Seven years ago Celia Gaze knew she had reached a turning point in her career. She had spent 14 years working for Britain’s National Health Service but was left feeling burnt out. She took the opportunity as a moment to transform her life and follow her dreams, purchasing a run down farm and building it into a dreamy wedding venue, The Wellbeing Farm, complete with bow-tie wearing llamas, alpacas and donkeys. Today the Lancanshire, England, venue is booked with events through 2023 and Gaze has even had time to pen her first book, Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama? How a Crazy Idea Can Change Your Life and Transform Your Business.
Gaze’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
The Wellbeing Farm is a bespoke wedding venue, set in spectacular countryside in Lancashire, United Kingdom. It was transformed from a neglected hill farm in 2013 into the perfect venue for couples looking for a wedding day that is unique, fun-filled and completely magical. The rustic barn and wedding pavilion are the ultimate romantic setting to say “I do” and the farm’s bow-tie wearing llamas, alpacas and donkeys join in the celebrations, too — making it an unforgettable day.
Before becoming an entrepreneur and founder of The Wellbeing Farm, I worked in the National Health Service (NHS) for 14 years in a senior management role. I reached the verge of burnout and quit my job to start my own business. I used this as a springboard to transform my life.
I define success as being able to have a job which I absolutely love, that makes me leap out of bed every day and a business which provides love and delivers everyone’s dream day. Having the guts to follow my dreams is also success to me, and so I’ve put my story into a book. It’s an insightful look into the farm’s amazing transformation from a neglected hill farm to a multi-award winning wedding venue.
When I began this journey, I had no idea of all the problems I would face. During the course of my journey, I faced nearly every type of challenge -– tribunals, near bankruptcy, court hearings, staff issues, system problems — and survived to tell the tale. I also learned how to be resilient, patient and to embrace failure for the lessons it carries. I’m so proud of the success we’ve achieved at The Wellbeing Farm, and I wrote my book so that other people would be better prepared and find their success sooner. My top challenge was how I went from near bankruptcy in December 2015 to financial security in 2018 with events and weddings booked at my venue until 2023.
I am inspired by Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneurs Association who encourages everyone to be visible, put themselves out there and to overcome limiting beliefs. I want to be the venue with a story and to raise the profile of The Wellbeing Farm to be one of the best wedding venues in the United Kingdom and through this to increase my bookings and growth. I want to personally become a professional speaker and to inspire others (through my story) to learn the lessons I learnt from putting a bow tie on a llama and having the guts to follow your dreams.