There’s nothing quite like being at the receiving end of an email that’s congratulating you on making it to the finalist line up in an awards programme – especially if you are a relative newcomer to that category. We talked to the six who represent the best of the New Bridalwear Retailers for the Bridal Buyer Awards 2018…
Kim Hardy, Elizabeth Kate Bridal
Kim Hardy of Elizabeth Kate Bridal in Crowle, Scunthorpe, was in Lanzarote when she received that email.
“It was a dreary day until I got the good news!” she said. “All of a sudden I had forgotten about the cold, dull weather!”
Kim got on the phone, shared her good fortune with all her family, and then got busy posting on social media. She opened her small village boutique in January 2017, stocking Stella York, Blue by Enzoani, Beautiful by Enzoani, Phoenix Gowns, Alexia Daisy and LQ Designs.
“Once I’d decided to go ahead and enter, it took just a morning – before opening I had spent so much time researching, planning and getting the boutique and our bridal experience perfect that I it found it easy to answer the questions. Being able to demonstrate the hard work I had put into setting up the boutique, and my passion for perfection, were what I hope had made me stand out.”
Jemma Palmer, Halo & Wren
Jemma’s Hemel Hempstead shop opened in February 2017. She carries an fabulous collection of contemporary labels – Marquise Bridal Atelier, Emmy Mae Bridal, E&W Couture, Haarlam Bridal, Marta Martí Atelier, Riki Dalal, Rembo Styling, Watters Wtoo and Willowby and handmade veils by Helen Martin.
“I feel like I have made it through to the finals because there is a change coming in wedding dress shopping. Halo & Wren is a fresh alternative to the mainstream; it is not described as Luxe, it’s described as relaxed. From the very moment of initial contact be that on the website or Instagram, visitors know exactly what we stand for. Every now and then you get a little pat on the back. Mine was sitting in my inbox; not just a pat on the back, but a ‘We think you’re doing great, as good as some of the best!’ pat on the back!”
Mairead Kennedy, MK Bridal
MK Bridal in Navan, Co. Meath, opened its doors in March 2017. Owner Mairead Kennedy could not quite believe it when she received that email from the Bridal Buyer Awards, announcing she had made it to the final six.
“I jumped up and down hugging my mam sayin,g “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!” repeatedly,” she said.
Mairead feels it was her passion for what she does, her work ethic, and her aspirations for the future that scored her points and put her in the running for that very special trophy. She spent a week on her entry, dipping in and out, and re-writing where necessary until she was satisfied she had got her message over.
And the labels she carries? Paloma Blanca, Enzoani, Beautiful by Enzoani, Willowby by Watters, Allure, LouLou, White Rose, White One, Sorella Vita and Hayley Paige occasionwear.
Mira Mckean and Kendal Williams-Mckean, Along Came Eve
Chester-based Along Came Eve, owned by Mira Mckean and Kendal Williams-Mckean, opened April 2017, and carries Enzoani, Blue By Enzoani, Rosa Clara, Watters, Willowby By Watters, Martin Thornburg for Mon Cheri, and Agnes.
The duo spent a few hours initially on their entry and then around three weeks going back and tweaking the content before they pressed Submit. They feel that they bring something different to their area.
“We have a passion for all things bridal and extremely high standards; our level of service to our brides has been a real driving force behind our good reputation,” they said.
And their reaction when they got that email telling them that they were one of the chosen six? “We were, and still are, on cloud nine,” says Mira. “We were extremely hopeful that we would make the shortlist, but we still find it unbelievable. To be a finalist is an incredible achievement in just 12 months after opening our doors. We know the competition is our category is tough, and it’s an honour to be recognised along with such fabulous boutiques.”
Deborah Shelley, Roberta Talbot and Emily Hamnett-Harris, Somerset Bride
The trio who opened Somerset Bride in Minehead in August 2016 – Deborah Shelley, Roberta Talbot and Emily Hamnett-Harris – had their own distinct message to convey in their entry in this year’s awards: “The other shortlisted finalists are all fantastic, but we are the one in the category that specifically caters for curvy brides and we do so in a very body positive and forthright way,” says Debbie. “When we got that email I had to re-read it a few times until it sunk in. Then I rang Mum (who owns the shop with me) with a ‘guess what’ question! We are completely over the moon to have our hard work recognised and it is all down to our fabulous brides.”
Somerset Bride carries five collections – Justin Alexander, Stella York, Casablanca, LQ Designs as well as Venus.
Rachel Iravani, Olive Jones Bridal
“We were honest about the trials and tribulations of being a new bridal boutique and I feel this may have been a factor in helping us stand out,” says Rachel Iravani, who opened Olive Jones Bridal in Edinburgh just over a year ago, in June 2017.
With Augusta Jones, Charlie Brear, Elbeth Gillis, Karen Willis Holmes, Mikaella, Watters Brides and Wtoo by Watters in store, Rachel offers her brides a great choice. It’s her first awards entry, and the aim was to convey a strong story. Her reaction to the congratulatory email? “We have fizz on tap in the boutique – and it was certainly put to use that day!”
Wedding Trader wishes every finalist in this year’s Bridal Buyer Awards the very best of luck on the big night, on 11 September 2018.