How to make your wedding clients feel special?

Show notes:

Ever wonder how to make your wedding clients feel special? In a recent 2024 study by Wedding Dates they found that 74% of couples responded to say they felt like a number and not made to feel special by their wedding suppliers. In today’s episode I am talking to founder of ‘Secrets of a Bridal Seamstress’ Nadine Bozeman about how we can ensure we give out clients the best experience so they feel seen and special every single time.

Follow Nadine on Instagram

Grab Nadine’s private podcast resource.

Time Stamps:

Growing a Successful Alterations Business (00:00:00) Nadine discusses the importance of creating a memorable experience for brides during their appointments and consultations.

Introduction to Nadine Bozeman (00:00:54) Becca introduces Nadine Bozeman, founder of Sweet Francis Sewing Company, and her journey from a middle school teacher to a successful bridal seamstress.

Nadine’s Chicken Therapy (00:01:41) Nadine shares the story of how she unexpectedly became a chicken owner and the joy she finds in spending time with her chickens.

Early Passion for Sewing (00:03:30) Nadine talks about her childhood interest in sewing, quilting, and how she transitioned from teaching to pursuing sewing as a business.

Transition from Teaching to Entrepreneurship (00:05:19) Nadine discusses her exit strategy from teaching and the shift towards building her alterations business.

Growth of the Alterations Business (00:06:58) Nadine shares the journey of transitioning from a part-time bridal seamstress to establishing a thriving brick-and-mortar alterations business.

Knowing When to Make the Leap (00:11:02) Nadine discusses the decision-making process and timing of leaving her teaching job to focus on her alterations business full-time.

Focus on Wedding Dress Alterations (00:16:40) Nadine explains her decision to specialize in wedding dress alterations and the higher value of bridal services.

Building Relationships in the Wedding Industry (00:17:54) Nadine shares her initial apprehension in approaching bridal shop owners and the importance of building relationships within the wedding industry.

Perfect Timing (00:19:44) Nadine discusses how a serendipitous meeting with a shop owner led to business growth and meaningful relationships.

Professional Boundaries (00:20:35) Nadine highlights the importance of establishing professional boundaries and controlling client communication channels.

Valuing Creative Work (00:23:43) Becca and Nadine discuss the undervaluation of creative skills in the industry and the need for fair pricing.

Client-Centric Approach (00:28:52) Becca shares a statistic about couples feeling undervalued, prompting Nadine to discuss her client-centric approach and branding consistency.

Creating Memorable Experiences (00:30:18) Nadine emphasizes the importance of creating a memorable and personalized experience for clients through various sensory elements.

Fulfilling Expectations (00:36:24) Becca and Nadine discuss the importance of meeting client expectations and delivering on promises made in marketing.

Post-Dress Delivery (00:38:06) Nadine discusses the final interactions with clients and the significance of leaving a lasting impression after the dress is delivered.

The gift-giving strategy (00:39:05) Nadine shares her approach to giving gifts to brides and collaborating with local businesses to enhance the bridal experience.

The impact of saying no (00:41:37) Nadine emphasizes the importance of learning to say no in business, drawing from her experience and the need for control.

Connecting with Nadine (00:43:29) Becca and Nadine discuss how to reach out to Nadine, her podcast, and a private podcast series for bridal seamstresses.

Transcript:

Nadine: And yes, I’m always going to be continuing to grow my skills, just like we always want to do as a wedding vendor. But let’s not forget what is so memorable. And that’s how we make people feel like they have this really short time in their life. They’re really stressed, they have so many decisions to make.

And so if they can feel like at peace for that hour long appointment or consultation that we have with them, we can make such a lasting difference on how they experience their wedding that goes beyond. You know, the service that we’re providing for them.

Becca: I’m Becca Pountney, wedding business marketing expert, speaker, and blogger.

And you’re listening to the wedding pros who are ready to grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level. If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today I’m chatting with Nadine Bozeman, founder of Sweet Frances Sewing Company, where she offers a boutique alteration service for brides. Having created her own successful alterations business, she now helps others do the same through her podcast Secrets of a Bridal Seamstress and her membership community too.

