Storybook Beginnings: The Journey of Storybook Ending Bridals
Happy Monday, Storybook fam! Last week, we began our mini-series sharing how the dream for Storybook was born. Let’s jump back in today to see how Crystal’s vision began to unfold.
Part II: The Preparation
Now that she was committed to making her dream a reality, Crystal began immersing herself in all things bridal. Without any experience in the industry, she began researching current bridal trends, styles, and reputable manufacturers. On her lengthy to-do list, she also needed to choose a name and a location for her store. The name was relatively easy to select. Since she believed everyone needed their own “happily ever after,” she appropriately named her store A Storybook Ending Bridal Salon. As for the location, Crystal wanted a space somewhere between the Quad Cities, Dubuque, and Cedar Rapids. This would allow her to serve brides from all across Eastern Iowa. She lived in Miles, a small town about 20 miles north of Clinton, so she knew the length of her commute would play a role in her final decision. With that in mind, she decided to rule out the Quad Cities—she didn’t want to commit to a two hour round-trip commute each day. Initially, she thought Clinton or even Maquoketa would be good locations; however, one day she decided to take a drive through DeWitt. Being from central Iowa, she had never been to DeWitt, so she wanted to check it out and see what the town had to offer. As she pulled onto Main Street, she thought she saw an empty storefront, so she parked and decided to take a look. It turned out that the storefront was actually part of the bank and was not available; however, she went into another neighboring business, Wood and Comfort, and they informed her that they had space upstairs available for rent. This piqued her interest, so she asked them for a quick tour. The space had previously been Walker’s clothing store, so it was already furnished with dressing rooms, making it an ideal location for a bridal store. Even though customers would have to walk through another business to get upstairs to hers, Crystal ultimately decided the space would work. With her signature on the lease, it was official—A Storybook Ending Bridals would find her home in DeWitt, Iowa. Now that she had a name and a location, Crystal quit her job at Nielsen’s and spent the next 11 months preparing to open the store.
With her focus devoted wholly to starting her new business, Crystal’s life became a whirlwind of painting, selecting carpeting, advertising, and ordering inventory (all of which she did on her own, aside from laying the carpet—talk about superwoman!). At the time, pink and mauve were popular colors, so Crystal utilized those hues throughout the store. Her first experience ordering merchandise was at the Chicago bridal market. She went by herself and happened to run into a woman who was available for hire as a consultant. Having no experience ordering bridal gowns, Crystal eagerly hired the woman for the day, and they spent the next several hours walking through the bridal market deciding which gowns to order for her first inventory collection. This choice to hire an experienced consultant was a lifesaver that prevented Crystal from making costly mistakes as a first-timer. Her first batch of inventory was about 30-40 dresses (which seems so small compared to the hundreds of gowns Storybook offers today!). As the gowns arrived, things finally began to feel real. Since her retail space was so large, Crystal had to spread each dress out and display them with their trains fluffed perfectly for her customers to admire.
Crystal’s first batch of inventory, spread out along the rack of her very first store.
Crystal modeling one of her new bridal gowns.
With fresh carpet, paint, and her first collection of brand new gowns proudly displayed, all Crystal needed now were customers. With no social media or internet to quickly spread the word, she ran newspaper and radio ads for weeks promoting her new business. She also participated in her first bridal show, the Davenport Jaycees Bridal Expo, just a few weeks after opening. This gave her the opportunity to meet local brides and share information about her new store. Everything was coming together smoothly, and Crystal was finally ready to open A Storybook Ending Bridals to the public.
To be continued…