After seven years of running her own bridal boutique, we caught up with Rachel Watmough to hear about her seven favourite memories
“After working in a bridal shop part-time in my early 20s it was always my dream to open my own boutique. I then did various jobs before working as a wedding and event co-ordinator for several years when the opportunity arose to realise my dream and launch Butterfly Bridal Boutique.
“After considering many premises we decided upon a Bicester town centre location and began the difficult process of selecting our designers. On January 29th 2011 we opened the doors for the first time.
“Nobody said that it would be easy but equally nobody told me quite how tough it would be, however, it has been a fantastic seven years welcoming brides through the doors and making new friends in the bridal industry. Here are my seven favourite memories and experiences from that time:
What a feeling it is when eight months of planning and preparation come together. The shop looked beautiful, the windows were dressed and the website launched. Anybody who has started their business from scratch will know that feeling of mixed excitement and trepidation!
After the initial excitement of opening the doors we soon realised that the rent and rates were strangling the business. In addition, we had outgrown the shop.
Then on Christmas Eve we received a telephone call telling us that there had been a flood! A random unpredictable flash flood left the shop underwater.
Fortunately, the stock was mostly undamaged, but it was time to move on. We found our new premises which was more than twice the size with a reduced rent! The new premises enabled us to offer a more private and exclusive experience to our brides.
One of my favourite aspects of running the boutique is the opportunity to be creative. We have organised several photoshoots to help us in promoting the business.
Winter photo shoots in the freezing cold producing some stunning images; the photo shoot in the bluebell woods with a beautiful juxtaposition of colour; but for me my favourite to date was at the wonderful Hadsham Farm.
The images were simply stunning and the day great fun from start to finish working with a fabulous team of like-minded and creative wedding suppliers.
After five years we felt that we wanted to celebrate with a big bash. We decided to book out the local cinema! We invited our previous brides to come along, wear their wedding dress for the occasion (any excuse to wear that beautiful dress again!) and watch one of my favourite films – Mamma Mia.
What a fantastic evening. A packed cinema full of beautiful brides in their stunning dresses, popcorn and champagne. It reminded me why I started and that we are still true to our mantra: “Where brides arrive as strangers and leave as friends”.
For our seventh birthday we decided to try something different; a catwalk show. The size of the boutique allows us the space needed to welcome brides-to-be and their guests to view a selection of our new gowns and to invite some of our favourite models to help showcase the collection. Another fantastic evening with canapés, cake and of course champagne!
The support network that I have built over the years has to be mentioned. My assistants Cat and Meg have such a great understanding and enthusiasm, our seamstresses who always deliver even with the most bespoke alterations, our friends with other bridal shops around the country who are always there to lend an ear when times are tough, and my long-suffering husband who has helped with everything from the website and accounting to decorating the shop!
For me the greatest thing about owning my boutique are the number of friends that I have made over the years. From suppliers to brides there are so many people I am proud to call friends.
One person in particular helped transform my business when she happened to ‘pop in and say hello’ when she moved to Bicester. Hayley became an integral part of the business for two years just as we moved premises and expanded.
Her background in the wedding industry as a photographer and her drive helped me transform Butterfly Bridal Boutique and I’ve also made a friend for life.
Here’s to another great year where many more strangers will become friends at Butterfly Bridal Boutique!”
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