For Kent based brides-to-be, Victoria Elaine Bridal in Maidstone needs to be on your radar; set up just one year ago, the boutique has been the name on everyone’s lips, thanks to a combination of impeccable customer service, stylish interiors and the crème de la crème of dresses (think Hayley Paige and Ellis Bridals and you’ll be along the right lines).
Since launching in 2018, the boutique has gone from strength to strength, and with their first birthday just around the corner, we caught up with the shop’s owner Victoria to talk about what she’s learned in her first year, and her advice to other boutiques just starting out.
What inspired you to open your own boutique?
“I think being my own boss is in my blood as I am now the third generation of shop owners in my family,” says Victoria.
“In terms of opening a bridal boutique, I had a vision of a boutique that was different to others, not only in style but in the service we offer. Once I started my research and learnt what fantastic designers were available in my area, the idea I began to become reality and the rest, as they say, is history.”
What was your background before setting up Victoria Elaine Bridal?
“My background is a combination of managing bridal shops and being a qualified art teacher,” shares Victoria.
“I’ve loved weddings since I was seven, so they were always a passion of mine so when the time was right, I changed careers.”
What’s been the most rewarding thing about your first year of business?
“Seeing the dream come to fruition,” says Victoria. “I have wanted to open the boutique for around 12 years so seeing the physical result and hearing from brides that they love the boutique is so rewarding.”
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt in your first year?
“Learning the importance of the bridal experience has been so valuable,” shares Victoria.
It was always the ethos of the business to give brides a superior experience but what that physically looked like has developed over time. We now believe we offer unrivalled service for our brides and one of the future goals for us is to build a community for them. We want being a #vebride to mean something well after the wedding day.”
What’s been the most challenging thing about your first year?
“The most challenging part has been spreading the word to brides that we are here!” admits Victoria. “Sites like The Wedding Style Collective have helped us overcome this, as well as weekly wedding fairs.”
What advice do you have for others hoping to open their own boutique?
“If you are considering opening a boutique, the advice I would give is to make sure you have worked in the industry previously, this experience will be invaluable,” advises Victoria.
“Secondly, research the designers available for your location before you commit to a premises by attending trade fairs and doing your research.”
How are you celebrating your first birthday?
“If a bride attends an appointment between the 15th and 25th October and orders her gown with us between these dates, she will receive a Victoria Elaine Bridal birthday present of £100 off bridal accessories - veil, headpiece, shoes- including our new bridal sneakers!” says Victoria.
“Also, as our birthday falls on a Sunday, and we happen to be doing Kent’s largest wedding fair this Autumn on this day at the Detling Showground, we will also give this offer to any bride who books an appointment with us on that day, no matter when her appointment is.”