What exactly is your business?
I own two bridal gown stores. One is called Lace Bridal Couture and the other is called Love Curvy Bridal. Lace Bridal Couture caters to the fashion forward, chic & modern bride. We sell bridal gowns ranging in price from $1,000 – $6,000. Love Curvy Bridal caters to the fashion forward, chic & modern bride sizes 16-32. We specialize in offering a large selection of plus size wedding gowns in an intimate boutique setting that is comfortable for the bride and her bridal party. Love Curvy Bridal is now also the ONLY plus size bridal boutique in the Cincinnati area!
How did you come up with your business idea?
My husband and I were brainstorming on retail business ideas and we came up with the idea of bridal consignment. At the time, there was only one bridal consignment store in the Cincinnati area, and it was not located in the Reading Bridal District. We quickly found a location in the bridal district and opened our bridal consignment boutique called “Yours Truly, Kelly.” This is how we started the bridal business. We work very quickly 🙂 My background is in Fashion Merchandising and retail management. However, I had never been in the bridal industry. Lots of trial and error, and lots of learning. Once we secured enough money to start a special order bridal business, we then transitioned into Lace Bridal Couture. I knew I eventually wanted a high end bridal boutique, but having to purchase so many samples for the store gets very expensive!
How did you find out about Aviatra?
At the time, it was called Bad Girl Ventures. I had been following BGV ever since its conception, before I even knew what my business was going to be. I was determined to own my own business and I feel that by following BGV, it gave me the motivation and determination to follow my dream.
What is your inspiration?
I would have to say that my biggest inspiration would be my desire to be a great example to my children. I want them to see that by hard work and determination and never giving up, you can live your dream!
What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?
The biggest accomplishment for the business has been the way we have grown into two very successful businesses in a short period of time. In just 6 short years, we have grown from a bridal consignment store that opened with only 6 gowns in the store to two very profitable special order bridal stores with over 500 gowns to choose from. And the business just continues to grow with a new building acquisition and a new business venture on the horizon!
What was the most valuable thing you gained from your experience with Aviatra?
Being a part of the Aviatra finalist team, I learned so many valuable lessons, from how to write a business plan, to how to fill out an accounting worksheet. Every single class was so informative and I believe it helped me to grow my business even quicker and better.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
The biggest challenge was the lack of funding. I grew my business very organically. Every expense was paid for out of pocket from my husband and I. All money generated from the business went right back into the business for at least 3 years. I did not take out any small business loans or ask for any funding. I was fortunate that the very first month I was in business, I was able to pay my rent and expenses.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I have so many plans for the near future. We plan to expand our Love Curvy Bridal store to other states in the next year. It has been a business that has been untapped in the bridal market and we believe that it will benefit many brides in surrounding states. We also plan on starting non-profit charities once my husband and I do not have to work the business on a day to day basis. We would much rather put our money and efforts into helping others in need.
Any advice for future Aviatras?
Never give up! There are so many times that I thought I was making so many poor decisions that were affecting my business, but I stuck it out because I did not want to work for someone else ever again! I knew that being an entrepreneur was my life long calling. I am so glad that I kept my determination since I cannot even fathom doing anything other than what I am doing now. Being your own boss is the absolute best!! 🙂