Wed Altered Issue 1

cs215204

The Business of Bridal Done Differently - building up and connecting the independent business owners of the bridal fashion world!

ISSUE 01

find your voice

The Business of Bridal Done Differently.

EMPLOYEES

Pull them into your

brand and big vision

HOW TO CREATE

A COMPELLING BRAND

that showcases your

in-store experience

5 Reasons Why

Encore Brides Have it Good

MARCH 2018


TABLE OF

CONTENTS

3

5

13

17

21

29

33

35

37

41

43

Letter from the Editor

Sound of the Silent Voice

Meet Erin - Owner of Luna Boutique in PA

TRENDS REPORT: The New Vintage

How to Create a Compelling Brand that Showcases Your In-store Experience

5 Reasons hy Encore Brides Have it Good

Employees - Pull Them into Your Brand And Big Vision

TRENDS REPORT: Embroider and Embellish

Meet Alyson - Designer of Alyson Nicole

Let’s Talk: Serving and Styling Plus Size Brides

Out of the Office - Block Time to Step Away and Work on Big Thinking Projects

On The Cover...

Dress by Pure Magnolia


EDITOR

Christen Schneider

CONTRIBUTORS AND FEATURES

Wendy Rivera

Erin Szymanski

Sophie Newman

Natalie Harris

Alyson Melhus

Keneshia Raymond

Dress by Suzanne Anderson Couture


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Welcome to Wed Altered Magazine!

We're all about bringing the focus to the amazing individuals and companies and building a

genuine community. It's really the only way to do business in our book. This is our first issue, but

we've been on the move in the industry since 2013...bringing together independent designers and

stores who take a stand for their vision and dreams.

I believe (I know) that the industry has seen an unbelievable amount of change in the last 5 to 10

years. I'm also very sure that we're just getting started. Things are shifting faster than ever and

retailers are feeling the push and pull. But it's all what you make of it and we're ready to do the work

to keep the industry strong, welcoming, creative, and fun. It's all about being true to your brides and

your brand.

I spend my day watching small business owners do amazing things, take leaps, and create the

reality they are dreaming of...I'm beyond lucky. You have something pretty amazing to offer your

ideal brides. Which is great, because no one can or should serve everyone. It's a recipe for disaster

and just general blah-ness in your daily work. But if you can nail down your soul match clients and

find a team of designers, staff, and community that will help you serve them like never before, you

will be amazed at what's ahead.

When you know who you're meant to serve and what you believe in, you can be crystal clear in your

message. That means you have the kind of authentic marketing and service that creates raving fans

and work days that fill you up instead of running you down.

You're just speaking your truth. And you are happy because you're allowing your vision to shine and

trusting that it's going to take you and your business where you want to go.

We talk all the time about couples looking for connection to their wedding day, their choices, and

their loved ones. Your brides want the same with you. Many of the pieces in this issue are about

checking in on that message that you put out there and really making sure it delivers that

meaningful connection with your perfect client.

The path of our group and the industry over the last 5 years has been a wild, joyful, fantastic one and

this magazine has been a dream for a while now. Since I've been hearing more and more from

buyers about how they know they need to make changes, it felt like the time to launch it had finally

arrived. I'm so excited that you're here with us and I'm looking forward to what's ahead.

To the unique you that you are and the special light only you can shine in life and in business. We

are all the better for it.

Christen

www.wedaltered.com


Wendy’s pic

Sound of the

Silent Voice

by Wendy Rivera


A

ll over the world, there is a

sound I hear when I speak

with bridal boutique owners.

Whether I am in Detroit,

Atlanta, Las Vegas, or London, the

same sound fills my ears as I listen to

many of these passionate, powerful

women (mostly) who own bridal

businesses. We talk about

important issues like booking more

appointments, closing more sales,

handling objections and customer

service issues, etc. But for all of the

prescriptions I could give to help a

bridal boutique better its business,

there is one piece of advice above all

that is difficult for owners to receive.

Ironically, it is probably the most

important piece of advice I could

ever give as well.

My advice is this: find your voice, let

it be heard in your community, and

build your brand based on all that

you are. When you do this, you will

not only be identifiable, but

unshakable in your market. That is

when I hear it — the sound of the

silent voice. I hear replies to my

advice that outline in spectacular

form all the reasons why the voice of

this intelligent, accomplished

woman standing in front of me

should not be heard. She should

not share her story with the world

around her, because she is

uninteresting or undeserving, and

after all, it’s not about her anyway. I

hear the voice that no one else will

get to hear, because the woman

who possesses it has convinced

herself to stay silent. For a thousand

different reasons, these people with

compelling stories and engaging

personalities decide they are more

valuable to themselves as muted

bystanders to the success they hope

to somehow manufacture.

By some process or principle, there

is a significant contingent of

retailers out there that have come to

see themselves as an insignificant

part of their potential success. They

can only contribute via their desk

behind the office door. That may

have been true at some point in the

past, but the message I want to

sound throughout the bridal

industry is that retailers are their

own best representatives. Yes, you

should carry strong designers, but

there is a difference between

partnering with quality designers

and relying on them for the

marketing and branding we ought

to be doing ourselves as retailers.

My store is called, Ava Laurénne

Bride, after my daughter, who was

only 2 years old when we opened.

