Inside Business First: Blue & Sixpence Bridal
Blue & Sixpence is the North West's premier retailer of luxury, size-inclusive, sample, end-of-season, pre-loved and vintage wedding gowns. We also offer an exclusive and extensive range of gowns for Bridesmaids, Proms and formal events.
What’s your business called?
Blue & Sixpence Bridal
What do you do?
We specialise in sustainable, affordable, size-inclusive wedding and bridesmaids gowns. We stock sizes 4-32. The majority of our gowns are new samples from all the top brands and designers. We also offer a commission sales service for Brides looking to sell their new, gently-used or vintage gowns through us.
We believe that the wedding industry’s catastrophic environmental impact needs to be addressed and redressed. Buying a gown to wear for one day or buying items to be used only once is bad for the planet and your purse; we can and should be doing much better!
The average wedding gown takes around 9000 litres of water, massive amounts of raw materials, energy and resources to create. That’s before it’s been transported halfway around the world before it even reaches the Bride.
Designer sample gowns are made to the same quality standards as a gown made to order, but once this style is discontinued, the samples are often consigned to the boutique stock room until the designers hold a “trunk sale”. This is where boutiques are ALLOWED(!) to sell the sample that they had to buy from the designer in the first place, and often, the discounted price is also dictated by the designer.
This means that boutiques will often have hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of gowns on rails in stock rooms for up to 3 years before they are permitted to sell them.
By buying samples from other boutiques around the UK, I am giving boutique owners the chance to sell on their gowns, create a career for myself (and hopefully a job for someone else in the not-too-distant future), and pass on considerable savings to new Brides.
Typically, our Brides save 40-50% when compared to buying a gown made to order.
The other main advantage to a boutique like Blue & Sixpence is that the Bride can take away her gown on the day of purchase. Unlike other “main-stream” boutiques were made to order gowns can take between 6-12 months to arrive, we have gowns that are sold off the rack – no anxiety for Brides worrying about whether or not their gown will arrive in time (lots of problems there at the moment!).
By having the gown with them, Brides can also try on their gown at home and recall that “Found my Gown” moment as often as they wish. Brides do often forget what their gown looks and feels like when they can’t physically connect with it!
How many are in your team, and which Business First location are you in?
At the moment, there is just me. I’m the former Weddings and Events Manager at Speke Hall, a National Trust property here in Liverpool.
I am based in Building B at the Liverpool location
What makes your business different to competitors?
Quality, value, service, range, choice, environmental ethos!
Our gowns are available in sizes 4-32.
We stock only quality, branded gowns.
I have many years’ experience in retail sales, customer service and most importantly, helping Brides and Grooms plan and deliver their special day.
As a postponed Bride myself, I have a greater understanding and empathy with my Brides. I also used to be a much larger woman, and as a former size 26, I can identify with the concerns of my customers and ensure that they have a safe, positive, relaxing and private bridal shopping experience.
Blue & Sixpence works on an exclusive appointment-only basis so that our Brides can enjoy the boutique all to themselves. Our unhurried and relaxed approach provides a calm, friendly and fun space where Brides can explore their ideas and options before making their purchase.
Our environmental ethos is central to everything we do. By offering these sample and gently-used gowns for sale we are combating the consumption of resources, energy and materials. All of the fixtures and fittings are pre-loved, recycled or upcycled. All of our promotional and packaging materials are either made from recycled materials, are fully recyclable or compostable, or all three!
Why did you decide to operate from Business First?
Accessibility was my key consideration. I needed a space that was fully accessible for mobility impaired customers. I also needed a ground floor space as wedding gowns are very heavy and my stock changes constantly, so I didn’t want to be lifting heavy boxes in and out of lifts.
Parking was another important aspect – bridal customers are taking away large or heavy items so they need onsite parking facilities.
I was also very impressed with Beckie Jones who was organised, thoughtful and very approachable when I made my initial enquiries.
When did you first move into your office?
What benefits do you get from operating from Business First?
I like that I can have 24 hour access if needed.
The free parking for myself and customers and flat access are also some of the main benefits.
I also like that I only have 1 monthly all inclusive bill.
Would you recommend Business First to other SMEs? If so, why?
I’d recommend B1 to others mainly due to the excellent service from Beckie – knowledgeable, professional, friendly, and not pushy for sales!
What’s next for your business?
Re-organisation – re-focusing target audience.
Advertising and attending wedding fairs.