Written by Cec Busby. This article is part of our Red Papers business content series.

Belinda Porra has fond recollections of summer days where family gatherings stretched out well into the evening. “Socialising with family and friends was a big part of life growing up,” she remembers.

So, it it’s only natural that today Belinda and her partner Luca Andolfo spend their time creating extraordinary events. Making sure someone’s special day goes to plan is all in a day’s work for the couple, who met at a party several years ago.

Today the duo is happily married and what began as a side hustle has grown into a full-fledged business – Simply Seated, an event hire company based in Sydney. The small business assists customers to plan and fit-out events. Whether it’s for a small dinner party, a corporate function or a wedding, Simply Seated will have you sitting pretty.

It all began with a single Bentwood Chair and a dream.

“I was scared to take that leap of working for myself so I started the business as a side hustle,” Belinda says.

At the time Belinda Porra was working in HR for a large corporation, but she knew her passions lay elsewhere.

Encouraged by her partner Luca, she took the first steps to launch their event hire business. The only product: the aforementioned Bentwood chair, a perennial favourite at weddings and parties.

The canny small business owner had chosen well. Before too long her weekends were packed with events, hiring out the chairs to soon-to-be wives and mothers, as well as families and businesses. As her client list grew, so did her chair collection, cramming her parents’ garage to the brim.

“They had nowhere to park their car,” she laughs.

Something had to give. With Luca by her side, Belinda embarked in earnest. “We rented a warehouse and started to expand our range.”

These days Simply Seated is far more than a chair hire company. Instead, it is a full-fledged event solution, providing customers with everything they need to make their parties great. From candelabras to cushions, bars to backdrops, flatware to fine china, if you need it for a celebration, Simply Seated has you covered. The single warehouse has now expanded to encompass double the space in inner city Annandale. Business is booming.

 

Scaling at such a rapid rate can be challenging. The couple has drawn on each other’s strengths to ensure they stay ahead of the game. Belinda’s keen eye for the finer things in life allows the business to outpace the competition. She says she often draws inspiration from far-flung shores, citing Milan’s Salone Del Mobile as a source of creativity. While Luca’s background in logistics has kept them in good stead.

“The most challenging part about establishing and running a business is ensuring you have the right people and infrastructure in place to support the business,” Luca says.

“In a growing business, many things can change quite rapidly as you take on new clients and expand into more products and services. Planning is really key, as is ensuring you are fully supported by the technology, suppliers, warehousing and staffing across the business.”

Whether it’s keeping in touch with stakeholders, managing drivers or being on call for clients, keeping the lines of communication open is essential to the success of Simply Seated.

“Communication is most important – our business hinges on that,” says Belinda. “Customers do want you to be available 24/7 and that can be challenging as a small business owner. You have to be structured about your time. But by the same token, you need to be accessible. I will always answer a call.”

 

Belinda says partnering with Vodafone for their tech needs ensures the business has a reliable and trusted provider that allows them to keep in touch without any worries.

“Our customers expect to be able to be in contact with us at all times. Vodafone has a global network. Having that support means we can keep in touch, whether that’s overseas or locally. Often, we work all over the country. Having Vodafone as a service provider means it’s easy to keep in contact.”

As the caretakers of someone’s special occasion, Belinda and Luca are proud of the role they play in assisting their customers to bring their big day to life.

“Some of our proudest moments are when we cater for large scale events where it takes the whole team to get together and work on a project to bring it to life. It is great to work in a small team environment where we all support one another and contribute to the success of an event.”

Belinda says she feels a responsibility to ensure plans go off without a hitch. Logistics play a vital role in ensuring everyone and everything is in the right place at the right time.

“It’s incredibly important to be able to maintain that communication. Vodafone allows us to do that.”

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