When not working, you’re more likely to find her reading a book or maybe even watching her chickens in the backyard. I’m looking forward to getting into this conversation. Nadine, welcome to the podcast. Thank you. Oh, I’m really excited to be here. Thank you so much. I’m excited to have you on. Let’s talk about the chickens first of all, because that was a random little stat that I threw in there.

Like, where did the chickens come from? Why do you have chickens? And how come you spend so much time with them?

Nadine: Oh, my husband asked me the same thing. So we like lived downtown Olympia, Olympia, Washington. Both of us grew up like, you know, in little suburban neighborhoods. And a couple of years ago we moved out in the country.

I mean, we’re still in a subdivision, but like everybody out here has acreage. So that was like new for us. And the neighborhood is super friendly. And so when all these new neighbors were coming by with like, you know, cookies and stuff to welcome us to the hood, they’re like, Oh, are you going to get chickens?

And we’re like, what? Like we never considered getting chickens. Like we’re not chicken people. We don’t know what we’re doing. So, like, literally two weeks after we moved in, I went to the local, like, feed store, and I got five baby chicks. And then I called my husband, and I was like, we’re chicken parents!

And then when I first got them, I made, like, a little apron with a pocket, so whenever I was home, I’d put the baby chicks in the apron pocket, because I wanted them to be, like, super domesticated and, like, Like, snuggly chickens, and so they’re like super spoiled, they’re, and if you don’t know, chickens are amazing, and they’re super smart, and they’re super affectionate, and they like love to be with people if you just give them a chance.

So, like, at the end of the day, I love to come home and like, sit in the back porch and let my chickens in the backyard and just watch them play. It’s like the cutest thing ever. So that’s my like free therapy is the chicken therapy.

Becca: It sounds very cute. I feel like most people here in the UK, we just don’t have the land space to keep chickens, but there are some people that do and I have heard that they are very friendly.

It sounds like you’re living this. Yes. idyllic life out there in the States. So let’s find out how you got there in the first place. So I, I love to take my guests right back to the start because I think we can learn a lot from someone’s journey. So how did you get into sewing in the first place? And at what point did you make sewing your business?

Nadine: Yeah. When I was a kid, I was really overactive, I guess you could say, like I had to be moving. I had to be like doing stuff with my hands. So from as long as I can remember, my mom. has been teaching me, like, to, she taught me to knit and crochet and to sew and just to do stuff to keep me busy. Probably just to keep herself sane too because I was like, what am I gonna do now?

I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m bored. So from a young age, like, I was always making something and then when I became a teenager, I got into quilting. You know, not really your typical, like, teenager interests, but I loved it and I didn’t really get into, like, making clothing or alterations until Probably once I was out of college and then I was like, Oh, it’s fun to make my own clothes.

Okay. I, and it wasn’t anything formal. It was just, you know, picking up fun patterns, whatever. Well, I graduated with a degree in music education, vocal performance. Like we’ve, we’ve shared that in common, our, our love of singing. And I taught a middle school choir for nine years. So, like, nothing to do with sewing, not in the wedding industry at all, but I gotta tell you, like, my first, by my first or second year in the classroom, I was like, this is not my forever job because I’m not gonna last till retirement.

You know, I was like, watching these, like, older teachers retire and I thought, I have no desire, to last that long. And I had friends of mine who were like committed to the teacher’s call. You know what I’m saying? Like they could not imagine themselves doing anything else. They were pursuing higher education.

And I’m like, no, I don’t want to put any more money into this because I don’t see myself being a teacher for the rest of my life. So. Pretty early on into my teaching career, I developed an exit strategy. So I was like, well, I know how to sew. So I started making like, you know, these cute crafty things and like selling like kitchen decor items or home decor things at local markets.

