Yes, we're still celebrating 20 years in business and probably will continue to for some time. Two decades flew by and yet here we are still chugging along and loving what we do at BT. What I shared in the 20th Anniversary - Part 1 blog was a bit of the history - the Origin Story, if you will, and our growth, and commitment to community outreach and connection. That trip down memory lane was, well, …. a trip. I loved going through old images and remembering the specifics of those moments, days, celebrations and hard work. It reminded me for the thousandth time that no one person does something alone. It also reaffirmed that a girl with a dream can be unstoppable.
For this blog, I want briefly to touch on the more personal gains and revelations I've had from starting and owning my own business for 20 years.
Friendship & Teamwork
You know who you are. My support system consists of smart and funny friends, collaborators who make me better at what I do, my sisters in life and "mother confessors" and some fellow wedding vendors, sales reps and business-minded others who help me stay at the top of my game. I love these people to bits. They work with me, they laugh and cry with me, challenge me, lift me up, remind me of my priorities and have made me a better friend, wife and business owner. If you are just starting a business, I suggest having a team around you of those who love you and whom you trust.
There are friendships, collaborations and dreams fulfilled to be sure thanks to my friends, co-workers and family. Cold evenings getting ready for parades, many many late nights planning for the Wedding Expo, being a part of community events, reviewing and purchasing inventory, and helping brides and prom-goers find what they need are just a few of the things this tribe has helped me with, and all the while laughing. And yes, my dog Lexi is a member of the team.
As the owner of a bridal boutique, one of the biggest take-aways from my job over these two decades is the knowledge that there is a dress for every woman and we are all amazing, regardless of "shape."
Girls: listen to me. You are beautiful and so is your figure. You matter. You are loved. Of course we want to look our best, especially on our wedding day, and most women have a body issue they are dealing with.
I too have struggled with body image over the years, but I have also gained insight and wisdom, and I try to apply it when helping guests in my boutique. So I say - with conviction - when you come into BT, you are seen as a beautiful creature who deserves an amazing gown. Period. If you want to wear a dress that you love, a dress that makes you happy, you should! I love seeing girls try on something that they don't think will work - or society has told them is off limits - only to find out that they love it. It gives me a lump in my throat just remembering even a handful of those times, and there have been many. Supporting women in this way has been one of the greatest gifts in my professional life.
and trust yourself. If you are a little girl out there I hope you'll know that, for me, this has always been about more than gowns. I love them, don't get me wrong, but it has also been about following a path. As you learn who you are, you can begin to trust that knowledge. I want you to know that you can do it.
I'll say it again.
YOU CAN DO IT.
You who are wondering what you're made of...
You who love something but aren't sure that you can make a career out of it...
You who are just finding or developing your passion....
You who sees the hurdles might outweigh the positives....
I put one foot in the front of the other, day after day, year after year. I reached out to others, I prayed for discernment and I worked my buns off. I promise that no matter what, during the process of challenging yourself, you'll find that inner toughness and spark that comes not from some bolt out of the blue but from perseverance, faith and hard work. Even when I felt like I knew what I wanted but was unsure of getting it, I kept going, I kept trying, I kept asking questions. There's taking a chance and there are calculated risks. I like the calculated risk, but I also took chances. I just kept learning and the more I did, the better I was and that turned my passion into my livelihood. The girl who loved playing with Barbie's in evening gowns was suddenly a small business success story.
So I'll say it again: 20 years of business is a big milestone that I am so proud of, so humbled by and so grateful for. Thanks to every single one of you who have been a part of this journey and for all of you I cannot wait to meet and serve in the future. And to all the girls out there wondering: I believe in you.