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My website journey



Two to one



If I was a retailer



For more information contact Michele O’Neill email: or call: 0845 838 1041

RO M A N T I C A BB RR II TT II SS H H BB YY D D EE SS II G G NN wwwww. rommaant n ti ci caaoof d f deevvoonn. c . coo. u . ukk

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EXCLUSIVITY WITH IAN STUART, P70 Design genius Ian Stuart gives us an honest opinion about exclusivity


TA L KING P OINT Six pages of all the latest news and gossip within the world of bridal



I N MY OP INION Laura Daly questions if bridal retailers are missing a website opportunity





B LO GGE R ’ S B EST How to write a successful blog with Louise Beukes, Founder of B.LOVED S U PPL IE R - S PE A K What checks are carried out by suppliers, when approached by potential stockists?

B EST FIND S Reaction from the industry – who loved what at ExCel in March



B RAV ING IT Lucy Ball, ex-boutique owner, tells us the tale of how she created BridalBay



BAC K TO TH E SH OP Joyce Young OBE’s glamorous journey, from retail to wholesale and back again



I F I WERE A R E TAIL E R … Vatana Watters on what she’d do if she were in the retail hot seat



MOV ING FORWARD Michele O’Neill discusses her plans now that she’s bought Callista




MY W E BSITE JOUR NE Y How one boutique owner got it right

S U IT S YO U Stylish, suave menswear that’s uber cool E NZOANI U PDATE Follow-up to last month’s exclusive: reactions to Enzoani training programme!

GETTING TO KNOW SASSI Straight and to-the-point answers from classicist designer Sassi Holford


YPOS Your problems and our solutions

O CCAS IO NWE AR Our guide to the hottest collections that you won’t want to miss this season

S ECO ND O PINIO N Emma Hartley warns about lusting after that second store… S IX O F T HE B EST… Six sensational flatties, plus some funky flowery bridal trainers TAKING T HE PLU N G E New business need-to-knows


W W W. S U Z A N N E N E V I L L E . C O M


Ed’s Letter

Susi Rogol

Production Editor

The past few weeks have been something of a merry-goround. First up we had Rome Bridal Week. Great atmosphere – intimate and easy-going; fabulous labels – names from all around the world and many of Italy’s best; and all those sightseeing and foodie opportunities at the end of the working day! Then it was straight on to the ExCel for London Bridal Week and White Gallery, combined for the first time under one roof. We saw brilliant catwalk performances, seminars and tutorials playing to packed houses, and a collection of collections covering all tastes and price points. Be sure to check out what the retailers and exhibitors had to say about the event on page 27. And then I’ll open to the floor to all of you to share your own views! The invite to get involved with Wedding Trader is ongoing – I love hearing your opinions! TEAM TALK “After my hectic (but enjoyable!) week in Rome and London, it was a pleasure to relax for a bit and read Lucy Ball’s fantastic piece about her BridalBay adventure (page 34). I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on how the market responds.” Tom Harrod Production Editor “Ian Stuart: the man, the genius. It was fascinating to hear his advice, and I for one really appreciated his honesty on the subect of exclusivity.”

Laura Lismore Fashion Sales Executive “Six of the best flat shoes, for me! I flicked straight to page 86! Would I wear trainers? I’d definitely consider it, after a long day in heels…”

Fashion Sales Executive Laura Lismore Mobile: 07903 858078

Sales Executive



@WeddingTraderMag @weddingtrader

Trader Trader WEDDING



My website journey




If I was a retailer


Two to one


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CONTRIBUTORS Kerri Ashworth, Lucy Ball, Louise Beukes, Laura Daly, Christine Dando, Heidi Easton, Emma Hartley, Sassi Holford, Carolyn Louise, Suzanne Lurie, Emma Marshall, Shannon Martin, Vikki McCarthy-Wright, Tony Mentel, Maria Musgrove, Michele O’Neill, Andrew Pearce, Rob Pearce, Ellie Sanderson, Kate Speers, Jeanette Stevens, Ian Stuart, Nicole Swain, Vatana Watters, Helen Williams, Joyce Young

Art Director Andy Allen

Martha Cooke (maternity leave) Mobile: 07877 449122


Andy Allen Art Director “Reading Kerri Ashworth’s ‘My Website Journey’ really struck me this month. I’ve been there before with design and websites, so I appreciate the hard work!”

Tom Harrod

31/03/2018 16:28

Wedding Trader magazine is distributed to hundreds of the best bridal retailers all over the UK. Designed and created by the makers of Love Our Wedding magazine and, Wedding Trader is a new trade string to the otherwise consumer bow of Meant To Be Media Ltd.

MEANT TO BE MEDIA Wedding Trader is published by: Meant To Be Media Ltd, 68a Oldham Road, Manchester M4 5EE. Tel: 0161 236 6712 Meant To Be Media Ltd also publish: LOV E OUR



Looking for stockists at this exciting time. Sale price range ÂŁ349- ÂŁ899

For more information contact: James McKenna T: 07551 006 995 Kirsty Voce T: 01765 570 040

Wanderlust: beautiful boho Taking boho to a delicious new extreme is the Wanderlust collection from Katya Katya , executed in the finest tulles, silks, and French and Italian laces and highlighted with intricate embroidery, pearl and sparkling Swarovski crystals. Wanderlust includes winning signature pieces from past collections, accented for the new season with different detailing. Separates – four tops and four skirts – lead to a multitude of mix-and-match options. Plus, there are those brilliant coloured underslip choices that make the brand – and the lace detail –stand out. RRP starts at £1,500. For trade enquiries, contact


Keep up-to-date with the latest news in the wedding world, right here!

BIRDS OF A FEATHER Feathers are the thing, and can be seen adding float and volume to many collections, covering a skirt, edging a wrap, or decorating a shoulder strap. For those who want to go the whole way, the latest addition to the extraordinary Heelbopps collection of attachables combines a sparkle-studded heel (you literally slip it over your own) with an extravagant spray of coloured feathers – blue, green, black, ostrich, or more. This weird and wonderful German brand has gathered something of a cult following – and that was even before the new season’s feather add-ons were launched. Hotfoot it to to find out how they work. M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 11

Colourscope Designer Elbeth Gillis, known and adored by the fashion cognoscenti around the world, is always at the forefront of trends and walking a design path that others follow. While many tinker with tones, keeping them soft and subtle, Elbeth goes all out for bolder shadings that give a gown a distinct personality. The deep turquoises in her 2019 collection are rich and romantic, and translated across her newest choice of luxury fabrics for her hand-crafted gowns and impeccable mix and match separates. Also launching is a line of gorgeous, delicate mohair jerseys in ivory and rose gold. For details visit

’ 6 0s - ST Y L E CH I C Cool classics, inspired by Jackie O (with a little Anna Wintour thrown in for good measure) is the theme for a new MOB/occasionwear collection from the House of Mooshki, with not a ruffle or bit of ruching in sight! Colours will be clear and sharp, necklines boat-shaped, V’d or round, and decoration discreet with bands of beading or carefully-placed bows. This is different and so new that pro images haven’t been taken yet! It is lanching in Barcelona. Email 12 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

CHANG ING SH APES No doubt you’ve noticed how the bride’s shape has changed over the years. In a world where female bodies are scrutinised by the media freely, the pressure to look like the ‘It’ girl of the moment is palpable. However, we know only too well there is no such thing as the perfect body – any and every body shape and size deserves confidence and respect. It is, however, interesting to look at trends. From Marilyn’s hourglass curves in the 50s, to Twiggy’s tall and slender frame just a decade later, to the Kardashian-inspired ‘healthy yet curvaceous’ toned bodies and bigger bums of today – the body types held on a pedestal have transformed across the decades. Some of these trends include:

W HA M , BA M , B L AM M O BIA M O !

Blammo Biamo is a drop-dead gorgeous new label from Ange Etoiles, the cuttingedge house from Belarus, whose work moves effortlessly from feminine flirty gowns to big bold silhouettes. We think you’ll agree that they that shout the style message from the rooftops! The collection goes on show at European Bridal Week in Essen. For more information visit, and while you’re there, check out their Rara Avis line too, for more wonderful, floaty dresses and some of the most fabulous lingerie.

1950s Following the poverty of the Second World War, an hourglass shape with bigger breasts, a cinchedin waist and wider hips was desired. Shorter hairstyles with pin curls and stylish up-dos were popular, while skin was kept matte and finished with a cat-eye flick and striking red lips. 1980s As supermodels took to the runways for the first time and Jane Fonda became the face of a legwarmer-clad fitness phase, the desired body shape became toned and strong. Cindy Crawford was the icon of the time, and perms and backcombing were the rage. The make-up of the time called for a face of bright colours; heavy bright pink blush, bold purple eyes and fuchsia lips were popular.


2010s The 2010s see the ideal body shape as ‘healthy skinny’ with a toned body, slim legs and large breasts and buttocks. Hair colour has been a popular trend in the 2010s, with styles such as ombré and balayage taking centre stage. Instagram has had a noticeable influence on make-up trends, with many opting for bold eyebrows, and Kardashian-inspired contoured cheekbones with plenty of highlighter to accentuate the high points of the face. M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 13

Our kinda town


Chicago led the bridal buying calendar with an 11 percent increase in retailer attendance for its three-day show. They came from 18 countries and 40 states (many were first-time market attendees – a sign of renewed retailer confidence). Event Director Jane Heflin was delighted with the response with the event, as exhibitors reported better-than-expected orders. And no wonder, with a series of seminars from industry dignitaries including Mon Cheri boss Steve Lang on Retailer Initiatives and social media expert Jacqui Wadsworth, a flurry of cocktail parties and the opportunity for a daily massage that added extra sparkle to this long-standing bridal event.

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LONDO N LIG H TS Two of the British Bridal scene’s top names showed in London in March – Jenny Packham at the Ritz and Suzanne Neville at Home House in Portman Square. Ravishing stuff in luxurious surroundings, both before exacting and appreciative audiences.

Mon Cheri weekend success DOM Bridals invited all their stockists across UK and Europe to a complimentary weekend at The Cambridge Belfry Hotel in March to view the Fall 2018 collections. With off-the-shoulder trumpet gowns, tulle ballgowns with illusion capped sleeves and the option of bodice lining and modesty panels, Martin Thornburg’s second own-name collection delighted stockists. “If I could have afforded to, I would have had nearly every dress,” said one. Present too was Enchanting, designed by Martin in conjunction with Ivonne Dome, and Sophia Tolli with its signature draping, colour options and light-catching tulles. Occasionwear was another big hit, with Ellie Wilde, Social Occasions and Cameron Blake getting applause. Nine of the Tolli gowns were shown on plus size models, resulting in a huge lift in orders for larger sizes.

WATC H T H O S E FINGERS ! Sarah Edinger, Creative Director of London-based jewellery brand De Caron has created a delightful tiny timepiece, a watch ring that brides and their maids will love – and make sure they get to the nuptials on time! There are 11 different styles in the range, retailing from £99 to £120, translated from for modern-day life from the inspirational work of one Pierre-Augustin Caron who, in 1754, created a watch ring for Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV’s mistress. The Monarch was so delighted with the miniature watch on a ring that he also ordered one for himself. You may not want to stock them, but your brides will appreciate the suggestion via your newsletters or blog. See for more. M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 15

Denim does it It looks like good old blue denim is going to be the accessory of the season – designers everywhere have chosen to photograph the classic jacket with their prettiest gowns. Herve Paris added cowboy boots to complete the look, while here Watters’ Willowby gown shrugs it off the shoulders. Just think of the window-dressing possibilities…

A B U NCH O F THE BEST If you’re going to go for flowers, do it big! And rather than a smattering of delicate colours, or a carefully positioned posy, think bold – that’s the view of Olvi’s, everyone’s favourite stretch lace collection. This riot of brights demands notice and the shoulder cut-outs and petal neckline get the bouquet from us.

H MR C SCA M One of the UK’s leading tax experts has issued advice to the public to help them avoid being ensnared by scammers claiming to be from HMRC. David Redfern, tax preparation specialist and founder of DSR Tax Claims, made his comments as fake HMRC telephone calls by organised crime gangs have been reported across different areas of the UK, including Suffolk,

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Bristol, Hull and Lancashire. Noting that these calls purport to be from HMRC investigating a potential tax fraud, he said: “Firstly, HMRC will not contact you by phone to tell you that you are under investigation, they will inform you in writing on official HMRC-headed paper – not by text message. Also, a typical investigation would involve several correspondences with HMRC, and payment would not be demanded at the time of first contact.” Some members of the public, it appears,

have been asked to provide iTunes vouchers to cover the supposed HMRC fine. “No government agency would ask for payment in anything other than British currency,” Redfern confirmed. “To keep yourself safe, always ensure that you don’t give out your financial details to unsolicited callers. It might seem scary to refuse to cooperate with ‘HMRC’, but any reputable company or government agency will fully understand and support your efforts to keep your finances safe from scammers.”

In my opinion Looking online for essentials for her new home, our resident columnist Laura Daly found she was discarding sites that did not show prices. And that got her focused on a brides’s reaction when checking out boutiques


his month I’m moving house. Being rather short on available shopping time, I am having to do all of my new furniture research online and, in doing so, I’ve become the home-furnishing equivalent of a clueless bride at the start of her search for boutiques. How am I supposed to know if I can afford the shiny cabinets and the stand-alone bath, if the website doesn’t show me any prices? I’ve found some beautiful sites, with wonderfully attractive designs, but absolutely no indication of price. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to be phoning or visiting these retailers (or completing their tedious forms to find out whether or not I can even afford to shop there). I’ve found myself gravitating towards the sites that show me clear pricing, those that explain what I’ll get for my money and exactly how I go about achieving what I want. After all, I’ll need to know that I can trust their advice and that the design they’re going to come up with will be, as a very minimum, absolutely everything I could have hoped for. I’ll also expect them to spend time with me, be helpful and affable, before I part with any money. It got me thinking about our industry, the reticence that many of us retailers have about displaying

clearly what we stock and how much we charge. I wonder how much potential business we could be losing by trying to withhold such information? Seventeen years ago, my store was one of the first in the country to have a website that not only showcased the shop, but also displayed every dress that was on our rails. We did this against the advice of many of our suppliers and others in the industry who argued that ‘everybody’ would know what we had. But that was the whole point! I wanted my customers to

be those who will undercut the lowest price going just to achieve a sale. Keeping quiet about how much things were seemed logical. But instead, should we display our prices? Our customers browse for wedding shops and wedding dresses online. If they want the cheapest retailer, they will find it, one way or another. (It may involve a considerable time – that’s not only time for the customer, but time for the retailer, too.) There are a handful of bridal shops already happily displaying their prices online and, quite honestly, if I were a bride, I think I’d be visiting them first. There are a handful of Of course, there are variables to bear boutiques displaying prices in mind – such as what’s included in the way of storage or other options on online and, if I were a bride, a gown – so there are valid reasons why prices may vary slightly from I’d be visiting them first store to store. We can only hope there wouldn’t be wild differences that might know whether or not it would be worth make a customer question a shop’s (or making the trip. I couldn’t understand even the industry’s) integrity. why most shops only had links to the Ultimately, our service, our sites of their designers. Seeing the personalities and our own particular whole catalogue may be interesting, taste are the things that win over the but it wouldn’t help the bride work out vast majority of our customers. Maybe if I stocked any particular style. we needn’t be so frightened of making I was also discouraged from life easier for them. Maybe they’ll showing my selling prices. That appreciate it. I know I would. used to make sense; I understood the concerns that revealing them Got advice to share with fellow retailers? could leave us open to undercutting. Suggestions for how to tackle publicly Business is fiercely contested in my pricing your stock online? Email us at little corner of Essex; there will always M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 19

www.p h ilc ollin sb

S tyle : Rom a n c e


YO U R P R O B L EM S OUR S O LO U T I O N S Is something bugging you? Want to get it off your chest and share it? Do you like getting the views of others? This is the place to come to. Tell us the problem and we’ll source opinions that may be helpful How important is a revamp, really? My shop looks lovely and has done so for the past ten years. The seating is comfortable; the colours are all soft and pretty. Business is tough enough at the moment, and I could well do without spending unless it is essential. But everything I seem to read yells at me to revamp and constantly spruce up my boutique. I’d love you hear your opinions on the matter!