She heard us say the store name so

much in the first few years of her life

that she thought her name was Ava

Laurénne Bride, and we had to

convince her that she was actually

named, Ava Laurénne Rivera. From

our very beginning, we wanted our

brand to mean something in our

community. It was so personal. Our

daughter’s name should mean

www.wedaltered.com 6


something special for girls who find

a special piece of their family history

with us. Our shoppe is the point at

which their family meets our’s, so

we determined to define what it

would mean for a newly engaged

girl to walk into our store and

become an Ava Laurénne Bride.

My husband and I have a shared

background in dramatic

production, and our bridal shoppe is

in an old theater, opened in 1929, so

for us, it was all about events. We

threw parties, fashion shows, and

exclusive vendor showcases for our

brides. “Your dress is your ticket,”

was our tag line. If you bought your

dress at Ava Laurénne Bride, you

became a part of a special sorority

in our town. You got to do things

that other

brides didn’t

get to do,

which made

you even more

celebrated

than you had

been before.

On any

Saturday of the

year, whenever

a girl finds her

dress at our

shoppe, we sit

her down with

her family, and

I share a special message with them

— nothing less than the secret to

having the perfect wedding day.

The secret is that their wedding day

is already perfect, because after that

day, this bride and her love will

spend the rest of their lives

together. That fact is what makes

their day perfect, so if the napkins

are wrong and the cake falls, it’s all a

part of an already perfect day that

nothing could ever ruin. After this

short word to the bride, my

husband and I stand on the spiral

staircase overlooking the main floor

and celebrate this moment by

singing, “The Prayer,” to the bride

and her family.

We have created a brand that

means something to the brides in

our area, before they ever step foot

in our boutique. When you’re

working so hard to build something

intangible, like a brand, it can be

difficult from within the project, to

detect if all of this work is

amounting to everything you hope

it will. So, it is extremely helpful

when a bit of feedback makes its

way back to you to let you know all

has not been in vain.

About two and a half years after we

opened, I was on Facebook and

noticed a post with a photo of a girl

and her

boyfriend in

front of our

boutique.

H o w e v e r ,

something was

strange about it.

It was dark in the

photo, and the

store was closed.

They had

stopped and taken a photo in front

of our shoppe at night. Finally,

when I read her post, I realized what

had happened. She said, “my

boyfriend wasn’t sure what to do to

propose to me, but he knew I

wanted to be an Ava Laurénne

Bride. So, as we were walking

downtown tonight, he stopped in

front of Ava Laurénne and

proposed!” This newly engaged girl

told us volumes about what our

branding had accomplished in our

community. She had such a clearly

defined idea of what it would mean

to become an Ava Laurénne Bride,

that she had told everyone

including her fiancé that this was a

goal of hers. So strong was the

impression she made on her fiancé

when relaying her desire, that he

thought his best course of action in

proposing would be to surprise her

in front of our little shoppe. How

unbelievable! We were absolutely

blown away by this story!

What does all of this mean? That

when we put ourselves out there, let

our voices be heard, and make

ourselves a little vulnerable (it feels

very vulnerable to get up and sing

to 4 brides who just found their

wedding dresses!), our vulnerability

is met by people wanting to share

more than a transaction

with us.

In upstate New York, I

visited the store of a very

dear woman who had come

across a bridal expert

whose advice to bridal

shoppe owners was if what

they were spending their

time on was not

contributing to the success

of their business, they

should drop it from their

lives. This was undoubtedly

an austere approach to

bridal, but Sarah, the owner,

took it to heart. Her hobby

happened to be needlepoint, and it

was her grandmother who had

taught her this craft when she was

just a girl sitting on the arm of a

www.wedaltered.com


chair next to her grandmother,

watching and learning. In fact, it

was the inspiration of the

needlepoint work she learned from

her grandmother that led her to

want to open a bridal store in the

first place. Yet, as a result of the

advice of this so-called expert, she

gave up needlepoint entirely and

had not picked it up for six years.

Her voice fell silent.

During my visit I encouraged her to

consider picking up again this

hobby that had so inspired her to

dream big things for herself. We

also worked together on the layout

of her store, tweaking things to

tailor the store’s look to support the

impression we hoped to create with

brides as they walked into the

boutique. As we were arranging

furniture, there was one piece I

noticed that didn’t seem to be in

quite the same style as the others.

It was a chair that seemed more

intended for a home than a

boutique setting, and I was having

trouble envisioning exactly where it

would fit into the finished picture.

Finally, I asked Sarah about the

chair and where she thought it

might fit the best, and she said,

“this is the chair where my

grandmother taught me

needlepoint when I was a little girl.”

And, it all finally made sense. This

chair was present, not because the

style was a great fit with the other

furniture, but because without this

chair, Sarah would never have

opened a bridal

boutique in the first

place. So, I asked her

if she had a picture of

her grandmother, and

we put together a

beautiful, framed

tribute to Sarah’s

grandmother. It

hangs on the wall,

and under the tribute

sits the chair. Now,

when a bride finds

her dress at Sarah’s

shoppe, she has her

picture taken as she

sits in this special

chair. The story that

she had been told to

keep quiet, began to

stir, and the voice that

had so long been

silent, began to make

a sound.

