I wasn’t taking Wedding Bookings anymore. I went from an industry where I’d be booked 12-18 months in advance. To an Industry where I was being booked 4-8 weeks in advance. But after a few debts, a bit of squeaky bum time...and a VERY steep learning curve on how to charge... I can safely say I negotiated that rough terrain for 6 months and now 4 years on, I’ve got over 30 bookings for over 10 months in advance.
And 2019 is also looking like a record year, x2!
I’d already hit 2018s level back in July of 2019. After 7 months! You see, I now even get the corporates wanting some less stuffy Team Building which can add a Wednesday and Thursday, to my normal Friday to Sunday, 2/3 days a week, Trading Days. I did start off toning it down for them. But very quickly realised it was my Hen Party banter that was attractive to the Corporates. They didn’t want stuffy. They wanted those ‘Shakeface’ and ‘Wrist Action’ innuendos. They wanted to ‘Spank the Mint’ pretending it was their Bosses or Partners! Granted, I’m not for everyone. But importantly, I’m for some of them! And when you focus on ‘Some’ instead of ‘All’, you very quickly realise that the ‘Some’ Niche, is a whole heap more lucrative than trying to please ‘All’.
I’m sure you’re all thinking, okay, tell us some stories...
And of course, I have A LOT of stories. I could write a Book…or at least 100 more Blogs.
But I’ll summarise below.
Some Hen Parties do stick out more than others. Of course they do.
I’ll never forget my 250th. Not just because it was number 250. Not because they were right up there as the nicest group of Hens you could ever meet. Not because I had to put on Lipstick and smooch a Card. But because it’s not every day you get asked by the Bride to “Finish her off”.
I’ll never forget the night I had to judge the Nipple Tassel Competition. Yup. Topless. Breasts out, with Tassels covering their nipples. I genuinely thought I’d seen everything…until that evening.
I’ll never forget HenFest. 30+ Hens in a field. 6 completely Naked Butlers turning up. Oh…that’s not the end of it. Turns out, those said Butlers were actually Boyfriends and Hubsters of some of the Hens! Sharing is caring as they say. Half the Hens didn’t know what to do. The other half loved it. But I know for a fact, one of those Butlers was in for a VERY rough day the next day, judging by the look of shock on his Girlfriends face when she realised. Personally, that’s still possibly the weirdest story for me, but hey ho!
I’ll never forget the full scale Punch up and Police being called 30 minutes into a Masterclass. Not my fault. Obvs. But that was the quickest MC I’ve ever done. I was away 15 mins later. There was no coming back from that!
I’ll never forget being surrounded, then serenaded by 25 Hens as I was leaving…to the point they wouldn’t let me leave.
I’ll never forget being offered countless Bedrooms and Sofa’s to stay and get drunk with them. All completely platonic, but again, such a humbling feeling that you’ve made such an impression, that Hens just want you to stay and have some fun with them…on a ‘Girls Only’ Weekend!!
I’ll never forget being dragged into the Hot Tubs at Oakhall Lodge. Full Clothed.
I’ll never forget those Cuddles I get from the Mums! It’s always the Mums and the Nans that get frisky! But they do give the best Cuddles.
I’ll never forget being made to feel soooo inferior when the Dream Boys showed up to entertain one group of Hens. 6 Oily, 6 Packed Adonis’s and one Cuddly, Balding Bartender!!
I’ll NEVER forget my first Lesbian Hen Party. Wow. You think the innuendos on a normal Hen are bad. Take it up another few notches. Quite possibly the most I’ve ever laughed, to the point I nearly wee’d myself. Far too X-rated for a Blog.
I’ll never forget that Hen, where the Bride found out her Hubster to be, had been cheating on her…THE NIGHT BEFORE the Hen Party weekend!!! She only found out becasue he was giving her “a Free Pass” for the weekend! WOW. Needless to say, the Wedding was called off. But they still went full tilt on the Hen Weekend. Fair play to her and the Bridesmaids. Twat!
