After surviving crisis one, learning the lessons that I needed to learn, we began to pick up the pieces.
We found some other designers to pick up to replace that designer.
We moved our store from 6 Front St. W to 2 Front St. W at the request of our landlord.
We found our new normal.
Until our second big shipping crisis hit.
This time instead of impacting wedding gowns it was our bridesmaids + mothers gowns that weren’t shipping.
We had wedding parties where there were seven bridesmaids and the designer shipped us six gowns. We were faced with a frustrating situation. Refund all seven girls? We had already paid for six gowns. But we couldn't expect one bridesmaids to wear a different gown.
Stores all across North America banded together in an attempt to fill as many orders as we could with each other’s stock.
We did full refunds.
We covered alterations.
We threw in accessories.
One phone call I’ll never forget. I had to call a mother and tell her that her gown wasn’t going to arrive in time for her daughter’s wedding two weeks later. She hung up abruptly. I would later learn that the shock of the news made her already weak heart weaker and she was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.
I cannot type that without tears coming to my eyes.
It was hard.
I was so worried about the impacts that this would have our small business' reputation.
I pray to God that no designer ever puts a single bridal store through that ever again.
And once again I had a choice to make.
Bitter or better?
Was there something to learn in this situation?
I learned how important communication was. The way the owner of this line handled this situation was atrocious. She worked from home and avoided all phone calls and didn’t reply to emails.
It was a nightmare.
But it was a nightmare that could have been handled so much better.
And I learned the crucial aspect of good communication through crisis.
I also took a good hard look at our business.
I decided to pair back my business to only bridal + accessories for a while.
I wanted to create an experience unlike any other and do bridal really well before I added back in bridesmaids. Which we did about a year ago.
I’m not perfect.
I have made mistakes along the way.
I’ve left customers down.
But the lessons that I learned during this experience have shaped who I am as a business owner.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these blogs as I’ve reminisced about the early years in the business. I truly believe that it was through the fire that our character and grit was built.
Running a business is no joke.
But it’s also so rewarding.
While I shared some of the struggles that OUTW has faced, there are hundreds of beautiful moments that we’re so proud to have been part of.