How 6 entrepreneurs turned short-term places into long-term spaces.
This four-part series explores how the pop-up shop has revolutionized retail opportunities for small businesses. No longer faced with prohibitive overhead costs and long-term leases, entrepreneurs can test their concept in market — and the results have been incredibly successful. We sat down with six alumna of thisopenspace pop-ups to discuss their retail strategies, glean their wisdom, and talk shop about their individual companies. This is interview 4 of 4.
Union Bridal offers a collection of beautiful bohemian wedding dresses, curated by founders Sarah Frood and Emily Milardo from around the world for brides on the West Coast. Their brand — and space — offer an alternative to conventional wedding designs, with effortless and sophisticated details pushing the boundaries of tradition. They opened their permanent space in November 2015.
Why did you start with a pop-up strategy?
The pop-up was an amazing way to test out our idea. We’d done our research and were confident that we were on to something with our business, but at the end of the day, it’s terrifying committing to a commercial lease and all the investments that go into opening a retail business. The pop-up allowed us to get feedback from our customers and to start making a name for ourselves in our industry.
What were you looking for in a permanent home?
We needed something that was beautiful because the experience of shopping for your wedding dress is a special process for brides, but we also wanted something unique from other boutiques in the city. We also really wanted to be in a great neighborhood with good coffee shops and restaurants, etc, so that our clients could access those services after meeting with us.
Did opening your own permanent space change your clientele?
Not really but we are still constantly learning about our customer. We’ve had multiple returning clients and a lot of referrals from brides that had visited our pop-up and told their friends about it. Through the pop-up until opening the permanent location, we stayed true to our vision and continued speaking to the same type of bride.
What advice would you give to others looking to find a permanent space of their own?
Make sure you really understand your client base and what would be important to them — your space should reflect the values and aesthetics of your key customers. Be patient, take your time, make sure you really feel great about the space, the location, and the landlord.
What trends do you foresee for this year in wedding dresses?
Plunging necklines! We love a deep V. We’re also starting to see some beautiful laces with geometric cuts or patterns. It creates a beautiful visual. Also, brides just love an open or low back. It’s a trend that is around to stay.
Any plans for future expansion?
We hope that we’ll soon grow out of our cozy studio, as much as we love it.