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The Online Bridal Boutique

What better business for this coming Valentine’s Day than a bridal shop? We spoke to Stacia Bedford about her customisable-bridal-wear brand.

Stacia Bedford, Prim & Clover, London

Stacia’s story really does sound like something from a romcom. After working in the music industry in New York, she met the man of her dreams, moved to London, got engaged and started her own business with her university friend. We spoke to Stacia about her amazing journey.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background before starting your own business? 

I’m 41 and an American, born in the Chicago area. I graduated with honours from Kent State University with a bachelor of science in advertising and marketing. I also studied abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy. 

Throughout my life, I’ve had a passion for fashion, but it wasn’t until the early noughties when I was living in NYC, working in marketing for Universal Music Group, that I really dabbled in any vocational aspect of it.

What inspired you?

I was really into vintage clothing and accessories at the time (as many women were, and still are to some extent). But because it was all the rage in NYC (thanks, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sex and the City), it was accessible, but also incredibly expensive.

So, when I would visit my parents in Ohio over holidays, I would spend hours in charity shops, where a treasure trove of amazing and affordable vintage finds seemed to exist.    

Of course, my city friends wanted in on the cache, so I started a side business selling vintage clothing and accessories out of my studio apartment called Stacia’s Studio. Once a month, friends and friends of friends would come throughout a Saturday to ‘shop’ at my little studio that I set up to look like a boutique. It was like one big, fantastic game of dress-up (with plenty of Prosecco of course), which now, looking back, was really what sparked everything. 

As I continued with Stacia’s Studio, I began making jewellery and accessories with costume pieces I fell for on shopping trips – taking everything apart and repurposing it. I made statement pieces mostly: collars, cuffs, necklaces, bracelets.

At first I made things for myself, but again, friends loved what I was making and began asking, so I started selling – first to them, but then I gave it the name ‘Revival by Stacia’ and sold in pop-ups and to boutiques in the Lower East Side and Meatpacking District.

But it was when one of my collections of fur collars was commissioned for a trunk show at Henri Bendel that I started to think about changing my career. It also happened to be a very tumultuous time in the music industry, with the rise of digital music and massive lay-offs at the labels. 

Was there a pivotal moment?

As if the industry climate change wasn’t serendipitous enough, in my personal life I’d begun dating a British guy (long distance). He was incredibly supportive of my jewellery making and a big part of me deciding to pursue my MA in fashion entrepreneurship at the London College of Fashion. 

While selling my jewellery in pop-ups, I would get a lot of special requests and customers asking to customise certain aspects of my designs. So with that in mind, I wrote my dissertation on the concept of customisable jewellery and accessories to be sold online.

One of my fellow classmates, Luciana Riquet, was also writing her dissertation on the idea of customisable fashion online, but hers was based on ready-to-wear clothing. When we completed our masters, she approached me about starting a brand together. 

While we were working on research for our customisable fashion brand, the lovely British guy proposed and I started immediately shopping for a wedding dress. Very quickly, I became totally frustrated and disenchanted with the whole process.

I also realised no one was doing customisable wedding dresses and that full bespoke is incredibly expensive. So, Luciana and I had a nice long chat, and that’s really when Prim & Clover was born.

What’s the ethos behind Prim & Clover?

Prim & Clover was created to be a sustainable bridal-wear brand. It is a production-on-demand business model, so we are really proud to say that (other than a handful of samples at our HQ) we don’t have warehouses full of dresses sitting somewhere.

We also try to adhere to a zero-waste policy, using remnants for accessories (we plan to launch very soon). It’s also incredibly important to us that everything we produce is made in London by someone receiving a fair wage for it, and all our materials and haberdashery are sourced from UK businesses – most of them small, like us.

What training and qualifications do you need to own a wedding dress shop?

Patience and a meticulous eye for detail! We are being given the honour of producing the design for one of the most important garments a woman will wear in her lifetime, so it’s our duty to make sure every millimetre of it is impeccable.

Why did you choose to source all your materials from the UK?

Mostly, we want to support other UK businesses, but we also feel we have an ethical obligation as well. One of the major issues in fashion right now is sustainability and the moral cost of goods and materials sourced from third-world areas.

We could absolutely produce our garments for a lot less and get cheaper fabrics and materials from abroad, but we would rather take less profit and sleep at night, knowing we aren't perpetuating the unfair and sometimes unsafe working conditions found in those factories. 

What advice would you give to anyone else wanting to enter the wedding industry?

The wedding industry is a gut check. It’s probably one of the most difficult, but incredibly rewarding, industries to be in – for those who really want to be part of it.

It’s incredibly high stakes as it’s (or is meant to be) a once-in-a-lifetime event. Most people say it is one of the most important in their lifetime.

It’s also an event people spend an exorbitant amount of time and money on, and have wildly high expectations for. So be prepared to deal with a very wide range of emotions.

It's also a very traditional and extremely over-saturated marketplace, so be prepared to offer something, or provide a service, that virtually no one else does.

It’s also not the kind of industry where, other than referrals, repeat business is expected (at least that’s sort of the goal, right?). As a result, having diverse offerings/services (things useful for other formal events) might be a good idea – at least to start with – until those referrals kick in.

Still interested in getting into the bridal-wear business after reading this article? Why not buy an established bridal-wear shop with revenues and reputation already in place?

Or watch this video with vintage inspired bridal brand Pour L'Amour. 



Melanie Luff

About the author

Melanie Luff is an in-house journalist and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other industry publications.

@Be_TheBoss

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