Hello and welcome to my very first #GirlBoss feature! I am so excited to be sharing and promoting some of the most amazing female entrepreneurs we have right here in Wales! As girl boss myself and now mum to my very own mini girl boss in the making, I love to celebrate women in business and all the amazing things they do!
Every month I will be chatting to an extraordinary #girlboss(es) to find out what it means to them to be a woman in business; the highs, the lows and the words of wisdom for those looking for inspiration and motivation.
This month I chatted to the lovely Rachel at Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique in Penarth. Rachel was the first business I visited when I was looking for my wedding dress, and quite frankly, it was the only place I needed to go! Rachel’s enthusiasm and passion for the dresses, designers and her clients is contagious. Rachel is celebrating six years of championing Welsh designers this month, so I thought it was fitting to find out more…
Hi Rachel! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! Can you tell me where the idea for the Boutique came about?
Hi Katrina! Well, I had three main points which made me open the Boutique… :
- Having been a Bridesmaid several times (as in double figures) I had been to my fair share of bridal shops and was disheartened by the lack of variety available. I think it’s so important for woman to represent who they are on their wedding day – and not what other people think a Bride ‘should be’.
- I’m a farmer’s daughter from Mid Wales and always knew where the food on my plate was coming from and I wanted people do to that within textiles. No one was stocking the up-and coming designers we have right here in Wales and that just didn’t sit comfortably with me.
- The phrase ‘if you want something different, then you have to go to London’ BUGGED ME! It’s SO NOT TRUE! The creative industry here in Wales is phenomenal – yes, we’re a small country, but our boldness and creativity is limitless!
So I mentioned to my neighbour about my dream of owning a Boutique in Penarth which champions Welsh designers, I had my eye on a specific shop, but left it at that – thinking it will happen one day and I then went back out on tour (I used to be a theatre Stage Manager) and two weeks later my neighbour sent me a message to say the shop has come up for rent and I have a meeting lined up when I’m back! I met the landlady at 2pm on a sunny afternoon in May, and left at 2:30 with the keys firmly in my hand! The Boutique opened its doors on the 24th October 2012, and the rest is history!
What is the best thing about being a #girlboss?
Hands down – it’s the amazing individuals I have met, from fellow business owners to the inspirational women who walk through the Boutique door! Being part of a Bride’s wedding journey is a total honour, and also seeing how passionate our Brides are about championing handmade wedding dresses by Welsh designers is a PURE JOY and a privilege – it honestly makes my heart swell with pride!
What is the hardest thing about being a woman in business?
It’s all about ‘Time Management’ – I’ve learnt that there are 24 useful hours in the day! I’m still mastering the ‘time to switch off’ mode, I’m getting there (slowly), if anyone has any sound advice on how to do that then feel free send it my way! It was also tough at the start, I got the keys to the Boutique when I was 24 and opened just after my 25th Birthday, I could see that people judging me because of my age and my ‘lack of experience’ – but that gave me so much fire to prove them wrong and the energy to keep pushing the business and its ethos!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My parents – even though the world of farming is rather different to the wedding industry (!!) They taught me about the morals, ethos and core values of a business – everyone will tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing – but my parents taught me to trust my instinct and go for it! They had a successful business for over 30 years and I saw how hard they worked – so I’m not afraid of hard work too – I keep looking to the future and saying ‘Bring It ON!’
What’s your biggest achievement in business so far?
The Boutique will be celebrating its sixth Birthday in October – so I’m bloomin’ proud to have made it this far and I can’t wait for the next 6 years! I also have to mention that being asked to stand on a plinth in Trafalgar Square holding up wedding dresses to champion Welsh creativity was rather special! The Boutique has also been nominated for several awards which is always very flattering – but honestly – every time a Bride has her final fitting and takes her dress home ready for her wedding day makes my heart swell with pride! It also blows my mind to see how far Brides travel to come to the Boutique and to see their reaction to these stunning handmade dresses! I’m so proud – the Boutique maybe small but we have one big voice!
If you could give one piece of advice for anyone in business, what would it be?
DO IT! Because the thought of ‘what if’ is not an option in my eyes – give it everything you have, love it and make it happen! Be prepared to keep on learning – but trust me – it’s the best thing in the world!
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