10 Questions with Hannah Soule, Director of Marketing & PR for Ron Ben-Israel Cakes

1) What was your prior experience before working with Ron Ben-Israel cakes?
I started out working in women’s fashion before transitioning into home fashion for Bloomingdale’s.  I managed the Registry at Bloomingdale’s in New York and Boston for almost ten years.

2) What is bridal registry supposed to be about?
A modern-day registry is a reflection of an old tradition that represents a bride’s dowry.  The family and friends of the bride would give the groom gifts to help the couple start their new life together.  The emphasis was on home and hearth; hence the evolution of today’s registry into one that focuses on Tabletop, Housewares and Bedding.

3) How have you seen registry change in the last 20 or 30 years?
Couples have adapted registry selections to reflect a different level of home entertaining.  30 years ago it was important to have a formal dining set to cater to more formal dinner parties.  As our dining habits have changed, so have our Tabletop needs, and now a more farm-to-table approach with our food has shined a light on more casual dinnerware.  There is also a new trend with the millennial set where they are asking their wedding guests to donate towards honeymoon funds and experiences.  While it may seem like a good idea at the time, couples may regret not focusing on actual tangible gifts.  Learning to surf in Fiji may seem tantalizing but 10 years from now a couple might find that they are in need of a properly outfitted home—which is a major investment they may not be able to make.

4) How much has technology changed the industry where is it taking us in the future?
Registries 20 years ago were handwritten cards and a consultant working at a department store recording all of the couple’s gift preferences.  In order to buy a gift for someone, you had to go to the store and request to see their card.  Now with registries hosted online, the ease of buying a wedding gift is exponentially increased.  You can buy Waterford Crystal right from the comfort of your own home and in your pajamas no less! And with everything being electronically recorded, the stores can run reports to show couples how much they have registered for, in which price ranges they need to build and when purchases have been made.  It has streamlined the whole process.

5) Besides home goods, what else do couples register for?
Luggage is always a good item to add to a registry.  It is something that can be used right away and good luggage is a big investment.  Some couples also choose alternative registries for TV’s and electronics or home improvement tools.  

6)  What is the best advice for couples planning their registry?
Think about where you will be in 10 years.  You won’t necessarily be living in the same place and you may not have the same jobs.  Your life will change and your home will change.  You may not be the one hosting your family’s holiday dinners now, but you should make sure you have planned for that eventuality.  

7) Is there a style difference in registries between couples whom live in the city versus those living in the suburbs?
Couples who are city-dwellers need to be strategic with their registry.  While they should plan for the future, they also need to be conscious of where they are going to keep all of their gifts in a one-bedroom fourth floor walk-up.  In most cities, there are so many storage company solutions, some as inexpensive as $10 per month.  They should also focus on registering for items that are transitional and be mindful of the quantities.  Registering for plain white bone china dinnerware that can be used now and then transitioned into a more formal place setting with a simple gold charger is a smart tactic (and personally, I think Chinese take-out tastes better on bone china). You don’t need a rim soup bowl, a bread & butter plate and a luncheon plate.  Just a dinner, salad and charger are plenty.  And while many consultants will recommend registering for 12 place settings, sometimes only 8 are really needed based on the size of the couple’s families.   Be realistic about what you need and don’t let anyone bully you into registering for “extras.”

8) What are the best websites to register on?
NewlyWish, now part of WeddingWire, has always had a great platform for registry as they focus on national registries.  I do like Zola.com quite a bit as it lets you add items when you are out and about using your phone as a barcode scanner through their app.  And although I may be a bit biased, I still think Bloomingdale’s has a fantastic online presence with their registry.

9) What kind of solutions would you have to help the table top industry win back some of their market share?
I think tabletop needs to make it cool to own fine china again.  When the character Charlotte on “Sex and the City” showed off her Bernardaud “Constance” china on the show, registries for that pattern tripled.  The Jennifer Lopez movie, “Monster-In-Law” with Jane Fonda, has Kate Spade crystal and china featured constantly throughout the film and I can’t tell you how many brides added the same items to their registries just because they loved that movie.  If the tabletop industry starts utilizing celebrity tie-ins in their advertising, you can capture the attention of the millennial set who isn’t interested in their mother’s pattern and wants something more relevant to what they like in every day life.  We are a celebrity-obsessed culture so use that to your advantage!

10) What would you say is the best way to reach the consumer to want their product?
People have to covet what you’re selling.  Look at the success of the Berkin bag.  90% of us cannot afford one but we still want one because of the hype created online on fashion sites, in films and television shows. Hire someone who is very savvy with social media who can develop the brand to speak to who the majority of your registering customers are--the 22-35 year olds of the world.  The wedding registry business is worth millions of dollars so you have to gear your approach to who you need to sell to.  Can you imagine how fun it would be to see what Lady Gaga dines on?  Or Jennifer Lawrence?  A quick Instagram post with just a few properly placed tags can be worth thousands of new registries.  The future lies in social media and anyone who ignores it will get left behind.

To learn more about Hannah, check out the new Ron Ben-Israel Cakes blog where Hannah draws inspiration from the vibrant city in which she lives, complete with all about cake fashion and the city that never sleeps: www.asthecaketurns.com