I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that shopped with us for the 2016 prom season! We had an awesome record beating year, and we are so grateful to those of you that chose us for your prom superstore.
We are already planning for 2017, and hope that we will see many of you back for the fun events and awesome dresses that we have in store! We are planning on adding more tux rental options in 2017 for the guys as well!
We are excited to share photo's of our #beyoutifulfamily members in all of their finery. If you are a #btgirl and want to be featured in our online gallery you can send us pics by email, or a Facebook message through the business page, please include the names of anyone in the picture along with the year.
Thank you and much love from Kelly and the #btstaff !!!
We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we are now home to Sew Fitting, an alteration specialty shop located inside of Bridal Traditions! You may contact Julie directly for appointment information at; 828-292-9123
Sew Fitting owner and seamstress, Julie McClanahan is excited to start fitting our brides, and their bridal parties into their gorgeous gowns! Julie is a one woman show, and will take as many clients as she feels she can without risking the integrity of her work. If, and when she is booked up we will still have our referral list of trusted local seamstresses available.
It's now my pleasure to introduce you to Julie, owner and operator of Sew Fitting Alterations!
Julie began her love for sewing around the age of eight. Becoming intrigued while sewing a simple washcloth by hand, for 'arts and crafts' in children's church one Sunday. Having had a talented grandmother who was an artist and 'sew-est' also helped in supporting her fascination with sewing. Julie is now very particular with her work and understands that it's essential to take time and care in each item she works on for the best possible outcome.
Julie has worked with the Hour Glass Cleaners on West D. Street since 2010, helping out with repairs, and some of the more complex alterations. She has also been consistently altering bridal and formal gowns in her home for more than four years. Julie recently decided that she was ready to expand her business more into the bridal world by partnering with Bridal Traditions. When she approached me with the idea I jumped at the chance to have an experienced seamstress in the store again, if for nothing more than as a convenience to our customers.
Besides sewing, Julie has many other interests including art and spending time outdoors. Whether it's hiking, biking, or gardening she loves to spend time in nature. She openly admits to her passion for natural living, and considers herself a health nut. Her love for healthy, nutritious food is just one thing she prides herself in.
On this journey of opening up her own shop inside of Bridal Traditions, she's discovered a new found love for refurbishing old furniture, and plans on adding it to her list of hobbies. It definitely pans in well with her love of thrifting.
Most of all, Julie loves to spend time with family and friends, including her two miraculous children, Coda and Corwin. She un-doubtingly realizes that the most important thing in life, is the people you share it with.
We we have several things that make us different than other bridal shops you may visit; the first and most obvious is that our store is a remodeled Sonic Drive-In. Yes, you read that correctly, and if you think that it would be hilarious to walk in and order a cheeseburger, trust me, we've heard it. Why did we choose a drive-in for our location? We love the unexpected; we also love to see the transformation of the undesirable into something amazing. I'm a bit of a DIY'er, so you will notice that 90% of our furnishings are recreated and re-purposed finds from thrift stores, yard sales, and my mother's basement. The best part of being a remodeled drive-in is we still have covered parking, plus a covered patio complete with purple picnic table, and green chandelier; BONUS!
Number two reason we are unique is that; wait for it........we wear denim to work! Can you believe that? In a world were you are only "supposed" to were black from head to foot, denim, really? YES! After spending years in retail wearing "business casual", and always feeling frumpy, I decided this is my store, I should be able to do what I want. It took me a while to reach this decision, and even longer not to feel guilty about it; it was like breaking some unspoken law of the fashion police. Who makes up these rules anyway? While we are not going to show up in workout clothes, or the jeans I wore for my latest paint project, we do have a pretty relaxed dress code here. Depending on what we are doing on any given day you may even catch me in my BT-T. And, that's ok because I am free to be me, and you are free to be you!
Ready for number 3? Ok, here goes. We have an office dog. Yes, my Lexi comes to work with me almost everyday; she keeps me company while I do my office work, like writing blogs and answering emails. She is strictly an office dog, and is not allowed in the showroom during store hours, but be warned, you may still hear her ferocious barking from time to time; she is very protective of her room, and her mommy. I promise that she has not eaten anyone in the last 4 years that she has been my sidekick. Unless I told her to, of course. ;)
And, last but not least is that we care! We care about our customers and this business. It goes way beyond wanting customers to be completely satisfied with what we have done for them, and the service we have provided. It's more than just selling a dress; we make connections and build friendships. We support our fellow wedding vendors by giving them encouraging words to hang in there when it gets tough. Beyond that, we are also very passionate about giving back to the community and charitable organizations. Our current pet project is supporting Shared Hope International, and we are on our 7th year of planning the St. Jude Benefit Ball. You can check out both of those outreaches on our Giving Back page. Ok, enough tooting our own horn. We are just so thankful for this life, and this business that God is allowing us to use as a tool to bless others.
Well there you have it! All of the crazy, quirky truths about what makes us a unique bridal boutique. If you think you can brave the madness, we would love to see you! :)
I think that sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget how blessed most of us actually are; we don't know that girls and boys, the same age as a lot of our customers, are living lives that we can't imagine.
For the last several months I have been thoroughly frustrated with the career I have chosen. And, for the first time in my life I was confused as to where my life was leading and where this business was going. I was continually asking myself; Why am I doing this? What is the purpose of it all? Who is it really helping? At one point I was ready to sell the business and move on, but move on to what? I mean, really, we just opened a beautiful new addition in January, and I am ready to walk away from it all? I was seeking something more, there had to be more to me and to Bridal Traditions that just selling pretty clothes.
