On January 3rd 2014 I decided to start my own business. The randomness of this date still baffles me. Many would say ‘ah a new years resolution’. I say ‘no just totally random!’ This is the day I announced to my husband Sam ‘I’m going to do it….I’m going to start a business selling sample wedding dresses’. In 2009 I bought my own wedding dress from a brilliant company in Surrey called Swoon Wedding Gowns
My Mum spotted the Jenny Packham Roseberry on their website and suggested I call in on my way to Suffolk where she lives. I did and that was it…I have been a wedding dress lover since then and when the time came to leave the world of TV, become a Mum and generally change direction, I still needed something for me and Bristol Bridal Boutique was born. My third baby.
I spent the next few days trying to work out how on earth I would acquire beautiful, gorgeous gowns for the business. It can only be fate that brought me and the owners of a closing-down bridal boutique together. A mother and daughter who had lovingly grown a business over 8 years had decided to call time on it to spend more time with family. It genuinely seemed like it was meant to be as they were so happy to be passing on their wares to my start-up business. The Monday morning I drove to pick up the 21 dresses I had sweaty palms and a racing heart…not helped by three coffees en route! I have them to thank for such an amazing start and providing me with dresses by Jenny Packham, Sassi Holford, Suzanne Neville, Stephanie Allin, Stewart Parvin, Lusan Mandongus, among others, all of whom I think are fabulous designers and are exactly the style of dress I wanted to sell.
Next up was photographing all the dresses! Ahhhh the photos. My wonderful friend Hannah came to help me with the styling of the first dress….my all time favourite the Jenny Packham Imari. Now I wouldn’t have imagined it would take 3 hours (yes 3!) to do the photos for this dress but I guess we were just playing around with it all and chatting! I realised this was going to take MONTHS if I took 3 hours per dress and by dress number 21 I had it down to 30 minutes! It was important to me that the photos were detailed and that prospective clients felt they had seen as much as possible of the dress without seeing it in the flesh, so to speak.
Two words: GAVIN STRANGE. My hero, my rock, my pal! I showed him some illustrations I liked, a few musings I had and BAM (as Sam would say) a logo for my business was created! I will take this as an opportunity to say thank you Mr. Jam Factory for your constant generosity and good-natured self…I did see the times you were sending emails and you shouldn’t be working so late!!! You have a full-time job too! Along with the logo, Gav also designed my business cards and postcards and when the box of treasures arrived from Ripe Digital , the velvety gloriousness of the card honestly made me squeal! These beauties would be how I appear to the world in a branding sense and a style sense so I needed them to look good!
From the start there has been the small issue (erhem!) of the website. This is alien territory for me and luckily I have a geek for a husband..he is actually a highly accomplished web developer…so basically if it wasn’t for him I would be running the whole thing via Facebook…which is fine….but if I have a geek for a husband I should really have a website!! David Darke of Atomic Smash fame is also my hero as he helped us continually to get it all going. This seems like a gush-fest. It is. But when you have friends helping you do stuff like this it really is amazing and they should know it. Thanks guys! NB. When starting a business make sure you are friends with lots of geeks.
Tips you may or may not find interesting or useful!
- Ask your friends and family if they think your idea is good. Ask for the reasons it might not work
- Write everything down
- DO IT
- Have the balls to ask someone in the industry whether they think it is a good idea….especially if you have never met them…I did and I can honestly say it is the biggest reason I went for it. They said it was a good idea!
- Try and meet people who run similar styles of business to you. Preferably go on a course with them (see my upcoming post about The Wedding Sessions!)
Coming soon….The Wedding Sessions…a must-do course for those starting up in the wedding industry or who simply want to re-energise their brand.