Having made an instant impression on the industry since their establishment in 2017, Halo & Wren won New Bridalwear Retailer of the Year at the 2018 Bridal Buyer Awards
Halo & Wren is a Hertfordshire-based bridal boutique that was established in 2017. The boutique is known for its unique, independently designed bridal gowns from international designers, alongside its super relaxed and cool style. With this, Halo & Wren has brought something different - and something very Instagrammable - to the bridal shopping experience.
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A finalist in both Retailer Website of the Year and the New Bridalwear Retailer of the Year 2018 categories, Halo & Wren won the latter award. We catch up with Jemma Palmer to find out what her typical working day, as a new and award-winning boutique owner, looks like.
I’m not a morning person, I wish I was. I seem to be able to wake up as fresh as daisy for an early flight if I’m heading on holiday, but sadly I’m not jumping out of bed at 6am and doing my yoga before work. I am normally snuggled up under my duvet until the internal alarm clock wakes me up at 7am… unless one of my children kindly needs a wee!
The first thing I do in the morning is check the emails, the Instagram and other social media. Normally with one eye open… I would love to say I kiss my husband goodbye but is he is an early riser and is normally on his commute whilst I’m dozing.
I try to have some variety with my breakfasts; it ranges from yoghurt, granola and fruit to protein oats, bagels or Weetabix. I do love a routine and I always try to grab a cup of tea but with a three year old and a four year old (and a new business…) hot tea in the morning is rare.
Halo & Wren’s opening times vary, but typically the boutique is open between 8.30am and 10am. I prepare the shop, hoover, dust, refresh the flowers and then put the kettle on.
After I’ve done this, my morning work varies between completing what I call ‘Wedmin’ which might be doing my ‘Bride Guides’ (Bride Guides are contracts I send to my brides once they purchase, the guides are filled with information and guidance on their dress journey with Halo & Wren) and looking through emails, responding to enquiries from brides and suppliers and then shopping for new gowns and researching new designers.
If I have brides, then I’ll ensure I spend some time in the morning making sure the boutique and the gowns are looking their absolute ‘Instagrammable best’. This is because I encourage brides to snap their experience and share it. The boutique has a real relaxed vibe and I find that brides and their tribes are always overwhelmed with how pretty the shop is. It’s important to me that the brides’ bridal gown buying experience is the very best.
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I’m so very lucky that Halo & Wren is located on The Old High Street in Hemel Hempstead, which is known for its diverse eateries. With the choice of an incredible Thai restaurant, amazing independent coffee shops, a South Indian nationally renowned curry house and much more, I’ll often pop out for my lunch. My favourite place to grab a bite to eat is The Med Grill, where I normally get a hummus and halloumi wrap.
My afternoon then usually consists of a mixture of Bridal Trials, where I get to meet my amazing brides, show them my beautiful gowns and assist them in choosing their dream gowns.
Halo & Wren offers two different appointments; the most popular is the Lux Two Hour Appointment. This consists of a two hour one to one personally-guided bridal shopping experience, with bubbly (or tea/coffee) and sweet treats, followed by an hour and fifteen minute-long appointment.
Quite commonly I have brides that cannot pick between one or two gowns that they have fallen in love with at Halo & Wren, so they come back to put them back on and let their heart argue with their head.
Home time varies depending on the day of the week.
From my own experience as a bride, the boutiques were not open in the evening unless you paid a fee, so I ended up having to book time off work to go bridal shopping. For this reason I always knew that I would offer the flexibility of a late night and so Halo & Wren is open until 8pm on a Thursday. My seamstress is also in late night every Monday and Friday 6.30-8.30pm. On the other days of the week, I’ll normally finish between 2.30pm and 5pm.
On the days that I finish at 2.30pm, I have time to do the school pick up. In these cases, we’ll spend time together as a family which might be going to park and finishing with an ice-cream or taking the children to their swimming lessons and grabbing a coffee (tea for me) and having a catch up about our day.
Once the children are in bed, some evenings are filled with working out; I love exercising and it’s a great way to release any anxiety. My husband actually surprised me on the morning of our wedding with an exercise qualification as a present! So although it’s not my full time job I love covering other instructors’ classes and team teaching in my spare time.
As I’m self-employed, evenings can be also be filled with the overrun of ‘Wedmin’ but I am conscious of putting down the phone or the laptop.
On a typical working day, I’ll head to bed at 10.30pm, but naturally sometimes it’s later and other times I’ve been known to sneak off to bed not long after my cherubs!
I find it hard to switch off from Halo & Wren in the evenings as I take the business and the brides’ journeys so personally. I find that if I am busy with the family or exercising then I can switch off easily, however, if I’m not into what we are watching I find myself on ASOS! Or the beloved Instagram…
I am a very heavy sleeper, and I love my bed. Even my Dad’s speech at my wedding was about my sleeping habits. Unfortunately I don’t remember my dreams very often which may have something to do with how deeply I sleep, regardless I still like to moan about the lack of sleep!
My favourite part of my day is opening the door to my children’s bedroom in the morning, they’re still at the age where they are so happy to see you walk in the morning and I will never tire of seeing their glorious little smiley little faces when I open the door.
If I could change anything about my day, it would be the food shop and trying to provide healthy and varied dinners/lunches/breakfasts for my family. I think it’s very much the same for every Mummy trying to juggle work and life.
I feel so lucky to have the support of my husband but I’m in charge of food and I find the pressure of preparing inventive meals in less than 20 minutes overwhelming sometimes.
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I feel so blessed to have such an amazing job, although the hours can be long and sometimes unpredictable. To be such a big part of my beautiful brides’ wedding days is incredible.
It makes me very proud that Halo & Wren is only 18 months old and we and have made such a big impact in the bridal industry. It’s also wonderful to know that I’m reaching my brides and they’re loving Halo & Wren for its relaxed, unique yet show-stoppingly beautiful gowns.
The recent Bridal Buyer’s Award for Best New Bridalwear Retailer is a wonderful pat on the back but really every single one of my brides’ faces on their wedding day is why this job and Halo & Wren is the best.
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