You know, it’s not what you do its the way that you do it….
Ever since I officially turned the open sign on my very first day of the Harrogate Wedding Lounge life has been a whirlwind. I had big ideas, a very small boutique and little experience of running my own business. I knew more the business that I didn’t want to be rather than the one I did. I was scared, giddy, nervous and perhaps a little naive but I WAS passionate, I had the world at my feet and I was going to give it my very best shot!
Here is our story so far…..
In April 2009 I collected the keys to my very own bridal shop! My dream career. I had actually purchased an existing business, Hart 2 Hart brides and although I knew the business was struggling and came with many issues including lots of dead stock, a shop in bad need of repair and renovation and a poor turnover I could see the potential and I knew with lots of hard work a fresh approach and some sheer determination I could make it work. The images below show what I walked in to on day one of my new adventure. (please excuse the bad photography, I had never expected these images to see the light of day!)
That was over three years ago now and as I sit here typing this I wonder where the time has gone. The past Three years seem on one hand to have passed with a blink of an eye but when I think about how far I have come in that time both personally and professionally it is hard to believe that it can only be Three years ago that I started my journey.
Along with my amazingly supportive family and friends I set about knocking down walls, buying bucket loads of paint. choosing new furniture, mirrors, curtains and placing new orders with our designers. I will never forget my first trip to the British Bridal Exhibition (BBEH) just 2 weeks before I took over the business. I wandered around the halls awe struck at the choice there was and the responsibility I felt to make the right choices for my brides (I still feel that responsibility now more than ever!!) there was so must to do and opening weekend had been set for the end of May! We had just 3 weeks to turn the place into a beautiful haven of bridal loveliness, and that is just what we did!
I opened The Harrogate Wedding Lounge in May 2009 with 30 dresses, a handful of veils and tiaras, a sale room full discontinued dresses I needed to sell, a note book, a small diary a list of my designers contact numbers and some size charts as well as a list of a dozen or so brides I had inherited from the previous business. I was bursting to get at it and welcome the brides.
I will never forget the very first bride that I sold a dress to, the lovely Emma. We had only been open 2 days and when she confirmed she would like to buy the dress I remember going into sheer panic, freezing on the spot and having a near meltdown! Emma complemented me on my beautiful boutique, attentive service and calming atmosphere and I remember sitting back at the end of that day and thinking…..bloomin eck I could actually do this!!
The Harrogate Wedding Lounge quickly began gaining respect both locally and nationally in the industry. People would stop and park up just to come and stare at our window displays! I took out adverts in national monthly and bi monthly wedding magazines, launched our Facebook page and started Tweeting, gaining followers on a daily basis. I quickly added a new designer to the boutique and really found our style. I now knew I wanted to offer a really special service and exceptional experience whilst offering an exceptional range of gowns at realistic prices.
In Autumn 2010 after being open for just 16 months The Harrogate Wedding Lounge was named as a finalist in the Wedding Ideas Awards 2011. Our first awards nomination and an incredible feeling. In December 2010 after being open just 17 months The Harrogate wedding Lounge was shortlisted for the Bridal Buyer Awards (kind of the Oscars of the wedding industry) in the category of best retailer website and in December 2011 we received the same nomination again. attending the awards ceremony’s has been one of the highlights of my career so far. Meeting and being in the same company as some of the industries most celebrated designers, retailers and industry specialists has been an honour and something I am extremely proud of. As I write this we have just found out we have made the finals of the North of England wedding awards and the winners are being announced in a ceremony on 7th September 2012. Could this be our time to scoop our First award?….
After a hugely successful 3 years in business which I never ever dreamed of, I felt I finally knew where I wanted to be. We had spent 3 years perfecting our look, service, style and reputation and it was time to put it all in place. In March this Year the Harrogate Wedding Lounge closed for an extensive renovation and expansion, including the opening of our new Private Consultation Suite effectively doubling our appointment capacity without compromising on personal space and one to one consultations. Its fair to say the results of the completed new look boutique blew me away. Many thanks to everyone who helped with this transformation. From Plumbers and Electricians working to incredibly strict timescales to my husband and family who kept and continue to, keep me sane. I hope you agree the results are rather fabulous
So whats next for the Harrogate Wedding Lounge??
Well we have a few surprises still up our sleeves for this year, including a new designer to be announced soon!! some amazing styled shoots in the pipeline, new products to launch and who knows maybe even that award….