My opinion is that a revamp can really help to change the energy of a stagnant shop (even if it’s just a clean out, new lighting and a good freshen-up, or a re-design from an interiors expert). It seems to me that some shops think they will keep going like they have always done. While tradition is good, old-fashioned is not, and the key is about

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knowing the difference. Lots of shops hold on to dead stock and that alone gives the impression of ‘dated’. It’s better to have brides walk in and feel like they are seeing things they have never seen before. You can borrow dresses for a trunk show from many brands – this might show you that you can sell different dresses or price points in your area, than you

originally thought. Often, it’s about looking at your shop from fresh eyes, and being critical. Ask yourself: 1 Would I spend £1,000+ in a shop like mine? 2 Is my lighting making girls and the dresses look great? 3 Have I tested my market? Has it changed? 4 Do I have the best sellers and best dresses from my suppliers?

5 Do my window displays attract attention? 6 Does my shop look clean, fresh, tidy and smell good? 7 Do I attract business with events and interesting promotion? 8 Is my online presence generating interest? Where can I learn to make better use of this? 9 Am I giving my bride an experience she will tweet, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook about, telling all her friends? Do I encourage these sharing moments? 10 Are my sales staff enthusiastic and enjoying their jobs? Do they go the extra mile to style and make the bride feel amazing? The shops I generally see succeed have a confident but not arrogant air. They sell with enthusiasm and heart. It boils down to the fact that a bride wants an emotional, memorable, life-landmark moment in your shop. A bride should be crying with joy at how her confidence has soared, and how excited she is to share this with her chosen companions – how excited she will be to be a bride. Normally, when I go to a shop, they are astounded at how many dresses we can sell in a Designer Day weekend compared to their normal weekends. Really, it’s all about the atmosphere you create; when you can create the feelings of happiness and excitement in the shop, the bride will feel that the shop genuinely wants to make her dreams come true. That’s when they buy. Often, budget goes out of the window, because the experience is priceless. Tony Mentel Designer, Justin Alexander

day in, day out. You’re used comfortable, today’s bride to seeing the same fixtures, will feel more ‘at home’ in an environment that is fittings and furniture. reflective of her own taste. The space into which For ‘at home’ read ‘feel we welcome our brides is more at ease and more deemed to be our offer – ready to buy’. She wants a fresh and contemporary boutique that gives a reflects her message to Look at aspirations. brides of a Look at sound, well your current your current -financed showroom with showroom with business. Tenyear old décor, honest, open honest, open eyes and make on the other Ten years. One eyes and make that change! You hand, can be decade. Twenty not rue it. seen as old, bridal buying that change will Confetti & questionable seasons. Same décor? All Lace has been and tired. Is that bridal retailers of repute trading successfully for over truly representational of should be refreshing their 32 years and hosts Say Yes your ‘offer’ to brides? collections each season. The £ cost of transforming to the Dress UK – so I must We do not expect brides to your showroom space does have got it right. Say Yes enjoy seeing a collection to the Change! And then not have to be excessive of dresses some ten years tell the world about it: post but will repay you back in old – whatever pristine the new look on Facebook, sales figures - if you have condition they might be in! Instagram and your website. your bridal label offer right It’s the same with the Christine Dando for your market place. sales environment – this is, Confetti & Lace Director Pinks drapes and pale after all, your showroom. It’s Director of Design Dando easy to become blind when velour sofas were all the London you work in the same place rage in 1998 and however


LOOKING GREAT Brides want to be WOWed not just by the dresses,but by the whole environment

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In my opinion, one of the most important things in this industry is presentation. The order in which your dresses are hung? How your staff dress? How your shop is presented? First impressions count. In a world where social media is at the forefront of our target customer’s mind, perfection is king. You have to make your brides want to buy from you before they’ve even entered your boutique! Our brides strive for perfection; every photo is filtered and judged to see whether it’s worthy enough for Instagram.

around in your layout or furniture to give it new life. Maybe think about just revitalising your fitting room area and incorporating a feature wall or something eye-catching, so when brides share pictures of themselves in your boutique, other potential customers will come to recognise your décor and remember you as you stand out from the rest. That’s what it’s all about – you have to stand out from the crowd – give your customers reason to want to come to your boutique. Your boutique has to create an atmosphere that mirrors your target market. Think about not just how the boutique looks, but also how it smells. When you go into a bakery and you smell the yummy aroma of bread being baked, you want to buy it. When your boutique smells beautiful, your brides feel at home, and this will give them another tick in the buying box. Try stepping out of your boutique and look at it as a customer and evaluate curb appeal. What are Think about restaurants. If your shop is dated, its first impressions? The If you see images of an tired or just a little bit drab, best way to do this is to amazing restaurant, you brides are not going to complete a SWOT analysis want to go there, right? It’s buy from you. They want on your business, but from no different with bridal. the whole package – the the angle of a bride. This is It’s not just your dresses stunning dress, the VIP not always easy, but try and drop the barrier, be picky Think about restaurants. If you see (just like a bride!), and write images of an amazing-looking down your store’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities restaurant, you want to go there for a and threats. This will give you a great starting point meal, right? It’s no different with bridal to spruce up your store and will hopefully help you bring service and the proof of it all and service that will bring the brides in. It’s the whole in the sales! on Instagram. They want to show off where they bought package. A revamp doesn’t Shannon Martin Dotty Bridal need to cost the earth; their dress. You should Holder of the Best Instore sometimes all you need is be proud that they found a lick of paint, a new colour Design title in the 2017 Bridal their dream gown in your scheme or even just a move Buyer Awards stunning boutique!

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The value of a new store refurb should never be underestimated. It’s as essential to retailing as warmth and clothing is to us. Two of our largest industries – retail and technology – are constantly changing, reinventing themselves and launching new products. Neither sits still. Why? Because innovation increases revenue. This has been proven over and over. New store fit-outs have the power to double (or even triple) turnover. Retail and technology are now intrinsically linked and omnichannel shopping is pushing the boundaries even further. Over 50 percent of sales take place on a

mobile phone, tablet or PC. Whether at home or on the go, consumers have a constant stream of messages and alerts. They can find the closest store, latest products, special offers and events. The opportunities are endless. When the market is tough it can be all too easy to ignore anything that costs money, but it’s imperative for retail success. The retail landscape is continuously morphing and diversification is key. Consumers are demanding ever greater, allencompassing experiential stores, which means it’s essential to invest in a ‘new look’ and it doesn’t have to be difficult! SDEA is here to help. Having led the UK retail display industry for over 70 years, we have a vast amount of knowledge and experience, as well as a wealth of reputable, specialist suppliers and manufacturers who, between them, offer quite literally thousands of products and services. There are many innovative and exciting elements to good store

design and each can deliver dramatic results. To begin with, you could consider your shop’s lighting – great atmosphere and ambiance can be devised with illumination. Whether you are aiming for an intimate interior or stark elegance, a specialist will be able to develop a concept that meets your requirements and your budget. There’s no denying that good quality fixtures and fittings help convey a cohesive brand message and aid the customer shopping experience. Another simple solution is to invest in large format graphics. Nothing beats a beautiful image; it can conjure up a whole lifestyle in one poster. Whether hung on walls, suspended in cable systems in the windows or added to shopfittings, a professional will help you find the perfect combination. An easy way to create a vibrant store interior is to add a digital screen – the larger the better. It’s a great way to showcase your range and is extremely arresting to your clients. Or,

you could fully embrace tech and install an IT system that links your tills to your website to the screens on the wall and invites your customers to get to know you through social media. Remember too, great window displays can be thrown together with an array of everyday objects to create show-stopping features that work even when the store is closed. Heidi Easton SDEA Got a problem? Need advice? Wedding Trader will get the experts on the case and don’t worry – we won’t use your name, nor images. Want to get involved in giving advice? Drop me an email at

The SDEA Directory of Retail Display is a great source of inspiration and will help you develop dynamic retail interiors. A free copy is available to Wedding Trader readers – just call 01883 348911 and quote this feature.


hen I went shopping for my dress, I went to five different boutiques in Bristol. You would think that it would be the dresses that made a shop stand out, but in all honesty, it was both the staff and the shop itself that swung it for me. Looking through the beautifully displayed window I could see lovely, clean, neutral décor with fresh flowers, beautiful real wedding photos, decadent furniture and a gorgeous chandelier. It was instantly inviting and I was itching to get in. It makes you feel like you’ve gone somewhere special, not just any old wedding shop, when the shop is well presented and the staff go out of their way to make you feel like the only bride in the world! So for me, yes, it’s extremely important. A tired, run-down shop, even with the best dresses in the world, wouldn’t make me go inside. Sarah, 28, Bristol A real bride’s opinion M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 25


t @moncherieurope

in @moncherieurope



Show Pieces IAN STUART

The first time coming-together of London Bridal Week and White Gallery got the general thumbs up, despite this year’s hike to ExCel. Here’s what we picked up from exhibitors and show visitors…

Helen Williams WILLOW BRIDE Middlewich M Y B E S T FI N D S : Coloured bridal gowns Rachel Allan Lo’ Adoro – fabulous gowns, new to the UK Ian Stuart – for amazing fabrics with style Harriet Wilde Shoes – loved the detail Ivory & Co Bridal – for luxury fabrics at affordable prices and their constantly amazing customer service

Miranda Templeton’s hair vines – unique and can be used for so many things, from belts to hairpieces Elizabeth Dickens lace veils – these can be done in multiple lengths and shades to colour-match almost every gown you could think of Wendy Rivieria (right) whose Do You Speak Bride proved to be a must-go-to seminar to learn something of value Advice Clinic – great for everything from business advice to marketing planning Carrafina Bridal – perfect for creating your own label in store, offering to tailor gowns to your brides needs so you can set the mark up White One – St Patrick for its Plus Size styled gowns for curvy brides

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Beautiful beadwork Adrianna Papell Platinum has widened its stockist network and says reactions at ExCel were terrific. Heavy beadwork, vintage styling and great price point across the collection ticked those all-important purchasing boxes.

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Sonsie Veromia decided to participate in London Bridal Week at the last minute since many of its customers were planning to be there. “Even though setting up had its teething problems,” says Vivien Felstein, “it was worthwhile, and we felt it will be the go-to show to exhibit mid-season collections. Despite the fact that our customers had problems finding us due to our location, we had a fairly successful show and would definitely exhibit again in a better position in the hall. Sonsie was in demand, especially style number SON91722. This satin full skirted dress with diamante detailing was a real hit.”


Anny Linn A fabulous collection that produced gasps of delight at the sheer inventiveness of the young designer who has a magical way with fabrics. Sales manager Stephanie Liang was thrilled with the reaction at White Gallery and explained the designer’s vision. “Anny was inspired with a series of documentary films that introduced the universe and galactic cluster; she wanted to create some romantic styles as dazzling as the star, as enchanting as the galaxy. It’s a soft, glittery collection with whimsical luxury designs and dazzling veils, capes and headpiece. The dresses are mostly A-lines, but there are mermaids in there, too.” We loved the nude colours.


ELLIE SANDERSON M Y B E S T FI N D S : I absolutely loved the Savin Catwalk – his designs were truly inspirational and different. The screaming and cheering from the packed audience said it all. Miranda Templeton always manages to deliver bang on trend product – I totally loved her use of rose gold and soft pinks to tone with this and next year’s collections. I also totally fell in love with Charlie Brears ‘Day for Night ‘collection. The brilliant styling combinations means retailers can build new looks by adding fresh pieces to their existing core range. My best find has to be those suppliers who, despite the show being early, are managing to deliver the product earlier than the Autumn. With social media now showcasing the dresses our clients want them now. It really is a ‘see it now, buy it now culture’.


Ellie Sanderson



One to watch – seriously watch We first saw the work of Los Angeles house Madeleine Fig in New York a few years ago. It stunned. Brave, beautiful and utterly confident, it introduced a whole new direction for bridal. It was a thrill to see the latest collection by Jannina Madeleine Figueroa, the design force behind the brand, at White Gallery. Starting her own bridal label at the tender age of 22, this extraordinary talent seems to move effortlessly from concept to creation, using textural mixes, unique fabrications and a signature combo of white and natural hues. We cannot praise her work enough. To be bowled over and to make contact, visit – UK retail prices start at £1,700.

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Andrew and Robert Pearce O U R B E S T FI N D S : Eliza Jane Howell blew us away. The new lace technique was outstanding; it is a real ground-breaker in the industry. Mark Lesley’s new coloured crepe is lovely, and we can’t wait to have it arrive with us in store. Rachel Simpson shoes really caught our eye – love the coloured shades!

Maria Musgrove-Wethey M Y B E S T FI N D : My ‘find’ was Louise Bentley gowns in White Gallery. It is part of the well-established LouLou brand who I thought only did bridesmaids and tea length ’50s-inspired dresses. I was with one of my clients from Ireland (Love Ellie from Virginia) who I helped start up last year. They felt a need for a more classic, simple gown that would not push their price band up – their average is around £1,400. The big-name British brands were either spoken for in the area or too expensive, so they were naturally cautious and feeling a little downhearted. Then, on the Tuesday morning, my manager Alexandra spotted some fabulous gowns on the Louise Bentley stand and we felt that they would really fit the bill for Love Ellie. Mainly wholesaling at £500 and with flexibility on design and sizing, this brand seemed the perfect solution.