There is nothing more

beautiful than the

sound of a voice no

longer silent — a voice

now audible for every

bride to hear!

Let your voice be heard.

WENDY RIVERA

Wendy Rivera is a Nationally Recognized Expert in the

Bridal Industry, and has exploded onto the scene with Do

You Speak Bride! Wendy is a powerful communicator

both on stage and off, and has a passion for helping

shoppes learn the very nuanced language of “Bride”.

Wendy is a writer, director, coach, speaker, counselor,

mom and bridal shoppe owner, and is passionate about

helping bridal boutiques all over the world to increase

every part of their business — and become THE

destination in Bride Country!!

www.doyouspeakbride.com

8


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Erin pic

MEET ERIN

Owner of Luna Boutique in PA

Photos by Alexandra Ribar and Mandy Holesh


I

‘ve admired Erin’s spirit and the

reputation she’s built with

brides in the midwest since she

opened 5 years ago, so I was

excited we got to hear all about the

big moves she’s been making to

grow recently! She also gave us a

peek at the beautiful new space her

store(s) call home...

You're based in Pittsburgh. Tell me

a little about what sets your city

apart?

Pittsburgh is a vibrant city with a

strong history of industry and

innovation. We're also quite friendly

and hard-working. All of those

things combined create

communities that appreciate and

actively support creatives, small

businesses, and the arts.

What led to you opening your

store?

As my friends started getting

married, I would go shopping with

them and look around at the

traditional wedding gowns

thinking, "If this was me, I wouldn't

want to wear any of these!" I was

also pretty turned off by the

salespeople that would assume and

assert that a bride would have to

do/say/wear certain things, just

because she was a woman getting

married. I felt so strongly that I

decided there was no way I was the

only person who felt that way. I then

found that there were small,

independent designers that were

creating unique and more relaxed

wedding dresses, and I knew that I

had to crack the industry traditions

wide open and share those dresses

with like-minded people, through a

more laid-back and accepting

shopping experience.

What's your biggest piece of

advice for other store owners?

Now that there are so many more

non-traditional designers and

stores, you have to work harder to

stand out. Don't just look to what

everyone similar to you is doing.;

keep an eye out for what resonates

with you personally, and listen to

what your clients are asking for.

Why do you love

what you do?

The most

rewarding thing to

me is when a client

walks in, sees our

selection, and just

knows that her

dress is here.

Finding that

perfect fit - both in

style options and

environment - can

mean so much;

taking the anxiety

and nervousness out of the

shopping process, and letting them

know that there's a place where

they can embrace and celebrate

their individuality.

Quick Details:

Price range - $2,000-$8,000

Number of fitting rooms - 1 for

private bridal appointments, 4 total

Staff/team? - It’s myself and two

amazing stylists.

3 words to describe your store vibe -

Sophisticated, relaxed, inspiring

3 words to describe your bride -

Free-spirited, confident, original

Bridal only or other departments? -

Bridal as well as special occasion;

fashion-forward cocktail and

evening dresses

How do you spread the work

around when things get really

busy? Do you have a team, an

intern, outsource social media? Do

it all yourself?

Ha, I feel like things are always

really busy! We have a great team of

three: myself and two incredible

stylists that perfectly embody the

vibe of the Luna brand. We rotate

leading bridal appointments, but

most of the behind the scenes

business work is all on me. I am

constantly trying new things to

streamline all of that. I'm working

on becoming the entrepreneur who

checks email only at specific times

of day, and - again - I use

spreadsheets and checklists to keep

tasks organized. My accounting

background also really helps when

it comes to bookkeeping; I'm the

rare business owner who can do

and enjoys doing my own

bookkeeping! I use Later to plan out

Instagram posts (when I can), and

our stylists also contribute to our IG

stories.

What's a struggle you've faced and

how did it help you and your

business grow?

When I opened Glitter & Grit five

years ago, the space I fell in love

with was very small - less than 750

square feet! It created limitations on

how many brides we could see in a

day, and in what we could carry in

the store. I really wanted to expand

our offerings with more

fashion-forward bridal options, as

well as other special occasion

dresses. Last fall, we opened our

sister store, Luna, to do just that. It

quickly became clear that

www.wedaltered.com

14


Pittsburgh brides wanted to explore

the options at both stores, which led

to the decision of merging them

together (just this month!) rather

than waste everyone's tie between

the two locations. I had thought that

might happen someday, but I hadn't

expected it to be so quickly. It was

hard to say goodbye to Glitter & Grit;

the location, the intimacy of the

small space, and five years of

memories with brides... but I'm so

excited to continue to grow and see

where the next five years lead!

How do you plug into your local

community?

Pittsburgh is a smaller city, which

allows for more tight-knit

communities. How I love to connect

with industry friends is one-on-one,

or in small groups, over coffee or a

glass of wine. I feel that the

connection is so much stronger

when you're able to do that. I always

love flexing creative muscles

through styled shoots together, but

we don't usually get to talk much

during the planning and executing

of those. Networking is always a

good way to find new people to get

to know better over drinks!

What's your best behind the scene

process or tool could you not live

without? What inspired you to find

it/come up with it?