And you know, those would bring in like whatever, 500 bucks, definitely not enough to make a living, but it was enough to spark interest. Like, Oh, I can make money somehow with this, you know? So my mother in law she’s in Minnesota in the Midwest here in the States and she’s a bridal seamstress or a retired bridal seamstress.

But she was the first one who told me, you can do alterations. Like if you know how to sew, you can do alterations. And I was like, what? Well, then that opened up my mind to like a whole new world of sewing like the puzzle pieces like taking clothes apart and then putting them back together and it was like my love of sewing and creating and also like that side of my brain that loves like problem solving and puzzles So that’s what got me into alterations and you know My fellow teacher friends would bring me their bags of clothes to alter like they were like my number one clients, you know But at that point too, I was just learning so much and I knew like, alterations were always going to be in demand.

But that wasn’t super fun. Like, I didn’t enjoy like, hemming jeans, you know? But I remember my first wedding dress, wedding gown that came in the door and it was, you know, a friend of a teacher. And once I did my first wedding dress, like, that was it. Like, I loved it. And I’m like, I love the relationship that I had with the bride.

Like, I saw the client like, three or four times. I love the challenges. Like, obviously, It, the product itself is so beautiful. So once I found that I knew what the exit strategy was to get out of teaching. So I was a, like a part time bridal seamstress. I would come home from, you know, teaching in the classroom and then I would get in my sewing room and sew till 10 o’clock at night and then do it all over again the next day.

And I did that for a couple of years, well, two or three years. And then I left my teaching position. worked from home, like just had brides coming in my home and doing alterations from my little sewing room at home. And like about a year and a half after that, my husband and I were like, we got to move this thing out of the house, you know, like the dresses were taking over.

And then you have to be careful, like what you cook, because you can’t like cook bacon and then have dresses stink. You know what I mean? So you have to like really be cautious of like taking care of the house to Make sure none of the scents get on the dresses. So I moved into a storefront that was, at the time, like, just less than a mile away from our home.

It was amazing. Like, we had this conversation of, okay, it’s time to move out. And I had in my mind this really beautiful location that I would walk by, you know, taking a little walks or, or running errands. And at the time it was a toy store. And I’m like, Oh, it would be so cute. Like I could just picture the little waiting area and I could have a dressing room in the back.

You know, I was just envisioning it by looking through the windows. And when COVID hit the toy store went out of business, sadly. And so less than two weeks after my husband and I had that conversation of, you know, moving the business out of the house, that space became available for lease. So I had the keys in my hand two weeks after we had that conversation.

It was crazy. So then, yeah, after that once we got into the storefront, it just grew even farther because now, you know, people were just driving by my brick and mortar and that was enough advertising in and of itself. So it became, it grew into like this six figure business, which was something that I didn’t want to do.

I, that was like totally just in my dreams. You know what I’m saying? Like when I was teaching and I was like, I just want to make enough to like cover my teaching salary, which is actually super low. So that was a really pretty low bar to set, you know, and then creating, you know, not just, not just providing bride alterations, but my goal was to create like a luxury experience, like a really comfortable, personalized experience for our local brides.

And at the time I was the only bridal seamstress, like specialty sewist in my area, so it was really easy to grow. And once I figured out, wow, it’s working, I’ve had to kind of conquer all of these. business challenges, not coming from a business background. Like I was a teacher, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

So after I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, I wanted to help other women who were in the same boat, who had like a side hustle or who, you know, they just wanted to bring some money to the table. But they, they had the sewing skills, but they didn’t really have the business skills. I was like, I want to help these women get there sooner than I did.

So that’s what led to the podcast and the business membership. And that started, gosh, was that like 2022 or yeah, no 2021. And so that’s just been growing too. So I feel like in retrospect, everything happened so fast, like in real time, it felt like it was taking forever, but now I’m like, gosh, that was like.