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PANTILES BRIDE Tonbridge Wells




Kate Speer IVORY & PEARL Comber



“We loved seeing designers that were new to us – Rasha London and Match Made Bridal, two totally different brands for the fashion forward bride! And of course, our lovely current labels, Claire Pettibone, Karen Willis Holmes and Naomi Neoh. All in all, it was a great weekend.”

Allure One shoulder, off-the-shoulder, cap sleeves, waist accents, full skirts, plain silhouettes – you name it and Allure had it across its latest collections for Romance, Madison James and Allure itself. The fit here, and the choice of fabrics, puts this brand right up there as a market leader and able to comfortably compete with many of the designer labels. No surprise, then, that at London, and also at Rome Bridal Week, Allure proved to be first choice for many canny retailers.

Ivory & Co Think Hollywood and ’50s chic, and you’ll know why this little number clocked up gold stars. Taking on three new dress stockists within an hour of the show opening, it was no wonder Sarah and Alex sported the biggest beams possible throughout the three days. We loved the little cape – looking like snowflakes for a winter wedding and daisies for summer nuptials, it is the perfect topper to the retro dress. The duo’s jewellery scored points too, with delicate shades of cinnamon rose and copper rose.

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bases from the luxury sector want to treat their clients to a more private setting. Is it ever possible that that experience could be integrated into the bigger White Gallery trade show? It will be interesting to see how Ocean Media handle creating a truly luxurious offering with their first foray into staging Brides The Show, and whether this could be something that could be worked into the trade shows of the future.

OV ERV I E W A strong contingent of the Luxe Bride team, three of the directors and all but one of our member boutiques journeyed to Docklands for the first London Bridal Week and White Gallery at ExCel. Ocean Media had gone to generous lengths to encourage our visit; VIP hotel rooms, complimentary bubbles and a very familiar stand layout, particularly for White Gallery. The collections on Feedback on the location was mixed. It was either easier show were loved by Luxe Bride and were as many and to get to if you fly into London City, or a complete Planes, varied as the boutiques themselves. Trains, And Automobiles trek from some parts of the South I particularly loved talking to Sophie Creed from E&W East. When on site, though, the vibe was positive and the Couture. It was so lovely for an old hand like me to meet enclosed nature of venue meant there were lots of shop young talent fresh from Wales. owners ‘networking’ until the It reminded me of working in my small hours. Retailers were loving that it was early days with Stephanie Allin Love My Dress founder when the supplier/boutique Annabel Beeforth loved the quiet and relaxing. They were relationship felt more like a atmosphere of the show pioneering partnership than a buying what they needed and not and found innovation and wrangle over minimums. inspiration on every stand. what they were told Eliza Jane Howell’s stand was Annabel and I took to the buzzing with all the sparkles and Champagne Bar to discuss featuring celestial inspiration. Stars have been cropping pure fashion whilst watching Rasha and Theia’s models as a motif all over the high street and bridal collections; twirl, pose and pout. On the advent of Luxe Bride’s fashion my only worry being that the delivery times for samples partnership with Annabel’s blog (which has long been a means that boutiques need to get them in and working champion of independent retail and is always ready to fast before the trend is on the way out. discuss the underlying businesses behind the glamorous Feathered friends were everywhere, from Sassi Holford façade of the industry), it is great to mix work with to Charlie Brear, and the trend jumped from White Gallery pleasure, campaigning with couture. to the London Bridal Week exhibitors. The funniest Unfortunately, in a trading year that is seeing lots of comment on the trend had to be from darling Anne of shops triggering break clauses in their leases, retail Courtyard Bridal who claimed she was going to get confidence at low ebb and the continuing rise of the psittacosis if she was forced to alter feathers! Wed2Be chain, I get the impression that the amount of Colour palettes and pops of bright florals peppered buying going on was prudent to the extreme. Scanning many of the collections. A beautiful embroidered silk on feedback across various networking groups I can see that the Wendy Makin stand that made me stop and stare and retailers were loving that it was quiet and relaxing, and gentle pastels and dark creams broke the sea of ivory. also that they were insistent on buying what they needed Classic gowns from Caroline Castigliano were loved by and not what they were told. On a personal level, I do Luxe Bride shops and the feedback from members was feel that a return to the designer element being in the that the British heritage labels like Sassi Holford, Stephanie September trade show would make more sense, certainly Allin and Ian Stuart had played to their strengths and in terms of delivery needs into stores. showed their signature styles in sumptuous fabrics. For Luxe Bride, the show was a success; membership Kate Halfpenny pushed fashion boundaries on colour grew. It was a chance to reach out in open and honest texture and silhouette, showing again why she is so dialogue with our peers to consider the shape of beloved by style bloggers and fashionistas. businesses going forward, how to play to our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses. I, Offsite, the Luxe Bride buyers headed back to the West for one, anticipate End for Jenny Packham and Suzanne Neville, who great dialogue in showed in landmark luxurious locations. I do understand why these much-loved labels that have established client the future. 32 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

B RAV ING THE L A NDSCAPE we needed to break even on a weekly basis, so as long as we were a good bit above that figure, I was happy to let the accountant deal with everything else. The following five years, however, became retail hell. With 2008 came the start of the recession, but at the time this had seemed to bypass the wedding bought what we liked, a industry. It was almost as if people perfect mix of avant-garde, couture designer and some were so miserable about the wider economy, weddings introduced a manufactured labels too. Our business was flourishing nice focus for everyone involved, and brides were still and we were happy to spend, able to expand It gives me spend, spend! into a bigger goosebumps when This bubble only and more lasted a couple beautiful I remember the glory of years though; setting. Our new days. We didn’t really slowly but surely, budgets were designers have to try, we bought cut by £500, then and existing £1,000. Many ones were what we liked, brides bartered also running a perfect mix hard for freebies on a high; the that would once bridal industry of avant-garde, have been the was thriving and their couture designer and bread and butter of a sale. That veil, requirements some manufactured headdress and on minimum shoes are what orders labels, too kept many shops were still coasting along. Suddenly we were demanding. At our height we had hen I was 19, I joined giving accessories away for free in some 12 different designers and my mother’s bridal order to keep that bride in our store, labels to buy from. shop to work partinstead of letting her head for one of Even as I’m writing I’m thinking time while I was at our competitors. university. Fast-forward ten years and WHY? Why could I not see what was However, our suppliers, probably coming? It was a perfect storm, but we co-owned one of the country’s feeling the pinch too, were totally one that I was just too busy to take most successful bridal shops – The unsympathetic to this situation. High note of. I would arrive on a Monday Wedding Shop in Alderley Edge. minimums were still very much the and be flat out with marketing, It gives me goosebumps to write order of the day. meetings, fittings, appointments, that, remembering the glory days. The two years – 2012 and 2013 admin, staff, shows. I knew how much We didn’t really have to try, we

Hello. My name is Lucy Ball and I am an ex-bridal retailer. Some of you may know of me, most of you won’t. Let me give you a little bit of history...


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copy from China, such was my – were the worst for us. Many of internal reaction; I’ve always been you may remember The Curse of such a staunch supporter of small 2013. It was real. In 2012, the brides businesses and, of course, bricks and who would’ve chosen 2013 for their mortar retailers, that this just didn’t nuptials decided to skip a year, it sit well with me. was deemed ‘bad luck’. Not all of And then the penny dropped. them, obviously, but a significant What about creating a marketplace percentage of them. Enough to see where bridal individual dress retailers could sales (already If you are considering sell their at a much lower order value) expanding your space, first samples, get the capital outlay drop by around look at whether you actually back in the bank 30 per cent.. and live to fight I’m an ideas need to. Maybe it’s your stock another day? girl and I had The capital plenty of them, you need to look at invested in stock I also invested is such huge drain on the cashflow of heavily into the business, but by this bridal retailers, and those samples are point the damage had been done. getting increasingly difficult to turn There was no way out. back into cash with the advent of fast In the January of 2014 I made the fashion bridal and big warehousedecision to put the business into style bridal shopping becoming liquidation. It was undoubtedly the increasingly popular with brides. hardest decision of my life. At the time of writing, BridalBay is I recently met a retailer who was about to launch for vendors. It has closing down as she couldn’t see her been a long journey, but the result is a figures improving. We just looked at website which primarily offers vetted each other sadly with knowing eyes. boutiques an auction-based platform Going through the liquidation was a lengthy, upsetting and desperate time to sell samples. It is easy to use for for everyone involved. A bit like going time strapped boutique owners, and through a very expensive divorce but aspirational in its styling to give brides a feeling of security that they are with about 200 people at the same time. I would not wish it on anyone. The next chapter I’ve learned a lot over the past four years, about the bridal industry and about myself. After advising several new bridal retail startups, I decided to change my path. I wasn’t seeing much changing in the bridal world and, honestly, I was getting a bit frustrated. I decided to up skill by taking a post graduate course in digital marketing. At the same time my brother got engaged. His fiancée was scouring the internet looking at dresses before going on her appointments, something we were all looking forward to! Then she dropped a bombshell. She had bought her dress from a liquidators auction. She might just have well have told me she’d bought a cheap designer

buying a luxury item. Since we started to build it, the scope has widened to include a marketplace for independent UK businesses to showcase and sell their products and services, and soon we’ll be adding directory of suppliers and a blog to showcase all of our suppliers. There are also exciting plans for an advice forum for brides and grooms, as well as extending that to a private business forum, too. Lessons Learned Closing my business gave me the best education of my life, and the lessons were plentiful! Here are just a few thoughts that I wish someone had told me 10 years ago… Firstly, if you are considering expanding your space, first look at whether you actually need to. Maybe it is your stock you need to look at? If you have a hundred dresses on your rails, maybe having a massive sample sale (I mean one that brides can’t resist and that will actually shift your old stock) might free up all the space you need. Secondly, if your diary is full, it is because you are a popular store. Brides will wait to visit you – you don’t need to cram them all in to

BRIDALBAY Lucy’s new venture has been driven by the realisation that the market and brides’ shopping habits have changed

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one weekend just in case they go elsewhere. In fact that will have a much better experience when you don’t overbook, so don’t use this as an excuse for more space. Every year, take a look at each one of your labels and its profitability. If you are only buying from that designer out of loyalty, stop. These people aren’t your friends, they are your suppliers and business is business. If they are your friends they will understand. If you do decide to change the course of your business, take advice. Speak to your accountant, partner, family and friends. Sometimes they may say things that are hard to hear, but all opinions are valuable when you are making big decisions. With any big business changes, write a definitive business plan and cash flow forecast. Even if you aren’t borrowing money to make your changes, it really helps to focus your mind and provides a reference point to come back to. When you are buying, set a budget that fits with your business plan and stick to it. We are all salespeople in this game and it is very easy to get carried away at a buying show, especially when you see your competitor eyeing up a particular designer that you love. If you think you need to borrow money, take a long look at your

TOO MUCH STOCK Analyse what is working for you and clear the decks of anything that isn’t

existing costs first. Do you really need things might get tough, address them now. If that time is coming, it’s coming all of your staff members? I know whether you like it or not, and you’ll this might seem harsh, but are you weather the storm much better if employing others out of loyalty or, far worse, laziness? Every year, take a look at each one of your Can your team work labels and its profitability. If you are only just as well buying from that designer out of loyalty, stop. with one less player? These people aren’t your friends, they are your It is far less expensive suppliers and business is business. If they are than your friends they will understand borrowing money you are prepared for it. Or, you could when you really don’t need to. make some positive changes now that Most importantly, listen to your will turn a potential negative into a instinct. It is powerful. If you have a business win. Plan, implement, review feeling that six months down the line and keep doing it. Finally, once a month, take some THAT BUSINESS PLAN It’s vital to take a long, time to sit back and forget the day-tohard look at where day running of your business, if you you are, and where are doing well, give yourself a pat on you are going the back. Take time to think outside your four walls and see what other opportunities might be out there. The landscape is changing and there are plenty of fresh ideas just waiting to be brought to life. Don’t get left behind because you are too busy. Want to know more? Contact Lucy on: +44 (0)7867 978497 email

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NE W DAWN amandaw yat t .com

MADE TO MEASURE Brides and mothers increasingly want indidividuality and a look that is very much their own

BAC K TO THE S H O P was then that they were advised by the director of Glasgow store Dalys to design for the wedding market, because “that was where people would spend more for something that was different”. The duo were commissioned to create six wedding dresses and these formed part of the daily catwalk shows staged in the department store itself. At the same time, in the 1970s, Joyce was wholesaling and selling to the high-end shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh, to Dickens & Jones in London, and to a number of middle n OBE is a Queen’s honour east retailers. given to an individual for Later, after taking a break an a major local role in any starting a family, Joyce found herself activity such as business, designing for Bairdwear – another charity or the public sector. OBE stands for Officer of the Most Excellent M&S supplier – only this time, Order of the British Empire, and Joyce she accepted that she was only Young was awarded an OBE for By Storm was set up in services to textiles – receiving said honour in the Queen’s New Year’s an 18th-century cottage Honours List in 2013. “Being able to put ‘award-winning’ in front of my name with one floor devoted to is great,” she admits. But one does retailing and the other to not become a success overnight. So where did it all begin? design and sewing We have to go back to 1975, ‘translating’ for the high street, and where Joyce graduated from that her personal design wasn’t really Glasgow School of Art. After a year appreciated. What than experience as a creative designer for a Marks gave her, though, was a real under& Spencer supplier, Joyce set up standing of factory production, which Sequin, a business with a fellow put her in good stead for the future. designer. They had a distinctive style, Then, in 1993, Joyce had made her with coordinating hand painting plan for the next step: setting up and appliqué on their garments. It

Joyce Young OBE has been on quite a journey to reach where she is today. We caught up with the design maestro to hear about her decision to turn her back on wholesale


her own business with her partner, Maurice, whose company specialised in pleating and embroidery. By Storm launches After their business plan for a loan was approved, Joyce and Maurice set up By Storm in an enchanting 18thcentury cottage north of Glasgow where one floor was devoted to retailing and the other dedicated to the design studio and sewing room. Looking outside the wedding industry, Joyce and Maurice targeted the cruisewear market and produced a beautiful collection of outfits – from stylish swimwear to highly inidividual occasionwear. The unifying factor, and what gave the range its distinct edge, was that everything was uncrushable – it could all fold neatly into a suitcase. The By Storm name and reputation spread fast – boosted, no doubt, by TV presenter Carol Smillie who devoted air time to the cottage venture and the designs that were being produced for a growing and appreciative audience. Within a year, customers were choosing By Storm outfits to wear to informal weddings and soon after, a local bride-to-be requested that Joyce design and make her wedding gown and dresses for the bridesmaids. Moving their production to a unit close by and converting the sewing room into a bridal room, Realising that the demand was there, Joyce found herself back in bridal. M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 39

