The number one question that I get asked by our customers, whether its bridal or prom is; "You see this all of the time, what do you think?", and my answer is always the same. "This is your day, what do you think?" We are all looking for validation from someone, we need to know that our ideas are good, or that we are not going to look foolish, but when it comes down to it, everything is just a matter of opinion. I can't tell someone else what to like and not to like. You already know your preferences so it does not matter what I think or anyone else thinks, this is your big day so make it about the things that are important for you. I can and will give my opinion when it proves helpful, but for the most part I strive to help our customers reach their own decisions, and to create their own vision.
A very good friend of mine, who is a small business owner herself, shared a very powerful post on Facebook recently, which has inspired me to share this blog in the hopes that non-business owners and our customers will come to understand a little more about our world.
Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant Jordan Hamby wrote:
"When you buy products from a small business or an in home business you aren't buying products that will allow some big CEO to purchase his third or fourth vacation home, you are helping a family make their dreams come true. I just seriously want to take a second to thank the people that loyally support my business or one of my consultant's businesses. Those customers make a difference in our lives, whether they are purchasing a skin care set, or an eyeshadow, you help us put food on the table. You are our job security, we want to keep you happy, because we want to continue that personal relationship and customer service with you, we simply want to take care of you. I have some customers that just like clock work I know when they will be calling to order their favorite mascara, lotion, or foundation or when they share with me that someone has invited them to a party hosted by another consultant or another brand and they simply say, "No thank you; I'm absolutely happy with my consultant and the fabulous service she provides me with." I absolutely love those people because those amazing loyal customers are the ones that keep my business up and running. They value me hand delivering their products to them just as much as I do them purchasing the products from me; and to those people I am forever thankful."
In this very simple and heartfelt thank you to her loyal customers, you see there is a lot more to being a business owner that meets the eye. It really does come down to us just wanting to feed our families and to be able to buy the things we need and want, like the rest of you. I think it is automatically assumed by the general population, that if you own a small business you are rich, well off, or what have you. I wish that were true. In reality it is a daily struggle and battle in every area. It's hours of endless research trying to find product lines that customers want, that can be sold at an affordable price. It's marketing and advertising to try to get people through the doors, then desperately hoping that you have what they want when they get there. It's fighting the feelings of inadequacy when you try your absolute best, and still, they don't buy from you. The constant questions of; What did I do wrong? Where do I need to improve? It's risking your own money to; purchase inventory, pay the lease, keep the lights on, build a pleasant shopping environment, publish websites, make payroll, and a hundred other expenses that small businesses deal with every day. It's never knowing if you, as the owner, are going to earn a paycheck this week because all of those other things come first. It's pouring your heart and soul into a business and into customers without a lot of reward, financial or otherwise.
So by now you are probably wondering; Why do it? Why run a small business? Well, for me it's having the knowledge that I built something from the ground up with my own ideas and dreams. It's having that one customer that you truly connect with and seeing them through the happiest day of their life. It's seeing a young girl with zero self-esteem see herself as beautiful for the first time.
When you shop with small business you are not just another number that prints out on a financial report at the end of the month. You are a face and you are a name. We live, work, and play in the same community. We strive to give our families the best we can the same as you. Are prices a little higher at a small store vs. the big box? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes it's not about the price. So now you say; "All you want is my money." Of course! We absolutely want you to spend your money with us, the same as you expect your paycheck each week from your employer, and the same as the big businesses that bombard you with their constant advertisements. But, we want more than that, we want to see our dream in living color, we want to be part of a bigger picture, we want to see joy in others. If it were all about the money I could have stayed in the retail world, and be earning more than I earn currently as a business owner, with a retirement fund, and insurance to boot. Also, if I were still working for someone else it wouldn't bother me to hear someone complaining about pricing, or the selection. As store owners we take these things personally, and I can't help but think, if it were their lives they had put on the line to create what we have, would they be so quick to find fault? The next time you are in a small store I would caution you to use your words wisely. We understand that we can't be all things to all people, and not everyone that walks through our doors is going to buy something, but is it really fair to ridicule and insult those that have committed their lives to something that is important to them by your thoughtless comments?
Small business owners are the risk takers that give you the opportunities to live out your dreams & desires, and when you sow into their businesses you are helping them to live out theirs. I hope after reading this you can have a better understanding that there is more to the cost of a gown than just the beads and lace.
Store owner, Kelly has been in the bridal industry since 2000, when at the ripe old age of 20 she opened her first little store front on a wing and a prayer. She is a certified wedding planner (no, she does not plan weddings), and everything she knows about bridal and formal wear has come from, gut instinct, trial and error, and watching LOTS of What Not to Wear.