Less than a 10 year journey and it came really fast. We came far pretty fast

Becca: Yeah, and it’s impressive because for me just the thought of the pressure of taking someone’s wedding dress Taking it apart and putting it back together just blows my mind I am terrible at anything to do with craft anything to do with sewing but it is such an incredible skill I took my daughter’s dress for her dance competition to a local seamstress here and it had all this lace on it, it was beautiful and it needed completely changing of the size and I just left it with her, came back and it fitted perfectly.

I’m like, I don’t even understand how this happens. There’s a little bit of magic in there, yeah. I don’t understand it. So it is an incredible skill that you have. Thank you. There’s a little bit in your story I would love to get into a little bit deeper. So let’s go back to that point where you quit teaching and you went full time in your business because that’s the stage that quite a lot of people get to a business where they think I don’t, I know I don’t want to do this job, I want to do this job, but it feels like a really scary leap.

Do you remember that and how did you make that decision? How did you know the timing was right?

Nadine: Yeah, I, Clearly remember sitting in my administrator’s office and crying like definitely remember that moment. But before that, I would say probably once I started, once I started realizing that it was working, I also had hired a business coach or a business mindset coach while I was teaching.

And so I hired the coach in January and I put in my notice by April. And I think that’s a really important part of the story. I, if I didn’t have that coach, I wouldn’t have had the nerve to do it on my own. You know what I mean? I didn’t know like what was even possible. I didn’t know that there are resources out there.

Before I had a coach, I felt like I would just have to figure everything out on my own. And like, I would just be like stranded and make a decision that I’d later regret. But once her name’s Stephanie. Once I was working with Stephanie, she just opened my eyes to like what was possible. And then I realized, you know what, if I just have more time.

then I can make more money. I can, you know, I can streamline this system. I can potentially hire out for this job. You know what I mean? But I just need the time. So I think when you get to a point where you have your systems in place, you’re seeing clients come through, you’re seeing consistently that your service is in demand and that missing link is time.

Not money. Like you don’t want to quit your day job when you have a need of money, but you want to leave when you have that desperate need for time. And that’s what I was out of. Like, I can’t do this anymore. Working, you know, full time at a middle school and coming home. You know, I told my husband, he’s like, okay, let’s do it.

And I remember like, you know, doing my hair and putting my makeup on in the bathroom and just crying because I knew it was, it was, You know, when you teach, and if anybody listening has ever taught, you know that it’s such an identity piece, like there’s, there’s, I feel like it’s kind of propaganda, honestly, to like keep teachers teaching, but like there’s, you know, this, this feeling of, you know, teaching is my identity, and I’m in service to kids, and it’s my calling, like that, that’s just all that you hear, really, when you’re teaching, and so I remember feeling like, Okay, this is it.

I’m leaving this. But it also felt so right. I remember just crying like tears of joy when I was getting ready that morning and like, obviously feeling nervous to have that conversation with my administrator, but it felt so good and you just, you do know and I know that’s like so trite to say like, well, when you know, you know, but But there’s a difference between, okay, what if I have this crazy idea of quitting?

And then there’s also a difference between like that thought popping in your head and then the feeling of like, I can’t imagine doing anything else except for me it was sewing wedding dresses, like working with brides, like working for myself. Like that’s all that was consuming my thoughts and I just needed the time to do it.

So, and I think also if you’re thinking of a practical level, I do think there’s a point where you want your finances to be in a place where you are, you can feasibly see yourself either matching or surpassing your current paycheck because you got to think practically, right? So I was about at that like 60, between like 60 and 70 percent.

I was making 60 to 70 percent of my teaching paycheck and I knew that like once I left teaching I’d have more time to supplement the bridal sewing money. So there was a, obviously there’s like math involved. You know, you want to be practical. And so, if I were still, you know, working part time on wedding dresses and just matching my, my teaching salary by like 25%, I don’t think it would have been smart to quit.

So I, I was working for a couple years to get to that point where I could You know, match it 60 to 70 percent up until I quit.

Becca: Yeah. And I think there’s that piece that people forget, which is that you can grow so far, but there is that element where you do need more time. And there is that, that kind of moment where you know that you’ve got to let go of something, say goodbye to something else in order to start bringing in something new.