KEEP AN EYE OUT There will be lots to see at Barcelona – over 300 companies will be showcasing their wares

However, it was tough to make any profit on small runs of garments. “It was just like Dalys’ director had predicted in the seventies when he said that we couldn’t compete in the middle market,” says Joyce. The couple made an executive decision to focus on weddings. “In those days, we were quite avantgarde,” she adds. “In the midnineties the styles were still under the influence of Princess Diana’s shepherdess dress. We started showing long, lace coats with slits over trousers, simple styles in beautiful fabrics.” They decided to sell direct to the customer, each season designing a collection for brides and one for mothers of the bride. The samples were in the shop, from which customers ordered – and their chosen outfit made for them individually. This gave Joyce great flexibility, but because it was labour-intensive, it was also expensive. In the mid-nineties, Joyce designed a collection in pleated microfibre velour. The reception it received was overwhelming, so much so, that she and Maurice decided to go back into the wholesaling arena. They showed at Pure for a few seasons and developed a network of stockists across the UK and Ireland. Then, misfortune hit when Singlam – the company who made the fabric that they pleated – went out of business 40 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

and they couldn’t find a replacement. But from that, a new chapter opened. The London store 1999 was a big year – not only because Joyce and Maurice tied their own knot and married, but also because they opened a shop in Chiltern Street, in London’s fashionable Marylebone. A year later, they moved their production unit for both shops into a purpose-built factory in Glasgow, where they have continued to manufacture to this day, producing more than 500 outfits and wedding dresses a year. They also had some 15 UK and overseas stockists “From 2006 to 2013 we were wholesaling our Tartan Spirit Accessory Collection, which took us into the tourist industry,” Joyce explains. “At one time, we had our shop in Glasgow, the one in Chiltern Street, a shop in Gretna Green and Tartan Spirit shop in Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond. We were exhibiting four times a year at trade shows and four times at bridal shows.” Then, some 14 years after making their name in central London, Joyce and Maurice moved their retail operation to a larger plush atelierstyle shop in north London’s stylish Belsize Park. “We have more couture brides in London,” Joyce says. “If we had to compare the two stores, our London

brides tend to like the slimmer dresses and their spend is a bit higher. However, we do notice that brides in both Glasgow and London are more cost-conscious than in the past.” As well as designing all their own bridal, MOB and groom collections, Joyce buys in a few collections of wedding dresses that compliment their own, home-grwn label. “They’re less expensive than our collections, and chosen for style, quality and value, rather than just their famousname labels.” Wedding shows Talking of buying events, what does Joyce look for when she visits them? “We mainly look for accessories that will compliment my new designs. I like to get an overview of what is happening in the industry and then go away and do my own thing. I don’t like to get too hung up on what other designers are doing. There’s room for everyone, but nowadays there is so much style choice that it can be overwhelming for the brides. It’s much more difficult to be different than it was in the nineties, when all the styles tended to be similar. Now anything goes and brides have a vast choice of types of dresses and weddings. It’s become quite a pressure for them.” Leaving wholesale The decision to move out of the wholesale arena was the result of a

ALL ABOUT STYLE From plush surroundings to perfect dressing, Joyce Young has a winning formula

straight-forward analysis of the market and the business itself. “Our own shops were very busy and taking up more time,” Joyce says. “They were more profitable than the wholesale side. It was a pain to chase payments from other shops, far too time-consuming for us. “Simply put, we’re much better at dealing directly with the bride and mothers. We love meeting people, hearing their stories and finding out all about their plans for the wedding. We love helping them to look amazing. We’re good at creating the whole experience, because we enjoy what we do, and we get so much satisfaction out of seeing our happy customers collecting their outfits. To have continued in wholesaling we would have needed a bigger team and to split the business between the two sections.” That was not the only reason behind the decision, though. “It was also a case of going back to being dictated to by exhibition dates and price points,” she recalls. “There were so many restrictions in my M&S days; I love the freedom of not being tied to price restrictions. By working directly with brides and their mums, I can use luxurious fabrics. Boiled down, that’s what I enjoy the most.” The main part of the business has now become mother of the bride and groom in both London and Glasgow, with prices starting at £2,000. “It’s not easy to get perfectly fitting

elegant outfits in luxurious fabrics for discerning mums. Our customers travel from all over the country and come in from abroad to have fittings.”

Put simply, we’re much better at dealing directly with the bride and mothers, and creating the whole experience So what is trending for Joyce Young right now? “Currently, I’m loving plain and simple,” she says. “The dresses that stand out for me on the catwalk are the understated ones. There are so many that are too fussy, too sparkly, too lacey. I believe that classic shapes in luxurious fabrics transcend time. Classics with a twist are key, and to me, it is all in the twist! “This season we’re using jacquards, mikado and heavy crepes with elastane. In Scotland, grooms tend to wear a kilt, and I prefer ivory against the kilt to any of soft pinks and golds. Tartan is a bold statement; so we also have a collection of wedding dresses that incorporate tartan – quite the niche market in Scotland. I’ve been asked to design two tartan dresses: one wedding dress and one evening dress for a high-profile tartan exhibition, sponsored by Japanese newspaper Kobe Shibun, which will

tour five major Japanese cities over two years. I cannot wait to dress Japanese brides in tartan for their weddings in Scotland!” As things stand, there are 20 highly experienced and dedicated staff working with Joyce including a new designer. “This year we are delighted to welcome Kolin, a couturier, who will assist me in design and making the creative patterns – as well as fitting the couture customers in London. I spend one week per month in London, so now couture customers can see Kolin when I’m not there. We’ve built a strong team here, so the business doesn’t depend on me alone.” So what’s next? “Going forward we will offer different collections for mothers,” Joyce says. “We’ve launched a daywear collection of casual chic dresses that’s proving very popular. Also, we’re introducing a collection that will come in a range of sizes and be less expensive than made-to-measure. But bespoke will continue too, and we’re introducing another level of haute couture fabrics that will be designed individually for each client. “The plan is to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last 25 years – only bigger and better!” +44 (0)141 946 0660 M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 41

IF I WE RE A R E TAI L E R... Yes, it’s the start of another new Wedding Trader series. Each month we’ll be asking industry names how they would deal with things if they were in charge of the shop floor. First up is Vatana Watters, whose stunning portfolio of brands includes Watters , Wtoo and Willowby side detail that will make the sale Shop décor – what leads the way? ✔ Cool and contemporary Comfortable seating for the guests and offering refreshments will A clean slate with neutrals with create a relaxed and fun setting modern décor that adds personality to the space, and accents that can be An area for the bride to have a added (and switched out) seasonally. moment and regroup in a smaller, Rose gold accents are so in right now more intimate setting. Every bride is Know your demographic and what different and may want to make their will attract them, but be on the cutting final decision or work out their choices in private with a consultant. edge of trends A gorgeous scent that sets the Communications mood – VW – how can you loves Byredo’s On social media, engage best reach the Burning Rose with your audience – don’t target audience? Changing Bridal salons just post and log out. Take are part rooms – what of one of shows off a the most special the time to be part of the dress best? moments in community and converse someone’s life. Beautiful Doing something lighting to show unique, beyond offering outstanding off details and the true glimmer of customer service, will create intimate dresses with beading Plenty of mirrors so the bride can and lasting relationships with bridessee all angles of her dress. Sometimes to-be. Consider the following… it’s an interesting back or a special Host in-store events in partnership

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with influencers and bloggers Send out newsletters with wedding dress trends, tips on how to shop and budget for a wedding gown Host a Designer Day –: the respected name can speak about trends, best silhouettes for body shapes, how to dress the bridal party Social media – making it work for you Post regularly on social platforms: Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest Engage with your audience – don’t just post and logout. Take the time to be part of the community and converse with existing and future customers Form partnerships with influencers on social media. Align yourself with those who are authentic and have a following and engage with their audience Using windows as a form of advertising Advertise what the latest initiative is – on trend dresses, latest brands, or trunk shows that are coming up

Windows should be consistent with what you are marketing across all platforms. Should also be slightly more elevated or out-of-the-box than a real wedding would be If a store caters to a more bohemian bride, a look like Orion would be amazing to draw in customers in a display. If a store is more traditional, a regal look like Grimaldi would do the trick. We photographed the Grimaldi gown and Whales topper with baby’s breath that dries beautifully for a great fresh element to proceedings

Online presence – how to maximise your website value Drive your traffic through digital advertising Increase awareness through PR and influencer marketing Capture and nurture leads through email marketing Partner with brands on comarketing initiatives –co-hosted giveaways, influencer sponsorships, events and so on Buying tips – at shows, especially Take inventory of what you

currently have. See what performs, what doesn’t perform, what holes need to be filled, and don’t forget to have a few trend options to attract people in Be on the lookout for things that no other store in the area has on top of the high-volume styles Think about what is right for you – are you going to buy a breadth of styles to cater to several types of brides? Or instead find a niche in the bridal market that could add to your store’s personality and appeal in your target market?

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CAL LISTA MOVES FORWARD Callista, the award-winning Canadian plussize collection, has been bought by Michele O’Neill, the design force behind the label. We asked her about her plans to move the brand forward on the international map How many years have you been in the bridal business? How did you get into it is the first place? I started in this wonderful bridal business in March 1980, having left Trent University with my degree in Fashion and Textiles with a specialisation in embroidery design. I realised that I could not make a living out of wall hangings, so I designed and made four wedding dresses, put them in a suitcase and got an appointment to see the head buyer at Harrods. Harrods had an independent bridal department in those days, and they gave me my first order. With that I took out a small loan and opened a workshop. In those days I made everything from the patterns themselves to cutting and sewing the dresses. Back then there was little competition for my silk wedding dresses, and with the help of an amazing editor at Brides magazine I got a few front covers, which brought me many celebrity clients. You’ve been on the retail side of things Yes, I opened my London shop on Motcomb Street, when Harrods turned their bridal department into a Berkertex in 1986. I already had a shop in Nottingham which I opened in 1983 and I held the concession in French Dressing and Emma Somerset ladies department shops in six locations. I loved the retail side of things – meeting the brides and designing a dress that was unique to their dreams is so rewarding. 44 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

So what was it that made you decide to work as an agent and distributor? Knowing the business as I do, I wanted to have a change of direction. I love the work I do for The Dessy Group and seeing it grow throughout Europe has been amazing. And now, we understand, you’re taking up the brand ownership reigns once again, this time with Callista… I loved the opportunity to design again. While I have kept my head down over the years, I did a few years designing for two major European brands. The opportunity came my way to design and create for Jai International and it was one I couldn’t resist. The owner of Callista Bridal decided he wanted to pull out of wedding dresses, and at the same time I decided that the time was right to buy the brand and continue to grow it. We know you’ve always loved a challenge. But don’t you think – in this current economic environment – it takes real courage, as well as the huge investment of time and money, to take up this mantle? You’re right. It was a really big decision to take this on – but it would have been harder to turn a chance like this down.

Who are you partnering with in terms of production – where is Callista made? Callista will continue to be made in the same factories as before. It’s very important to keep that continuity going and of course, they understand the required construction. I’ll be visiting the factory twice a year. Do you see this as having an impact towards your work with Dessy? That in itself must be hugely demanding, with so many lines in the portfolio… Yes, it is demanding. However, we at Ruby Productions have always had our specific roles within the company for each of our brands, and my part within Dessy is not affected in any way. How many collections a year will you create for Callista? Now it’s all yours, do you see yourself moving it in any different direction? We do have plans for journeys within the Callista brand. We will introduce two diverse collections twice a year with hot new styles introduced bi-monthly.

How will you be promoting the brand from now on? For the past 18 months we’ve been running a very successful social media campaign. This will continue as will a print programme with our popular media partners. +44 (0)1909 774471 We here at Wedding Trader are always interested in your reactions to industry news like this. Got an opinion about the plus size market? Email us at SIZE RANGE Michele plans to keep offering Callista dresses from UK sizes 12 to 34

Talking of which, what can you tell us about the new collection? Fabrics, colours and the like? Lots! Sequin fabrics, slim and sexy lines with lots more sparkle. We’ll be covering the bits our brides don’t like, all the while emphasising the parts they love. Separates and two-pieces with a mix-and-match option will be introduced, too. Are you going to alter your size range? Callista are known for glorious gowns for the curvy bride. With this in mind the size range is going to be UK size 12 to 34, with made-tomeasure options available outside of our size chart. Our patterns, they are graded specifically for plus size brides which is why the fit it perfect. Will your arrangements with stockists alter in any way at all? What support will the brand give them – exclusivity, special price deals, extra samples – anything? In the next few months we will be able to offer our popular designer events to more shops at the same time, with a wider collection and increased sizes for brides to try on. We’ll continue to honour the territories already in place for shops, plus we’ll be organising cupcake and fizz sessions with stockists around the country so we will be able to react quickly to what brides are asking for. What do you think the average size for the UK female is today? I think a UK 16 is the average now – but according to The Telegraph in August 2017, one quarter of British women are size 18 and above. M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 45

My website journey Do you pick up an ‘off-the-shelf’ website template and (with the help of a technominded mate) go it alone? Or do you call in an expert, invest time and money, and create something that is unique… and yours? Kerri Ashworth went for the latter


ince opening my bridal boutique in August 2016, my website had been one that I designed myself using Wix. I’d had a few friends who had built their own site with that system and they said it was easy to use (which it was). It was the first website I had ever designed; it took me many hours with some mistakes along the way, but I was pleased with the end result. It worked well for me and I had good feedback on it. My boutique is in a converted barn, located on a farm and hidden away among the picturesque countryside. It’s a beautiful setting, but not one that people tend to pass by, which means that my Search Engine Optimisation needs to be on point. I have a very basic understanding of SEO, and with constant algorithm changes, I

realised that my website could perform better. A good number of customers had found me through my website during my first year, but, I wanted even more! I had also just added a new high-end designer label to my offering that would increase my price points, so I felt that my online presence

really needed to reflect this and deliver a luxury message. My website is my shop window, so it’s really important it shows my brand and what I offer in the best way possible. With all of these points in mind, I decided it was time to get a professional in to help me out.