Regardless of the official systems I

have in place, I can't live without

Excel spreadsheets. My main one for

brides tracks all of their personal

info, the status of their orders, and

alerts me to upcoming weddings so

that I can send out a little something

congratulatory. I mastered Excel in

my "former life" as an accountant,

and depend on it for organizing

information - I even make

spreadsheets for vacation planning!

What's your favorite way to do

something special for brides?

Because our final interaction with

brides is usually a few months out

from their wedding, I like to send a

little gift in the mail around the time

of their wedding, to let them know

that we're thinking of them and

wishing them the best.

www.luna-boutique.co


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TRENDS REPORT:

THE NEW VINTAGE

Even with a unique

color and fit, OM

Design Studio’s

gown still has that

60’s feel.

the new

cape

You really can’t find an

era that doesn’t have

capes, but pairing this

Pure Magnolia style

with a crop top and slit

bring it into its own.

What happens when yo

mix a cape with off the

shoulder sleeves? This

Bo & Luca beauty.

pearls

Naturae Design gives

the nontraditional

bride a chance to wear

pearls with this

dramatic wrap earring.

This soft fi

style by M

Maids is up

with a soft


A dramatic fringe

makes Alyson

Nicole’s veil

anything but

traditional.

details

Steven Birnbaum

takes the ruffle we

all love and gives it

new lines on this

piece.

Edith Élan’s gown

has a beaded

geometric twist on

the classic illusion

with buttons.

u

Kate McDonald gives

modern brides a new

perspective on the

everyday Jacquard

fabric with this

metallic touch.

tted

ink

dated

pink.

color


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business buddy?

Come join the conversation on Facebook!


“If you work

really hard and

are kind, amazing

things will

happen.”

~ Conan O’Brien

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future issues!

Couture Bridal Vancouver

www.om-designstudio.com


How to create a

compelling brand

that showcases your

in-store experience

Sophie’s pic

by Sophie Newman

Dress by Renegade Bridal


T

hink of your brand as the

packaging that entices

someone to open your offer.

With time and consideration,

your business is beautifully

wrapped and captivating for your

ideal customer. However, there are

many aspects that go into

developing your strong, detailed,

and compelling presence. And your

in-store experience is only part of it.

A strong brand is developed by

considering the entire experience of

engaging with your business. This

includes interactions a customer

may have with your brand: from

your website to a networking event,

your social media, and more.

Strong brands are required for

creating a lasting business because

customers are more likely to

remember, trust, and buy from

businesses they recognize. As

people begin to recognize the

brand, they begin to trust and like it.

These brands command a higher

price point, increased sales, and a

higher number of loyal customers.

Your brand should be bold,

genuine, and compelling to be

effective. It should be clear about

what it stands for and what it offers

to its customers. It should be

authentic to ensure people have an

experience consistent with their

perception. It should be compelling

to draw people in and make them

want to act.

Give the same time and

consideration to your full presence.

Your in-store experience is only part

of your brand. Spending time

considering how you're perceived in

every place you connect with

customers is how you develop a

consistent experience.

The average revenue increase

attributed to always presenting the

brand consistently is 23%. -

Lucidpress

Consistency across your presence is

key. It allows people to understand

what you stand for and what it

would be like to engage with you,

no matter where they come across

your business. You want your

presence to be just as amazing as

your in-store experience, whether

it's on your website, social media, or

tradeshow.

Don't shortchange yourself online.

If you've taken the time to develop

your in-store experience to the most

minute detail, then you need to

spend the same time and

consideration on your online

presence. For example, for your

in-store experience, you know how

your potential customers should be

greeted, how they are guided

through shopping with you, and

how your packaging is perfectly tied

together.

When it comes to Millennials, 62

percent believe that online content

drives their loyalty to a brand.

Furthermore, if you want to gain

brand loyalty from Millennials, it’s

vital to share that content social

media. - NewsCred Insights

We're in the digital age. People, and

especially millennials, want to see

your online presence and interact

with your social media channels. A

genuine connection using digital

channels can go a long way to

establishing loyalty and credibility.

Invest in yourself and your

presence.

80% of consumers said

“authenticity of content” is the most

influential factor in their decision to

become a follower of a brand. - NJIT

Your presence in-person or in-store

should be just as captivating as your

online presence, and vice versa. You

want people who are arriving at

your location or referring you new

customers to have a good

representation of your brand to

share.

Without an accurate representation

of yourself, and what people can

expect by working with you, you are

showing people that you have not

invested in your own presence. So,

how can you expect your customers

to invest in you if you don't?

How do you know if your brand is

living up to your in-store

experience?

Think about how you would

describe your store's shopping

experience...

What adjectives would you use to

www.wedaltered.com

22


describe your store?

Are those the adjectives you want to

use to describe your store?

What do you wish people said when

they walk in?

Then ask yourself: If someone

encounters your website, social

media channels, tradeshow events,

email, digital books, stationery,

digital advertising, packaging,

signage, or brand photos - Do your

answers to the above questions

change?

If they do change, then it's time to

consider how your brand may be

falling short or not fully

representing what you offer. If your

answers don't change, then you

should ask - How can you live up the

brand you want to create even

more?

To get even more effective at

showcasing your in-store

experience, here are my top tips:

- Evaluate all of your channels and

see if any are not consistent,

genuine, or compelling.