And that feeling I know is uncomfortable. You have to take that leap, but I’m sure now looking back, you have absolutely no regrets.

Nadine: And I thought that I would, I thought that I’d like missed And I don’t, well, I will say I still direct a local community choir, like a children’s chorus. I’m artistic director of that.

So once a week I’m still in the little choir world, but I have never regretted quitting. Always grateful to not be teaching.

Becca: As I quite often say to people, you can always go back. Sometimes we make these decisions and we feel like they’re finite. Like, if I quit teaching, then I go and do this business, I’m never teaching again.

But actually, five years time, you decide I wanted to go back to teaching. There’s no reason we can’t go back. I always used to tell myself that when I was starting out in my business. I was like, if it all goes wrong, I’ll just go work in the cafe. They’re always hiring. I have no intention of working in the cafe.

Nadine: Trader Joe’s grocery stores. No, we don’t. Okay, it’s a really cute, like, cute grocery store that has, like, really nice, I don’t know, you could, you can google it if you guys care, but I, I told my husband all the time, like, well, I could work at Trader Joe’s if I need to, you know, that would be, like, my backup plan, or yeah, like, work at Starbucks or something.

That’s so funny. Takes the pressure off.

Becca: It does take the pressure off, and actually sometimes it’s that mindset that gets us going. So at what point did you say goodbye to everything? other than wedding dresses because you talked about doing other kind of clothing alterations. When did you make that switch from that first bride coming in to actually saying, this is all I want to do?

Nadine: Probably like two months because, and you know, when you work in the wedding industry, you know that your services, you charge more for wedding related services because you have that like stress tax. So, and obviously working on a wedding dress is going to bring in more than working on jeans. And once you can, or, you know, slacks or.

whatever suits, but like once you hone that skill, it doesn’t necessarily take you some pieces of bright alterations aren’t going to take you that long, but the quality has to be so precise. It’s, there’s a higher value to your hourly wage than, you know, what you would charge for hemming slacks or whatever.

So it just definitely made more sense and I just enjoyed it so much more. So it was literally just a couple of months. into my first dress. And then word, you know, word spreads like wildfire. Like, oh, you, you’re getting married. Okay. My friend’s getting married and da, da, da. I went to this bridal seamstress.

Oh, you should too. Like, it just takes one bride and like, word of mouth spreads so quickly. It’s like, in the wedding industry as you know.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And did you build relationships with wedding dress suppliers? Were you just getting people word of mouth from friends and family or was it a bit of everything?

Nadine: Yeah, probably the first full year was just word of mouth because I was so petrified to talk to a bridal shop owner. I just felt like, well, I don’t, maybe I don’t know what I’m doing. You know, it’s like that imposter syndrome was so real. So I had a full year and you know, my first full year, I maybe had like, 10 clients.

Like it wasn’t, that was a lot for me at the time. It was like, Whoa, you know, now I have like a hundred a year or like more, you know what I mean? But at the time it was like 10 a year was like, Oh, well it’s exploding. But I had those brides from like word of mouth from different random bridal shops from like Facebook or whatever.

A friend sent me to your Facebook page, you know, But I think about a year in was when I formally introduced myself to a bridal shop owner and I was sweating in the parking lot. I remember, like, sitting in my car and, like, taking deep breaths and, like, praying to have the courage to go in. And what’s so funny is now that shop owner is, like, one of my best friends.

Like, we have a wonderful relationship. We, that was, gosh, like, five or six. Six years ago, and so now it’s like we have such a great relationship, and I can’t imagine doing this job without her because we just support each other so much and like she gets my stories, and you know what I mean like so That was the first introduction and then after that I just focused on the two stores that happened to send me.

Maybe they weren’t intentionally sending me Brides, so I shouldn’t say send me, but the, the stores that, you know, most of my brides had in common, I just made an effort to like introduce myself to them, but that was after I could say, hey, I’ve already served, you know, like a dozen of your brides. Thank you so much for ordering, you know, quality design dresses.