Finding a web designer Having been involved in PR and marketing for a number of years, I’ve worked with several web designers. Andrew Philips from ID76 Creative was one of them and we discussed the project. First, I got a rough idea of costs from him (and obviously from others to

BRIDAL INDULGENCE Kerri’s wonderful bridal boutique is based in a converted barn

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MOBILE VIEW Remember that a lot of your clientele will view your site on their phone

compare), then he came to Bridal Indulgence to see the boutique and really understand my brand. The brief The main reason that I had wanted a new website was to increase my SEO. We

discussed this early on and Andrew pointed out to me a few things that weren’t helping my current activity. For example, my email address was, which was of course all over my website. Google doesn’t like it when your website

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has a link with Outlook or Hotmail since both are associated with spam and, as a result, your website gets pushed down on the rankings. My email address was immediately changed to As I mentioned before, I only have a very basic understanding of SEO, so it was great to learn what can help improve it. We discussed my customers in terms of what they were searching for, how they were currently finding me and where they were travelling from. I took Andrew through my USPs and what I wanted from the website. I did research into other luxury websites (not just bridal) and put together a mood board of what I liked – this covered everything from style and image to colours and fonts. We discussed adding textures to the website to

give it a more organic feel. And with all that info and my wishlist, Andrew went to work on my new look. The design First, he experimented with different textures, styles and colours and, using stock images, he produced eight different prototypes, all with a similar layout; he also designed a ninth, which was completely different in terms of layout and style. I picked my favourite four designs – which included the ninth one – and sent them to everyone I know (including Wedding Trader’s lovely Editor, Susi!) to get their opinion on which they liked best and why. Interestingly, I had two clear favourites; one was also the choice of friends and the other – the very different one –was preferred by media creatives and contacts in the industry.

When asked what had influenced their decision, friends said they had chosen that particular design – design ‘A’ – because they found it easy to navigate and they liked the colours. Meanwhile, the other ‘team’ preferred design ‘B’ because,they felt, it looked more luxurious and had a creative feel to it. I decided that I needed a combination of the two designs, so I sent all my feedback to Andrew and he moved the development to the next stage. While he was working on a new design that encapsulated all the opinions I had gathered, I arranged to have professional photographs taken that would reflect the style and ambience in the boutique, and I sent my favourites from the shoot over to Andrew. The new design he put together combined the two suggested website styles perfectly. It had the luxury look and feel that I wanted, and was easy to use and navigate. I requested a few small changes such as font size and reordering a few panels but, ultimately, I was delighted with the structure and content. And once my images were incorporated

into the design, it felt like it was very much my own. Final stage I am now in the final stages of the process and am looking to test and launch the site over the coming days. I have loved working on the concept from start to finish and cannot wait to eventually launch it! It has been challenging learning about ‘responsive designs’ (how websites resize content depending on screen size and the device) and fascinating working on user experience principals (navigation and overall usability). I am so pleased that Andrew created that ninth design that moved away from my initial brief. You may have a fixed idea, but it’s so important that you keep an open mind, trust your web designer and listen to the feedback from others.. Check out Kerri’s new site: created with the help of We’d love to hear how you have approached your own website-building. Did you come across any tricky hurdles? Drop us an email at

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Occasionwear collections We had lots of thanks for our tell-it-like-it-is guide to bridesmaid collections (what, who and how to get to them), so that’s the formula we’re staying with. This month, it is occasionwear wear – from partygear to guestwear, to mama mia. Enjoy!

CARLA RUIZ Personality: Stylish Spanish collection that offers something different Fabrics: Silk chiffon, soft stretch jersey Colours: Soft shades of pink, grey and silver to sharp reds and acid yellow Number of pieces: 150 Delivery from date of order: A/W 18 deliveries start June/July Size range: UK 8-24 Retail price range: £150-£599 T: +44 (0)7512 550346 W: 50 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

CHRISTINA WU CELEBRATION Personality: Effortless, day-to-night Fabrics: Chiffon, lace, satin, sequins, jersey, sparkle knit Colours: 70 Number of pieces: 60 Delivery from date of order: Three, five, seven or nine weeks available Size range: US 0-36 Retail price range: £159- £249 T: +44 (0)8707 707670 W:

ADRIANNA PAPELL PLATINUM Personality: Capsule collection of beaded elegance Fabrics: Beaded tulle, sequins and lace Colours: 12 Number of pieces: 15 Delivery from date of order: ten weeks Size range: US 0-18 Retail price range: £249-£499 T: +44 (0)8707 707670 W:

VEROMIA OCCASIONS Personality: Something for every occasion Fabrics: Satin prints, jersey, lurex prints, stretch lace, stretch crepe Colours: Poppy, cobalt, navy, silver, platinum and fuchsia Number of pieces: 30 Delivery from date of order: Mid-June to mid-August Size range: UK 8-20 Retail price range: £55-£109 T: +44 (0) 20 8502 2257 W:

DYNASTY OF LONDON Personality: Confident and sophisticated Fabrics: Laces, hand-beaded tulles, jerseys, chiffons, satins and sequins Colours: Vibrant Number of pieces: 65-100 Delivery from date of order: Generally in stock so just 48 hours Size range: UK 4-18 Retail price range: £299+ T: +44 (0) 20 8736 0200 W:

DRESS CODE Personality: MOB with a twist Fabrics: Jacquard, lace, chiffon, lurex Colours: Various, including metallics Number of pieces: 15 Delivery from date of order: Mid-June to mid-August Size range: UK 8-20 Retail price range: £120 (sold to retailers as package or given free depending on turnover) T: +44 (0) 20 8502 2257 W:

DRESSED UP Personality: Plus-size occasionwear Fabrics: Chiffon, jersey, lace, tweed, satin-back crepe Colours: Various Number of pieces: 15 Delivery from date of order: Mid-June to mid-August Size range: UK 16-28 Retail price range: £120 (sold to retailers as package or given free depending on turnover) T: +44 (0) 20 8502 2257 W:

GINA BACCONI Personality: Modern, elegant Fabrics: Crepes, chiffon, satin and lace Colours: 40+ Number of pieces: 150 Delivery from date of order: Stock available Size range: UK 8-26 Retail price range: £89 -£399 T: +44 (0) 20 8438 2000 W:

DOMINIQUE LE CO Personality: Formal, cocktail and party Fabrics: Chiffon, satin, tulle, silk, laces Colours: 20+ Number of pieces: 40 Delivery from date of order: Seven weeks Size range: UK 6-24 Retail price range: £180-£430 T: +44 (0) 20 3289 0988 W:

MARY’S BEAUTIFUL MOTHERS Personality: Finely-crafted MOB range Fabrics: Chiffon, lace, mikado, satin, tulle and power mesh Colours: Up to 20 per style Number of pieces: 50+ Delivery from date of order: 12-14 weeks; immediate delivery from stock progamme Size range: UK 6- 34 - no surcharge for plus sizes Retail price range: £297-£687 T: +44 (0)1765 570040 W: M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 51

MASHIAH ARRIVE Personality: Easy-going gorgeous Fabrics: Satin polyester and chiffon Colours: Mashiah’s glamorous pleats are produced in every mouth watering colour imaginable Number of pieces: 100 Delivery from date of order: AW 18 deliveries start July/August Size range: XS-XXL Retail price range: £300-£1,500 T: +44 (0)7512 550346 W:

IAN STUART LONDON Personality: 60 is the new 40! For cool mums who want to look fabulous Fabrics: Silks, delicate chiffon, matte taffeta and rich jacquard Colours: Pales, metallics, prints, and a fabulous polka-dot Number of pieces: 26 Delivery from date of order: 8-12 weeks Size range: UK 6-22 Retail price range: £995-£1,650 T: +44 20 8761 6302 W:

IRRESISTIBLE Personality: Super-stylish, fashion-forward Fabrics: Stretch taffeta, stretch prints, duchess satin Colours: Nude, blossom, sangria, rosewood, midnight blue Number of pieces: 30 Delivery from date of order: From end of May to end of July Size range: 8-20 Retail price range: £159-£299 T: +44 (0)20 8502 2257 W:

KELSEY ROSE Personality: Feminine, contemporary and understated Fabrics: Soft tulle, chiffon, printed chiffon Colours: 120+ Number of pieces: 20 Delivery from date of order: 10-12 weeks (rush available) Size range: UK 2-30 Retail price range: £175-£250 T: +44 (0)20 8888 8833 W:

COLOUR BY KENNETH WINSTON Personality: Young, fun, stylish Fabrics: Range includes chiffons, exclusive laces, soft satins, mikado Colours: 50+ Number of pieces: 66 Delivery from date of order: 12-16 weeks Size range: UK 6-28 Retail price range: £165-£300 T: +44 (0) 1765 530282 W:

LINEA RAFFAELLI Personality: Uber elegant mums love it! Fabrics: Stretch crepe, jacquard and French lace Colours: Blossom, silver, gold; coral to red, sky blue to royal blue, and mint Number of pieces: 50 Delivery from date of order: 8-12 weeks Size range: UK6-24 Retail price range: £500-£750 T: +32 13 771476 W:

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MARK LESLEY Personality: You don’t need to be a bridesmaid to love this! Fabrics: Chiffon, satin, floral, mikado Colours: Over 100 in chiffon and satin Number of pieces: 50 Delivery from date of order: August/ September Size range: UK 6-30 Retail price range: £150-£280 T: +44 (0)1621 784784 W:

MASCARA Personality: Red carpet WOW, looks that get a girl noticed Fabrics: Jersey , chiffon , stretch satin, stretch gaberdine Colours: Too many to count! Number of pieces: 400+ Delivery from date of order: Fast! Size range: UK 2-28 Retail price range: £149-£399 T: +44 (0)20 8965 1522 W:

ROSERA Personality: New, and great-looking Fabrics: Chiffon, jersey, nett tulle, organza, lurex and more Colours: Every seasonal fashion shade Number of pieces: 150+ Delivery from date of order: DecemberFebruary; August- September Size range: UK 6-20 Retail price range: €139.95-€299.95 T: +31 6531 969 17 W:

SASSI HOLFORD Personality: Confident, bold and sassi! Fabrics: Italian crepes, textured bouclé with subtle sparkle, Colours: Anything goes and colour options are endless! Number of pieces: 10 Delivery from date of order: 8 weeks Size range: Any, made-to-measure Retail price range: £695-£1,295 T: +44 (0) 20 7584 1532 W:

LUNA BY NICKI FLYNN Personality: Inspired by vintage Hollywood icons Fabrics: Chiffon, lace, crepe and satin Colours: Over 70 Number of pieces: 70+ Delivery from date of order: 14-16 weeks with a 12-week rush order Size range: UK 6-36 Retail price range: £99-£135 T: +44 (0)1273 736622 W:

CIGDEM AKIN Personality: One of Turkey’s hot names Fabrics: Silk, chiffon, soft stretch jersey lace, brocade, cotton Colours: From soft to strong. Customisation of colours and fabrics is available Number of pieces: 120 Delivery from date of order: AW 18 deliveries start June/July Size range: UK 8-24 Retail price range: £150-£900 T: +44 (0)7512 550346 W: M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 53

Looking for stockists at this exciting time.

Sale price range ÂŁ129- ÂŁ599

For more information contact: James McKenna T: 07551 006 995 Kirsty Voce T: 01765 570 040

Blogger’s Best Louise from B.LOVED knows a thing or two about writing brilliant blogs. Here she shares her wisdom

Blog name: B.LOVED Founder: Louise Beukes Editor: Catharine Noble When the blog launched: March 2011 Monthly Visitors: B.LOVED gets around 125,000 visitors per month. Best performing post: That would be the Blush, Grey and Golf Leaf photo shoot piece we ran, by Helaina Storey Weddings. The superb photography was shot by Rebecca Goddard.

A good feature requires imagery. Our readers are busy career women who are inspired by beautifully captured details What’s the criteria that makes one story better than another? For the editorial team at here at B.LOVED, we think that a good feature comes down to the imagery. Our readers are busy career women who are inspired by beautifullycaptured details, the kind of images that they can imagine incorporating into their own wedding. Therefore, light-filled imagery that suits our aesthetic is our number one criteria when it comes to finding a winning story.

Do you come straight out if you regard something as secondrate? Would you advise retailers, consumers against it? We work very hard to both partner with and promote brands who we trust and respect to do the best job for our couples. We would never promote or discuss any suppliers or products in a negative light. If, however, we felt strongly about a particular piece of industry news, we’d happily discuss privately with individuals where we feel it relevant. What makes a good story? Over the years we have learned that the best stories are ones that are authentic, those that remain true to our values and aesthetic. Our readers are all about the pretty – they love to see gorgeous, handmade details, M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 55

will this make it easier to manage your own workflow, but your followers will also get to know when to look out for new content! Also, write about what you know. Whether it’s dresses, cakes or planning, couples have come to your blog for a reason. So show off your knowledge and expertise! Finally, don’t get too bogged down with SEO. Ultimately you want real people to read your posts, and when

incredible bouquets and floral installations, and hearing about the suppliers who created them. As a result, it makes sense that the features we share are a mix of inspirational styled shoots, detail-heavy luxury weddings and exclusive content curated by our team.

should run blogs on their own respective websites? If so, what are the top tips for getting it right? Absolutely, blogs a great way to connect with your target audience and show them what you can do. Blog posts can be informational as well as inspirational – so yes, by all means share images of your real weddings, but also consider including What makes a great photograph? This is so subjective, and really comes advice posts that showcase your expertise at whatever it is that you do. down to your own personal style as well as the clients you want to appeal This is the best way to communicate your brand to future clients – and a to. At B.LOVED, our style is fresh, regularly updated blog is great for contemporary and pretty, so a good image is filled with light, pastel shades improving your SEO, too! and conveys a sense of romance. For other brands the style may be more What are your biggest blogging tips? alternative, moody or colourful. Blog regularly, it doesn’t matter if you blog daily, weekly or monthly – so long as you stick to a schedule. Not only Do you think that bridal boutiques 56 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

Write about what you know… Whether it’s dresses or planning, couples have to come to your blog for a reason your copy is littered with key-words it can be more than a little off-putting. Be authentic and write in an informal, conversational style. Connecting with real people is more important! Head over to to read more of Louise and her team’s fantastic blogs. Are you thinking of starting a blog feature on your own website? Have any questions you’d like to ask the likes of Louise and fellow blogging gurus? Email






DREAM DRESS Use our handy tool to search through 1000’s of dresses online for all the bridal party, then click to find your nearest stockist!



wilder lybr ide. com

Supplier Speak One question that rears its head from time to time, especially after big trade events, relates to what checking is carried out by suppliers, and particularly show exhibitors, when approached by potential stockists 62 ♌ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♌ M A Y 2 0 1 8


e are getting regular questions from retailers who want to know how their suppliers react, and what they are doing to support an ongoing relationship. The topic of who is supplying whom has come up a few times now and we said we would look into it. Here’s the question: “Home workers, mobile workers, and those operating out of a back-garden sheds, none of whom have the business expenses of we bricks and mortar retailers, seem to be buying more and more brand names. The fact that those samples might be last season’s is no excuse – I have samples that have been best-sellers for years. These people are damaging my business – don’t suppliers understand that?” We talked to a number of big brands. Some were reticent to make comment – not, we felt, because they had something to hide but rather because they were unsure of how to respond as they carry out, they believe, all the necessary checks. Some years ago, it came to light

that a couple of designer labels were supplying one parcular home worker. A bit of detective work (thank you, Google Maps) showed that this ‘seller’ operated from a private house which had been converted to provide an attractive ground-floor showroom that could compare in décor and evident comfort to many a quality bridal boutique. It certainly was not a rail-in-the-lounge affair, but it was

