“I’m not a girly girl. I didn’t dream of my wedding forever. I didn’t really enjoy shopping for wedding dresses. But when I started in bridal, my husband and I had just moved back to the area. I needed a job, but we didn’t want to work the same hours and have to pay for day care. So I took a job at David’s Bridal on a whim, and I fell in love.
“I opened my boutique, Adore Bridal, in 2011. I’ve been in the bridal industry for 13 years. I worked in other stores prior to opening my own store and was out of the industry for a while. I used to sit at my job as a member service representative thinking, ‘Someday, whenever I’m back in bridal …’
“I’m entrepreneurial, so I created my dream job.
“We opened within four months of that moment and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride. We killed it in our first year and beat all of our projections. We even did some expansion. But at the end of Year 1, I was drowning in debt and on the brink of bankruptcy. I had an ‘a-ha moment’ where I realized … I knew how to sell but I didn’t know how to handle the business side. My second year in business was all about taking it straight back to the basics.
“I continued to grow from there. We love what we do. We’re very individualized with the brides. We work with them a lot before they even come in. We’re known for picking your dress for you before you come in. It’s a very personal experience, and we’re much more laid back in our process.
“All of those things are what perfectly came together to make the transition we’ve been forced to make a couple of months ago.
“I’ve done Trunk Club for years and love it. I’ve always thought it’d be so great to figure out how to do it with bridal gowns, but I never had enough time … so I’ve always thought ‘maybe someday.’
“When March 21 hit and businesses were closed, I looked at a couple of my staffers and said, ‘We have to get this up and running now.’
“I had to completely pivot, so we turned around an entirely new business model in about three days and have continued to tweak it since then. It’s called the AdoreBrideBox – brides fill out a questionnaire online telling us their price point, style and their vision for their wedding, and we ship them dresses to try on. It’s going really well. We are shipping out 10 boxes this week. The majority of brides are finding their dress – about 90% of brides who go this route end up finding their dress.
“Am I rolling in the dough over here? No, of course not. … It’s keeping us in a place where, this is not a walk in the park, but I’m not worried we’re going to lose everything. This is keeping us going and it’s helping our brides.
“So we’re keeping afloat, but there are still so many unknowns that a lot of the time I feel paralyzed.
“My store is closed. The morning I had to explain to my staff that I had to lay them off, I cried. We didn’t know if it would be two weeks, three weeks, four weeks or longer. That was so hard and so devastating to have to do. One of the toughest parts of this whole thing is what it has meant for my staff and the unknowns it has created for them.
“And as we look at the possibility of reopening, the hardest part is I don’t know what the guidelines or guidance will be. I have zero frame of reference. Will I be able to open to 50% capacity? Ten people? Will I be allowed to open my fitting rooms?
“I can’t make a plan if I don’t know what rules I’ll be held to. And that’s all I can think about. I want to be able to provide guidance for my staff and I have zero clue what I can tell them or my customers. That becomes very difficult for me as a business owner.
“I wrote to a senator telling him I feel like a kid caught in the middle of a divorce. Who do I listen to? Who is going to tell me what I can do? It’s difficult to navigate as a business owner. I’m trying to navigate between bad choices and worse choices.
“I’m working all the time and my work looks very different. We have four kids at home and my husband is a pastor. There’s no child care and there’s distance learning to navigate. Every moment we are on the verge of losing our minds.
“But at the same time, this has been a unique opportunity, too. My son, who is now an eighth grader, it has been so fun to see him grow. He has seen the AdoreBrideBoxes thrive and seen it work. And he’s getting a chance to see his mom get creative and have it work and think outside the box and survive.
“We’re not going to sit at home and wait for a government handout or for the government to save us. We’re going to figure out how to make this change. We’re going to figure out how to make our family thrive and survive.”
Owner, Adore Bridal