Bride Boutique LA

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Located in the heart of Echo Park, California since early 2013, Bride Boutique is an intimate, no-drama, no-pressure neighbourhood wedding dress shopping experience. They specialise in independently designed, handmade-to-order bridal attire and accessories, and carry romantic, easy-to-wear collections you won’t find anywhere else in Los Angeles.

We chatted with owner Maria Diaz about the ins and outs of her boutique.

What was your inspiration for the business?
For years I debated between a career in fashion and costume design, but never quite found the right fit. Eventually I started making non-traditional and vintage-inspired custom wedding dresses for friends and family. That led to the idea of opening a store.

How did you go about starting up?
Starting Bride Boutique was a slow process. In the very beginning I made dresses in my home studio and had one small rack of vintage finds. A year or so later, I had enough money saved to lease a storefront space. It wasn’t much bigger than my home studio, but it had visibility, and we had a steady flow of clients. I was still working a full-time job as an elementary school enrichment director, but would meet clients in the evening and on weekends. Balancing the custom projects and my full-time job started to wear me down, and I decided we had to make a big move soon. I quit my teaching job, and started looking for a larger space and more alt-style designers. We weren’t 100% ready, financially, to make such a drastic change, but we decided to take out a loan, and we did a Kickstarter which did really well. It allowed us to move into the larger space, expand our collection, and discontinue our custom services. That’s when we really became the business we are now.

What are you offering that is different from the rest?
We are one of the first alternative bridal stores in Los Angeles. Similar stores have opened in the last couple of years, but when we started, we carried only handmade, indie-designers that often were not available in any stores (most of them sold on Etsy). That was really unique for brides – we have stayed true to that. We continue to work with small designers who make unique and quality wedding gowns, and have been able to build a successful business keeping our collection small and limited.

What gets you out of bed every day?
Honestly, it’s probably every small business owner’s nightmare, and probably sounds crazy when there are so many beautiful things about bridal, but I love the logistics of running a business. I enjoy the book keeping, scheduling, delegating, organising, and even the cleaning. I have always been someone who enjoyed managerial and administrative duties. I don’t think I could ever work for someone else, and knowing this business has allowed me to be my own boss and make a living doing it, is what gets me out of bed everyday.

What do you love about your job?
Besides being my own boss, I love the people who work in the bridal and wedding industry. Maybe because weddings are so beautiful and happy, but most people in the industry are really nice and positive. Plus you tons of awesome girl-bosses!

What does marriage mean to you?
Marriage to me is committing to your partner in life. My husband and I have been together since literally two days before I signed the lease on my first storefront, and while he is generally my opposite, he complements me so well. We make an awesome team. When there is a project or decision that has to be made, we get it done without a problem. I think marriage for us is continuing to build on that teamwork—-and love of course.

Tell us about your favourite experience as a business owner.
Gosh, that’s hard. I really have had a lot of great experiences, but overall the best experience as a business owner is everything I have learned over the past few years about running a business. You learn from the good and bad, and it only makes the business better.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in the industry?
First, with any new business, be prepared to make mistakes. The world will not come to an end, and you will learn from them. Second, if you’re going into the bridal dress business, remember you are helping women find the most important dress they may ever wear – they will spend thousands of dollars on it, but it will have almost no value after the one time they wear it, so be patient, listen to their needs, and don’t let them try anything on outside their budget!

Carly Tia
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Credits

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