Renee knows wedding dresses like she knows the back of her hand. In fact, her whole start in owning her wedding gown business started as she was planning her own wedding to her sweetheart. She took a leap of faith, invested in Bel Fiore Bridal, and it has been a hit with brides ever since. Read on to learn more about how Renee and her team dote on each bride that steps through their doors in this week’s Know Your Pro…
Bustld: What do you think makes you different as a bridal shop?
Renee: The number one thing brides tell us is that they love shopping. It’s their favorite thing to do, other than try the gowns on. So, when a salon doesn’t allow the brides to pull her own dresses and just pulls for her, they feel like they might have missed something, or they didn’t get shown something. We have a system of hanging flowers to mark the dresses they want to see. Then the consultants come behind them to actually pull the dresses. And of course, we’ve asked them their budget. If they tag a dress not in their budget, before we pull it in the dressing room, we remind them of their budget and ask if they still want to see that particular style.
Plus, we do all the fun things . . . you want to take a million pictures? Go for it. You want to bring champagne and hors d’oeuvre’? Feel free. Do you want to make it a big party? We are ok with that. We’ve even allowed brides to take the dress outside. We have a patch of grass next to our store and we have a towel that we put down. We will let them see it in the natural light and take pictures of it in the natural light. Which usually sells that for a bride-to-be who is between two dresses. No one else lets you go out and potentially ruin their dresses in the mud. We have a system and consultants I trust that make it happen and make sure every bride leaves happy.
Bustld: How would you describe the styles offered in your store?
Renee: We don’t have one style that defines us. We really try to have a complete variety. If you hate tulle, we have dresses with no tulle. If you love tulle, we have dresses that are too much tulle. Gowns with beading, without beading, with lace, without lace, super over-the-top rockstar status kind of gowns. We have them all.
Bustld: How would you describe your ideal bride?
Renee: We aren’t the most expensive salon in the area. We don’t have the high maintenance or glam brides. We do carry designers for some people that are brand name or designer oriented. Most of our brides are down to earth, realistic people that have a budget that’s under $3,000. Our brides are very respectful of money and understand the value for what they are getting. The want to feel special, and get something beautiful, but don’t want to break the bank doing it. I think we have a pretty “cool bride” as a client.
Bustld: Why do your purchase their gown with you?
Renee: They feel comfortable enough to say yes to us (and of course, the dress, as well). They want to do business with us. If we have the dress, it’s our staff personalities that make people want to work with us. We make them feel comfortable, and make sure it is solely their decision. We are low-pressure kind of people. We extend all of our first day deals for 48 hours. Brides can always sleep on it and come back in to get the same price deals as you did on the first day.
Bustld: What is the best part of being a bridal stylist?
Renee: We get to see the bride pretty early on in the process. She is not as stressed out at this time. Also, by the time we get to the end with alterations, we have been with them through the whole journey. We get to see them still floating on Cloud 9. It is one of the few aspects that’s solely the bride’s personal style. So, we get to really focus on what she likes and what she wants versus the couple and what they want for the day. It’s kind of fun prioritizing her for the moment.
Bustld: What's your favorite moment on wedding day?
Renee: When all the guests see the bride for the first time, and you see all those faces filled with excitement and joy. And obviously, if there is a bride or groom at the altar – or the first look moment. Those pictures always get us. The first time the dress and the whole look is revealed is definitely a favorite.
Bustld: So, tell us some about your business and what makes it special?
Renee: The store itself has been in business for 15 years. I bought it as a pre-established business, which in my opinion is the smartest way to open a business. I’ve done it from the ground up, and it’s not fun. Buying it where everything is kind of moving, and you are just jumping in and keeping the ball rolling is a lot easier. The original owners went on to create Bridal Live which is a software program that half of the bridal stores in the United States now use. The wife owned the business and she would go home and complain to her computer programmer husband. He wrote her a program, she said this this is amazing, and as the business blew up, she sold the shop to focus on the software. They wouldn’t have left the business, but they found another revenue stream in the industry that needed all of their attention.
As for me, I started planning my own wedding, and was looking for a business to invest in with my mother. I owned other businesses in the past, primarily tattoo parlors, but I was looking for something different. I did a little search of businesses for sale in the wedding industry and ran across the bridal salon. I loved the atmosphere and the staff, talked to the owner, and it worked out from there.
Get in touch with Renee and her fabulous Bel Fiore Bridal team by clicking HERE.