- Ask yourself for each channel:

Would my ideal customer be

interested in what I offer after

seeing this?

- Talk to your actual customers and

gather their impressions of your

brand.

- Discuss ways you can add more

value to each of the places that

individuals interact with your

business.

- Ask yourself if you are committed

and can add value to the place your

brand is being seen. If you aren't

committed or can't add

value, then eliminate that

point of engagement.

Some tools to improve the

expression of your in-store

experience include:

Brand photography can be

a vital part of expressing

your brand and conveying

your in-store experience.

Use it to show people

exactly what they can

expect when they arrive to

your location and how

amazing your experience is.

Your website shows what

you do and social media

proves that you do it.

Developing an online presence that

accurately shows what you offer

and how you deliver it is essential.

Out of date products, broken links,

or unclear photos all hurt people’s

initial impression of you.

Your brand messaging helps people

understand what they will get

when they walk through your door.

It tells them what you’re about and

why you do what you do, so they’re

sold on you before you meet.

When it comes to making all of

these decisions, remember:

Earrings by Kata Banko

Dress by Galia Lahav

It's better to find focus and deliver

quality interactions. You don't need

to be everywhere all the time. You

can focus on what works for you

and your business so you deliver

quality content and engagement.

It's better to consider the entire

brand than just a few pieces.

Knocking it out of the park is great,

just make sure you're doing it across

the board so people always know

how awesome your brand is.

Always be authentic in what you do.

Be clear about who you are and

what you can do for people, so they

feel like they get to know you and

your business before they even walk

through the door.

SOPHIE NEWMAN

Sophie Newman, founder of Florida Winter Marketing, is

a branding and marketing consultant who tells bold,

genuine, and captivating stories. Her goal is to tell your

story so it attracts your ideal audience, just like Florida

winters. She and her team create a presence for entrepreneurs

and events that thrive in the digital age. She

enjoys teaching yoga, blogging marketing, and reading

fantasy novels.

www.floridawintermarketing.com


work

with our

designer

Customizations upon

request - patterns, beading,

color changes,

and more.

Mix

and

match

Separates close

more brides

Build looks like this

jumpsuit + overskirt!

quirk.

whimsy.

Be the destination

for unique

selection.

RENEGADE

713-364-4628

design@renegadebridal.com

SHOP THE COLLECTION

renegadebridal.com

bigger

tickets

Our brides love

choosing TWO

skirts!


If you want to go quickly, go alone.

If you wan


t to go far,

go together

~ African proverb


Stephanie ad


Gown by Ysa Makino

Styling by Henris

Georgina Vaughn Photography

Coming April 2018

VOW | AmericasMart

12-E107 - Building 3

StefanieSomers.com

Sales@StefanieSomers.com | 800.400.4312


y Natalie Harris

Nat pic

encore brides

5 REASONS WHY

HAVE IT GOOD


1.

3.

Encore Brides understand priorities.

So many of the most common budget planning

mistakes and post-nuptial regrets are

more easily avoided by couples with more

life experience. Maybe the first time around

they were left questioning why they cared

about wedding favors. Maybe the catering

was only so-so last time and they know to

choose a more creative chef for this celebration.

They understand that this is a "no

regrets" project and they have their own

past to look to, not just hearsay.

2.

Encore Brides know themselves.

Encore Brides have their lifelong friends

nailed down.

College or early adult life is probably behind

them. They’ve done the moving and job

hunting. Their social circle is more settled.

The people they have around them have

done this before. They are excited and ready

to celebrate this union for the uniqueness

that it is (just like every other couple and

wedding!). After all, they know the bride’s

flavor of fun and understand how the couple

works together.

When we're 25, we're just different women

than when we're 35, 55, or 75. It's actually

pretty cool to craft a celebration of your

relationship when you have embraced your

full spectrum of what’s shaped your life so

far. Sure, there are brides who know who

they are at any age, but Encore Brides have

a little more experience living it. Plus, they

usually know that no grown woman has to

ask permission to own her own flavor of

self-expression.

www.wedaltered.com 30


4.

Encore Brides Have More Time and Freedom to Save

Ok, everybody has bills, but it's a rare 20-year-old that has equity,

an advanced degree, or an enviable career. Of course, some may

have all three. I'm just saying, chances are good that if couple’s

are DIYing a lot, it's by choice rather than necessity. Encore

Brides might be able to splurge a little bit on the vendors that

excite them. Rent that Rolls Royce. Upgrade to silk. (It feels so

soft.) They've often had time to work hard and made good

choices so they can afford a few things that are really

meaningful, even if it ends up being a little more expensive than

it was in their first wedding.

5. married. I had never had a need for a family

Encore Brides have a better eye for quality than

the last time.

If you're anything like me, I had no idea what

good photography looked like when I was newly

photographer nor an event photographer. Even

though I found some vendors I loved, in the

years since I have diffrerent preferences about

style and quality. Experience brings

discernment, and Encore Brides can weed out

the amateurs more quickly because they’ve

seen what works for them and what they would

do differenty.

Dress by Renegade Bridal

NATALIE HARRIS

Natalie Harris is the Owner and Creative Director of

Renegade Bridal. Her design studio is based out of

Houston, but she works with brides all of the world to

keep what makes them who they are part of their

wedding. With both streamlined production and plenty

of opportunity for customization, her Renegade line

gives lots of style and personality in a streamlined

process.

