When Jen Glantz's roommate called her "the professional bridesmaid" in the summer of 2014 — somewhere around her sixth stint as a bridesmaid — she had a lightbulb moment.
She went to Craigslist, posted an ad, and went to bed. She woke up to over 250 emails, and by the end of the week thousands of messages had flooded her inbox.
Her ad read something like this:
When all my friends started getting engaged, I decided to make new friends, but then they got engaged too, and for what felt like the hundredth time, I was asked to be a bridesmaid. This year, I've been a bridesmaid four times. That's four chiffon dresses, four bachelorette parties filled with tequila shots and guys in thong underwear twerking way too close to my face. So let me be there for you this time if you don't have any other girlfriends except your third cousin, twice removed, who is often found sticking her tongue down an empty bottle of red wine.
Glantz tells Business Insider she had noticed a gap in the $300 billion wedding industry — but had no idea what to expect after posting the ad.
"When I was behind the scenes at my friends' weddings, there was no one there for the bride. Sure, there was often a wedding planner, but she was focused on making sure the room was set up and the vendors arrived on time. If the bride had bridesmaids, they were often busy getting ready and posing for photos, leaving the bride to feel overwhelmed and stressed out over last-minute tasks and heavy emotions," Glantz said. "I decided to fill this gap. I figured I'd post the ad to see what happens, but I never thought I'd get that kind of response."
The overwhelming interest to her Craigslist ad confirmed her suspicions, and she ran with the idea.
That same week, she and her brother cofounded Bridesmaid for Hire, a company that offers "undercover bridesmaid" and personal-assistant-type services to brides and their wedding parties.
"Essentially I'm there as the bride's personal assistant and on-call therapist. I help her manage and execute her personal to-do list of tasks, which can often be over 100 tasks long."
Glantz, who had been working as a full-time copywriter for a tech startup in New York City when she started her business, says breaking out on her own was "terrifying" and "lonely" at times — but she has no regrets.
Her best advice for anyone trying to make it as an entrepreneur is to start right now:
"Don't wait for the perfect time to write a business plan or test your idea. There will never be a perfect time and you will never have every single thing you need to start your own business. Start with what you have now and start with who you are now — because truly, it's enough."
Teaching people how to start their own business became a passion, too, and Glantz now offers virtual workshops for people around the world to learn the ins and outs of starting a side gig while working full-time.
"You have to do and want and try things that give you nervous jitters, that make your heart race out of control. Because if not, what's the point? If you want to try a new career, take a class on that industry, have coffee with someone who does that job right now, get to know what it is you want to do and then find a way to break into that career path. Either way, just do it. It's always worth a try, and as my mom told me when I said I was moving to New York City, you can always go back if you don't like it."
In the past year alone, Glantz released a book, "Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire)," and has worked with over 40 brides and maids-of-honor. Today her services — which range from speechwriting to being an "undercover bridesmaid" — start at $150 and can exceed $2,000.
"At first, starting your own business feels terrifying and will give you an unnecessary amount of daily acid reflux," Glantz said. "But the more you get the hang of managing your time and figuring out how to jump on your goals, the more you can take a deep breath knowing that you own your career now and you own your life. It's the most empowering feeling a person can have."