I’ll never forget the Bride that organised her own Hen!! I should’ve really held back on the constant Bridezilla Wind Ups. But she loved it. And to be fair, it was an AMAZING Hen Night!!
I’ll never forget the collapsing Human Pyramid and Ambulance. Yup. Think Cheerleaders. Think 4 on the bottom, 3 on top, 2 on top of them…then Hen trying to climb to the very top. Now think falling from a good 10ft. Think Concrete floor. Think Unconscious. Think Blood. A lot of Blood. Pouring out of the massive gash on her head. That lead to my one and only rule on Hen Parties. No Human Pyramids!
I’ll never forget those Tiki Fire Trains. And the one and only Hen in 2+ years to bounce it straight down the Toilet.
I’ll never forget some of the Venues I work at. Shout outs to; Pettistree, Chippenhall Hall, Waterloo, Oakhall, Haugh Farm, Suffolk Escapes, Doves Barn, Sibton Park, The White House, Manor Farm Barns, Geddings Farm Barn, Quaker Barns… and these are just the regular, regular, ones! All unique. All AMAZING. If you’re a Hen Reading this. Looking to organise a weekend getaway in the East. I tell ya, they’re amazing.
There are also plenty of other, more raucous, far more X-rated stories too.
From Lapdances to Vibrators. From Condoms & Cucumbers, to reenacting the Karma Sutra. From Meg Ryan in When Harry met Sally, to full on Coyote Ugly. From Live Tinder to Hand-Cuffs. None of these are appropriate for Blog reading. You can imagine though!
Talking of the Tiki Fire Train…
For the uninitiated, Tiki Fire is a 75.5% Spiced Rum, that actually smells like Toffee Vodka...but with a surprising Long-Lasting Kick at the end.
The game plan behind this is actually a lot more than ‘just getting Hens Drunk’. A lot more.
You see, after a good 20/25 Hen Parties, I quickly realised that for those Hen Parties where I was the first entertainment of the evening or weekend, an Ice Breaker was needed. I want the WHOLE group to have fun. Not necessarily get drunk, but deffo have fun. And a certain amount of that is to lose inhibitions. Lose that shy nervousness. Especially as some Hens have never met the rest of the group, or can just be a little Shy. I found the Tiki Fire Train to be the perfect Ice Breaker. If you got everyone to drink the shot at the same time, it wouldn’t have the same result. The whole thing of being able to laugh at others, while feeling nervous as you can see what’s coming, is just perfect. Kind of like all jumping out of a plane together. The sense of group achievement and the banter right from the off, is right on point and only leads to everyone enjoying themselves more.
So, I think that’s where I’ll leave this blog...
I still can’t believe the 250 came up. If you’d have asked me 7 years ago, I certainly didn’t think I’d be in my element teaching Cocktails to groups of 8-25 Women for a living. But of course, it’s not about Teaching. It’s about Entertainment and Memories. And that’s why I excel and why I love it. Because absolutely nothing makes me happier, knowing that I’ve helped to make a special night, or a special weekend, memorable for years to come. I’ve truly fallen into the Entertainment category now. Yeah I’m a Bartender, but my tagline these days, the phrase that I use to describe what I do; “A Comedic, Entertaining Bartender”.
Who knows if I’ll make it to 500. I have got a grand plan for when I hit 45yo in 3 years time. But right now, there’s 3 years of fun ahead to enjoy. I think I’m also in the optimum age bracket too. Being another 5-10 years older, I’d kind of be that creepy guy and that’d just be awkward and weird. And any younger, then the Younger Hens probably wouldn’t feel as comfortable as they do around me. I’m at that age where because the Mums and the 40yo’s love me and I can have proper banter with them and (mostly*) get away with anything, the younger ones just feel naturally at ease. And that always leads to Fun!
*I’ve learned to carefully Vet the Mums who I ask if they remember Babycham…