Post # 1
Let me give you some background about myself…I have been infatuated with weddings for years now; not just about my own, but all weddings! To the point, where I got a side job as a wedding planner’s assistant during which time I worked 3 weddings: 2 with the planner and one on my own. I love all aspects of weddings, but in the end, it just wasn’t worth it. For example, I spent nearly 100 hours in preparation for just one wedding plus 14 hours on wedding day…I walked away with $100 in my pocket. The thing of it is that I soon realized is that wedding planning is a very demanding job with little pay (in the beginning anyway)…so I put an end to that path in my life. Well…not really. I still watch all wedding shows, jot down notes, research local businesses, and I continue to all-out plan friends’ weddings. I really do love it! Now with my own wedding to plan, I realized recently with my experiences wedding dress shopping that I love that part of weddings the most! My mom and I had been talking about starting a business for the past year or so (we had thrown around ideas about a designer purse shop, but didn’t go anywhere with it) and now we’re both really loving the idea of starting our own wedding dress boutique! I already know all of the local dress shops (AKA competition) and I know what I love/don’t love about current shops. I am researching commercial spaces everyday because I need the space before I can go any further.
My questions for you bees are:
- What would you love to see in some of your local dress shops that you don’t currently have?
- What aspects of your local shops don’t you like?
- Do any of you have any experience opening your own dress shop or business in general? If so, I would appreciate any advice you can give me.
Post # 3
natural lighting or avoid flourescents!
Let people take pictures of themselves!
Having a comfortable space for the customers, some places I have been are so jam-packed with dresses you can barely move around & whatnot.
Obviously being gracious & polite during service is a big part of the experience. Making customers feel like a priority is a good thing– a lot of places will treat customers differently (poorly) because of age or size, which is super super lame.
Post # 4
The shop I loved was very personal. The owner would come upstairs (it was in an old house) and pick out dresses she thought would look fabulous on me. She made me feel like her own daughter! It definitely developed a lot of trust in her immediately.
But most of all, they had like little separate areas for each bride and her group to be. A cute couch sat looking at a big mirror and a pedestal. I hated having to share a pedestal with other brides at a different shop. So definitely splurge and get one for each area brides will be. It makes it so much more personal and intimate.
Post # 5
Oh and as an auditor/accountant myself, I strongly suggest meeting with someone who can advise you on your financial needs. Often small businesses can get certain tax advantages. These can save you lots of money!
Post # 6
Make sure you’re prepared for the uglier aspects of owning a dress boutique. There will be immense headaches, you will be inundated with bridezillas. Do you have much experience working in retail customer service? Take that stress and pressure and multiply it. Regular retail customers are crazy enough, but weddings make folks about ten times crazier.
There will be a lot of upfront costs to starting a wedding dress boutique. You’re going to have to front the money for all those sample gowns, all the in-stock accessories, etc. and all the fixtures to hang them on. That’s going to be very, very expensive. Are you and your mother planning to run the shop yourselves, or will you hire sales associates? Are you going to have in-house alterations? That seems to be fairly standard for most dress shops. You’re going to have to pay them reasonable wages from the second they start working. Do you have that kind of money in the bank?
Do you have a lot of personal savings? Are you comfortable taking a loan or marketing your business plan to independent investors? Do you have enough other income or savings to fully support yourself for the next two to three years? You can’t count on a new business to provide you with a substantial income, let alone break even. If the business flops, how much are you prepared to lose before you have to call it quits? Make sure you know this number from the outset.
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but I would make sure the business plan is solid before dreaming up aesthetic details or even finding a space to rent.
You said, “The thing of it is that I soon realized is that wedding planning is a very demanding job with little pay (in the beginning anyway)…so I put an end to that path in my life.”
Well, that’s the thing with being a small business owner too, especially if you have zero experience starting one up. You are going to put in a hell of a lot of time, likely with hardly any income for yourself at the beginning, perhaps for several years. At least as a wedding planner, there are very few upfront or overhead costs involved, whereas when opening a retail business these costs are huge.