We are delighted to introduce you to the people who make a difference, lead by example and run bridal boutique businesses that we respect and admire. What the following people have to say is worth hearing… Working with the very best labels, knowing their market, and making brides happy on a day-to-day basis, the dream makers! These experts from the industry will be sharing their wealth of experience and knowledge with you, so please keep an eye on our Boutique Hub for some great inspiration and advice.
A renowned retail professional, who prior to launching her Ellie Sanderson bridal brand gained world-class business skills in several senior leadership roles. Ellie Sanderson is now a well-reputed Heritage brand with big-name labels on her rails, from Suzanne Neville to Sarah Seven; Chosen by Kyha to Jesus Peiro. Ellie works with the best and most relevant bridal brands in the world. A business coach, mentor and industry judge, Ellie is a strong leader and has ambition in her veins. She works hard to stay ahead and sets the pace for change in her business, be it systems, the use of AI or team development. She has it covered.
As a complete tomboy growing up, Amy Mann says that she would have been the last person in her friend group to open a bridal boutique! Yet here she is, 10 years later with a thriving business and an award-winning bridal boutique! Amy says: "What I do know is that there are loads of brides that aren’t really girly and don’t all squeal at the thought of wearing a wedding dress. We are real and I want all brides to feel we are here for them and can help regardless of what ‘type of bride’ they are. When I started Dress Me Pretty, I wanted to offer a down-to-earth, amazing experience where all brides would feel listened to and understood. Over 10 years on, I still stand by this and have course made our brides' experience even more amazing over the years!"
Amy continues: "Although I live in High Tops and Doc Martins, I guess you could say I’m now ‘girlier’ than ever and have so much love for beautiful wedding dresses. I studied fashion and live and breathe bridal fashion and I love to follow the trends. When I opened Dress Me Pretty all those years ago, many people doubted and asked “What if it doesn’t work?” but it did!"
The owner and founder of the multi-award-winning Bellissima Weddings, Laura Daly had this to say when we caught up with her: "I’ve been involved in the bridal industry for over 35 years; starting out as a bridal and fittings model in Italy, and progressing on to opening and developing Bellissima Weddings to become one of the UK’s top bridal stores. This year, my team and I celebrate 22 years of happy brides, picking up along the way over 25 national and regional business, retailing and customer service awards. My passion for the bridal industry runs deep and, alongside being the vice chair of the Retail Bridalwear Association, I also have a regular column in Wedding Trader magazine, am a judge for The Wedding Industry Awards, and have been voted Essex’s Businesswoman of the Year."
Asked what motivates her, Laura says: "I strongly believe that love and kindness can help solve many of life’s problems, but when teamed with knowledge and experience, it makes you force to be reckoned with!"
Founder of TDR Bridal Birmingham, Rebecca, known as Bec to anyone she meets, has been in the wedding industry since the early 1990s, initially as a florist, a wedding co-ordinator and a bridal boutique owner since 2006. Her success as an entrepreneur is demonstrated by the incredible multi-million-pound business she has created and her wealth of knowledge and expertise in all aspects of the wedding industry are extraordinary. She has won numerous awards over the years and has been a judge for TWIA since 2018. She is a great advocator of women supporting women in business and knowledge sharing is paramount in every aspect of her daily working life. She currently employs 28 staff for her business. Rebecca is married to Lawson and has two sons, a horse called Bonnie and a dog called Luna. Known for her direct, no-nonsense approach, she is incredibly well liked and respected in the wedding industry.
The Wedding Industry has been a massive part of my life since the mid 1990s. I started as a freelance embroidery designer supplying London Couturiers including the late and wonderful Vivienne Westwood. In 1996 I opened my first Wedding Dress Shop, The Tailor’s Cat, while continuing bespoke work and starting a new company designing and manufacturing bridal accessories that sold throughout the UK including suppliers to Liberty London.
My team grew and so did my shops including spending 25 years as the proud owner of a crazy busy Bridal Boutique in central Cambridge. It has always been the industry that I love and throughout my career I have enjoyed variety, combining my skills and training others from lecturing at Cambridge University to spending a year with leading bridal-wear designer, Morilee visiting shops to see how best they could be supported following Covid. Never one for resting on my laurels I combined this with completing an MBA at the London School of Economics and went on to work closely with bridal businesses requiring in depth training programs. I have loved my Wedding Industry career and believe deeply that knowledge is for sharing, as does my new business partner Rebecca Baddeley, which is the Ethos behind our exciting new company Wedding Wakeup, the Go To wedding industry training tool and the UK’s First Wedding Business Training App!
Of her vast experience and illustrious career in the bridal trade, shoe luminary Di Hassall says: "With over 30 years of experience in wedding shoe design I’d like to think I’ve learned a bit along the way. I’ve always had a slightly different, unconventional approach compared to many designers, my degree was in fashion and textile design, I feel this has always been my super power (if I have one!) For me the decorative aspect and embellishment of the shoe is every bit as important as the style and cut, with everything working in harmony to create a thing of beauty. When a bride puts on a pair of my shoes she should feel elegant, confident and above all beautiful. Having worked in many aspects of bridal footwear, from work experience with Emma Hope and Jimmy Choo in the early days to in house designer for large manufacturers, I’ve met and worked with many amazing people, and have honed my craft working with each and every one of them, but without doubt the best thing I ever did was returning to my roots a few years back… Designing and producing my own collections again, creative freedom is everything to me. From a small child, shoes have been in my soul, I am constantly designing the next pair and to use a cliche I really do live and breathe shoes. I now work with a small artisan team of craftsmen producing luxurious hand made shoes embellished with extravagant florals, pearls, embroidery and so on."
And the career highlights? "There have been many special moments along the way, having shoes in the V&A Museum’s permanent collection is definitely up there for me, but in all honesty there’s nothing lovelier than seeing a bride's face light up when she slips her shoes on for the first time!"
"After many years carving out a hugely successful career in bridal retail, I opened my national and international Bridal Sales Training Academy in 2003, dedicated 100% to this niche industry. Not only was there a gap in the market, but there was no market. My sales training company, I am told, was the first of its kind in the world focused entirely on the national and international bridal retail market. 2023 marks my 20th year in business and I still work closely with family run bridal business owners and their teams of fabulous staff, advocating personal, tailored programmes designed to suit their own individual business needs and budget allocation. Being invited into a boutique to work hand in hand with the owners and staff is a privilege. I always say to my customers, I am on their side. I want to help make their lives – and their customers lives easier. Delivering in-house courses is the go to choice for them. Observation days on a Saturday and follow up training days are hugely popular. All courses are designed to flow neatly from one to the next so the staff continually grow and expand their sales knowledge."
Andrew & Rob Pearce
Having worked in the bridal world since the early 1990s, co-owners of Creatiques Couture, Andrew and Robert Pearce and their team of highly trained and experienced bridal consultants offer a personalised, one-to-one appointment to each and every bride. Within a beautifully furnished boutique, home to over 130 handpicked sample gowns, the team pride themselves on their longstanding ethos: 'From the first step through the Creatiques door, to your first step down the aisle...' Andrew and Rob continue to lead the way in proving that service is everything, not gender!
If you would like to ask any of our experts a question, please email us at email@example.com and if you would like to join our panel of experts, get in touch - we would love to welcome you!