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The Highs and Lows of Setting up Shop by House of Boêmia

WIN enjoys an exclusive chat with Bethany and Lauren from House of Boêmia Bridal Boutique.

The story of when two best friends teamed up to launch a beautiful new bridal boutique. During the recent economic challenges, it hasn't been easy but they have come out on top… Here’s an insight into their journey.

You may have heard about House of Boêmia – a brand new bridal boutique located inside a renovated chapel in a quaint little village outside of Winchester. Focussing on and specialising in bohemian and lightweight dresses perfect for festival, destination, barn and natural weddings, the concept takes a step away from unrealistic expectations and matches dresses to personalities, with comfort being the heart of it all. House of Boêmia has a selection of designer dresses plus if a bride is looking for something different, she can design her own bespoke gown to be created by House of Boêmia.

So let’s hear from Bethany and Lauren as they tell us their story:

“We are Bethany and Lauren – two best friends who set up House of Boêmia from our own passions for Bridal fashion but with high end personal service being a main focus. We both come from bridal backgrounds but wanted to be here for the brides that are tired of seeing the same, overly-structured and uncomfortable wedding dresses in ‘traditional’ styles. We’re here for the barefoot-in-the-forest, wind-in-your-hair free spirits, for dancing until dawn and unforgettable moments with those you love most.

We wanted to stand out and be different and that’s exactly what we have done.

It’s 100% been a whirlwind since launching. So much has happened in only four months and during a time of economic uncertainty. From getting ready to launch, choosing our dress collections, our first brides coming through the doors, meeting and connecting with so many wonderful and creative local wedding suppliers, to winning our first award! It’s been such a busy time and we can’t wait to see what’s next, but it’s not all been fun and games we have struggled and are still battling certain aspects of the business.

I’m sure any business has teething problems and we’re no different. We didn’t even know if we’d be able the open the chapel in time for our February Valentine’s Day launch – this is because we didn’t know we would struggle so much in keeping such a huge space warm. But we were determined to not let this stop us, we brought plug in oil heaters as well as blankets for guests, we contacted the landlord and found out our heating wasn’t working so once that was all fixed we were ready to go. However we also had trouble with one of our designers and they pulled out last minute leaving us with a third of our collection missing! This felt like a disaster, but we contacted more designers that match our style and we managed to get our whole collection ready in time.

Top Tip - Business rates for energy are a lot higher than domestic rates which can definitely put you off. We had a bill for £150 that only included service charges as we hardly used the heating at this point, so I recommend checking out their rates, including their service charges. Budgeting is the answer to a lot of things.

At the moment as a new business we’re mainly focused on spreading the word about our stunning chapel boutique and letting brides know that alternative styles are out there! This is something we are still working on, we are not quite as busy as other boutiques but we are getting busier and trying to fight the Google search algorithm. One bit of advice we would suggest is to update your Google profile every week, switch up your keywords and make sure you encourage reviews as much as possible. As soon as we got our first review, we did notice a few more appointments come in from Google. We know that appointments will start coming in now that the wedding season is upon us and we are working as hard as possible to get our name out there. A lot of people we have meet through networking have suggested it’s been quiet for them as well and now it’s starting to get busy because of the time of year. So if you find yourself struggling or not getting the sales and appointments do not give up, you are not the only one and things will pick up!

We have day-to-day challenges which can be tough but not insurmountable. We’ve had our fair share but getting our business out to brides has been the main one. Social media is a brilliant tool to reach a big audience for us, but we’ve also not overlooked the power of networking within the wedding industry and with those suppliers working most locally to us. Getting involved with styled shoots and collaborations has already played a key part in helping us solidify professional relationships and spread the word! So if you are a wedding supplier and get invited to a styled shoot we highly recommend that you get involved. All the photographs from the shoot are professional and this can reflex professionalism within your social media content which in turn can increase trust from brides. Everyone involved in the shoot also shares the photos on their social media pages which includes tagging your glorious business, this helps to spread the word about your products and services. Make sure you only take part in styled shoots that match your values and aesthetic for your target audience.

If you are a wedding supplier with an idea or you’re not sure if you want to start your business our advice to you is… take the first step! It’s by far the scariest and no matter how much planning you do, you can’t start living your dream until you start moving! There’s never a right time, no one has ever said “oh the economy is so good right now let’s finally open our business”. In fact, you may have noticed so many online businesses thrived and opened during Covid 19, yes physical stores struggled and unfortunately some even closed but that would have been classed as a bad time to open a business, but loads went viral and have sky-rocketed. Don’t let timing put you off otherwise someone else with the same ideas may snap it up.

We’ve said a few times that the only difference between us and anyone else wanting to start a business is that we took a deep breath and did it. Do your research and reach out to those already doing what you want to do. They were in the same position once.

When it comes to researching knowing your target audience is absolutely key, no business plan is complete unless this is present. We also did some research and analysed our own idea and we did this in three steps. The first step was to find a bridal boutique in the same location we wanted to set up and make a list of their pros and cons. Secondly, we did the same but with a bridal boutique with the same style as us. Finally, we did pros and cons for our own idea. This really helps you to figure out where you sit in the market but not only that you can see your weaknesses and investigate ways to improve and strengthen your idea even more. Research is the key to growth.

To conclude fostering an attitude of ‘community over competition’ is a brilliant way of thinking. We’ve made invaluable connections with other bridal boutiques that have a similar work ethos and many other suppliers, too. Don’t let timing put you off and having a solid business plan will help you through the hard times.”

Thank you to House of Boêmia for this insightful feature!

Find out more about this brilliant boutique of besties -

Follow them on Instagram @house.of.boemia


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