When I design a wedding dress with a bustle, it has to be one the bride can dance in. I love the idea that something is practical and still looks great.
― Vera Wang
Starting a wedding dress business can be a creative and interesting way of entering a business. It is not only enjoyable but also a highly profit-oriented one. Also, every day you will get to meet many women who would want a 'perfect' wedding dress for the most important day in their lives. It will always be better if you had an experience in managing a wedding dress business before. This will help cater to its smallest requirements in a better way. You can either go for a start-up or buy an already-existing wedding dress business. Also, remember not to overstock the wedding dress as the trends will keep changing with every season. However, do remember to get a design in various sizes for different women. The latter will prove to be extremely cost-effective for you. Here are a few essential steps for starting a wedding dress business.
➟ Conduct Research
It is important that you conduct market research before starting the business. Consult someone who is doing the same business in another area for guidance. Know about the age group demographics of your clients. Understand their tastes, and stock up your shop accordingly. Knowledge about having a shop in which area can generate maximum profit. Decide if you are going to go for high-end designers or local wholesalers; your budget will be dependent on this. You can also provide custom-made designing and stitching services. Make a foolproof business plan before to start the venture.
➟ Know What's in Vogue
This is one step which you will always have to undertake. Fashion is perhaps the most dynamic thing ever, and it will keep changing. You, as the entrepreneur, will have to be always abreast with the latest trend in wedding dresses by reading magazines, browsing websites, and attending wedding dress fashion shows. Many women want wedding dresses that reflect a current trend, and you will lose out on business if you do not know what is selling like 'hot cakes'.
➟ Name Your Business
It is of utmost importance that you give a feminine, fashionable, or romantic name to your bridal shop as it will act as a crowd-puller and get you many clients. Ensure that the name is unique and striking enough to entice people to visit your shop. You can also give the shop your name if it sounds trendy.
➟ Get the License to Do Business
You will have to register the business as 'doing business as.' Apart from that, you will also need to avail a business license. Inquire with the local, state, and federal authorities to know about the licenses and permits required to conduct this business.
➟ Scout for the Perfect Location
It is advisable that you get a shop at a commercially viable location. It can be on a high-end street, in a mall, etc. Find a place that will have a good foot traffic such that when women pass by your shop, they will linger outside watching the items displayed. This can prompt them to visit your shop when they will require a wedding dress or recommend your shop to others. You can also have your shop where other wedding-related vendors are located like the wedding planners, bakers, florists, photographers, reception halls, etc.
➟ Awesome Window Display
Ensure that you have a trendy window display right outside your store. This can pull a lot of customers to your shop. Make sure you change it on a regular basis or according to the fashion season. If you can afford, you can even hire a professional to design the display for you.
➟ Do Up the Interiors
Buy a store that will be able to accommodate the bride as well as her entourage. It would be nice if you use bright pastel colors for the store décor. Ensure that you have enough space to accommodate mirrors, shelves, dressing rooms, racks, etc. Try to store similar wedding dresses in one rack; for example, the dresses with lace can go one side while the one with pearls or rhinestones can go on the other. Add a few decorative pieces that will enhance the look of the store.
➟ Find Wholesalers
You will need suppliers of dresses for your shop for sourcing the wedding dresses. Visit the wholesalers personally, and have a look at their stock. If you want a certain design custom-made, discuss it with their designer. Hire a transport company who will pick the dresses from the wholesalers and bring them to your shop. Ensure that they are reliable ones and will not lead to fraud or spoil the dresses.
➟ Put on Price Tags
Ensure you make at least 25% over what you paid to the wholesalers. Hence, do not forget to add price tags after making the necessary calculations. Also, if you are offering any kind of end of season sale, ensure that you will still earn a substantial amount from it.
➟ Network with the Right People
For expanding your business, you will have to network with the right people. First and foremost, get to know as many wedding planners as you can, because these are the people that give recommendations to the clients. If they can route their clients to your shop, there's nothing like it. Also, have business alliances with photographers who can give your reference to the bride-to-be.
➟ Hire Employees
If your shop is big and centrally located, there will be a lot of customers who will be flocking in. You will have to run from pillar to post when dealing with them; hence, it is advisable to hire an assistant. However, ensure that the assistant is presentable, has persuasion skills, salesmanship, and the knack of selling. You should provide her training for helping out the customer. Make her understand that selecting a bridal dress should be a fun time for the bride, so cooperate with her.
➟ Wedding Merchandising
You can expand your business by even offering the accessories that go with the wedding dress. For example, different types of veils, hair accessories, gloves, shoes, fine jewelry, etc. If you have the space and the budget, you may also offer mother-of-the-bride dresses, bridesmaids outfits, flower girl outfits, etc.
➟ Have a Website
Ensure that you host a website for your business. Make sure it has lots of designs and photos of wedding gowns and other accessories. Ensure that the website has a rich look and feel. This can act as a great marketing tool, so its power should not be underestimated. If you have a testimonial or wedding day memory for the dress from a bride, make sure you post it on the website.
➟ Use Social Media
Utilize the social media power for marketing your business. Have dedicated pages for your business on various social media websites. Interact with people through these pages, and update them with new and interesting information.
➟ Promote Your Business
Promote your business by giving ads in the local bridal magazines and websites. You can even host shows where the designs from your shop will be displayed and attract new customers. You can even host a bridal show for your community. Capitalize on the online business by offering to have the dresses altered to the given size and delivered to the bride.
Do understand that if you are going in for a full-fledged business, you will have to pay all the taxes on time to keep legal hassles at a bay. You will have to create a business identity for yourself that will set you apart from your competitors.