Have you ever had horrible customer service experience... I mean the worst? An experience that you immediately told everyone about, and vowed never to return to that business ever again? YES, we have ALL had that experience. June Rachele had that exact experience while shopping for her wedding gown, and decided to remedy the disatisfaction. She opened My Dream Dress Bridal in Michigan, and made a committment to give brides the "Ultimate Bridal Experience." I had the pleasure of sitting down with her to hear just what the "Ultimate Bridal Experience" looks like.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan; and I went through the public. schooling system
Q. Did you go to school for anything pertaining to the bridal industry?
A. Absolutely not. It was never a part of anything I thought I would do. In high school, I had an "A" in woodshop and a "D" in sewing. I was always into business and entrepreneurship. Bridal was never a given for me. It came quite unexpectedly.
Q. What was your experience with weddings?
A. I had no experience; with the exception of planning my own wedding. I remember the experience of going to search for the right wedding gown, and not seeing any Black boutique owners. Primarily, only Caucasian or Asian owners, to be specific. I had an "a-ha" moment. This was a niche that was missing. Black women were missing in ownership of bridal boutiques. I was on "Say Yes to the Dress" in Atlanta, but again; I only saw Black women represented as "the help," and not the owners. Quality and price range were also factors for me entering the industry.
Q. When did you start My Dream Dress bridal boutique?
A. In June 2012, we opened the doors. I started with a plain, white box. I did all of the interior designing, flooring, choosing the cabinets, repurposing dressing rooms, and also assisted with installing walls. We demolished the building, laid floors; and I then, furnished the boutique with different pieces. I gave it more of a clean, gray/silver-color scheme; with crystal-ream chadeliers.
Q. What was your vision? What inspired you to start? A. A combination of things; the first being the quality of customer service I received in my area, while dress shopping with my family. On this one occasion, I had the worst experience. It was a place that was close to where I lived and they turned me away, because I had my children with me. It showed me that customer service was not always at the forefront of some of the bridal boutiques out there. Customers were just another number. I knew I wanted to change that. I wanted to give the ultimate "bridal experience," and make sure the bride knew she was the center of attention.
Q. Where should the bride start in her selection of a wedding dress? A. She should start anywhere from six-to-eight months out, so that she is not overwhelmed with trying on too many gowns. If she starts there, she will find her silhouette, the type of embelishments she likes, and gain more of a "feel" for what she's looking for. Most of the dresses are "stock ready" in the wearhouses, so you don't need an entire year. You just need to know your budget and style. Q. What makes My Dream Dress bridal boutique different? A. Well, not to brag, but they get ME; A one-on-one consultation with the bridal expert. We get to know you itimately, and understand your personality. You are not another number to us. We want to give you the complete experience for your "big day." My motto is, "we dress the personality, not the person." Q. What are the most common questions that brides ask you? A. "What's the price range?" "Do you make custom gowns?"
"What accessories should I wear?"
"How should I style my hair?"
"What's the time frame for ordering a gown?"
Q. Brand name vs. generic. What’s the difference?
A. It's like Nike and Adidas. They both make a shoe, but it's really about the marketing style. The difference is miniscule. You really just have to understand quality, and what you're getting. The internet, and social media can be deceiving. There are knock-off dresses that are not the actual brand of dress, and customers are suprised that the price is over the $200 dress they've seen on the internet. Price point can determine quality and design. Everything has a brand name, it's just how branded that name is. Q. What are some typical mistakes brides make when shopping for a wedding dress? A. Not doing their research, looking at gowns on the internet, and overthinking. I always suggest they go to atleast three different bridal boutiques, so they get different experiences and a better feel for what they are looking for. They will also gain knowledge of price points and quality doing this.
Q. Any tips for finding that perfect wedding dress?
A. It's all about the personality of the bride, and their confidence level. You have to love the gown yourself, not for your friends and family. Also, don't bring too many people to the appointment, as they will tend to choose what would be right for them. Really look inside yourself for approval. Afterall, it is YOUR big day; not theirs.
Q. What's the typical budget that the bride should set aside for a wedding dress and accessories? A. It all depends. I would say, choose a wedding-dress budget that you are comfortable with. Be realistic, and stay with the options that are within that budget. On average, the typical bride spends about two thousand dollars when it's all said and done. However, there are those that spend less or more; so, just be realistic. Q. What's trending in wedding dresses now? A. Sheer, illlusion-dress panels, detachable overskirts, and romantic, sexy illusion. The tasteful look; with the abdomen exposed, and low back illusion. Q. Did you face any horror situations?
A. Absolutely, I wouldn't say anything that wasn't correctable. It was just an unrealistic person, and their expectations. Somone with their expectations to the sky, and their budget is right above ground. We typically have interviews with the bride to set expectations, and mitigate a lot of excessive expectations. Q. How has it been working during the pandemic? Has business been slow at all? A. Yes, with the inclusion of us being on lockdown. Although, some brides have still wanted to move forward. I had about three, or four June weddings in 2020, from brides that decided to push their weddings up for more intimate weddings. They ended up choosing an additional gown for the ceremony, and using the bigger gowns for the receptions. We are getting close-to-normal now; however, there is still a slight difference.
Q. Do you do anything virtually with your salon? A. Of course! I, now, have zoom appointments with brides. I have a virtual, fitting room that allows them to see the gowns on themselves. The bride takes a full-body picture of themselves, and the dress would virtually lay over them. Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned doing this business? A. Consistency is key. Stay. consistent. Stay true to my policies and beliefs. I learned to not waver in whatever is going on around me. Maintaining the brides expectations, and keeping them manageable is my focus. As well as giving the the "Ultimate Bridal Experience." Keeping that attitude gives better reviews, and gives the bride a better experience.
Q. Any other locations or planned locations?
I'm in the process of launching a partnership program, as we are expanding the boutique to other cities. We will be securing the locations, and providing the inventory. The interested owner would just be required to have the capital to secure a small investment. My first partnership will be in Charleston, North Carolina. My goal is to empower women, especially Black women, to do their own thing with my support. It will be a guided partnership (almost like an apprenticeship), where my business will be there to offer the support needed to own a bridal salon. All of the boutiques will have unique pieces that are one-of-a kind.
Q. How can a bride reach you? Social Media Handle? Virtual Appointment? Location?
A. We do virtual appointments, or you may book an appointment to come in. My number is 248-327-6049, and I am located at 19471 West 10 Mile Road Southfield, Michigan 48075. My website is mydreamdressbridalsalon.com My Instagram, Facebook and Twitter handles are @mydreamdressbridalsalon.