The, professionallyproduced website had much what would encourage a bride-to-be to make an appotment a home, in a residential area, and therefore not liable for the business rates that bricks and mortar shops face. One of the then suppliers, when challenged, explained that they had been told that the selling-fromhome situation was temporary while

business premises were sought. Well, years on, the business has remained at the same address but, interestingly, the labels it carries today – different to those of earlier years – are not your everyday household names. And the praise heaped upon this outlet through online posts is considerable – how genuine those comments are, however, is an unknown factor (think of all those glowing restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor and the meals that don’t quite live up to the promise of culinary heaven). But the seller had a good, professionally-produced websitewith much that would encourage a brideto-be to make an appointment. So it is, in fact, the competition that this type of business offers the conventional retailer that is the real problem because, at the end of the day, a keen seller will always be able to source product – as well as dressmakers whohave the ability to create a decent copy from a genuine brochure photograph. The threat posed by home traders will not go away, but if you think a

HOME SALE Many suppliers will do their homework, googling business addresses for their location

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brand you work with is supplying all and sundry, challenge them. If you do not feel you are getting the right response, drop them. Trust is vital and it is a two-way thing. It is imperative that you are comfortable and secure in your business relationships. One award-winning retailer told me recently that they had girls popping in, trying on dresses, taking notes and, if they could, photographs, only to trot up the road to a home worker who had promised they could get something similar or, far worse, the self same dress, for a heavily discounted price. One of the problems that remains very much with us today is transshipping – when one shop will ‘help out’ another by supplying the dress in question when, a local competitor shop has an exclusivity agreement with the same supplier. I do believe that suppliers do everything they can to ensure their stockist list is clean. Years ago I witnessed how one particular longtime exhibitor at Harrogate dealt with enquiries from potential new stockists. While one member of the sales team chatted to the would-be customer, another was seated at his laptop, and feeding the shop details and address into Google. That way not only did they know immediately who was their closest located stockist, but they got a pretty good idea of the look and style of the shop, or the lack of it. They found that saying “no” upfront reduced any problems that might occur later. One supplier we spoke to agrees wholeheartedly: “Do we check stockists? Of course we do. We have discussions with each of our potential stockists with regards to where they are located and what they are trying to achieve from their store, who their customers are 64 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

We have just and what other labels they carry. Our completed first port of call is always their post our code though, to make sure they do Cambridge not fall into anyone else’s exclusivity Bridal Show area. That is crucial. where we We do checks with Experian to invited our make sure they are a good business retailers to deal with and have no CCJs. It’s from across no good for anyone taking on a new the UK and stockist if they don’t pay their bills. I Europe to know a lot of people think designers view our Fall are made of money and some do treat 2018 Mon Cheri collections. us like a bank so a bad stockist can Each stockist was personally have a real detrimental effect on our invited, with existing and new business. We are a small company stockists attending our event. The with a small team who multi-task retailers we choose to sell to need their behinds off; we have had quite to have business trading premises, a few shops in the past two years we will not going bump, so controlling that The retailers we choose to sell open the account is critical to any to need to have business trading until they business, not just ours. premises; they need to be paying have a signed Google earth business rates. We would not lease for a is amazing and shop. helps us a lot as want our gowns sold in an They we can literally need to see the street that amateur environment be paying the shop is in and business rates and have a sometimes can virtually look through professional business, as we would the window. Another factor is the not want our gowns sold in an website and how it looks. amateur environment, which could Any store that doesn’t have an compromise the quality of our all-singing, all-dancing website that collections. reflects the labels they carry is a big We do feel as a company it problem for me. Maybe that comes appears unprofessional to be from my previous life in the bank and selling gowns from your front room business advisory sector, but I feel in a home setting. a website is the first thing brides will Obviously, there are some bridal look at these days and it’s a retailers’ shops that are located on private window to the world. land, possibly close to the owner’s We always try to do the best by home and purpose built. As long our stockists, but we do state at as there is a separate entrance, and the outset that none of our retailers you do not need to walk through can trade online and they must be someone’s home, adequate boutique based. signage, separate parking and And finally, if we are a little unsure business rates paid this would be or just want to check... we talk to acceptable. This would be a unique each other. I have no problem ringing situation for us, but something that a designer they currently have and would be considered if we deemed asking the question… are they good it to be acceptable on visiting. to deal with? We try to vet potential Nicole Swain new stores as best we can. Sadly, Dom Bridals sometimes we do get lied to as some people will say what is needed in Let us know what questions you’d order to get the label. like us to put to suppliers. Email Vikki McCarthy-Wright House of Mooshki

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Mens’ formalwear has been focused on statementmaking style for many a season and continues to brave it with bold colour combinations, defined detailing and sculpted cuts that are short and close to the body



ill the forthcoming Royal Wedding change attitudes and fashion trends and result in a resurgence of classic groomswear dressing? Some suppliers are getting ready for a demand for black, grey, tails and pinstripes; others, however, are convinced that the man on the street is more interested in high style, and the bolder the better. One thing is for sure: the choice out there is greater than ever before, so whichever fashion direction the chaps want to travel in, they’ll find something to satisfy them. German house Wilvorst, one of the largest in the field, has designed a ‘Cool Wedding’ collection that will be stockbacked from May 2018. This includes a new wool/poly fabric with two percent stretch for a suit that comes in four shades – mid and dark blue, light grey with a hint of beige, and a true beige. The two-button jackets are slim fit and the trousers are narrow. The range includes single-breasted, collared waistcoats in a check fabric with matching bow ties, braces and a Peaky Blinders style cap. While there is a demand for deep burgundy and black from grooms who want their own bit of red-carpet glamour, Wilvorst is excited about the potential of its new formal wedding suit, which boasts a slightly longer, cut-away jacket with subtle piping on the peak lapel and pocket

and narrow

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buckled slip-ons and snake-skin-effect lace-ups in the palest cream – perfect for a destination wedding. Accessories in a huge variety of shapes, colours and finishes, come from G Westerleigh, whose range includes wood-decorated cufflinks, metals with Men’s formal hire is a great cat’s eye stones and belts with a special add-on for any bridal shop. It’s buckle that ensures the length can be usually the bride who makes the automatically adjusted. decisions on colours and what Italy, of course, leads the way in the she’d like her groom to wear, so fashion stakes and in menswear, too, it having menswear to hand is a has made its mark. Impero, one of the big bonus and, bearing in mind there brands that specialises in all sectors of the are generally around six chaps in weddingwear market – for brides, guests, the groom’s party, the service is kiddies – has a truly handsome menswear certainly worth consideration. range – Impero Uomo, where the blue has A male mannequin should be a depth that is amazing. Narrow brocade part of your window display and jackets top trousers and waistcoats with a changed regularly; featuring soft sheen and narrow bow-ties are centred menswear on your website is a with a hint of sparkle. Make this one in good idea, too, since most hire white and brides will be clamouring for it! suppliers have excellent links that Masterhand, the German brand that can be used with outfit creators, is shortly announcing something big so a groom can do his homework (watch this space), says it is seeing a slight in his own time and try out resurgence in morning tails, but only slim different looks and colourways. and very tailored fits, and reckons that If you have the space, separate Harry’s chosen outfit for his wedding will your groomswear from bridal; result in a move towards classic styling and if you can’t accommodate both traditional stripes. Right now, however, then why not offer waistcoats and blue and grey dominate demand while neckwear that can be chosen to the label’s check lounge suit is reported co-ordinate with the bridesmaids. to be performing well. To be successful, Lounge suits are popular right independents must offer something that now, and some grooms are opting cannot be found in every high street is the to buy their suit, but still need the message from Masterhand. accessories to complete the look. Back to our shores, and the last word Heirloom offers over 300 colours has to come from the one and only Marc from stock to accommodate this Wallace, tailor extraordinaire, trend-setter, service. Remember, it’s not just and fashion influencer, who sums up about the bride. the new season thus: “2018 grooms are harking back to a vintage era of evening wear with a fashion twist, sharp tailoring and wonderful paisleys for cut-away and luxury fabrics from silks to velvets flap and cloth-covered buttons. jackets, waistcoats and neckwear, all to creating a very dapper gentleman. Tailored Checks and tweeds and high-quality be worn together, and edged with contrast silhouettes to unstructured soft lines worsteds are in vogue right now, and piping and topped with solid-colour shawl lend themselves to a fun and colourful Heirloom is offering a great range of lapels. Torre, where jackets are longer but palette, with the trend for creative personal options, including a grey and pink combo still lean, tips blue as the key colour for detailing, from hand prints to personally for waistcoats and accessories that formalwear, but has produced, for lessdesigned fabrics. Urban street art inspires a introduce a very different, but still classical dressy weddings, a range in muted tweed. creative vibe of contrasting hues with bold look. Meanwhile, the big European brands, Also from Portugal is the adventurous colours and embellishment. Textured and particularly those from Portugal, have Arax Gazzo collection, with its short-short matt fabrics are certainly in vogue along gone all out for striking print and plain jackets in muted metallic fabrics – bronze, with a layering of statement colours.” combinations, and detail on detail. copper, ruby and jet with a gleaming sheen. Marc Wallace is currently looking to Luciano Rivieri, the collection from The shoe offering from this house includes supply formalwear stockists in the UK. Grupo Noiva, has – for the brave – wild shiny patents (gorgeous in navy), multiGet in touch – and be inspired. MARC WALLACE


Advice from Jane Powell of Heirloom

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ADDRESS BOOK Arax Gazzo +351 256 872 846 G Westerleigh +36 26200033



Heirloom +44 (0)1706 367711 Impero +39 081 18587091 Lucciano Rivieri +351 229 717 565 Marc Wallace +44 (0)1225 466155 Masterhand +44 1622 873434 Torre +44 (0)252 623111 Wilvorst 0117 932 7905





Manufacturers and retailers alike confirm that sales of made-tomeasure and off-the-peg suits have increased hugely over the past couple of years, particularly for the groom himself. However, UK sales are still predominantly in the hire wear sector.

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THE BLEWCOAT Ian’s wonderful flagship store in Westminster offers brides and mums a luxurious experience



Exclusivity is one of those elegant words, like ‘couture’, but unfortunately is sometimes misused in our bridal industry by suppliers and retailers alike. Ian Stuart, who is both, shares his thoughts

label over and over again. Something in their heart speaks xclusivity works really well when you are the only to them, and it draws them in. boutique in a specific radius to have a particular They go off to their local boutique who has the label collection. The customer can only get that dress from your part of the country, from your boutique. ‘exclusively’, only to find that said shop has just three or four dresses from that particular collection. The disappointed By giving this territory, the supplier supports the boutique bride, suffering somewhat with tunnel-vision, her heart and in return, the boutique supports the supplier. firmly set on Label X, then It seems like a really simple, goes further afield to find a fair, clean-cut agreement, Three or four dresses alone can boutique that has more to offer doesn’t it? And my brief lose you a sale – the bride might go from that particular collection. explanation seems to make what does this tell real sense when you boil it elsewhere and discover a better, bigger us?And down. Yes? So how, and more That those three or four importantly why, can it all go dresses have lost you a sale selection of gowns from one label horribly wrong? quite simply because the bride has gone elsewhere and discovered a greater selection from the same designer. Shops with a larger choice of Heart set on Label X More often than not, a bride (or perhaps her mother) trawls gowns from any one label have more chance of making that sale. In order to make exclusivity work successfully, the internet and somehow gets drawn to a particular both sides have to support each other. designer or supplier without even trying. If you are a supplier you should look to do the following… I’ve seen it a lot; they just seem to go back to the same 70 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

SENSATIONAL SETTING A listed building with a true pedigree houses Ian’s award winning collections

‘Sister’ collections should not be a rival collection Don’t be the supplier who comes out with a so called ‘sister’ collection, and sells it to a boutique right across the street – you’ll simply be competing with the original boutique who had the original collection! Be there for support Support your exclusive boutique, with a combination of verbal recommendations, trunk shows, sample loans, fabric swatches, and in-store demonstrations.

Use your passion to your advantage Embrace this exclusive collection that you have. Think of ways in which to capitalise your investment and point of sale – how about including sketches from the designer for every bride who buys? Bring your knowledge and passion about your exclusive Buying to block? Gobbling up labels collection to the table; you know those dresses inside is not good business sense. You’re out, and with hard work only going to sell dresses that you’re your dedication will result in healthy sales.

passionate about; clients will sense this

No frock-blocking Thinking of buying into a label in order to ‘block’ your competitor(s)? Really? Major no-no. Gobbling up labels is Store visits Actually go and visit the boutique in question to see exactly neither cute, pretty, nor does it make good business sense. You’re only going to sell dresses that you’re passionate where and on which rail they are hanging (or planning to about; your clients will sense this energy radiating off you. If hang) your dresses. Are they in a prominent position? Is you carry a collection for the wrong reasons, then you can this boutique doing you justice? If not, then you need to be certain that your brides will pick up a negative message. have a discussion with them, whereby you chat through suggestions that could benefit you both. As a designer, supplier and a retailer, I would like to take Meanwhile, if you are a boutique, then you should consider this opportunity to remind both parties that this is a twothe following if you have belief in a label and want to grow way street. Exclusivity can work. It can be successful – so your business with that brand: long as both sides obey the rules and play the game fairly! Depth in variety Don’t expect to be given a huge territory of exclusivity if you’re not prepared to buy the collection in depth. Three dresses for half of Scotland? Forget it!

Tel: 020 8761 6302 Email: Website: Twitter: @ianstuartbride M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 71

PART I I : TH E N E XT STE P Following up from our exclusive feature last month, the Enzoani team are starting to unroll the new customisation programme to retailers round the country, linked with instore training. We asked Jeanette Stevens what the reception has been like What’s the reaction been like? What seemed like such a simple concept was surprisingly quite complex! However, the end results were greeted with a mix of overwhelming enthusiasm, sheer delight, excited raptures, and an eagerness to ‘get stuck in’ and start using the tools immediately! Sounds like the training went well… Yes, staff at every boutique were captivated – you could see the lightbulb moments as they realised what an impact this new programme was going to have on their jobs. Every training session generated new questions, and garnered thoughtprovoking feedback, all of which we then built in to the following training sessions so that they became even more informative. The simple new order form and training manual were well-received, but it was the direct training that was the jewel in the crown. Working together with our stockists sparked new ideas and potential

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suggested that the programme could be incorporated into their team’s ongoing development and training, and that they had the reassurance of knowing that the spec sheets would guide sales staff into what they could (and could not) offer. Another boutique, one that out-sourced alterations, was so excited that it now had the information and tools to confidently offer customisations at the first appointment, and physically show the bride what is possible in a way she could easily and effectively visualise. The general consensus of opinion seemed to be that sales that might previously have been lost could now be closed during initial consulations.

