Slightly amazing really, we, that is, The White Room, is the grand old age of 1! It is our birthday on the 16th July and I cannot actually believe that it has been one whole year since we opened the doors and began the exciting/challenging/interesting/stressful/crazy journey in to the wedding world!
When I decided to open The White Room, way back in 2010, it was a slow and sometimes frustrating process to getting to the opening. The whole reason for me pestering banks, estate agents and my husband with my ‘wedding idea’ was that I believed I could do something different that what was not already being done well in the surrounding area. I believed that behind all the fluff and froo froo was a genuine desire to be realistic, honest and give women what they wanted. Behind all the research and stats, the underlying story was one of need and expectation that to find a wedding dress which made you feel amazing, the emotional connection was by far the biggest pull but this was matched with service and the designers stocked.
So the quest to create The White Room began. Not only did I have a full-time job which I really enjoyed which I would be giving up which included giving away a guaranteed monthly salary, I had to secure designers who I loved and could represent, find a premises, obtain funding, assess competition in the area, hope brides wanted to buy from me and state my name in the industry! By April 2011 however, we were at the final hurdle, then I found my shop…
So, whilst the hard work was being done by the builders, I was doing the other hard work securing the designers that I knew Northern brides loved so much but felt weren’t here… Jenny Packham, Stephanie Allin, Claire Pettibone and Cymbeline were all names I knew I had to have for their versatility, the brides they would attract (I couldn’t work with ‘big fat Gypsy wedding gowns’!) their cut of fabric, class and couture. Amazingly, they believed in me, they saw the passion that not only did I have for their gowns but also for making a difference in the industry
I have been asked “What inspires you when it comes to your work? Which designers/artists to your admire and why?”
And I always answer honestly. I am inspired daily by everything around me, fashion, music, the weather, the bride I just dressed, travel, friends… Throughout my life I have always liked to think and act creatively and have regularly changed my personal style almost daily to reflect how I feel and I think that is now transported in to my working life. I have always been influenced very much by music and in the last 3-5 years, more so by art and design which is a new one for me as I always thought of myself as more the academic than the artist. It appears now that this judgement of me wasn’t accurate! I think the balance of me now works well for the business side to The White Room and the creative side to The White Room although I very much have my business partner and husband to thank for the spreadsheets, with whom without him I may still be writing my business plan!
My key influences in my life have been Green Day, Foo Fighters, Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch and just those who aren’t afraid to take risks and be true to themselves! I also very much respect my father for being a hard worker and dedicating his life to continuing to work hard to get a life he wants!
So, after leaving my job, over-seeing the site development and working with the designers for a few months, we opened on Saturday 16th July 2011.
It has been a crazy year and I have learnt so much, made some great new friends, achieved some great things in such a short space of time and generally worked my bum off so I can offer the most amazing gowns in a cool and quirky environment!
People ask me “what do you love about your job?” the answer… I love the variety of my day to day working life and having the capacity to manage my own time and be fully in control of my own destiny! I also love people and working with women who come to me because I see past the title of ‘bride’ and see them as an individual. There is no better feeling I get when I really get to know the bride and support her in finding her look that she loves and feels comfortable in. It’s great when you take a woman and get her to try a gown she would never have thought of or even dreamed she could wear and see her face when it blows all the others out of the water! I’ve chosen more than 50% of my bride’s gowns for them, just by listening and supporting their ideas and that is a great feeling knowing they trust and believe in your styling and judgement!
We’re also being recognised too! We were nominated for the Bridal Buyer awards in January 2012, only 5 months after opening and were recognised for not only Best New Retailer but Best Website too!
We have hosted ‘designer days’ and trunk shows so that Northern brides can see the whole of our designers collections without having to travel….
And we have done some spanking photo shoots!!
And of course the brides! My beautiful, individual, open minded, funny, intelligent and witty brides!
I have been asked “How would you describe a White Room bride”?
She is confident and aware of what she wants from her bridal gown and the service that comes with it. She is a little quirky, not afraid to embrace her individuality and express that in the wedding gown she chooses. The lines I carry I believe attract a fashion forward bride, and one who wants to shout about her femininity, sophistication and individuality on her wedding day. She is also aware that coming to The White Room, she don’t need to get dressed up to walk over the door step, nor need to have dreamed of her dress since she was 5 years old, love weddings or pink or pretend to like huge skirts and taffeta! The girls we are attracting are the real women of the world. Intelligent, funny, those happy to sleep in a tent at Glastonbury but would kill for Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe. Women who want to show who they are on their wedding day rather than conform to tradition, whatever their view of tradition is.
Well 2012/2013 see’s us expanding a little further and bringing a new gown designer to The White Room. This amazing name will be announced on 19th July 2012 with a preview weekend on the 10th & 11th August and then in full flow from September 2012. Why did we pick this name? Well, without blowing our own trumpet, we had 6 designers wanting us to represent them (!) but we chose this one, because they make damn special gowns, in the UK, with classic lines, beautiful fabrics and a sheer love for the bride! Here is a little sneak peek…
We also have a whole new collection to look at from September 2012 for the 2013 season including 22 new gowns from our current 4 designers, Claire Pettibone, Stephanie Allin, Cymbeline & Jenny Packham. As soon as September comes around, these beauties will be in the boutique!
We will be hosting 2013 trunk shows for all of our designers so the new collections will be accessible to all brides without the travel. We will also be striving to bring new, innovative. creative and classic events to The White Room over the next 12 months as well as some rather spectacular photo shoots…
Already booked is Cymbeline trunk show on 26th, 27th and 28th October, Jenny Packham 2013 trunk show on 24th and 25th November and a ‘new designer’ 2013 preview on 10th & 11th August. Sale weekend is 3rd & 4th August 2012.
So, it leaves me to now say THANK YOU!!!
Thank you to everyone who has been to see us, who made appointments, loved our gowns and accessories and supported my dream. Thank you to those who stop at the window to look at the gowns, who raves about us to their friends, who writes great comments on the website, who supports us (suppliers and friends & my very supportive and business minded husband/business partner) and of course, those who have become ‘White Room Brides’ and letting me and the boutique be part of your wedding story.
We have been exceptionally lucky to not only start-up a business in a recession and make it work, but to become so highly regarded in the industry and by our peers and brides. I feel very thankful to everyone for making this work and here is to many more successful years ahead! Now…. where’s the champagne?!!?
Much Love x