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Wonder Woman Wednesday: Marisa Rooney

Marisa Rooney from Beautiful Brides Liverpool is next up in our Wonder Woman series

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Marisa from Beautiful Brides Liverpool
Marisa from Beautiful Brides Liverpool

Did you read our Wonder Woman Wednesday on our Duchess of Sussex? Be inspired by Meghan Markle’s humanitarian background and kind nature this Wednesday.

Bridal shop owner Marisa Rooney is working hard to change how plus size women are perceived within bridal.

Marisa’s secrets to success include accepting that every bride is different and working to make them feel beautiful and comfortable as possible on their wedding days. This week’s Wonder Woman also attributes her success to being patient and giving her brides time rather than rushing sales.

Marisa isn’t the only Wonder Woman who puts understanding the needs of her clients at the forefront of her work. Bridal designer, Diana Elizabeth explains she will “do whatever I can do to meet [a bride’s] expectations”, and says that maintaining this attitude is the reason she has come so far in bridal.

How did you get into bridal?

I kind of fell into the industry when helping a friend of a friend. A lady my friend knew had a bridal boutique and I saw a post on their social media platforms explaining that the boutique was closing due to staff sickness. I contacted the owner and offered to help out as I thought it would be a good experience.

I met the boutique owner and explained that I had no experience working in bridal but that I had a degree of knowledge of fabrics, shapes and embellishment due to my love of couture. I told her that I’d be happy to fill in and just answer the phone and take messages for her until the staff member was able to return.

When she owner showed me around her boutique I was just delighted, I’d never been in a bridal shop before and so when she was pulling out all these designer gowns I got so excited. I started to tell her what I liked about the dresses and described in detail what I thought of the fabric, the construction and the beading.

The boutique owner could see my excitement and was so impressed by how passionate I was and how much I actually knew about the gowns that she offered me a full time job on the spot! I went on to manage the boutique and also got the opportunity to buy in collections from overseas.

Whilst working there I studied fashion design at university (specialising in bridal) and qualified with a B.A degree with honours. Fast forward a few years and I opened the doors to Liverpool’s first curvy specialist bridal boutique.

What are your secrets to success?

First and foremost, understanding that each bride is different and has different values. As a retailer, I think you need to embrace these differences as it will make or break a sale.

Secondly, I think it is important to ignore your competition. I know so many people in business who waste endless amounts of time watching and discussing what their competition is doing. I tend not to do this and instead think of innovative ideas and put time into developing them to enhance what I can offer my target audience.

Thirdly, I have learned to develop a thick skin. Believe it or not a tutor had the audacity to tell me “there’s no fashion in bridal”. At the time I was working for the Pronovias fashion group! This comment made me realise authority isn’t always correct and so follow your gut and don’t allow people to sway you too much.

My final rule is patience. The bridal gown selection process can be a long one but I try to remember that every girl deserves a special experience and so I treat every bride like I would treat my best friend if she were shopping for her dress. I also allow 1 ½ hrs for each appointment.

What’s your greatest achievement so far?

Opening the doors to my beautiful bridal boutique and having the support of the queen of fashion Caryn Franklin MBE on my #lifesizenotplussize campaign.

How does an employee catch your attention, or impress you?

By being passionate and willing to learn- you don’t need to know everything about the industry you just need the drive

What does your typical working day look like?

We operate 10am-7pm and so I start at 8am by answering emails and the previous social media requests from the previous day. At 9.30am or 10am I’ll arrive at work and sort the post and place orders. Bridal appointments run until 5:30pm and alterations appointments until 7pm.

After these, I’ll answer the day’s enquiries until around 8pm-9pm but I’m usually still in the boutique until gone 9pm as I handle every aspect of the business myself. From 9:30pm to 11pm I organise photo-shoots, styling and bios for curvy blog or designing for a secret projects I’m currently working on. I then head to bed at 11pm.

5 Interesting Facts About Marisa:

  1. My boutique was set up because I want to change how curvy girls shop for their bridal gown (including making changes how we as retailers shop with the suppliers).
  2. I’m Ms Merseyside Curve 2018 and I’m competing for the national title in August.
  3. I have a blogging website where I review curvy outfits from the high street (www.thecuvyqueen.co.uk).
  4. I’ve dressed my own body in bridal gowns from a size 24 down to a size 8 (after having gastric surgery and losing 8 stone).
  5. I’m a qualified nail tech, florist and travel agent (I had a million jobs before I finally found where I belong).

To hear more about Marisa’s views on how our industry is excluding plus size women, make sure you tune in to July’s podcast, where she makes a guest appearance. In the meantime, listen to Episode 2 of our podcast here!

If you enjoyed hearing Marisa’s story, make sure you check out bridal designer and entrepreneur Karen Dornellie.

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