She prefers to color outside the lines and encouraging

renegade brides to forego tradition for the sake of itself

in favor of meaningful details.

www.renegadebridal.com


A


Employees:

Pull them into your

brand and big vision

by Christen Schneider


W

hen you start to invest a

lot of time, money, and

brain power in really

nailing your vision for your

company and the big picture

message you want to share with the

world, you'll likely start to worry

about how to get that outlook to

become the default with your

whole team. After all, we talk about

how consistency in presentation is

key. Even harder, we know we need

it to be authentic...so it's not just

about getting your employees to

check the boxes on certain to dos,

it's about building a culture with

people who really connect with and

believe in what you're doing. Not

simple. But the good news is that

lots of people avoid things as soon

as they get even just a little

complicated, so you can really set

your business apart when you get

this right!

Here are some key things to start

doing now:

1) Take time to learn - You expect

your employees to improve and

learn. We all know the excitement

that comes with seeing someone

who is genuinely interested in their

work and actively looks for their

own opportunities to grow and do

better. It inspires us and the other

people around them and it pays off

in happiness and cash flow in the

work setting.

So make sure to be one of those

people! Find inspiring and detailed

videos and books on how to

effectively dream, teach, and guide.

Whether you want to admit it or

not, your job description is "leader".

It's in your best interest (and in the

best interest of your clients,

employees, and business) to hone

your craft. Check out Start With

Why by Simon Sinek, Radical

Candor by Kim Scott, Tribes by Seth

Godin, How to Win Friends and

Influence People by Dale Carnegie,

or The Confidence Code: The

Science and Art of Self-Assurance —

What Women Should Know by

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.

2) Take time to make it personal -

When it comes to goal setting,

teaching, monitoring, or motivating

staff, find what fits them and their

strengths. Two employees may be

struggling with closing, or being

late, or anything else for two very

different reasons. If you try to apply

the same course of correction and

instruction to them both, at least

one of them won't be getting what

they need to really make a

difference.

Incentives work the same way.

Goals need to be structured to fit

what that person values, or you lose

most of their motivational benefit

and impact. It's also so much more

effective if the person who has to

work on the goal has a hand in

creating the goal. It gives a much

stronger belief and sense of

possibility.

3) Take time to train - This kind of

seems like a no brainer, but people

don't bother to go as in depth and

they need to to teach effectively.

They make a checklist, turn on a

tutorial, and wish them luck. And

those are amazingly effective tools!

But it's surface stuff. You need to

teach the WHY, not just the what.

Teach your employees about your

vision before you ever get to the

systems or how to close a sale. Show

them all about your ideal client,

your store's sense of style, and the

impact you want to create. Then as

you start to move onto the

checklists and tasks, you'll have a

base of emotion and deeper

understanding to help them form

long term skills that they buy into

because they know why that follow

up email actually matters.

Don't just assume the same

instruction methods will work for

every employee, either. Go back to

point number two and remember

that when you take the extra 10

minutes to adjust how you present

something, it saves everyone

months of frustration. And make

sure to have a final step during

training where they apply what

they're learning before you send

them out there on their own.

Application is one of the biggest

tools you can use to make sure

people get it.

4) Take time to make it simple - Yes,

I know that sounds like the opposite

of what I've been saying. But if you

have a particular style you want to

present in your team's workwear,

you have 3 options:

- Spend time explaining everything,

play police when people interpret

what you said differently than you

wanted, and get your vision...but

have a very frustrated you and team

as well.

- Go over everything enough, but

not so much that too much time

gets eaten up...then quietly (or not

so quietly) complain that people

aren't really getting it and your

vision is lost

- Treat your staff to a few key pieces

as a "uniform", with easy mix and

match ways to personalize it. You

have more control, the visions'

totally clear, and everyone wins.

Now, your simple solutions may

look different than mine. Every

group has it's own struggles and

things they get down perfectly with

no worries. But if there's a problem

spot, try to find the way to bypass it,

not blast through it with pure

stubbornness.

5) Take time to have fun and

connect - If you want your team to

care, they need to feel like you do.

Keep a position of leadership, but

encourage team-like experiences

and relationships regularly. Build in

celebration of not just big work or

business accomplishments but also

life and everything else. When it

comes to serving and guiding in

your community, your own team

who is helping you do what you do

and live out your mission is the

perfect place to start.

www.wedaltered.com 34


Embroider and embellish

2

1

3

1 - Laser cut details on a floaty sheer overlay by Nuorikko

2 - Embroidery paired with a plunging neckline and sleeves by Edith Élan

3 - Embroidered 3D lace and a nude lining by OM Design Studio


TRENDS REPORT

4

5 6

4 - A pop of color and regional flavor (see the longhorn hiding in there?) by Renegade Bridal

5 - Big dramatic polka dots embellish a soft and romantic style by Nadia Manzato

6 - Celestial details in a Kata Banko crown complement the modern take on pearls for this Rue de Seine gown


MEET ALYSON

Designer of Alyson Nicole


A

s a New York designer, I know

I can always count on Alyson

for great talk about fashion,

marketing, and all things

bridal Her line debuted during

October Bridal Week at The London

last year and she’s been growing

steadily ever since. She took the

time to answer our interview

questions for us.

