Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Melanie. Owner of WanttheoryBridal. A bridal and evening wear shop. Also with lingerie and some accessories to help customers find the complete outfit. My site went live in March 2020.
The dresses are very elegant and classy. I believe they will also cover a lot of age ranges, as most of the dresses are relatively modest. I feel one of the most important things on a special day is to feel comfortable. There are also some dresses aimed at plus sizes. We also have the addition of custom fit dresses, when you provide your sizes at checkout. To make any dress even more perfect, and more comfortable for you. On our website, you will see some customer pictures. The ladies and the dresses are amazing!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I am currently in full-time work. I’d been feeling deflated. I needed something that felt like it was mine. Something that feels like it is giving me purpose. Something that will put a smile on people’s faces. I looked at mobility aids and wellbeing products. Before coming to the conclusion that wedding dresses and evening wear would be on my website.
Go for a product/s you believe in. If you aren’t inspired or feel positive about the products you are selling. You will find it so boring having to find the products and put them on your website.
I was an average C/D grade student at school. I didn’t (ever) know what I wanted to do for a career. I decided to do an NVQ in Business Administration, purely as administration jobs were the main careers listed in the job pages. I have been in various Administration roles. I have worked for some big companies. Some financial and banking related, which have a focus on profit.
I was raised in a single-parent family. I don’t come from a privileged background. I have had to work for everything in life. I usually feel people don’t take me seriously. The older I get, the more I crave to feel a purpose.
I believe we all have a weakness. We are only human? Everybody has something they choose to spend their money on, even if they don’t have very much money. Whether it is electronic gadgets or chocolate? Mine is clothes. I dreamt of selling the most wonderful maxi dresses, in lots of different colors and sizes. Easy wear clothing. I wanted to locate clothing in natural fibers, like silk or linen. Looking at those in China I found I would have to look at the ticket to double-check if it was silk. My chosen dressmaker provides detailed descriptions and stunning pictures. They speak for themselves. A lot of the dresses are also available in a custom fit. So I had to add the additional item of how to measure onto my website.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I was originally looking through lists of mass-produced items, from numerous suppliers. It could be anything from an egg dehumidifier through to mobility scooters. Most of these items came from China, so I was thinking over and over about things like shipping times if returns were possible and custom issues.
As well as these issues, I was thinking I would have to sell anything and everything, just to manage to get a sale. I had already collated a list of products shipping from China. Then I came across a lady making wedding and evening dresses, standard fit and custom fit available. Purely from the pictures and descriptions, I could see the effort and time put into each of the dresses. The quality shows and the dresses are exquisite. With details like lace sleeves, open back details, flowing trains, silk and fairy tale dresses. When I looked further this lady had very good reviews and had been producing and selling her dresses for nearly 10 years. This reinforced that I had made the right decision. So I chose to open a store selling wedding dresses, evening and party wear, Bridal lingerie, Bridal accessories, and gift ideas.
I saw a picture of one of the dresses after typing in a maxi dress. I knew I wanted the wedding dresses and evening/party dresses. So luckily I’d found someone already making the wedding dresses and evening dresses. I then found some additional suppliers with items to compliment this. I have a lingerie specialist in the UK. I also chose to use a print on demand supplier to produce some gift ideas.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I found an appropriate website builder for me. This was based on ease of use and a (coronavirus) special of half-price to get customer payments. I had found a lady who makes bridal wear and dresses. Custom-fit is also available. It was relatively simple. I just had to find the correct pictures to use and the correct wording.
Once my site went live. I have started to look at advertising. Though due to coronavirus, Facebook has not yet told me if I’m approved to use their site. It has been over 3 weeks. We hope to be - wanttheoryBridal. (I’ve made some videos. So I’m hoping to eventually have them on Facebook).
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I’m slowly building a presence through PPC advertising. I am looking to soon advertise in some ad magazines. Currently, it looks like most clicks are for special occasion dresses rather than bridal. I’ve added a mini Wedding Blog. Hoping to gain people’s interest. I might even look at the idea of running a competition page. Possibly something involving customers sending in pictures of themselves wearing the dress/es.
I will gradually build up the amount of advertising. Hopefully, build up my customer base at the same time.
Maybe even one day. I might decide to attempt some dress designs of my own!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My Bridal shop with evening and party wear are still in its early days. Set up in March 2020. I’m really hoping that I will mainly be selling to the UK, USA, and Germany. I hope others will see what I saw in the beautiful dresses and the beautiful ladies that have worn them. I’d like to think I can help create more perfect wedding days. Or evenings? Or even night times?
The website name came before the product/s were decided on. As I struggled to find something that hadn’t been used. I want people to like the dresses. I want the dresses to put smiles on people’s faces.
I’m hoping that people will remember the website and the tagline.
Want quality, want style, want theory.
I will think myself lucky if I make 1 or 2 sales a month in year 1. I hope eventually to be getting 10-20 sales per month.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
It’s probably not as difficult to go through the setting up a website process as some may think. It’s just if you have the time and money. (Maybe the difficult parts are yet to come?)
Go for a product/s you believe in. If you aren’t inspired or feel positive about the products you are selling. You will find it so boring having to find the products and put them on your website. Also, I would say go for something you would consider buying yourself. Or another method would be to pick a product/s that serve a purpose or make people happy. I had also looked at mobility aids and wellbeing products.
Also, be aware of any additional costs like shipping costs and payment fees. These may mean you need to increase the price of your product. Or as I have, you need to look at higher-priced items.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I created the website on Wix, as I found this particular site easy to use. I looked at Oberlo. Then found Modalyst which allows 25 free products. So if you want to try it. You can pretty much set up a website for free. Though if you want people to be able to pay online. You either have to add additional code on some web builders, which is an additional charge. Or pay to be able to receive customer payments. Wix and Modalyst have seemed simple and easy so far. Though to my new customer/s. ‘We will find out soon.’
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’ve loved looking at the images of weddings. ‘How girly am I?’ I like looking up the places you can get married. Like the best places in the UK and the USA. Though during the outbreak of coronavirus, these will just be a dream.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Go for a platform you can cope with. I tried Oberlo and found I had to adjust the description of each product. Modalyst may cost more though items have better descriptions. Better quality products and usually better quality pictures.
There are people who sell ready-made websites. Though if time is not too much of a problem. I would recommend going through the process of setting up your own webstore.
If you get a ready-made site you then have to take yourself through learning how to remove or put new products on your site. Also, some ready-made web stores have lots of products on i.e. 500 items or more. You might then need to look at your website more often if there are more products. If you are starting out, possibly limit your product amount. Then it will be easier for you to see when an item is out of stock and you can replace it with a new product. I would suggest starting small and manageable. If possible, start and complete the process yourself.
If you attempt to do it from scratch you should learn of any problems as you go.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Not currently. My suppliers fill the gap. I feel dreams of being a million-pound business are too far fetched. So I hope it will be a manageable business.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Hoping to be on Facebook soon – wanttheoryBridal
Click on it once and I hope you see something you WANT!
Thank you for reading.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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