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Wonder Woman Wednesday: Kimberley Fairfowl

We catch up with the manager at the award-winning boutique Eden Bridal to find out a little more about her secrets to success…

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Kimberley and her Eden Bridal team
Kimberley and her Eden Bridal team

With a background in charity and foster care work, this week’s Wonder Woman has learned the importance of customer care from her wealth of experience when helping people. Having brought these skills to her brides, Kimberley, Manager at Eden Bridal, has recently won Best Retailer Ireland for the second year running.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Joanne Stott

Tell me a bit about your background.

I’m part of a very close family, with three siblings (older sister and two younger brothers). When I left university I worked as a personal assistant and within administrative roles. I fell into bridal when I was approached by someone I knew who had opened a store and needed someone to manage it.

I’d worked in retail as a student and always loved the service aspect, so took a leap of faith and have never looked back. I had zero experience in bridal, however, I learned very quickly. I took a break from bridal after 8 years and went to Africa to volunteer in a rescue centre for little girls aged 3-17 who had been defiled. When I returned I worked for a charity for a couple of years and then fostered two siblings for a period of 6 months.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Charlie Brear

The previous owner of Eden Bridal had attempted to have me work for her on a few occasions but the timing was never right. I got in touch with her after the fostering placement ended and she told me she wanted to retire, so my very kind brothers purchased the store for me to manage. My brothers have a couple of other businesses and were happy to see me get back to doing what I seem to be naturally gifted to do: serve brides.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Regine Ellis

What inspired you to set up your own boutique?

The inspiration really has to be the responsibility of my brothers. They enjoy working for themselves and know that I’m pretty dedicated at whatever I’m doing. I was always very passionate when working within the bridal industry and so when the opportunity arose to purchase an already well-established store, they didn’t hesitate.

My mother has pioneered a few charitable organisations for the disabled both here in Northern Ireland and in Kenya; I guess she has really imbedded the passion to serve. When growing up, we were always aware of her endeavours to reach out to help people. I remember numerous Christmas days at home where my Mother would invite some random person she’d met at church: one year we had Johson the captain of a ship from Nigeria, another year it was Pojo, a Chinese student from the local university.

We have always been surrounded by an awareness of people needing encouragement, so it’s been a natural extension for me I think to really excel in the service aspect of meeting brides’ needs. Our emphasis has and will always be ’service over sale’.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Olivia Smith

Congratulations on winning Best Retailer Ireland for the second time! Why do you think you won?

Thanks so much, I was genuinely shocked both times we won. I was shocked the first year because I’d never attended the BBAs and I was also just so preoccupied with running the business. I’m in total shock again this year because I didn’t think a retailer could win the award twice or two years in a row.

Read more: British Bridalwear Designer of the Year: Sassi Holford

I’d say we’ve won because we have taken a different marketing approach; we are marketing an experience rather than just a place to buy a gown. My brother Andrew is the mind behind a lot of the marketing strategies and will come up with some innovative ideas to raise brand awareness. Andrew regularly gives us training on the service we provide and is always thinking of ways to improve and enhance the customers’ experiences.

Read our My Diary entrance with Jemma Palmer, owner at Halo & Wren, winners of New Bridalwear Retailer of the Year.

As a result of always focussing on service over sale, our reputation is growing and word of mouth has spread. We have hearts full of passion to serve and for me it’s not just about finding the bride her dream dress, it’s an opportunity for me to hear her story and listen to what it is she needs.

We caught up with the winners of Best Prom Collection of the Year after their victory at the awards, read our exclusive interview with Ellie Wilde here.

How do you think winning this award is going to affect your business over the next 12 months?

Well having won this award last year, I’m already aware of how it is going to affect the business. The phone literally hasn’t stopped since Monday night with new appointments being scheduled. We’ve had a lot of brides travelling from the south of Ireland and the UK to visit the store. We’ve served brides from Dubai to Bermuda, I’ve been stunned at how far brides will travel to get that Eden Experience.

Read more: Best Mother of the Bride Collection: Veni Infantino for Ronald Joyce

This award is probably the most prestigious within the bridal industry and it’s had an impact on both the consumer and supplier. Since our first win, we’ve established stronger relationships with our suppliers (they take the calls on a daily basis from us with all sorts of enquiries from brides). Our suppliers know how accommodating we try to be for our clients and they can be confident that as a stockist we go to great lengths to market their product and to build and grow that as much as possible.

Read our interview with Best Bridal Manufacturer of the Year, Enzoani to find out more about them.

For the bride it’s a stamp of approval and gives them confidence in knowing that we are officially the best in the land. Truthfully, our brides are proud to be an Eden Bride. We are building the Eden Bridal brand and experience and retaining this award for the second year now only solidifies the buyer’s confidence that they aren’t just purchasing a gown from us, but are investing in an experience that will be remembered for a very long time. Every bride remembers buying her gown, and we get to ensure that it’s an amazing memory.

Read our exclusive interview with Chimney Menswear – winners of Best Men’s Formalwear Retailer of the Year.

Do you have any tips for retailers entering this category next year?

I know this sounds simple, but my tip would be to take time to answer the questions. Communicating what you do and what makes you stand out is imperative.

What’s your greatest achievement so far?

My greatest personal achievement would have to be having the determination to go to Africa on my own for 6 months and volunteer with underprivileged children. My greatest professional achievement has to be winning the Bridal Buyer Awards Ireland Retailer of the Year two years running. This is closely followed by getting diamond stockist status with Sottero and Midlgey.

Learn about Shoe Designer, Emmy Scarterfield’s greatest achievements here.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I genuinely love making the call to our brides to tell them their gown has arrived in store. This never gets old for me and I get carried away in the excitement every time.

What does your typical working day look like?

I start my day on the treadmill or head over to the gym for a personal training session. Then I’ll look at diary management and staff allocation for the appointments that day. I’ll answer any queries and serve the clients that are booked in. I’m also involved in most of the appointments in store and I do all the social media updates.

The emphasis for us is to have fun while we work, and that ensures that our brides shop within a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. I make any enquiries with suppliers for our brides, place orders and sometimes process deliveries. Anything that needs done in store I will do, we work together as a team.

Read our My Diary entrance by Jemma Palmer, award-winning boutique owner, to learn how she spends her typical working day.

Can you tell us five interesting facts about yourself?

  1. I’ve trekked Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp for charity.
  2. I’ve DJ’d in Greece for a summer.
  3. I’ve applied to be a part time community fire fighter (currently in the aptitude process).
  4. I’ve been commissioned in the past to paint and restore old furniture.
  5. I sign up to a virtual running race each month and cover at least 50 miles with race at your pace.

See a full list of winners at the Bridal Buyer Awards here.

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