You're based in Brooklyn, NY, tell

me a little about what sets your

city apart?

Being based in Brooklyn has many

perks. Because it is so close to

Manhattan, sourcing new materials

is extremely easy. There are so many

suppliers in Brooklyn too, which

gives me more options than if I lived

back home in Pennsylvania.

Another perk I love is that there’s a

ton of resources that help expand

my business- for example, there are

unlimited options for classes (such

as jewelry making/metalsmithing -

which is something I’m looking

into!). In my opinion, Brooklyn has a

lot more heart than Manhattan

when dealing with independent

designers and artists. There is a

huge supportive

community in

Brooklyn that really

helps to expand

growth

and

knowledge of the

industry itself in many

different aspects. Plus

Brooklyn doesn’t have

that stuck up/closed off

vibe that Manhattan

can have and it really

helps open up your

creativity.

What led to you

starting your line?

What's your bridal

origin story?

What originally started

my line was my sister

getting married and

my mother telling me I

should make veils for a

living (while I was still in college). I

made my sister a beautiful feather

bird cage veil and created a full line

of bird cage veils and traditional

veils around that. After graduation

and moving to NYC for my first

fashion 9-5, I decided that I didn’t

want to get “stuck” at a job that was

making meaningless items. It was

at that moment I relaunched my

bridal line to create heirlooms, both

bespoke and in for my own

collection.

What's the inspiration behind your

most recent collection?

My 2018 collection was mainly

inspired by my own wedding. The

theme was an “industrial secret

garden” which I translated into my

collection by using natural

elements (both organic and

manmade) mixed with various

metal geometric components.

Why do you love what you do?

I absolutely love knowing that what

I create is going to be worn on one

of the most important days of their

life. It’s such a great feeling to make

something so special that is also an

heirloom that can be passed down.

Quick Details:

Price range - WS $25-$350 , Retail at

2.2 mark up $55-$770

Production/quality details -

Production takes 90-120 days from

order date. Each component is

hand picked and inspected to make

sure the quality is top-notch both

before and after the product is

assembled.

Staff/team? - One woman team

with occasional office help

3 words to describe your brand vibe

- Unconventional, Bohemian, Bold

3 words to describe your bride -

Daring, Unique, alternative

Bridal only or other kinds of lines-

Mainly bridal BUT I strongly believe

a lot of my products can be worn

long after the wedding day.

How do you spread the work

around when things

get really busy? Do

you have a team, an

intern, outsource

social media? Do it all

yourself?

When things get

REALLY busy, I start by

prioritizing what needs

to be done first, then I

create a loose schedule

to plan out what days

will handle certain

tasks. I usually do

everything myself but

recently I hired an

intern (and will

continue to do so) to

help with website

content, social media,

and other “secretarial”

tasks. It has helped A

LOT and it lets me

concentrate on what’s

www.wedaltered.com

38


most important such as creating

products, filling orders, and

answering emails.

What does "community over

competition mean for you and your

business?

I strongly feel that in this industry as

an independent designer it’s

extremely important to support one

another- as designers, boutique

owners, and other wedding

professionals. I don’t believe that just

because someone else makes

accessories that they are a threat to

my business or that I am better than

them. I have my own aesthetic that

attracts a certain type of bride, as do

they. If we all close each other out,

then we really cannot learn or grow.

Its so important to learn from other

peoples’ experiences and to help

someone out when you can. You

never know when you’ll need help

and its so much better to have a

community that you can turn to.

What's the best style you've ever

made? What made it special?

My Raeghan Quartz earrings. Ever

since I posted them on IG, they have

been getting more views than any

other item I’ve made. They also were

such a favorite at the October bridal

week and are constantly being

requested for styled shoots. I think

the reason why they are so special is

because they mix the classic glam

look with bohemian vibes to create a

timeless pair of earrings that really

can be worn for any occasion,

especially on a bride’s wedding day!

What's your best behind the scene

process or tool could you not live

without? What inspired you to find

it/come up with it?

Mine is pretty basic but I can’t create

new products or fill orders without

it... I need to have a “to-do” list (either

written or in thumbnail sketches)

that I can mark off as they are

completed. It keeps me motivated

to see what needs to be done, it

relieves stress to know that its not

forgotten, and it also makes me feel

really accomplished when I can

mark something off! Yes, it can get

overwhelming but it sure is a great

feeling to see things getting done!

What's the most unique or

inspiring story you have about

working with a bride or store?

I had this amazing couple come to

me and ask me to reuse both their

mothers’ wedding dresses in her

bespoke wedding dress and both of

their accessories. They also wanted

me to creat gifts out of the gowns to

give to their moms. It was such a

sweet and memorable thing to be a

part of and so much fun to figure

out how to incorporate the dresses

into each piece.


See more potential best sellers every day!

Directory Ad

Check out our Wed Altered

Online Designer

Directory

Dress by Autumn Silk

12


y Keneshia Raymond

Let’s talk...

