Good working relationships are the key to business success in the bridal industry – we talk to five leading brands about what they look for in a stockist
Words by Jennifer Grimble
Pronovias has been working closely with Glasgow-based luxury bridal boutique, Anne Priscilla, for two decades, owing such success to loyalty, respect and dedication from both parties. Rosie Miller, area sales manager for Pronovias, discusses the established partnership. “We’ve known each other for such a long time that we’ve become a great team,” says Rosie. A full disclosure policy allows for a trust-based bond, the key to preserving this important connection.
Speaking regularly with the Anne Priscilla team, as well as visiting the store, Rosie better understands the day-today running of the boutique. “I’m hoping to assist them with making Pronovias their star collection at its forthcoming Designer Weekends.”
Stocking Pronovias and White One, Anne Priscilla carries over 50 samples, including current and carryover styles, and owner Karen Madden maintains intricate knowledge of the brand. “Karen genuinely cares, acknowledging and listening to the bride’s needs," says Rosie. “The store has great design and a wonderful atmosphere and each bride feels special, which in turn makes our dresses extra special.”
After decades of working together, Karen and the Pronovias team have a mutual respect of each other’s needs. “Our relationship requires hard work and commitment from both sides,” says Karen.
With two decades in bridal, Veromia’s CEO, Vivien Felstein, knows what she’s looking for when it comes to stockists. With eclectic bridal collections and an award-winning Plus Size range on its résumé, the brand seeks: “Specialist boutiques that will allow our designs to shine,” says Vivien.
Its Plus Size collection Sonsie works eﬀortlessly at Curves and Couture of Essex, the range’s premier UK stockist. The shop features on popular TV show Curvy Brides Boutique, giving Sonsie incredible exposure. Vivien found owner Joanne Cooke’s enthusiasm for Plus Size extremely appealing, with Jo’s dedication leading to numerous awards, including Best Bridal Range at the 2014 British Plus Size Awards, a triumph that was aided by Sonsie. “Jo oﬀers her brides boutique exclusivity, so each is made to feel special in our gowns.”
The Frock Spot, another premier stockist of Veromia’s eclectic collections, had a similar lure on Vivien. “We still remember meeting owners Amy and Kate six years ago, before they’d even opened the shop,” says Vivien. The collaboration seemed an obvious choice, with the sisters oﬀering two specialist boutiques dedicated to diﬀerent areas of bridal fashion. “Our stockists represent our brand and Amy and Kate know the industry inside and out, leading to quick success.”
Vivien maintains both a personal and strong professional foundation with both stores. "We are always at the end of the phone because we understand that their business is our business.”
Fit, quality and aﬀordability sit at the heart of the Private Label by G brand. So Kenneth Winston, its range of contemporary, intricately embellished gowns, needed to be displayed in boutiques to match. The designer’s Northern Agent, Phil Swift, tells us why Lancashire-based Lulu Browns was a perfect choice. “I’ve worked in the industry for 18 years and have known Lulu Browns for the same length of time. When I took on Kenneth Winston I knew it would be perfect for the boutique, which is always impeccably presented,” explains Phil.
In 2014, the Kenneth Winston range was rolled out in Lulu Browns, a striking, light-filled space boasting the feminine silhouettes of Justin Alexander and Blue by Enzoani. Yet it wasn’t just the look of the store which helped Phil connect with Lulu Browns’ owner, Helen Lord. “She’s the queen of social media! They have a great online presence and following!” For Phil, this set the relationship in stone, ﬁnding a stockist that not only knew her stuﬀ, but was able to represent the brand in a dynamic way.
Running several designer weekends every year, Helen meets with key ﬁgures from Private Label by G to talk strategy. “Our head oﬃce enjoys a very friendly relationship with Helen and her team. Maintaining relationships is easy when both parties are good at what they do,” says Phil. Gifts are often exchanged between the two, showing a reciprocated aﬀection for the work each does for the other. “We share advice and knowledge, even on things that aren’t related to our dresses! Lulu Browns’ passion and award-winning service is the best way for our collection to be represented. The team are extremely dedicated and share a real camaraderie.
Specialising in high-quality design at aﬀordable prices, Hythe-based boutique, Something Old, Something New, not only oﬀers a style for every bride, but gives its clients exclusive access to the store. This personal experience is something that Victoria Kay founder, Khalid AlAmoodi, saw as a huge selling point. “Something Old, Something New reﬂects the values and mission of the Victoria Kay brand," he explains.
When Lesley Waterman bought the store in 2011, she immediately called Khalid to discuss continuing the shop’s association with the brand. “We knew Lesley was right for us, because she was so keen to make every bride feel special. Her team are friendly and professional, making them extremely easy to work with,” Khalid explains.
Speaking on a weekly basis, Khalid is able to keep up-to-date with orders and ideas. The pair’s working relationship is strengthened by mutually beneﬁcial events such as the boutique’s trunk shows. “We oﬀer loan dresses if Lesley has speciﬁc requirements from a bride-to-be,” he explains.
It is this reciprocal consideration that allowed this business link to develop. For Khalid, treating his retailers like more than just customers is crucial. “All our stockists are treated like family. We believe that our friendly, non-pushy approach has gained us much gravitas within the industry.”
Doing anything within their power for their stockists, the team at Victoria Kay has gained a reputation for impeccable service. Stocking around 80 designs from two key Victoria Kay ranges, Something Old, Something New oﬀers a varied representation of the brand’s collections.
Working together for 18 years, Linzi Jay and Glaswegian boutique, Reeta Fashions, share an enduring relationship. The store was established in 1951, with owners Stewart and Sheran Lang dedicating themselves to being Scotland’s largest bridal fashion boutique, appealing to all customers, for every occasion.
Linzi Jay’s Merchandiser, Debbie Gill, and Oﬃce Manager, Angela Brown, explain what this working relationship means to them both. “Stewart and Sheran often say we are great friends – better than family! We speak every single day,” says Angela. Their relationship is one of closeness and mutual aﬀection, something that has grown over the years into a personal and social friendship.
“We attended Stuart and Sheran’s wedding in 2009,” Debbie mentions, with the couple joining Linzi Jay’s 10th and 20th anniversary parties in return. “The pair even oﬃcially opened our showroom,” says Debbie. Stocking Amanda Wyatt, Linzi Jay’s Communion collection, Arianna accessories and back jewellery, as well as the AW & LJ bridesmaids and LJ ﬂower girl collections, Reeta Fashions is by far one of Linzi Jay’s best clients.
“Since they buy so many of our ranges, we show our support to them in any way that we can,” explains Angela. “This usually involves pairing up for the National Wedding Shows,” with Debbie and Angela assisting the Reeta Fashions team with signage, literature and samples. “It’s a give and take relationship. We rely on one another and wholeheartedly trust each other,” explains Angela. Thus proving that mutual concessions and oﬀering compromises are the key to unwavering business partnerships.