Well what an emotional roller-coaster the last 2 years have been. When you’re starting out with a new business venture everything you read and all of the research you undertake points out that it will take blood, sweat and tears to become successful. They offer up all sorts of statistics to show how many businesses fail in the first couple of years… and my goodness it is easy to see why… it is tough… you have to be 100% emotionlly-invested to keep going through both the good and the bad times. One thing I have learned for sure is that so long as you have a great product, loyal customers and above all exceptional customer service you’ll be just fine. And here at The Ivory Chapter that is what we genuinely pride ourselves on. Our wedding dresses are beyond amazing, I can’t tell you the amount of times our customers look at the rails and say ‘wow I’ve never seen wedding dresses like these before’ . Our handwriting is contemporary, yet appropriate for your special day and every dress is beautiful in her own right. We have a real mix of wedding dresses as the designers we have had-picked all have their own signature. I’m not going to lie, i didn’t get it absolutely ‘right’ at the start it has taken these 2 years to really get my mix of dresses right, I soon realised what you girls don’t want, is ‘bread and butter’ what you want is ‘wow’!
So, I have continued to extend the collection through out the past 2 years whilst really finding our feet in this crazy industry. I have always been dead clear on my strategy for the boutique- and it is to offer product that is that little bit different. Striking the balance between fashionable wedding dresses and ‘bridal-enough’ is a tough one. Now and again I have wondered if I should deviate from my goal and offer more traditional dress but no, I have stuck to my guns and it is really paying off, my brides are loving the freshness and difference that we offer.
So, speaking of great product we have recently introduced Floral Bridal wedding dresses to our collection, they are just WOW, we are one of three stockists in the UK so we are attracting customers from all over the country which is so exciting for us here at The Ivory chapter. The Flora dresses are designed and made in Haifa, Isreal they are edgy and so so comfortable due the refined lightweight fabrics- take a look (or even better, come and have a feel!)
Then I have Watters which is from America and have the most gorgeous princess dresses, I personally love the crochet lace dress Taylor, she is a real winner winner chicken dinner for the bride that has curves that wants to show them off in a dress that has a nod to tradional but the crochet lace keep the dress current for our modern brides.
I have stocked Alan Hannah wedding dresses right from the get-go. It is such a privilege to work with such a talented UK wedding dress designer. The dresses are lovingly made in England too! There are a few standouts for me in the Alan Hannah collection but Millie is my personal fave. Millie is made from Mikado fabric which is much like a satin but doesn’t crease and the colour of this dress has a lovely butter-milk tone. The off-the shoulder neckline and the huge bow on the back is just divine, such a classically British dress but with a lovely contemporary twist.
Last year when I went to Harrogate to look at some new dresses for you lovely brides-to-be I was blown away by the Marylise collection of wedding dresses. The styles were so ‘fresh’ and ‘young’ and the prices make them so accessible to a lot of customers. I loved them so much that I topped up with their Modern Muse collection which have been arriving into the boutique over the past month or so, and they are fabulous!
Originally I hadn’t planned on stocking bridesmaid dresses until I met the lovely Sinclair from Maids to Measure and I instantly fell in love with their concept of bridesmaid dresses to suit all, and when I found out they are designed and made in England as well, that ticked all of the boxes for me, I had to be a stockist. Gone are the days of matchy-matchy bridesmaids and Maids to Measure have hit the nail on the head with their styles and colours which can be mixed and matched to suit different shapes, sizes, colourings, personalities – a massive thumbs up from me and my customers.
The new kids on the block for my bridesmaid dress collection is Rewritten, the bridesmaid dresses are super-cool and perhaps a little bit more casual than maids to measure, both are great in their own ways…
In September last year, one year into my venture I met the fabulous ‘Rach’ a fellow mum from the school. Rach has been in the bridal industry for years, amongst other wizardry skills she is a hugely-talented seamstress, she also designs and makes couture wedding gowns…so it was a no-brainer she just had to join The Ivory Chapter and ever since then I have never looked back, she has brought experience, skill and a lot of hilarity into the boutique…such a wonderful asset. We now have a small collection of wedding dresses that have been designed and made here at The Ivory Chapter, in Derbyshire. The collection is called ‘Chapter One’ and I am hoping there will be many more chapters to come.
So all in all, my first 2 years at The Ivory Chapter has been fabulous, I have met so may lovely brides-to-be, amazing mums, mum-in-laws, families and friends. I have must got through hundreds of bottles of Elderflower juice and said the phrase ‘don’t lock the door!’ a thousand times (every time someone needs to use the loo… year 3, must find a handyman!) I have continued to expand the collection of wedding dresses, bridesmaids dress and accessories but it is just the start of my journey, I have many exciting things up my sleeve, my busy mind never settles and I am constantly searching for the next ‘must-have’ designer. So watch this space, the next year at The Ivory Chapter looks like its going to be an exciting one!