‘variations’ to the kit and we are already looking at possible additions. Of course, there was the surprise element – sales consultants have never had the availability of this type of service before – but once the basics were understood, the smiles came out and they embraced the concept: it’s the simplest things in life Were there any recurring FAQs? that can make the biggest differences. “Can we buy additional kit boxes and have one in each changing How did the reactions differ? room?” Our response? More kit Every boutique has its own needs, but boxes? No problem. our programme’s tools are diverse, “The specification sheets show and versatile enough to be utilised wholesale pricing; great for the team differently by stockist. placing the orders with Enzoani, One shop with its own in-store but not so user-friendly to have in a seamstress found that the most consultation room. How do we get valuable element was the list of around that?” Our answer? All the motifs, lace, fabric and buttons that documents can be downloaded off could be used on a specific dress. our portal, including spec sheets that That, together with the codes and do not list costs, ready for you to add pricing charts, made it easy for them your own. Simply print them off! to cost up a dress during consultation, “Can we access spec sheets for the saving time at point of order. full collection we carry, or just the We saw less-experienced sales sample we hold?” Easy one: all spec teams empowered, showing a sheets are available on the Enzoani new-found confidence. Managers portal. Why not print all the styles you

OPUS COUTURE The team from West Kilbride (left) get busy taking notes on the system BELLISSIMA WEDDINGS Our resident columnist Laura Daly (below) shows off her Enzoani certificate!

AVA ROSE HAMILTON Another team of newlytrained experts celebrate after their Enzoani session!

have in store, but download the full set onto your PC? Perfect for when you have a trunk show – sometimes that’s the first chance you have to work with certain styles. What caused the real excitement? When the kit boxes were opened and the goodies unveiled, the sequinned

fabric and twinkling straps were the first to grab attention, and that’s when the whole concept starts to sink in. Customisation had taken on a whole new meaning with this programe. Different keyhole straps, for eg, can now translate as being ‘hand-made bespoke straps using matching lace, motif and beadings from the dress’.

So what comes next? Customised veils? Jackets? Separates? All the options available for the basis for discussion about what we build into phase two. Exciting times ahead. You can contact Enzoani on: +44 (0)1792 586615

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w w w. enzoan


Sassi Holford She’s a classicist who delivers the contemporary, and one of the key names in British bridal and occasionwear design. Small wonder Sassi can count royalty and red-carpet celebs as clients… We caught up with her for some snap-shot answers

Where did you learn you design skills? I was brought up in a creative environment and an element of design is instinctive. Have you only ever worked for yourself? Apart from the jobs I was caught doing when I was supposed to be at school – yes, only for myself. How do you start each design process? Is it the fabric, some inspiration? It can be either. However, recently, the availability of amazing fabrics has made it easier! How much do you lean on previous designs? One of the advantage of being in the industry for 37 years is that trends often revolve. As a result, you can lean on earlier experiences and past successes. Where else do you show apart from White Gallery? New York Bridal Week is a great market for me. With all the concerns in the market about competition from the high street, what advice would you give retailers about staying ahead of the game? Try to be true to yourself – quality and service cannot be sustained cheaply. Your new collection, what’s the story? Fabrics, silhouettes, colours, dressy-up bits? Texture has been key this year, especially set onto striking silhouettes. M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 75

Does the Excel show get a ‘thumbs-up’ from you? The changing dates and locations has been a huge challenge for everyone. What were buyers asking for at the show? High-neck, long-sleeved gowns as well as classic ballgowns. They loved the contrast of the new textural silks against the layered tulles and chiffons with embellishment. Did creating a royal wedding gown make a difference to your business? Yes, but making Holly Willoughby’s No1-liked dress on Instagram this year has had a huge impact, too. Your new occasionwear line – same retailers? Or a whole different world? Yes, it is a whole different world, but there is some crossover to be seen. Biggest lessons you have learned over the years? One: stay true to yourself. Two: don’t take it personally. Social Media… Yes, no, who does it, and how often? Big yes from me. Social media is so important. We like to

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get the stores and office teams involved so we can show the whole Sassi Holford story! Who are the three people in the industry that you most respect and why? I’d pick Karen at Anne Priscilla Bridal – she is focused, business-like and straight-talking. Also, my husband Martin, for joining me on the wild rollercoaster – he’s managed to work with me through new collections across the past 23 years. And the third would be Susanne Neville, for staying true to creating her gowns in England. What do you reckon lies in wait for the year ahead for the industry as a whole?? The mid- to lower-end market will break off and there will be some niche high-end bridal retailers. Most popular retail price point in your collection? £2,495 +44 (0)20 7584 1532


Clothes to treasure for your memorable day 020 7821 9499

COURSES: GROW YOUR BUSINESS Carolyn of Carolyn Louise says we should take advantage of the courses on offer today that are designed to give us a better understanding of our own abilities, our strengths and the business growth waiting to be realised


ello Wedding Trader, I’m Carolyn, owner of Carolyn Louise Ltd, a Wedding Design & Event Management company. In 2016 I decided to follow my dreams and set up my own business. However, it wasn’t quite that easy. I lacked confidence and self-esteem, and I was overwhelmed about where to start. After studying for a BA (Hons) in Event Management, I went on to have a successful career in marketing and PR, working for a number of different industries. It took me a good two years of self-development work to overcome many of my fears and get to where I am today. At the start of 2018 I decided to focus my business (previously a branding and marketing agency) to a purely event management business, specialising in weddings. I have finally found my niche and feel aligned to doing what I love.

Sourcing courses There are many courses you could take to get a better understanding of your business, from finance to marketing to business strategy. My advice is start by looking at the strengths and weaknesses within your business and at the abiity of each

member of staff and then sourcing courses that close that skills gap – especially if you aren’t in a position to pay a freelancer or employ a permanent member of staff to carry out this work for you. For example, if you own a small boutique bridal shop and currently employ two members of staff, you might have a background and interest in fashion and textiles, while one employee has skills in finance and business administration, and the other in social media. You may look to develop your own skills in sales, marketing and communications. Understanding your customers is key. Do you know who your ideal customers are? Who are the customers that you would absolutely love to work with and in return would love what you do? These are dream customers. Even if you spent time on this at the start of your business, your goals and objectives might change as both you and the business develops. Think about the following: how old are they? What gender? (In our example of a bridal shop, we’re talking females.) Where do they shop? What magazines do they read? What social media platforms do they use? What are their hobbies and interests? What

BACK TO SCHOOL You’re never too old to learn new tricks. Going on a course could work wonders for you

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do they do in their spare time? How much disposable income do they have? Do they follow fashion trends? What is their style? Getting really clear about who you are targeting will make the content you write on your website, social media posts, blog posts and so on really specific, because you will know exactly who you are talking to. Getting niche Don’t be afraid to niche down. It’s better that you are really targeting your marketing to one specific person than trying to cater for a number of different people. It doesn’t mean that people that aren’t your ideal client won’t shop with you, but you will attract more of your ‘ideal’ client. Once you’re in business, it’s easy to stay within your comfort zone. To really understand your business and its potential growth is to work with a business coach. The coaching world, especially online, has grown considerably over the past few years with a number of people and businesses popping up all over the place, but don’t let that put you off. I have worked with various different coaches, and working with someone who will help you get clarity

Look for a coach who specialises specifically in what you are looking to do – maybe they’ve been on a similar journey to you

self-sabotaging ourselves to keep us within our comfort zone. Let’s go back to the case study of the bridal shop. The owner of the boutique bridal shop has been making a decent profit each year, but now she wants to take her business to the next level; she wants to attract more high-profile designers, raise her profile through PR, be featured in bridal and about what you want and take you fashion magazines and position her out of your comfort zone, as well as keeping you accountable, is one of the brand as a luxury bridal boutique. However, deep down she has fears best things that will develop you and your mindset, and give your business a and limiting beliefs around money – maybe she doesn’t believe she is quantum leap to the next level. worthy, good enough or questioning why designers would want to work The right coach with her. Every time a potential If you do want to work with a coach opportunity comes her way to get look for someone who specialises specifically in what you are looking to her a little closer to her dreams, something happens to stop it from do, maybe they’ve been on a similar proceeding. This is self-sabotage. journey to you. Look at what results Have you ever heard those stories they have had with other clients. where someone wins the lottery and The most important advice I can loses it all within a couple of years? give, though, is that you work with Again, a fine example of self-sabotage. someone with whom you really resonate. Sometimes our mindset can hold us back; even consciously Further reading you have a vision about where you I am hugely passionate about mindset want your business to be, but there and self-development; without it, I can be a whole load of unconscious would not have got to where I am blocks, fears and limiting beliefs today. I believe that success goes that are keeping us stuck and even beyond skills and experience. To really understand the potential of your business and its growth, you CONSIDER A COACH have to begin by understanding Coaching doesn’t have to be done face-to-face. As with many things yourself. There are huge number in life, it can be done online of self-development books to help you with mindset; personally I would recommend The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks and The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Don’t have enough hours in the day? Contact Carolyn on to discuss her range of package offers at

Carolyn Louise Ltd is based in Newport, South Wales. The company specialises in organising weddings and creative corporate events for busy professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners based throughout the UK and abroad.

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Second opinion Shop number two? Emma Hartley has been there, done it, reviewed it, and rethought it. Her experience is worth noting, especially in the current environment…


itting rooms bursting with brides, rails are groaning with stock and the credit card machine’s gone into meltdown. We need another shop! It may seem like a sound business decision. What’s not to love about finally being able to accommodate all the brides on your waiting list as well as all the prestigious labels you’ve coveted for years but never had room for? Before you know it, you’re drawing up business plans, creating a ‘New Shop’ Pinterest board and scouring commercial

EMMA HARTLEY The decision to focus on a single shop has proven to be a winner

property websites for shops to let in your desired location. Sound familiar? Let me stop you right there… I’m not one to crush anyone’s confetti, but having indulged in the second shop dream myself, I feel well-placed to offer words of caution. I understand that there are businesses that expand successfully, but I can only share my own experience. Opening my second shop seemed successful years of trading, I was like a natural progression; after 12 ready for a new challenge. I enjoyed planning which labels to stock, the interior décor and branding but, to be perfectly honest, I never really felt the same attachment to my second baby that I had to my first. It became frustrating helping brides in one shop knowing that we had the perfect dress for them in the other shop! We also had brides with a favourite in each boutique, meaning hours were spent couriering dresses back and forth. This sometimes resulted in a bestseller missing from shop one because it had been requested in shop two. Everything was doubled – buying trips, staff to manage, overheads… A lot of sheer ALL IN ONE PLACE hard work. And with that, frustration. Dresses together, After four years, when the lease was brides together... the due for renewal, I had to acknowledge perfect equation M A Y 2 0 1 8 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ 83

• Turning brides away? This could potentially be solved by opening extended hours or reconfiguring the space to accommodate additional fitting rooms. • Want new labels, but have no room? Analyse sales data on your existing labels. Are they performing well or do you need to replace labels rather than add more? • Love labels X, Y and Z, but can’t fit them in your existing location? New shops and labels appear and disappear at an alarming rate. It’s risky to open a shop purely to acquire specific labels – there’s no guarantee that they’ll still be available.

GOOD MOVE Tighter control, far less frustration and improved sales

to strength. We’re now a very happy that the two-shop dream was now a one-shop business, celebrating full-time nightmare. I carried on, not 20 years in bridal retail. Last year, wanting to make staff redundant (not 2017, was our most successful year my most astute business decision, ever. And while but in a small I enjoyed some business, staff Many small businesses parts of the become friends). benefit from business rates second shop Finally, the stars to be aligned when relief but taking on a second journey, frank, it was a the manager was moving out premises can mean that you relief when it was all over. of the area and are no longer eligible Before you handed in her take the plunge, notice. I decided not to sign a new lease and started the examine your justification for shop two and consider if your problems could process of downsizing. be eliminated by making changes to With all of my focus back on my your existing premises: original shop, we went from strength

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Turnover versus profit Inevitably, you’ll make more sales, but, unfortunately, opening a second shop might not be as lucrative as you imagine once you’ve covered the costs of shop fit, staffing, additional advertising and stock. Many small businesses benefit from business rates relief, but taking on a second premises can mean that you are no longer eligible. You may see a huge increase in turnover, but this does not necessarily equate to profit. As the saying goes, turnover is vanity, profit is sanity. Brides will either visit one of your shops, potentially depriving the other shop of a sale, or they’ll visit both, putting your shops in direct competition with each other. If you’re still dreaming of a second shop, be clear about your motivation and what you’re hoping to achieve. If it’s just because you fancy a new challenge, start training for a marathon, instead! For me, saying goodbye to shop number two was one of the hardest (but ultimately the best) decisions I have ever made. Wedding Trader is YOUR monthly news magazine and in every issue we’ll be running opinion pieces from our audience of retailers. Got a strong viewpoint? Fancy having a rant or a rave? Drop us an email at

I N T R O D U C I N G O U R 201 8 CO L L E C T I O N

Each pair of our shoes are handmade using the finest fabrics and materials, from our exclusive dyeable satins to our super sparkly fine shimmer - we spend time ensuring that our shoes are comfortable, leaving you free to enjoy your special day. All our shoes can be couture colour matched so if you would like to co-ordinate your shoes to a dress, a hat or a bag we’ll create the match.





C H AR LOT TE M I L L S B LOS S O M RRP £220 44 (0)1457 879900 Metallic heel detail, heartshaped lace end-keepers. And that signature silver sixpence embedded in the sock.




Tread lightly, the new season’s flats are fun and flirty and beautifully dressed up with the details normally reserved for their taller sisters. Here are our faves... E M MY LONDO N J U DE RRP £525 44 (0)20 7704 0012 Soft ivory kid suede and silver calf leather with glass mirrored pieces, crystal and glass beadwork. Cross T-bar strap with crystal buckle..

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RRP £195 +44 (0)8453 714466 Shown here with the Swarovski Diana shoe clip, £125, Chloe is that perfect little pump, best in the softest Champagne suede.

THE PE R FEC T B R IDA L CO M PA NY E R IN RRP £84.99 theperfectbridalcompany com +44 (0)1455 82381 Hand-cut lace motifs form the ‘stand-up’ edging of this shoe. The special cushioned insole is a treat, and allows for all-night dancing in real comfort.

PA RAD OX LO N D O N PIN K AS H A RRP £55 +44 (0) 20 8885 8000 Pretty as a picture, this sweet, fully dyeable peep-toe pump in satin and lace is the perfect partner for vintage and modern themes.

RA IN B OW C LUB C EC I LY RRP £49 +44 (0)1392 207030 We love the ivory satin scalloped trim round this pump that can be dyed to any colour by Rainbow Club’s in-house Colour Studio.

