Ah, welcome to summer!
Grab your favorite beverage, sit in the sunshine and take a few moments to just relax in the warmth. Then begin thinking ahead to our Boost Retreat this fall - October 27 & 28 in my hometown of Holland, Michigan. Summers here are glorious, but Mother Nature really puts on a show in the fall! I would love to have you join us, whether you’re a local or a traveler.
Of course, I’m sure that your social feeds are full of gorgeous wedding images now that it is summer too. I spoke with two photographers, Wendi Curtis and Liz VanderWall to discuss styled shoots and a few other ways that boutiques and photographers can collaborate. Their ideas and thoughts are in an article below.
I’m sure you’re familiar with these “B” words of bridal business: Branding, Budgeting, Buying, Building, and Blessing. We teach how to put them all together with a tool we developed called the PCT. At the Boost Retreat, you’ll get all of this in a fun teaching package with a bunch of surprises and fun!
Do you ever…
wonder where the money goes?
get confused with the “business side” of the bridal business?
wish you had a better system for tracking your income?
spend too much on marketing or inventory?
wonder how to motivate your team to work together to make sales?
wish you could share more of your profits with your team, community, or charities - WHILE STILL PAYING YOURSELF?
have BIG IDEAS for your boutique - but no plan or money to get there?
The Boost Retreat is designed to boost you and your boutique. There will be training on the strategies and tools that I use every day in my successful bridal business. Also planned are boosts for you on a personal level - time for relaxation, tours of local businesses to inspire you, and we’re kicking it all off with a fun champagne brunch! There will also be opportunities to meet with me one-on-one to discuss your particular concerns and you’ll leave with a PLAN to address them. When you arrive home from the retreat, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to apply the strategies you’ve learned to your boutique the next day. Within the first month, you’ll be able to begin making decisions that will increase your profit short-term and set you up to accomplish those BIG DREAMS of yours long-term!
Asked in our Facebook group: What is more sellable: low price, less alterations, better quality?
Great question. I often joke that I would be a millionaire several times over if I could figure out exactly what would sell in a given season - I’m sure you all agree!
I grew up in the drycleaning industry and we have a saying there - “Good, Fast, Cheap - you can be two of those, but not all three.”
When deciding what to carry in your boutique, it’s so easy to want to have something for everyone, or a gown for every bride. But I think it’s smarter business to first decide on your priorities for your business and let those guide you in how you brand and what you buy.
Let’s explore this with our fictional bridal boutique owner, Amanda. Amanda has some personal values that she wants her business to reflect. Keeping business local, buying domestic and being environmentally-friendly are important to her. So she has decided that she is going to buy only gowns and veils made in the USA and Canada. To match this brand and her local community value, she locates her boutique in a historic building in the heart of her downtown area. This means Amanda is going to have to sell her gowns and her services for more than another shop in her area with a different focus on branding. Each season, Amanda is going to make purchasing and marketing decisions based on these values, but she knows where her limits are for discounting and has chosen vendors with similar values who will work with her.
Value and inexpensive gowns are also valid focuses for you and your business. It’s when we match our branding with our buying strategy and our budget planning that we become successful, no matter where we start. Just remember to take the time to think on your personal values that you want to embed in your business. Then make your decision on what is important. Low cost, good quality, included alterations; like in drycleaning - you can’t have them all, but you can combine a few!
Thank you to Brenda Smith of Tutus en Tournant in Vancouver, Washington for the images above, taken by Jammin’ Swing Photography. Perfect images of a summer wedding! Brenda custom designed and constructed the gown, putting in over 300 hours!
Cultivating relationships with wedding photographers
We all recognize that shopping for a bridal gown is usually one of the first things a newly engaged woman will put on her to-do list. Finding the perfect wedding photographer will sometimes rank even above finding the dress, though. That is why I’ve always liked developing great relationships with the photographers in my area. They will often refer their brides to the boutiques that they love.
I spoke with two photographers in my area who I respect and really enjoy working with. They share their thoughts on styled shoots and working with bridal boutiques with us here.
Liz Vanderwall, Elisabeth Marie Photography, LLC
Do you do styled shoots? Yes, I have done just a few in the past. I would love to do more in the future though, especially in the winter off-season.
Do you usually style the shoots or do you collaborate with a planner/florist/other? All of the styled shoots I have participated in so far have been put together by someone else. I have done some through a workshop I attended, I did one with an event venue that had an event planner help as well, and I participated in one that was put on by another photographer who invited a group of photographers to participate
What benefits do you see to participating businesses in a styled shoot? It is a really great way to get to know other people in the wedding industry and build a relationship with them. It is also a really great way to get your business shared on a couple different companies social media accounts. Every styled shoot I have participated in has tagged all of the other vendors in their post on social media, so it can be used as a marketing tool. Personally though, I really love creating strong relationships with others in the wedding industry so that is usually my main reason for participating
Do you often get a gown from a bridal boutique or use a model who has her own gown? In most of the styled shoots I have participated in we have gotten the gown from a bridal boutique. However, I can imagine depending on the situation there may be a time in the future where I would have the bride wear her own dress.
What are some other ways that photographers and bridal boutiques can collaborate? This is a good question! I think the obvious answer would be having a photographer come in to your store and do photos of your business so you can have really great images to use on your website and social media pages, also could do a mini photo shoot with models wearing those gowns to use on social media/websites as well.
Wendi of Wendi Curtis Photography has a great idea I think every boutique should explore…
Wendi says that one of her dream photo shoots would be documenting a bride’s search for the gown from beginning to end.
What about offering this as an add-on for a special shopping experience at your boutique? What a great way to collaborate and give the bride professional photos of her special experience!
Thanks for celebrating summer with us! I hope you have a wonderful month!