Here’s flowers, whatever, but it really just took like one, that one step to introduce myself to that one shop owner, and it was kind of like perfect timing because she had two seamstresses who were retiring, so she needed a new referral, and she’s young too, she had recently purchased the shop, so both of us I don’t know.

It was just really serendipitous, like how we were supposed to meet and encourage each other. So it just kind of goes to show like you don’t know what’s on the other side of that fear when you’re sitting in the car sweaty. It’s it can be more than just like the business connection. It can be like a relationship that it’ll just push you through or could be that like one link that can open the door to your business growth because so many of her clients had friends who purchased their dresses Transcribed Somewhere else but still had me in common, you know, with their what other bridal friends.

So it just was kind of like a, that was a really good question ’cause I forgot about that piece. That’s a big step. .

Becca: Yeah, it’s a huge step and I love the quote, A simple hello can lead to a million things, which is exactly what you love. That I love you just. Don’t know, you don’t know what going in and introduce yourself to that store owner is going to lead to in the future.

So now then you’re helping other people on the same journey through your podcast, through your membership. What are some of the common mistakes that you see people you were working with make in their business journey?

Nadine: Oh yeah. I think the first thing that comes to mind is being, I think this does come from fear.

And like I mentioned before, that feeling of like the imposter syndrome that we hear about. The, that. causes us to doubt taking professional steps and creating professional boundaries. So a lot of women feel like they’re not worthy to only have your website and your email be your form of communication.

So what comes up, I mean, probably a couple of times a week with women that I hear from are, DMs. Brides have their numbers, they’re texting them at night, they’re emailing, they’re sending Facebook messages, like there’s so many ways for their potential clients to contact them that they don’t have control over the communication.

And also when we have so many like, you know, more casual forms of communication, the wrong bride takes advantage of that, you know, so I think for whatever reason, I don’t know if it’s because I, I feel like it is more so the case with women than with men, and I don’t know, I, I could just be saying that because I only work with women essentially, but there’s that feeling of like, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, so I’m going to meet you wherever you’re at, and I don’t want to put barriers between you and me, so you can contact me anywhere, and I’m going to help you with anything, but what happens is, you know, the bride doesn’t know that you’re supposed to have boundaries and so she’ll just be like texting you late at night or, you know, seamstresses will text the bride their invoice or like, here’s your total just so probably like lackadaisical like professional boundaries that also leads into time boundaries and you know, essentially not being able to say no.

Don’t we all struggle with that though?

Becca: We definitely all struggle with that. The other thing I find, and I’ll, I love to get your input on this, is that people who are particularly creative, so people who are doing exactly what you do, sewing, or maybe stationers who are creating art or venue decor, they’re so in love with their art, that they feel that they can’t charge very much for it.

Now for someone, as I said, who’s completely unartistic, I, I value that so much, yet they don’t seem to value it themselves. Now going back to my dress example from earlier, my daughter’s dance dress, when the lady told me how little she wanted to charge me for these alterations, I actually Offer to pay her double because I was so shocked at how little she was charging me for something, which I knew was an incredible skill.

I guess to her, it felt like something easy to do in an evening. But for me, I’m like, you’re transforming this whole dress. If I bought something new that fitted would cost me a hundred pounds and you’re charging me such a small amount of money. Is this common? Is this what’s happening? People not charging.

Nadine: Yes. Yes. And I want to be careful of how I talk about this. Cause I don’t want to come across. as like ageist or whatever, but there’s definitely a discrepancy between, you know, seamstresses who have been doing this for 40, 50 years and they’re still charging what they charged in the 70s or in the 80s.

You know what I’m saying? They haven’t changed their rates and they’ve just inherited their, you know, quote unquote business practices, which aren’t business practices. They’ve inherited it from, you know, the previous generation. And so some of these. younger seamstresses who are coming up, they’re just learning by word of mouth or by the previous generation.

