Once upon a time, about 8 years ago, I bought a bridal shop in a tiny town South of Kansas City. The shop had been in business for over 30 years when I began to call it my own. It was well known for outstanding customer service and great selection, but had room for improvement. The walls were mint, the fitting rooms had emerald curtains covering the doorways, and faux wisteria draped from s-hooks in the dropped, florescent, tile ceiling. What the shop lacked in atmosphere it made up for in reputation. Everyone knew about Sandy's Bridal and traveled the 30 mins South to experience the shop.
Clueless about bridal, but with a niche for business. I jumped in head first and purchased the small-town bridal shop. First things first, I had to make it my own. I changed the name from Sandy's Bridal to EmilyHart. (The "Hart" for my late, most glamorous, grandmother.) I had to be strategic and thoughtful about changing the name, for it was risky to change something that was so well known for such a long time. So for over a year, we were, "EmilyHart previously Sandy's Bridal." We stayed in the metal building for about 6 months before I got the itch to move somewhere a little more "appropriate" for a bridal shop.
With the recession in full swing, we hobbled less than a mile away to the historic Paola Square where we moved in to an old print shoppe. The shop was beautiful (thanks to my contractor father) We made a diamond in the rough really stand out and sparkle. Finally, the atmosphere matched the experience. But if you remember anything about 2008, times were TOUGH. Gas was over $4/gallon and people were afraid to spend money on anything. Had I known that it would be years before I'd take a paycheck of my own home, I may have thrown in the towel right then, but I had hope and a vision and I was determined to make it come to fruition.
After struggling through a little over a year at our lovely downtown shop, I felt the itch again. My husband and I were in Leawood picking up my wedding ring that had been cleaned when I said to him, "This is where I need to be. This is where I am moving EmilyHart." We prayed together that very moment that He would allow that to be the next step for the shop. I knew it was a risk, but we were sinking where we were. I went to several banks for help to finance the big move (which was a challenge in itself considering the banking crisis) But I found a couple bankers ( Hi Brian and Becky!) and who believed in me and behold, in June of 2010, we were moving to our beautiful, new, Leawood location. I had a baby, moved homes and designed and built a shop in just a matter of months that Summer. What a whirlwind.
The shop blew up. We had to hire more employees, bump up our inventory and even change our price point to accommodate different kinds of brides and budgets traveling from all over just to shop with us. In the meantime, I started designing and manufacturing my own line of Bridal Gowns called Emmaline. I had no idea it would take off the way it did. We've grown and expanded and grown some more. With the retail side doing so well and brides' gowns filling our back room as well as our Emmaline retailers orders, we began busting at the seams.
I knew the next move was to purchase a location I could grow in and expand as we needed. A place that was centrally located to accommodate my current and future customers and a place that felt like home. I searched high and low for the perfect spot with no luck. My wise mother told me to "Stop looking...the right place will come along and you will feel peace." I listened to her and within days I found the perfect location.
I closed on the new property on my husband's and my anniversary. I'd never done something so big, so risky, so permanent. But at every step along the way, I heard my heavenly father whisper, "keep going." He made ways where there shouldn't have been.
So here we are---Weeks from moving into our ridiculously perfect new home barely a mile from our current location. With space to breathe and move and grow.
The new shop is going to be the dreamiest yet and I can't wait to share it with you and my customers. Stay tuned for more updates and pictures of the progress.