What a wedding business learned after their first year of trading
It’s often said that the first year of a new business is the hardest, and this is particularly true of the competitive wedding industry. However, learning from your peers can be a great way to ensure that your business stays afloat. Adam Šapić from the Wedding Insurance Group talks to Charlotte Ware Designs about their first year of business, including their successes, predicted trends and how the business is considering growing.
Meet Charlotte, founder of Charlotte Ware Designs based in Bromley. She originally started out as a beauty therapist but has expanded into bridal wear, which is her unique selling point. Brides can trial their makeup and hair styling when they are trying on dresses, and Charlotte even welcomes brides to bring dresses from other suppliers.
Taking advantage of multi-disciplined services
Beauty services are typically delivered for brides in salons, living rooms or at the wedding venue. Charlotte’s boutique and beauty studio offer a more intimate setting for brides to perfect their look in an environment that makes them feel a little more special.
Naturally, a bride has a very specific idea about what her dress should look and feel like. Therefore, the brides that come to see Charlotte do not always leave with a dress. They may prefer Charlotte’s personality, but she may not stock what they are after.
Because of the relationship built up during the dress appointment, many brides book their hair and makeup with Charlotte. Dress appointments can last at least 90 minutes so taking a booking for beauty rather than the bride walking out empty-handed is a win-win situation.
In fact, Charlotte receives repeat hair and makeup business from brides that bought a dress from her boutique after their weddings. They mainly come before special occasions such as birthday parties. By offering brides services at different points of their wedding planning journey, Charlotte has widened her market considerably, which has helped her business to become successful.
2018 and future trends
In 2018, Charlotte experienced more brides opting to try on dresses with a simpler design, moving away from the traditional lace styles. It’s arguable whether this is a knock on effect from the Royal Wedding, but she also points out that brides are becoming more creative. For example, the business has experienced an increase in demand for more elaborate veils with simpler skirts.
Charlotte attributes this to the rise of social media. Couples are increasingly exposed to many creative ideas online, there is more choice now than ever before. This influences couples and their attention for minute detailing.
Charlotte predicts this trend will continue into the 2020s. The concept of a wedding as an experience is growing and will carry on expanding. She agrees that the industry is still going through a renaissance triggered by the rise of social.
Charlotte Ware Designs currently stocks three collections, mainly catering for brides looking for a traditional style. She does offer alternatives for her boho brides, such as the ‘Annabell’ by Catherine Parry, but the more classic styles are by far a less risky option for a new business.
Pricing and choice of collections
Pricing is the most crucial factor for the business. Charlotte has tuned her prices to align with the expectations of brides in her local areas. Many publications have reported the average cost of a wedding is increasing. However, Charlotte says that many of her brides are still very price-conscious, and she has set her price point in response to this.
Charlotte says that many boho dresses go beyond her price point, which has directly influenced the collections she works with. Brides will still spend money on their dress to a certain point, but they are very conscious about the overall cost of the wedding. That’s why Charlotte has chosen not to offer other dresses such as bridesmaids dresses in the boutique. Naturally, a bride will spend more on her dress, but Charlotte has found her brides often use an online fashion retailer for their maids.
Planning future services
After a successful first year of trading, Charlotte is thinking about how the business can develop and grow. One possibility is wedding day management. Charlotte already receives ad hoc requests from her couples to help co-ordinate suppliers on the day of the wedding.
Venues co-ordinators do not always have an eye for minute details, which is vitally important for many couples. Because Charlotte and her team understand exactly what the bride wants, they are able to assist if the couple decides not to employ an experienced wedding planner.
Keeping your eyes out for opportunities to expand is key when it comes to helping your business to thrive. No matter how long you have been trading, listening to feedback from your couples is absolutely vital.
Thank you to Charlotte and Adam for their time and tips. Find out more the Wedding Insurance Group and Charlotte Ware Designs here.