Erin's Journey | Part 1

This month instead of featuring a Real Bride on our blogs, I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of the journey I've taken as the owner of a bridal store.

I so often hear that I must have the best job in the world.

So I thought I would share a little bit about what it’s like to open and run a bridal store.

A little glimpse into my life if you will.

It all started on about ten years ago.

My husband and I were living overseas as house parents for teenaged troubled youth.  We lived on the side of a mountain and didn’t have a car so we had a lot of free time while the boys were in school.  I ordered some books on amazon and started dreaming about what it would be like to open a bridal store.  

Long story, short we moved back to Ontario and I got my old job back working with children in foster care.  I loved what I did, but I just knew in my heart it wasn’t what I wanted to do career wise for the rest of my life.  My husband got a full time job working in his field and it was time for me to start living out my dream.  {Personal side note: We're still foster parents to this day and are grateful for every minute we've had with the 8 children who have come through our home}.

I quit my job and starting working for a small catering company.  I wanted to work under someone who owned their own business.  The owner taught me a lot about how to get loans and put together a business plan.

So off I went.

I spent months researching, digging into the numbers, and figuring out just how to make this work.  When all was said and done I had about an eighty-five page business plan. I used that plan to secure funding to start Once Upon A Time Weddings. 

And just like that it became real.

This is the same dress I wore to present my business plan to a table full of men to secure one of my small business loans.

This is the same dress I wore to present my business plan to a table full of men to secure one of my small business loans.

I spent the next several months choosing gown designers, finding a location, making plans for the layout of the store and choosing décor items.

The time flew by.

I can remember vividly the night before we opened. My whole family was there helping me set up and do last minute finalizing.  I could hardly sleep that night, my dream was becoming real.

I had a lot to learn though.

The first big thing I learned was around marketing.

I opened those doors and then I had to work hard to get people through them.

I remember our first gown we sold.  I was working in the store and this beautiful young mom came in. She was walking by the store and a gown caught her eye.  She came in with her two young daughters and I wanted so badly to help her find her gown. My mom came over and played with her daughters while I helped the bride say yes to her dress.

In that moment I had faith that this really could work. 

I could really be the owner of a successful bridal store.

That first year was rough.  I had so much to learn about running a business. About being a leader.  I was only twenty-four when the business opened.  I was young and naive, stubborn and determined.

But I also had so much passion.

And a wonderful husband.

He would come home from work and come help in the bridal store.

He’d print off postcards for me to mail.

He’d help me get ready for bridal shows.

He’d listen to all my crazy ideas.

And together we somehow made it happen.

Until our first major crisis.

Join me next week as I walk you through how we survived our first major crisis.