Tell us about your business and the type of products you sell?
I opened a luxury bridal boutique in Warwick at the end of February, this year, 2019. I stock four international designers, Hayley Paige, Dando London, Kenneth Winston and Casablanca Bridal. I also have a selection of veils and accessories and bridal belts that I make myself.
Brides who book an appointment with me have the boutique to themselves for 1.5 hours. In which time they can enjoy a glass of prosecco, or a cup of tea if they’d rather, and peruse the beautiful dresses that I have in store. I love getting to know my brides and finding out all the details of the big day before we start trying dresses on. It’s such a fabulous process to be a part of and I make sure all of my brides feel comfortable and confident when they come to Lavelle Bridal Couture.
How did you come up with the idea and what motivated you to go for it?
I always knew that I wanted to have my own business but I was never sure what it would be. I’d had ideas over the years but nothing had ever stuck. My sister got engaged a couple of years ago and she asked me to go wedding dress shopping with her. I was so excited and we had such a fabulous day. We went to three boutiques with varying levels of service and as we got to the second one I thought to myself ‘I could do this so much better’.
I toyed with the idea whilst sat in the back of the car on the way to the third and final appointment where we had a fabulous experience and my sister found the one. I floated the idea to my Mum and Sister on the way home after quizzing the sales consultant in the shop as to how she got in to bridal. She’d trained in a totally different profession, I’ve worked in fashion and retail for 10 years, I said to myself well if she can do it I definitely can!
From then on I put in hours/days of research, what designers/dresses to stock, where to set up, how to start a business etc. Then last October I quit my job that I’d been doing for 5 years, I was met with “is there nothing we can do to convince you to stay?” and “do you really think this is the best time to be opening a shop on the high street?”. I then opened the shop the following February!
What do you love about running your own business and what do you find hard?
I love having the flexibility to do what I want, when I want. The bit I find the most difficult has been going from working in a large team with a lot of people I consider my friends to being on my own most days. However, when a bride comes in and I find her perfect dress, it makes it all worthwhile.
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
Don’t compare yourself to other people. I’d look at other boutiques and think “they’re so busy, all the time” why aren’t people coming to me? Then I’d have to remind myself that I’d been open for 2 weeks, 2 months etc and remember that they’ve been running for years and of course they’re going to be in a different place to what I am right now. You have to learn to walk before you can run, which I’ve found and am still finding quite a challenge.
Do you have a favourite app or work tool you think everyone should know about?
Planoly. The first few weeks I’d spend hours and hours each day on social media getting ideas and trying to post images at the ‘optimal time’. I still spend a lot of time on it but now for networking and if I have something to talk about. Tuesday’s are usually my admin day and in amongst everything else I plan my social media schedule for the week. I still go in now and again and post something I’ve seen or been inspired by but it frees up my time and means that I’m not glued to Instagram every hour of every day.
How do you define success?
Being able to take the time to do the things that I love with the people I love.
What is a normal day in your life like?
No day is ever the same. Sometimes the weeks will be really quiet and I spend my days networking and thinking up ideas to drive the business forward at the same time as running all the accounts (snooze), marketing the business and setting up events. Then the weekend comes round and I have back to back appointments with wonderful brides that I’m helping to find their dream wedding dress. Some weeks it’s the total opposite.
What has been a particular highlight for you since starting your business?
Selling my first dress was a huge highlight for me and everyone close to me was so happy for me too which was lovely to know that so many people are rooting for you to do well.
What’s next for your business?
I have so many ideas that are floating around in my head all the time. I’ve had to set up a Trello board because I keep scribbling them on scraps of paper! I have big ideas long term for the business but for now my main aim is to get my name out there and get known and give my brides the best possible service they could want when trying to find their wedding dress.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Just before you’re successful is the hardest part but just keep doing what you’re doing and it will come.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about setting up their own business?
Do your research so you know what you’re getting yourself in to and then GO FOR IT! What’s the worst that can happen?
What is your favourite Social Media platform and how has it helped in your success?
Instagram! A lot of my customers (brides) hang out on Insta and so it’s defiantly where I need to be and I’ve had a lot of bookings come through the platform. I’ve also made some great business connections through it too.
Who inspires you?
My Mum. She was a successful business woman and I want to be just like her.
Tell us 3 facts about you…
- I run to eat cake.
- I have a mild obsession with Flamingos.
- After quitting my job and before opening the boutique I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of Mama Tribe?
The community and the support network that it offers. It’s so lovely to meet new people and have people to turn to that are going through similar problems or who have been there and can offer advice. It’s what I really miss from my old job.
Thanks for giving us an insight into life behind Lavelle Bridal Couture Becky, we love having you as a Member of the Tribe.