Get into trainers Say it with flowers, the perfect way to prettify classic trainers. Shoe designers are hot-footing it to compete with confident offerings that today’s brides will love… and carry on wearing after the big day.

Sunny sunflowers or pinky peonies, from Charlotte Mills.

Laser-cut leather or petal-smooth satin, by Florence,

Sneak peek! The lovely Di Hassall is working on a prototype for a new flattie. You’d spot it as hers at 100 paces – it has the unmistakable Hassall signature. This is Maddie Grace (or will be) with pearldotted lace over blush, and a luscious, oversized sequinned flower. It won’t be up and running and available until September, but worth the wait, without question.

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Limited Company In the end, we decided on a limited company. A limited company is a legal entity in its own right. We are directors and (in our case) own shares in the company, but the company is responsible for everything, including the profits and the losses. It is more complicated setting up a limited company because we had to incorporate this, so there was lots of paperwork and fees and then registering with Companies House; going forward there are more detailed accounts to file. We also needed other documentation including a shareholder’s agreement and a cross option agreement. A shareholder’s agreement regulates the relationship between the shareholders and provides clarity Partnership and protection, so hopefully disputes I have a business partner and we considered whether or not to become can be avoided. A cross option agreement makes sure that if one of a partnership. This is possibly the us dies, we can buy the other’s share simplest way for two or more people to form a business. The partners share from their estate – so that while we are close to each other’s families, the the profits and take responsibility for surviving shareholder still has control the debts and losses. over what happens to the business. There are several types of My experience as a solicitor has partnership, all of which provide taught me that we believe we do not different types of legal protection, need to spend time or money on legal such as a limited liability partnership documentation as we tell ourselves and limited partnership. However, nothing will go wrong. Unfortunately, as with any venture, there needs to sometimes it does, so it is always best be a legal framework, which, for a to be prepared. partnership, is a Partnership Deed. This documents the agreement Working from home between those in the business. (A My next focus was where to work. word of warning, however: in the I decided to be home-based for absence of a Deed, any dispute now, while the business is growing. between the partners is decided by If you are working from home, there a a Victorian law, the Partnership Act number of matters to consider: 1890, which can prove very onerous If your home is rented, you may for those involved.) need permission from your landlord; If you own your home, there may We tell ourselves that be restrictions in the Title Deeds nothing will go wrong. But preventing you from running a business and you do not want any sometimes it does, so it is disgruntled neighbours causing problems, so it’s best to check. best to be prepared If you decide to rent premises,

Setting up a business from scratch requires careful planning and getting the right advice from experts who know the potential pitfalls. Suzanne Lurie of Affinity Resolutions explains the basics


fter several decades as a solicitor, I decided to set up my own business, Affinity Resolutions Ltd. Even though the law and business were not new to me, I was amazed by the decisions that I needed to make before I got started. The first major one was what business structure I wanted. There is a no ‘one size fits all’. The structure determined the paperwork I needed to complete, the tax I would have to pay, how I could take out the profits from the business and how I would be affected personally if the business made a loss. I looked at three main options – sole trader, partnership or a limited company. Let’s take a look at what these different options mean. Sole Trader A sole trader means that you own the business and are solely responsible for it. It does not mean that you have to work alone, without any help! Any profit you make, you keep (once you have paid tax to HMRC). HMRC will class you as a self-employed person. The main risk here is that you are also personally liable if the business goes wrong and makes a loss.

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ALL ON BOARD It’s vital that you train all of your staff members to be up to

check the terms of occupation before signing up. Ask the landlord to confirm there are no restrictions on you trading from the property. To protect yourself, make sure you sign a lease. This is a legal document that sets the terms that govern the agreement between you and the landlord. Take legal advice so that you fully understand your responsibilities and those of the landlord. As the tenant and business owner, it’s likely that you will be responsible for health and safety and repairs and maintenance, so make sure these clauses are not too onerous. Consider how long you address reflects my business name want to rent. Maybe initially you’d prefer a shorter period; if so, don’t get (; it helps clients remember me and tied into a long notice period. also has the advantage of keeping my business and personal emails Intellectual property separate. Since Affinity Resolutions is We also had to decide on a name a limited company, I make sure that all and our USP. In many ways this is the most important aspect of setting up a my emails are sent from my business account, so that the legal protection I business as it is what you are selling have by being a company extends to that makes you different from other any email I send, too. businesses. It is important to protect your designs, name, and products. Insurance This is called intellectual property. I had not appreciated how many Sometimes you have automatic types of insurance I would need. If protection, but in the majority of you have business premises, you will cases you will need protection, so need property insurance to cover you for events such as fire or theft. It is important to protect If members of the public are visiting your premises, check that your your designs, name, and insurance covers public liability and products. This is called that your cover is sufficient. As I now use my car for business, intellectual property I amended my car insurance policy, so that I would be covered if I no one can copy you or steal your was involved in an accident while designs. Always take advice. If you are planning on selling your business on business. I also changed my estimated annual mileage, because I in the future or are looking for now use the car to travel to business investors, this is something that will be important to them, and could be a meetings. A retailer, of course, may want to use their car to visit trade deal-breaker. shows or wedding fayres and there is always the possibility that you will be Domain name delivering goods to your brides before Once you have chosen a name, their big day or even on the day itself. consider creating an email address So, it is especially important to check with your domain name. My email

your motor insurance policy. I also decided to take out professional indemnity insurance so that the business was covered for any claim arising from negligence. As you are selling products you should look into product liability insurance for similar reasons. Coming next month… There are so many things to think about and do before that first order! In the next issue, I will explain about Terms and Conditions of business, online selling and what you need to know if you take on someone to work with you. If you have any queries before then, please do get in touch for a free no obligation chat… 07377 710875

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MOST VIEWED… BRIDAL DRESS DOMINIQUE BY ROMANTICA Brides are loving this romantic lace fit-and-flare for the illusion neckline and back, and flattering ivory colourway.’

Digital snapshot



WHAT ARE BRI DES SHOPPING FOR O N LI N E ? The stats don’t lie – we show you what styles your customers are searching for right now MOST READ… BLOG FEATURE PLUS-SIZE BRIDAL TRENDS FOR 2018 This shows it’s more important than ever for both brands and boutiques to appeal to the plus-size market when it comes to sizing and design.

MOST SEARCHEDFOR… DRESS SHAPE FIT AND FLARE A flattering silhouette that looks to be taking over from A-line as the dress shape of choice for UK brides.

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WHAT IS FIND YOUR DREAM DRESS? Brides-to-be can use this super-helpful website which allows them to filter various categories in order to find their dream dress in among FYDD’s database. Then, the site tells the brides where the nearest boutique is to them that stocks their dress of choice. If you’re a designer and you’d like to see your collection of gowns featured here, or if you’re a boutique owner that would love to have your business included in the search results, then visit to find out more. Alternatively, drop Laura an email at

MOST SEARCHEDFOR… DESIGNER ENZOANI All three of Enzoani’s designer collections are some of the most-viewed on the site, thanks to a wide range of styles and silhouettes, appealing imagery and a good mix of trends.

MOST VIEWED… MOTHER OF THE BRIDES DRESS STYLE 991077 BY RONALD JOYCE When a number offers modern elegance like this, it’s no wonder that this is the mostviewed MOTB dress, once again…

MOST VIEWED… PLUS-SIZE DRESS ROSEVILLE BY CALLISTA This keeps hold of the number one spot for the second month running. This floral print ballgown from Callista is a dream!

MOST VIEWED… BRIDESMAID DRESS STYLE 1501 BY ALLURE BRIDALS Ooh, love that soft cyan! This body-skimming V-neck is proving to be very popular as a bridesmaids choice this month. Could this be a far-flung destination wedding pick?

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BUYING AG EN DA Source the big names and the bright newcomers at the forthcoming events

14th-16th April 2018

27th-29th April



15th-17th April 2018

5th-8th May 2018



9th-11th September T H E H A R R O G AT E B R I DA L S H OW

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June issue

• Glittering prizes– we look at the headdresses that could seal that sale • World journey – starting off in South Africa and the big names in bridal


• Success stories – the show-stoppers from Essen and Barcelona • Retailers and suppliers change places and compare lessons learned

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Classified From job vacancies to new closures or relocations, you’ll get the lowdown on opportunities and announcements here N E WSFLASH P R I N C E H A R RY A N D M E G H A N M A R K L E P I C K LO N D O N - B A S E D F LO R I S T FO R R OYA L W E D D I N G Philippa Craddock has been chosen as the official florist for this year’s royal wedding. Philippa’s history is an impressive one. She has a studio in Fulham, a flower shop in Selfridges and she has worked with other big clients before, including the V&A, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior and British Vogue. Harry and Meghan have decided on white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves for the big day, and all foliage will be locally sourced from the gardens of the crown estate and Windsor Great Park. While you might not have access to the same grounds(!) what’s to stop you using the same beautiful blooms as inspiration for a window display nearer the big day? Harry and Meghan tie the knot on 19 May (but you probably already know that date off by heart already!).

S P EC I AL OCCASION S WELCOME BACK, DOTTY! We’re pleased to see the return of Dotty Vintage Weddings blog, after a hiatus of three years. ‘Mrs Dotty’ had this to say for herself upon

STOC K IST S E A R C H her relaunch… “I still love all things vintage, but this time around, my priority is giving both brides and wedding suppliers a stomping ground to get creative.” Have a read over at S TO R E R E LO C AT I O N Ellie Sanderson boutique are on the move in April/May. Their current home in Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, is to be redeveloped in the next year, so the team have seized the moment to find a super new shop. They’ll be relocating Ellie Sanderson Oxford to the village of Eynsham, just 20 minutes away. Good luck from all of us here at Wedding Trader: fingers crossed for a successful move!

CLO S URES W E D D I N G WO R L D , D U B L I N We were sad to hear the headlines of the closure of Wedding World boutique in Marino, Dublin, rippling throughout the industry. Some 200 brides have been left without dresses after the sudden closure, but Bernie O’Farrell of B Couture boutique in Wicklow, south of Dublin, have offered to step in and provide up to 100 older stock dresses for stricken Wedding World customers – free of charge.

CATHERINE PARRY Catherine Parry are looking for more retailers around the UK to stock their stunning designs. Contact George Efstratiou on 07834 606229 or Customer Service on 01443 222600. LOVE OUR WEDDING The UK’s favourite free monthly consumer magazine, Love Our Wedding, is looking for more boutiques across the UK to stock their magazines free of charge. These handbag-sized magazines are perfect for you to gift to brides that come in store or for goody bags at special events. To become a stockist now, email We’ll send it in the same delivery as your copy of Wedding Trader!

WH AT A B OU T M E ? Do you have news of your own that you want to share with the rest of the bridal world? Just celebrated an anniversary of your store opening? Have you closed a store, or perhaps moved to a bigger, shiny new premises? Maybe you’ve won a snazzy award and you can’t stop smiling? This is the place to be heard! Send us your news by emailing

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“Not too long ago I was getting concerned about the ramifications of the revised data protection act that everyone has been talking about. I found your article in the last issue enlightening and, more than that, reassuring. Please carry on serving up advice like this in the same, easy-to-understand form. So often legal information is too complicated to really take in.”

“Knowing what brides are checking out online before they start making appointments is very helpful and certainly gets you thinking about things from their perspective – something we can all forget to do from time to time. ” “I love how you have detailed all the international trade shows and what each has to offer. I am definitely going to add a couple of overseas ones to my future agenda. Thank you for drawing a clear picture of which ones are worth visiting.”

“When you said “Retailers, this is your magazine”, I didn’t really think it would be different to others. But it is, and I for one welcome the concept wholeheartedly.”

“Your bridesmaid feature last issue was a great little ‘guide-to’: all the details I wanted, and in a format that makes it easy for me to compare the market’s options.”

“Wedding Trader’s buying advice really helped me analyse where I was at in terms of stock-holding and I went to the shows at the ExCel with a much clearer vision than in the past.”

...and finally Got a view? Share it with us. We’re here, every day, every week, every month, to help make your working life better

“The moment you stop learning is when you get caught out. It’s been a pleasure to pick up handy tips from Wedding Trader thus far!”

“Thank you for mentioning us in your ‘Classified’ page! It’s lovely knowing that Wedding Trader cares about us as an independent business.”

“I am enjoying your ‘Second Opinion’ series. I think all retailers, wherever they are and whatever sector of bridal they specialise in, have something to say and views to share. Being able to ‘tell it like it is’ is a brilliant opportunity to get a point across. (And, as a bonus, controversy always makes for juicy reading!)” 98 ♦ W E D D I N G T R A D E R ♦ M A Y 2 0 1 8

“I had not considered stocking maternity bridal collections until I read your article in the last issue. You have opened my eyes to new possibilities and I am now going to look at what is available out there. It also gave me some ideas about in-store promotions directed at pregnant brides-to-be.”

DO US A FAVOUR, LIFESAVER DO US US A A FAVOUR, FAVOUR, DO DO US A FAVOUR, LIFESAVER LIFESAVER LIFESAVER Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer – and by choosing from the charity’s new range of wedding favours, youNolan can help lifesaving Anthony savessupport the livestheir of people with work. blood cancer Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer – and by choosing from the charity’s new range of wedding – and by choosing from the charity’s new range of wedding favours,Nolan you can helpthe support their lifesaving Anthony saves lives of people with work. blood cancer favours, you can help their lifesaving work. – and by choosing fromsupport the charity’s new range of wedding favours, you can help support their lifesaving work.


“Following my leukaemia diagnosis, I was unsure “Following my leukaemia diagnosis, I was unsure I’d live to see my wedding day. Without Anthony “Following mymy leukaemia I was unsure I’d live to see weddingdiagnosis, day. Without Anthony Nolan mymy stem cell donor I wouldn’t be here I’d liveand to see wedding day.IWithout Nolan and my stem cell donor wouldn’tAnthony be here today. They’ve given me an opportunity to live.” Nolan my stem cell I wouldn’tto be here today. and They’ve medonor andiagnosis, opportunity “Following my given leukaemia I was live.” unsure today. They’ve given me an opportunity to live.” Ruth and her husband, Peter, I’d live to see my wedding day. Without Anthony Ruth and her husband, Peter, celebrated their long-awaitedwedding weddingininMay May 2017. celebrated their long-awaited 2017. Ruth and her husband, Peter, Nolan and my stem cell donor I wouldn’t be here celebrated their long-awaited wedding in May 2017. today. They’ve given me an opportunity to live.” Ruth and her husband, Peter, celebrated their long-awaited wedding in May 2017.

Visit Visitthe theshop shopat:at: Visit the shop at:

BOWENDRYDEN.CO.UK 0208 211 3006

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Wedding Trader - issue 4  

Wedding Trader - issue 4