Anna Perry is the owner of Anna Wood Bridal, and opened her boutique in Northamptonshire in October 2018
I get married in March of next year and in some of the boutiques that I visited in my search for a dress I felt as though I was on a conveyor belt, particularly when I kept being told about time limits. Also many of the boutiques that I visited seemed to stock lots of traditional ivory dresses that were all quite similar, and there was nothing that really stood out to me. This led me to think that there was an opening in the market for a luxury bridal boutique that offered something a bit different. As my future husband and I have an existing business, I was not daunted about opening a boutique I just needed to research where to start.
None at all. I have previous retail experience having owned an online ecommerce business, but having a physical boutique is certainly a step up compared to that. In fairness though all businesses are inherently the same – you have a product or service, suppliers and customers/clients. In many ways not having experience within bridal has probably helped me as I didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about how things should be.
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For me it was all about setting it up to start with. Our other business is an Intellectual property law firm, so I already know about the importance of branding and getting things just so. I love planning so for me looking at the overall picture of how things would be, then planning what needed to be done when was really enjoyable. I also work better under pressure than not, I like having targets to work to, so it was great having a deadline and needing to set up everything ready for our opening day.
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Probably choosing the brands to work with. There are so many great brands with amazing collections out there which made it difficult choosing who to place orders with.
I wanted to create a luxurious space, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted a shop front. Although shop fronts are great for advertising, I didn’t want brides to feel overlooked. I wanted to create a private space where brides could come and choose the dress of their dreams.
I also ideally wanted a village location, as I felt this was more fitting with our brand image. I am a great believer in fate, I think the universe lines things up, and it’s a choice what path you take.
We started looking and the space in Long Buckby caught my eye. When you open the door to the boutique you are greeted by a grand staircase and for me the building ticked all the right boxes.
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Finances are key for me. There is no point operating a business and making a loss or breaking even, so my first port of call was researching this area and the expected income and costs. I then researched different brands and the offering they had as well as looking at what my potential competitors were offering. This enabled me to focus on what I could offer that would be different.
I didn’t have a pre-conceived idea as such. I knew I wanted to use greys as a colour scheme and I didn’t want a cliché bridal look. I started looking for pieces of furniture and built the look around these items.
I would like to be known in the area for offering two things; wedding dresses that are something a little different - although we do also offer more traditional dresses, and for providing our clients with great customer service. I would hope within the next five years that we will move to a bigger premises, or to open another boutique in another part of the county.
Make sure you read the next instalment in our new boutique special, all about Clare Suzanne Bridal.