It all starts with two of the shortest words in the English language: “I do.” That sets in motion all the factors involved in planning a wedding, which is truly a huge industry in itself. Did you know that on average 2.3 million couples get married in the U.S. every year, or that the national average cost for a wedding in 2016 was $35,329?
With a marketplace this large, opportunities abound for businesses to successfully capture a segment, which NJBIA member i do…i do…LLC, a bridal studio based in Morristown, did in 2010. Besides having one of the greatest business names of NJBIA’s 20,000 plus members, owners Patricia Lipper and Leia Marley made the shop a reality with their extensive industry experience and a lot of tenacity, hard work and true entrepreneurial spirit.
In 2009, after 20 years of experience in the garment industry, Patricia faced the challenge of balancing work and life responsibilities after being recently divorced and raising three school-aged children. She decided it was time to rely on herself, and a friend referred her to a meeting of B.I.G. (Believe Inspire Grow), a women’s business networking group based in New Jersey. That helped her in many ways, including developing a business plan, but her financial history left her stifled in getting a new business loan. She soon joined up with her friend Leia, who also worked in the garment industry but had been downsized from her company. Together, they enhanced their business plan, raised more seed money and made a number of business pitches until they finally got the investors they needed.
Today, the studio has hundreds of options for wedding dresses from any number of designers, such as Allure Couture, Lillian West and Sottero, and they pay attention to detail to make each and every client feel as special as they should on their wedding day. The company has an outstanding FAQ section on its website, along with plenty of valuable information. For example, they recommend ordering a wedding dress eight to 10 months before your wedding. A dress can take six months to arrive in their studio, and there needs to be ample time for alterations. In fact, they say a typical wedding dress needs to be fitted three times before it is fully tailored and ready for the big day.
They also offer a great array of accessories—sashes, designer jewelry, handbags, wraps, shoes and veils—all of which can be customized.
As for being an entrepreneur and pursuing one’s dream, Patricia offered the following advice on the website of financial journalist Jean Chatzky: “Tell every single person you talk to what your dreams are and what you would love to do. Eventually, you will find someone that may know someone that could point you in the right direction, and find you the next part to the puzzle you need to find your whole self.” That’s great advice. And if you ask me if I think the future for i do…i do… is bright, I’d say without hesitation, “I do.”
i do…i do… is just one of 20,000 companies that comprise NJBIA’s membership, which is very diverse with representation from an amazingly large and wide spectrum of fields, industries and professions. Look for more unique stories about NJBIA members in future issues of “Beyond 10 West Lafayette,” NJBIA’s membership blog.