During this whole time of question and doubt, and even long before, a thought kept presenting itself to me. Human Trafficking, you need to do something about human trafficking. Well, OK, but what? I would think about it for a bit, then like so many other things, it would get pushed to the back burner and something else more pressing would take its place. The more I pushed the thought back the more dissatisfied I became with the business, and my life in general. I could not find peace with any solution that I came up with, until the day that I decided that no matter what, we are going to be more than just a frilly dress store; we are going to make a difference! I had told God some time ago that Bridal Traditions would be whatever He wanted it to be, so if He wants to use Bridal Traditions as a tool to help women and children who are caught up in the sex industry; who am I to stand in the way. Bridal Traditions has always been about helping girls see themselves as beautiful and building self-esteem, so its just natural that we would want to help these women and girls who have been abused and coerced into a life that they could never begin to understand the ramifications of, until it is too late.
I now know, that we need to be an active part of anti-human trafficking efforts, so we are helping in the only way that we know how, by supporting outreaches that specialize in ending human trafficking. I did some research and found Shared Hope International, who's mission is to eradicate sex trafficking through prevention, restoration, and bringing justice. After reading their credentials on unaffiliated websites I decided to become an Ambassador of Hope, and do their training program. I am taking baby steps, testing new doors, and currently, we have decide that Bridal Traditions will donate a portion of our gross profits to Shared Hope International every month. In addition to our monthly donations, we are hoping to spread awareness through posters, handouts, and fundraising events. I don't know how long it will last, where it will go, or what it will even look like in a few months from now, but that's what we're doing for now, and I have found a peace and satisfaction that I have not had for months. Bridal Traditions has a purpose again.
There are children being bought and sold every day in this country, and the really sad part is, that after a while, they no longer see themselves as victims, and neither does the rest of the population. After learning and seeing these truths about this multi-million dollar industry we are committed to helping end human trafficking, and our customers will have the satisfaction in knowing that when they purchase from us, they are also taking a stand to end modern day slavery.
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.
A few weeks ago we made an exciting announcement that we will be opening a new addition to the store in 2015! We are still very excited and thankful for this new opportunity to grow our business here in Wilkes. We made this decision after hearing the feedback of what our customers were saying during the 2014 prom season. People thought we only did weddings. They had no idea that we had such an amazing selection of gowns and accessories for prom and social occasion, even though our name is Bridal Traditions Wedding & Prom Attire. So, the idea was born! We would have a store within a store and promote it as our prom boutique.
At first, it would be the section that was already designated as the prom department in the store, but it would receive separate marketing, promotion, and its own name. That was a task in itself. What do we call it? I knew that I wanted it to be something meaningful, that would somehow have an impact on the girls that would shop here. It is my desire to empower young women to be who they are, and to accept the reflection in the mirror as beautiful. I wanted a name that would convey that we do not care who you are, what your tastes are, or what you look like. We think you are beautiful! It took some time and a lot of bouncing ideas off of different people, but one day a very good friend casually said; "What about beYoutiful?". It was a perfect fit!
So the name was set, the logo was being designed, and plans were being made. But, I kept having the nagging thought; "Wouldn't it be amazing to have a whole new re-designed area just for prom?". So after much deliberation and consideration we decided that YES, this is do-able!
To date, the new wing (as I am lovingly calling it), has four walls, a roof, windows, and new siding. This is a very exciting time during the journey of Bridal Traditions that we are proud to make you a part of. It is our sincerest hope that come prom 2015 everyone knows about our prom boutique, and that we do not here the words "I didn't know this was here!" ever again.
I am ever thankful for the amazingly unbelievable blessings that we have received and the newness of each day. It's an awesome journey and we are enjoying the ride!
I'm sure that some of you have seen the few pictures that we have posted to our social media pages showing that we have construction going on at Bridal Traditions. Well, today we are making the official announcement of just what that construction is going to become!
We are so happy to announce that we are adding 627 square feet of space that will house the beYoutiful Prom boutique at Bridal Traditions! The boutique will be dedicated to all of our prom and homecoming dresses and accessories. There are also plans of additional dressing rooms, with a better viewing space, and more lighting.
We are treating beYoutiful Prom as a store within a store, so we will create Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and website accounts that you can follow to get all the latest news about prom related merchandise and events. Keep an eye out for those to launch in the coming months. Our projected grand opening of the boutique itself is February 7, just in time for the 2015 prom season!
Having this extra space for our prom customer will also allow us to expand our bridal and maids departments as well. Our goal is to give all of our customers a comfortable "un-cramped" shopping experience. While we have the mess of the new construction going on we are also taking the time to give the rest of the store a facelift too, with new siding on the outside and new paint on the inside. :)
We want to send out a huge and heartfelt thank you to all of our loyal customers and friends who have helped make our growth within this community possible! We are so blessed to be able to be able to live and work in Wilkes!
Bethany is the newest member of the supporting cast and the only member who is actually an official employee. She is being trained by one of the best - me! (just kidding, kinda) to help brides and prom girls find their dream dresses and accessories. She is going to be around a lot more in the coming months working with clients and helping with all the daily operations. Think I might be able to take a vaca now? :)
Jordan, Logan, Becca, Becky, Starla, Amber, Casey, and Cody
(Remember when I said I may recruit you for my supporting cast? Four of these girls were customers first)
These beautiful girls (and boys) are our go to fashion show models. Several of them I have known since they were in high school and they have been doing our fashion show’s ever since. They have it down to a science on how to quickly get in and out of a wedding dress (not the boys). Miss Jordan also helps out at the shop during busy tux weeks; she can get those boys to listen much better than I can.
Cheryl is our in house seamstress. She actually owns her own alteration shop in a neighboring town, but we are lucky enough to have her drive over two days a week to fit our customers. This lady can do some amazing things when it comes to fabric. Incidentally when you have alterations done at Bridal Traditions you do not pay the store you will pay Cheryl directly.