RETAILER INTERVIEW 93 Laura Daly, owner of Bellissima Weddings in Essex town South Woodham Ferrers, talks award wins, pulling favours – and dressing brides who hadn’t even been born when she first opened her boutique THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX Congratulations on scooping national Bridal Retailer of the Year at The Wedding Industry Awards ! How do you feel? Amazed! All 10 of us from the boutique spent the afternoon prior to the awards having our hair and make-up done by the ladies we recommend to our customers, and we all chose to wear black and gold dresses as a bit of a theme. I ordered a delicious grazing table to feed us once we were ready, then we cracked open the Prosecco and turned up the music. A favoured photographer took some pictures of us, then off we went to London in a karaoke bus! There might have been a few sore heads the next day, but we carried on and opened up for business as usual. Why did you enter the awards in the first place? I nearly didn’t enter at all this year, as we’d had a pretty tough time staff-wise, and the whole team was feeling a bit down and deflated. I saw a last call for entries and decided I’d just go for it, being sure to answer the questions truthfully so I could evaluate our weak spots. Once I’d done that I quickly fell in love with my business all over again – and put the shout out to all our brides to vote for us! Why do you think winning bridal industry awards helps to improve your business? For a start it’s wonderful for boosting your staff morale, as it gives your employees the recognition they truly deserve. You’ve also got to look at it from a customer point of view. Our Instagram account is gaining more and more momentum – we gained over 100 new followers in the first 24 hours after winning the award alone. We’ll use the award and our win on all our social platforms and in the store for quite some time to come!