So they don’t know you should be charging what would be equivalent to the professional service rate in your, in your area. So what I tell, My members to look for is, you know, what are your local electricians charging by the hour or your local plumbers like these specialty service providers and I, I love to tell the story of when we moved into our house, we had to have a locksmith come in and he he charged us.

Well, I’ll tell you first what he did. He changed four locks on the door on, you know, four different doors. He arrived 20 minutes late. And he was probably in and out of our house within 10 minutes. And he also used my bathroom while he was here. And I don’t know why that really bothered me. And the total was over 400.

Becca: Wow.

Nadine: He did not blink. He just get, and then I was like, well, you were 25 minutes late. And he was like, okay. So he gave us a discount for that, but it’s like, He did not, he didn’t second guess himself, like that was, that’s what it cost, you know what I mean? And so, that’s, when you, when you look at like the hourly rate, or like what your local service providers are charging for these, these skills.

You know, we have a specific skill set, so I think that seamstresses should, seamstresses should be charging between 100 and 150 an hour. Like, for this specialty skill. It’s a dying art. You know what I mean? It’s a really specialty trade, but I think the pricing, it also is difficult because like I said, it goes back to that discrepancy of like, you know, somebody’s charging 25 for a hem.

I’m charging 140 for a basic hem. You know what I mean? And so when you have that disparity, in your community, it’s like, kind of makes the whole like sewing ecosystem weird because the consumer’s like, wait, what is this actually worth? And I’m saying, well, in 2024, this is what it’s worth. And then somebody, you know, a few blocks down the road is saying like, well, in 1982, this is what it was worth.

Or, you know what I mean? So. It is a struggle and I think as an industry as a whole, we are trying to just raise the bar and raise awareness so that not just seamstresses are aware of the issue, but also brides. Like when you purchase a dress that’s made overseas, that the hourly wage to You know, make a dress overseas is going to be different than what Americans are charging for our hourly rate or, you know, probably the same for you guys in the UK as well.

So just the education piece is huge. Educating the consumer and also the seamstresses or those of us in the industry to just have. a little more equilibrium with our prices.

Becca: Yeah. And to just be, and to be confident to charge that because ultimately, you know, that locksmith, maybe it was easy for him to change the locks, but that was a job you couldn’t do yourself.

And therefore you needed an expert to do it. And therefore they could charge the expert price. I cannot sew anything, so if I want my dresses changed, I need to pay a premium for someone who can do it, and therefore you should be confident to do it, because I think people think like, well I can do it in ten minutes, so she could just do it in ten minutes, why would she want to pay for that?

But I know that I couldn’t do it in ten minutes, I probably could do it in ten million hours, it still would look rubbish!

Nadine: Yes, it’s like that, it’s so funny that you said that because we sense that from brides who bring their moms who quote unquote sew and she’ll be like, oh, she, those are the ones who kind of like raise eyebrows because it’s like, well, I can sew.

It’s like, okay, can you sew this dress? Then go ahead, do it yourself. You know what I mean? But like when they feel like, oh, this is kind of like a hobby skill. Like I know how to sew too. They feel like, I don’t know, that diminishes the value or something. So it’s, it’s constantly a battle of charging.

Equitably.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. Now, I know that one of the things that you think has added to your success in business is really valuing your couples. It’s something you teach is something you’ve embodied yourself. Now, a couple of weeks back on my podcast, I went through the wedding dates report, which is a industry report that comes out here in the UK.

And there was one statistic that really shocked me, which I’m going to share with you now, because I know this is important to you. And it was this 74 percent of the couples that were surveyed. They were all couples who were engaged, planning their wedding, or recently wed. 74 percent of them said they felt like they were a number and not made to feel special by their vendors.

Nadine: Oh my goodness, that is so sad.

Becca: Yeah. I

Nadine: can’t wrap my head around 74%.

Becca: Yes. 74%. So I’ve been using this in my talks recently. I’ve been saying, you know, it’s a shame on our industry. We need to do better than that. So tell us what are you doing in your business or what have you done over the years in your business to ensure that your clients do feel valued and I’m not part of that 74%?

