Offering exclusive bridal and designer clothing to esteemed clients.
Every bride dreams of their ideal wedding dress for their special day–getting married is a rite of passage. However, choosing the right gown is not always easy. Kelsey Lee and her team at Love and Lee, located in downtown Cornwall, Ontario, are passionate about clothing brides for their walk down the aisle. The boutique is stunning and has the feel of a big city shopping experience while located in a small town. I recently asked Kelsey Lee, Owner of Love and Lee Bridal and Clothing Boutique about her business.
Please tell me about the evolution of Love and Lee.
The original plan was to be exclusively a bridal boutique, but it has grown into carrying designer clothing too. There was a local demand for shoes, denim, accessories, and less formal dresses. We are running both a bridal shop and a clothing boutique. We also added a permanent jewelry aspect of the business (Jewelry soldering). The concept is making forever bracelets. We use 24K gold-filled and sterling silver. My aim is to bring everything to my customers.
Where are the bridal dresses made and how do you pick gowns to service customer’s varying styles?
Our dresses are quite different. Some dresses are made of lace, crepe (Soft, organic material), satin, tulle, Chiffon, Organza, or Mikado. I have a select group of designers that I work with. They come out with two collections a year–from here we have select dresses–spring and fall. We follow trends and the demands of our clients. I go to bridal markets (trade shows/fashion shows) in New York and Chicago. Our bridal dresses come from one of these two cities. It is important that the bridal shop offers variety.
How do you help brides pick their perfect dresses?
Listening. You have to be dialed in to what someone is saying about every dress. I find out what the bride is insecure about and what she wants to show off. I have to be listening and engaged to what my client’s needs are. It is important for me and the team to be acutely aware of a bride’s physical and emotional response to the dresses shown. Emotions are high for brides at this time in their life. I need to be by their sides as a guide. At Love and Lee, we try to give customers a positive and esteeming experience. Pressuring our clients is not conducive to providing an uplifting experience for the guests.
Is the company involved in fundraising or charity events?
Yes. We try to help around the community when possible. Love and Lee have donated gift cards, baskets, and food items for local needs. A few years ago, we raised thousands of dollars for United Way. We are a smaller business; however, this never halts us from helping where possible.
Does Love and Lee try to create a specific atmosphere for customers?
Absolutely. I get asked the age of my target market: It is diverse. Sometimes when you own a business in a small town people compare it to where you are, relatively. I want people coming into the business from larger cities. We wish our customers to feel positive, welcomed, and empowered, with a big city feel in our boutique, regardless of our locality. We give the entire boutique to the bride and her guests. We do our absolute best when she comes in for her appointment, it is all about her and her entourage. The bride and her friends can have fun and be as loud as they wish. They can bring Prosecco; they have space. No other customers will be around during their appointment–it is all about the bride.
What gives you the most satisfaction as the owner of a bridal shop?
I am honoured when a bride picks a dress from the boutique. Especially, if a bride was not feeling good when she came in because she had previously struggled to find the perfect dress. Knowing that I helped shape one of the biggest experiences of a woman’s life is amazing. It is an empowering and rewarding experience for the brides and for the entire team at Love and Lee. Overall, it is wonderful and emotional to be the owner of a bridal shop. Helping women is at my core. This is not an easy industry. You have to pivot, persevere, and be competitive. I am pro-women and I want every woman to succeed. This is what gives me continued satisfaction in my business and personal life.
Jason Waddle | Contributing Writer