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Open for Business: The White Collection

Sisters Laura Allen and Sarah Parker own The White Collection in Clevedon which opened in February 2018. They opened their second boutique, The White Collection Portishead in October of the same year.

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Laura and Sarah outside The White Collection
Laura and Sarah outside The White Collection

What made you decide to open a bridal boutique?

We wanted to open our own bridal boutique from when we were younger. Having another sister who is also married, we have done the ’wedding dress shopping’ day three times and each time it just fuelled the fire to make us want to open our own boutique. We just felt a little deflated each time and wanted to give brides the sort of experience they have always imagined it to be.

Read about how the White Collection took the media by storm with their amazingly inclusive window display.

Had you had any experience in the bridal industry before opening your boutique?

Sarah has 10 years of wedding planning, but we are both new to bridal fashion.

Find out what made Anna Wood open a bridal business in 2018.

What have you found most enjoyable about starting your boutique?

The flexibility of putting our own personal touch on both appointments and the boutique itself has been both enjoyable and rewarding. Also nothing beats sharing that special moment with a bride and their loved ones when they decide on ’the one’.

What has been the most challenging part?

Brides are becoming more and more savvy and we have found that more brides are wanting to ‘shop around’ before making their decision. This has made it even more important to really stand out and make an impression when our brides come through the door.

How did you decide on the location of your boutique?

We both live in the town and really felt as though there was a need for bridal. It’s a fast-growing town and the location is perfect - on a busy road on the high street near the new marina development

What research did you do before starting your business?

When we took over our first boutique we worked with the owner at the time as her ‘Saturday girls’ and we found that a great way to introduce ourselves to the industry. We were very grateful to be able to do that. We then used our experience from the first boutique to open our second, bearing in mind the slight difference in clientele.

Read more: Clare Suzanne’s bridal business story

How did you decide what it would look like?

We have based the styling around what drives over 80% of our brides through the door- social media. We want our boutique to be both memorable and recognisable so that it becomes a brides desired place to go to get their dress.

It’s been described as a ‘bloggers paradise’ due to the quirky touches like neon signs and flower walls. People have walked through the door and instantly wanted to start taking photos- which is welcomed- and hopefully these photos end up on social media for lots of people to see. It’s been a lot of fun styling this boutique!

Where do you see your business in five years’ time?

Hopefully with the same reputation for service as we do now. Every bride of ours has an exclusive appointment for 1.5 hours, (2 hours on a weekday), are offered pretty refreshments on arrival, and are given a personalised gift of a Polaroid in a frame when they have their ‘yes’ moment.

When they are invited back into the boutique for their ‘dress arrival’ we make sure that a bouquet of flowers is delivered to the boutique for them to receive to thank them for being one of our brides.

It’s so tempting on a bad month to want to make cut backs on these little touches or to try and squeeze in more appointments on those good months that are so busy and can’t accommodate but we need to remember what our vision for our boutique has always been and that is the reputation and experience.

When they purchase a dress from us, they don’t just do that, they become part of our family and we don’t want to ever lose that part of the business in the future.

Want more? Find out how to make those key first impressions count in sales!

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