RETAILER INTERVIEW 95 BELLISSIMA WEDDINGS T: +44 (0)1245 323 585 W: bellissimaweddings.co.uk BellissimaWeds bellissimaweds What have been the most memorable moments during your time in bridal retail? Apart from the day I got the keys to my first shop, I would honestly have to say winning the award! I also love what I do; it’s amazing meeting brides and being able to give them lifelong happy memories. This is a real privilege and one I treasure. You dressed Jeff Brazier’s wife for their Hello! celebrity wedding. How did that come about? She came through recommendation, as do most of our customers. We’ve served many celebs over the years, and as we are always respectful of their privacy, I think word has spread in certain circles – and they now just rock up! Gemma Collins was recently papped trying on wedding dresses at your boutique, which quickly went viral. What was that all about? The newspapers printed that she’d got engaged to Arg [James Argent] , but it was actually a wind-up as part of an advertising campaign. It was amazing to have her in the shop for our publicity! What are the most challenging aspects of running your bridal shop? Apart from the constant need for UN-level diplomacy skills? I would say juggling cashflow and dealing with quality issues. Which social media platforms do you use? We are active on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Since focusing much more on this area we have seen an upswing in appointments, general interest and product enquiries. Everything on our social media also funnels back to the website, so it’s vital we keep on top of that, too. We’ve recently changed our site and it’s been a struggle to get it right, which is mainly due to me being so picky! I think we’re finally there – my blog gets a lot of shares and comments and brides often remark that they’ve read it. How would you say bridal retail has changed over 19 years? Nineteen years is a lifetime to be in the same business – literally – as we are now serving brides who weren’t even born when I opened the shop! Back in the beginning, a bride’s mum was the deciding factor – if she liked the dress then the bride usually bought it – and brides seemed to make a decision on the first visit. They managed this without the opinions of 10 bridesmaids, their hairdresser and the next door neighbour’s cat! There were also very few Bridezilla moments, too – in fact I don’t think the word was even invented! These days – anything goes! What are your future plans for the business? If I told you I’d have to shoot you! I have big plans for the long term, but for this year I’m focusing on adding even more into our customer in-store experience. Finally, what’s your top piece of advice for any bridal retailers out there who are looking to make 2020 their best year yet? Keep going, keep listening and never, ever think you know it all – because you don’t!