Keneshia’s pic

Serving and Styling Plus Size Brides

L

et’s take a moment to talk about plus size wedding gowns, my friends. Being a designer for

plus size brides has really opened my eyes to the way the bride thinks. After years of being a

wedding planner / designer, I never thought about how hard it may be for curvy brides to

find their dream wedding dress, even as a curvy person myself!

As I’ve done research and spoke with brides, I learned that most plus size brides feel uncomfortable

coming in bridal stores and trying on dresses. I know you’ve heard the same thing. Many

feel that they will stand out or fear that there may not be a dress in their size. It doesn’t help that

plus size is under represented in photos and in magazines, which makes it hard for the bride to

even picture exactly what they want.

When a plus size bride comes in the store, they are often worried about their insecurities. This is

the time we have to help them feel comfortable about the experience that is to come, but helping

plus size brides feel more confident in choosing their dress starts with us changing the way

we think. As store owners and designers we must understand that plus is no different. It

shouldn’t be presented as a burden!


Let’s start with really getting to

know them. Listen to their stories,

ask them not only what styles they

are looking for but what are their

concerns, what would they like to

accentuate. Although every bride

has their own insecurities, this is so

important for your curvy brides.

They just want to feel heard. Like

any bride, they want to look sexy

and beautiful on their wedding day.

We have to learn to speak the plus

brides language and anticipate

what they want before they walk in

the door. Designers and store

owners, we can change the way

plus size brides think about buying

their wedding dress! It is up to us to

give our brides an experience that

they will never have anywhere else,

an experience that is magical. We

need to help them to understand

the magic in finding their wedding

dress in person so they don’t need

to just settle for what they find on

Amazon or Ebay. No bride wants to

settle!

Most curvy brides will go straight to

a ball gown, which they believe will

hide everything. We’ve all seen that

in some cases a ball gown will make

them look bigger, though. Understanding

curvy silhouettes and

what works for each body shape is

our specialty, so encouraging them

to try on different silhouettes that

will accentuate their curves and

make them look beautiful is one of

the best things we can do.

Getting a plus size bride to trust you

to do that requires having many

options for her to explore.

Plus size brides today choose their

dream dress with a ton of alterations.

As an industry, we can and

should design for the curvy bride

who loves the dress just the way it

is. Imagine if the brides could all

find their dream dress without

having to add sleeves and more

material! That’s why we focus on

designing a variety of different

silhouettes so that curvy brides

have all the options they need to

make a choice and find a dress they

love.

Nothing is going to change in our

industry unless we make the

change. We have to step up if we

want to see these important shifts.

Two million women that get married

every year are a size 14 and

above and we are not making sure

we can cater to theses brides. We

are missing out on a huge opportunity!

Remember that word of

mouth spreads like wildfire and

once a curvy bride falls in love with

your shop she will send over her

friends.

Plus size brides just want to feel

accepted and not like a burden.

They want to look great and to be

able to fit in your sample size

dresses. We all do so much to serve

our customers! This is the perfect

place to keep that going.

KENESHIA RAYMOND

Keneshia Raymond is the founder of Curvy Unicorn, an

online Wedtech based plus size wedding dress

company that celebrates curvy brides. Keneshia has

been active in the wedding community for over 10 years

as a planner & wedding designer and the VP of Wed

Tech Summit. She also founded Enchanted: The

Wedding Event & Blissful Creatives: an online education

resource and creative strategy agency focusing on

helping creatives launch, grow and strategy for

wedding businesses. Kay is a speaker & educator. When

she is not working you can find her dancing, surfing,

reading or enjoying some time with family.

www.curvy-unicorn.com

42


The secret of

change is to focus

all of your energy,

not on fighting the

old, but on building

the new.

~ Socrates


Parting shot...

by Christen Schneider

Out of the Office:

Block time to step away and work on big thinking projects.

Do you block your schedule? You know the advice you hear in every business blog post...answer

email once a day, take a walk, lay out your action items, etc. And it's a huge impact when you

implement things that streamline and deal with the little bits that can quickly suck up a whole

day with busyness but without much progress! But it does more to save your sanity than move

you toward your big time dreams...

That's why before we’re done with this issue on doing business differently, I also want to focus

building in times to work on yourbusiness. Taking a few hours a week (or even a month) and

sitting down to tackle something that often gets pushed back. Things that are important with a

capital I, but not necessarily urgent. Everyone's 90 day and 1 year goals are different so this varies,

but it's usually something like goal setting, project planning, year long scheduling, blog posts, creative

projects, inventory development, big picture marketing, lead system development, and personal

or professional development.

I’m writing this really more as a challenge than a lesson or a big answer to an industry question.

So I'm challenging you to try this. Block out 4+ hours at least once this month and really dive into

something you know would push you forward that you may never get to devote that much time

and energy to otherwise.

Plan out your vision and then reverse engineer some “can do this now” goals. Then make a story

or vision board of the big stuff that’s a little farther in the future. Plan your year’s content calendar,

create a training manual to be able to delegate, review your numbers and inventory, or write yourself

a story of what your days and business would look like if you could wave a magic mand and

make it exactly what you wanted.

Even if you have a separate office space in your store, I would encourage you to try this. Putting

yourself in an environment you enjoy, that's novel to you, and hidden to other people and the

usual distractions will give you a boost. Make a playlist, get a drink, and get to work. Enjoy!

44


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SUPPORTING

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