June Peony Bridal Couture featured on Attire Bridal Magazine for an exclusive interview (www.attirebridal.com)
When did you open June Peony Bridal Couture and what prompted you to do so?
My best friend, who worked as a seamstress in another bridal shop, led me to this industry. After six months spent searching for a good retail location, I found the perfect place in early spring of 2016. It was an established boutique that had been in business for over 30 years, but was sadly having to close down.
One special reason triggered me to enter this challenging business – I believe there are lots of craftspeople in China who can create stunning and luxury garments with fine embroidery and beadwork. I am able to explore these great manufacturing resources in China and am willing to build up a bridge between the UK and Chinese bridal markets.
How has the business evolved and what have been the key milestones in its development?
Like most new businesses, at the beginning I suffered a great number of teething problems. During first three months, we had very tough time because I was not familiar with local brides’ requirements, and got wrong sizes and styles in stock, therefore we missed lots of sales opportunities. However, we gradually met more brides and prom girls and every appointment helped us to learn about brides’ demands. Sales slowly picked up when we adjusted our stock styles accordingly and started to order larger sample sizes.
Finally, we launched our first collection of wedding and prom dresses according to my plan in the summer of 2016. Then in 2017 we spent five months on our brass style shopping fitting and successfully opened our flagship bridal boutique in the city of Birmingham.
What have been the highlights of your time in business?
In spring 2016 I took over Crystal Bridal (previously Sallie Bee Bridal), a lovely boutique in Birmingham that had been established for more than 30 years. We launched our first bridal and prom collection in 2016 summer. Another highlight was when we sponsored Miss Birmingham Evanjelin Francia with a bespoke red pageant gown for Miss Junior Teen Great Britain and she won three awards in that competition in October 2016. In 2017, we opened our flagship boutique in Birmingham city centre.
Meanwhile, we made our second bridal and prom collection, and created a new label Miracle Prom for our prom dresses. We also launched our stunning holy communion and flower girl collection. We first exhibited at the Harrogate Bridal Show in September 2017, and successfully signed up several stockists in England, Ireland and Sweden. In autumn 2017, we continued to sponsor Miss Midlands Evanjelin Francia for Miss Teen Great Britain, and she successfully won the competition in our bespoke golden evening gown.
Which designers do you stock?
We stock Casablanca Bridal, as well as our own wedding dress brand, June Peony Bridal Couture. Casablanca has very intricate beading and the brand’s styles are very different to our own. In addition, most of our Casablanca gowns are exclusive in UK, because we order Casablanca gowns from the Shanghai Bridal Exhibition, where they launched new designs, mainly for the Asian market. Moreover, by working directly with the Casablanca Beijing office, we can offer a quicker and more flexible service.
What criteria do you have when sourcing and selecting your designers?
We focus on efficient customer service and fine detail finishing of beading and lace appliqué. Customer service is the key in every industry: it’s not just about placing a bride’s orders, it’s more about good communication between the retailer and the designer, to help the bride get exactly what they desire.
Flexible design service is also another important sourcing criteria. Indeed, how the design team can effectively understand and accurately address a bride’s special design changes is crucial in the bridal business. This means we need an experienced customer service team and expert design team from any designer brand we want to stock.