For years, Lindsay Fork, owner of La Jeune Mariee in Worthington, contemplated opening a second bridal boutique. Having worked in the industry since she was a teenager, Fork is keenly aware of what brides want to wear on their big day and often it’s a designer gown.
However, those gowns carry a high price tag not every bride can afford. In fact, the number of brides asking if La Jeune Mariee would sell them samples at discounted prices, as well as newlyweds inquiring about whether the store would buy back their gowns, was staggering.
Those requests combined with the weak economy convinced Fork that a boutique selling high end gowns at discounted prices could be viable, so she fleshed out the concept and opened LUXEredux Bridal, also in Worthington, one month ago.
“We have close to 100 gowns available for purchase and it grows daily,” says Fork.
The gowns generally cost 30 to 70 percent less than retail. About 60 maids and mothers dresses are also available.
Read the following interview with Fork to learn where she gets LUXEredux’s merchandise, what she finds most challenging about owning and operating two businesses, and her words of wisdom for the entrepreneur who’s just starting out.
The Metropreneur : LUXEredux sells high end bridal gowns. Define “high end.”
Lindsay Fork: “High end” can mean many different things to different people, but the bridal industry is unique in the sense that if you know this industry, you know who is considered high, medium, and low end. Much of this has to do with the craftsmanship and type of fabric used in the gown, not the name of the designer or the label. Case in point: Vera Wang’s line for Davids Bridal. Great marketing, not great fabric. There are some designers who will use polyester and tag their gowns at outrageous prices. I can spot a poly a mile away. It’s not always pretty.
[M]: Where do you source the gowns you sell?
LF: Clearly some have come from La Jeune Mariee, but we have received a tremendous response from boutiques all over the country! It’s like Christmas when we get to open boxes and see gorgeous gowns from designers we aren’t used to handling. Lastly, the brides themselves are coming our way in order to consign a gown that was worn once or simply loved once.
[M]: Of the gowns you have in stock, about what percentage are samples and what percentage are consignments?
LF: Currently, since we are so new, it’s completely to the brides advantage because predominantly what we have are gowns that are considered New With Tags or NWT. We developed relationships with designers that wanted to purge overstock or discontinued samples and we lucked out because they are amazing! Also, since the boutiques that we gathered samples from are similar to LJM, they have really taken lovely care of their samples, so they are in wonderful condition.
[M]: Do you sell anything besides bridal gowns?
LF: We do! We currently have a great selection of bridesmaids and mothers options, as well as some fabulous accessories which include sashes or belts that brides can add to their gown.
[M]: You also have an online LUXEredux store. Why did you add ecommerce to the mix?
LF: Online is where this part of the industry started. I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel; I simply wanted to add another spoke! That’s where the need for the brick and mortar shoppe came in to play. Some brides are confident enough to purchase over the Internet and that’s great! Some just need a visual and LUXEredux allows you to try on before you buy.
[M]: What do you find most challenging about owning and operating two businesses?
LF: Using the correct credit card! [laughs] No, but a bookkeeper is a fabulous investment. I’m very type A and always want to control every aspect of what’s going on. That’s been the hardest part, honestly: relinquishing tasks, projects, and daily activities to my employees. I am lucky, though, that I have wonderful people helping out and I can trust that such is being handled as I would like.
[M]: In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
LF: Having the ability to expand upon my ideas and create my own destiny. I’ve been able to achieve the dream I had at 19 years old, working in a bridal store in college. I love that I can share my passion with others and I can confidently feel as though I am an expert in my field.
[M]: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
LF: Start a business you have an interest in, but also something you have experience in as well. So many people get into the bridal business because they think it would be “so much fun.” It’s still business. There are still issues. There’s still accounting. There is no 5 p.m.-and-you’re-out-the-door. Ask questions, study your industry, and just realize the experience of the day-to-day will be a test and that’s where you will always learn the most.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
LF: I do not watch “Say Yes to the Dress.”
To learn more about LUXEredux Bridal, visit LUXEreduxBridal.com.