Where did you get your inspiration from to open your own bridal boutique?
My previous Job of 19 years was heading a team of 55, in my parent’s very busy Wedding Hotel in Gretna Green which I loved and thrived on! I took great pride in looking after my brides of around 400 a year and I knew my next job would have to include what I adored the most…..Brides and all things wedding!! My sister in law to be was getting married and I went on her Wedding Dress journey and found a “Gap” in the market for a “Bridal Boutique” that was personable giving the bride the ultimate experience so that was when I knew Carols Bridal was Born!
Did you have any previous experience in the wedding industry?
I have probably already answered that in my previous answer, but to add to that I took part in the fly on the wall documentary on Gretna Runaway Weddings as they featured a couple that I had the pleasure in looking after and I also met Kate Garraway and the GMB team when they filmed in our luxury bridal suite on valentine’s day! I know so much about the Wedding industry and have helped thousands of couples have the best wedding day possible. I have also worked with so many wedding professionals and most definitely know the best suppliers out there!
How long did you research for before opening?
18 months, It took me that long to find the perfect place! It had to tick every box so I had to be patient, but when I found it I acted on it in a flash! I looked at so many places and in different locations too but I do believe I found the right one in the end!
What was the first bridal buyer show you attended? And how did you find the experience?
Harrogate Bridal Show in Harrogate, it was the biggest bridal show in the UK so I headed straight to there! It was very overwhelming I have never seen so many wedding dresses in my life! There were over 200 suppliers so you can imagine the volume of dresses and all things bridal. I found it extremely busy a real buzz of an atmosphere, although I didn’t buy at this show It prepared me for the next trip 6 months later which would be my first buying trip!
How did you choose your first designers?
I had been buying bridal magazines from the day it was born in my head; Researching every designer out there, I began with a spreadsheet and over the next 12 months built up a picture of who Carols’ Bridal Boutique would want to stock. I looked at the best designers on the market, I looked at affordability for our area, I l looked at what was already being stocked locally to ensure we had exclusivity, I looked at which companies were investing in their stockists and who I actually felt a connection with was the designers for me!
Blue by Enzoani – who at the time were a part of the Benjamin Roberts family but have since separated the company and gone from strength to strength as part of the Enzoani Company. Blue by Enzoani dresses have been in our store since day 1 and are still our top selling styles!
True Bride – Lead by a Britsh Designer Nikki Flynn who sadly passed away last year but has left a legacy behind and still growing at a fast pace. I love this family run company and have stocked them since day 1.I love the quality and affordability of her dresses.
Sottero and Midgley – from the Maggie Sottero design house. Maggie Sottero Designs is the culmination of a multigenerational legacy in fashion and bridalwear. Established in 1997 with the launch of our custom corset closure, we have made dreams a reality for millions of brides around the world with fresh and romantic gowns at a variety of attainable price points. A Maggie Sottero Designs gown is inspired by each bride’s grace and personality. We believe there is nothing more beautiful than a bride on her wedding day, and to this end, we design.
Do you have a favourite dress in the boutique?
I love chic and glamour but it has to be timeless so my favourite would have to be….ooh that’s hard when we have over 200 to choose from!! My top 3 would be the fabulous Larissa byTrue Bride, the Beautiful Bethany by Rebecca Ingram and the stunning Mai by Blue by Enzoani.
How do you choose which dresses to buy in?
I go buying with an open mind; I like to have something for every taste, shape and budget! I buy with my daughter and Mother so we get 3 generations opinions and I think that pretty much covers everything! I’m very lucky to get to choose our buying trips and going overseas I visit some incredible places; Rome and Barcelona have been my favourites so far.
If you could go back 10 years would you do anything differently?
Absolutely nothing, I have loved every minute of my journey building my business to the award winning boutique that is known today.
How are you dealing with covid-19?
I am adapting my business to suit the new way of life until such times as we can return to some sort of normality. At first we spent the time contacting all our brides and grooms who’s weddings were due to take place in the next 4 weeks to reassure them we are here no matter what and we would work with them in rescheduling final appointments/dress collections etc. I then spoke with all my suppliers to find out how deliveries etc would be affected and was pleased to hear that majority was running to schedule and only minimal delays that would not affect anyone. I have been in numerous zoom meetings with our designers to work with them going forward and have already made some exciting new changes:
♥ We’ve introduced our Wedding Club as we have so much going on in the Boutique, from our dress collection launches, to our open days, designer weekends & virtual Catwalks, we don’t want you to miss out. We are also involved in a number of great events and wedding fayres at some of Cumbria and The Lakes best venues. We also have special offers from our designers and heaps of news and general wedding gossip. If you’d like to be kept up to date on new arrivals and all the bridal gossip, please click ‘Join the Club’ at the top of the page.
♥ Also Introducing our Virtual appointments, last approx 15 mins giving you a one on one chat with Lauren Head Stylist before you come into the boutique, a great way to get to know each other and we can find out about all our exciting plans and most importantly what you imagine yourself to look like on your wedding day, we will help guide you through your options, give you previews of our current collections and gorgeous new arrivals, and of course, sharing all your special wedding details like we do when you visit us in the boutique.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes-The world we live in today is changing day by day, but remember, wedding planning can still go on. Taking care of our brides and customers has always been, and will continue to be, our number one priority. The reputation we’ve built over the past 10 years has put us in the best position to weather any storm and we’re excited to back bigger and better and can’t wait to meet you all. ♥