Nadine: Yeah. I think number one is. Goodbye. Understanding, like, who the client is that you want to attract, and then you’re building your branding around that, and having the same message across the board. So, like, on my website, they’re going to come across, like, really beautiful language that’s like, you’re so special.

That’s basically the message on the website, right? I want my Instagram to have the same message, like, this is all about you, and this is your special day. When I, when they fill out my inquiry form. they receive an email that’s like, not just, oh, send me your photos so I can give you a quote and get an estimate on our time together.

But there are, you know, there are a few paragraphs like wishing them well on their wedding plans and, oh, I hope you’re enjoying every moment of this special season, da da da. I try to keep that nice and personal so that even before they like, officially interact with me, like, in real time. They’re feeling, they’re getting the feeling this is a full experience.

It’s not just like, oh, I’m gonna fix your dress, or like, oh, I’m actually such a great seamstress. I can, like, totally do whatever you want and make you look amazing in your dress, because I’m so great. No, it’s very much, Bride centric and it’s all about her experience and like this is a once in a lifetime hopefully Experience for you.

So we want to make it the best it can be and every every touch like every touch point of Our communication. I want it to be like lovely and memorable, right? And so then for their first appointment You know, this was actually I just remembered this I had a client once This was like a couple, mm, maybe like a year after I came into my brick and mortar.

My brick and mortar is super cute. Like it, we have like a pink velvet couch, and it’s like mint green and pink and lots of like velvet and like really beautiful textured pillows and whatever. It’s always scented. It smells good. I have like pretty music playing. Like I have a playlist where I’ve collected like the The walk down the aisle songs, you know, so it’s like just all this romantic music on repeat and candles.

I don’t have candles. I have like the se, the scented melter thingies ’cause I’m so afraid of open flames. But everything in there is so beautiful and . One time I shut up to work, you know, in like jeans and a T-shirt, which there’s nothing wrong in. Being comfortable at work, you know, so, but this is just my own personal story.

And I had a bride come in and she was totally dressed up. Like she brought her dress and she was, she had a sun dress on. She was all done up. She was so excited for this fitting. And I felt like a dump. Cause I’m like, you are pumped for this experience. And I didn’t meet you here. I just, I’m working and you can see now that I’m just at work and you’re here for an experience.

And I just felt like. And she’s like, Oh my gosh, I’m so excited. I’ve been following you on Instagram and my mom’s coming and my grandma’s going to come. And it was, I built up this experience for her. And then I showed up in my jeans and a t shirt like did not match the, like the memo or the vibe that I was trying to present.

So I remember going home and just being like, I never want to do that again. I want to meet my brides where they’re at, at that level. Like my friend Wendy Rivera, she has a coaching business called Do You Speak Bride? And it’s, Awesome. It’s geared towards stylists, you know, at bridal shops, but it’s all very relatable to seamstresses as well.

And she says, you know, the language of bride is excitement. And so we’re not faking it. We’re speaking their language. Cause sometimes it’s like, well, I don’t like to dress up or I just want to be comfortable at work. Or this is who I am. And it’s like, okay, you don’t need to put on a full dress. like a fake persona, but you do want to speak your client’s language.

And so if I’ve been priming my client that this is going to be such a lovely, memorable experience for you, like you’re going to be comfortable and prioritized, then I want to meet them with what I wear, how I speak to them, how, you know, the music that I have going in my shop so that I’m speaking their language and like meeting them in their excitement and.

It makes my job, I don’t know, so much more fun. You know what I mean? Like, I’m not like, I don’t know. I don’t really know what it would be like to show up any other way. Well, I did because I did in my jeans and t shirt one day and I felt like a schmuck. But, showing up where they’re at and celebrating with them, they remember that and they like, they, so many times, I, you know, they send cute little thank you notes or whatever, drop off flowers afterwards.

And like, it’s always about how they felt. You made me feel so special. You made me feel so comfortable. Like you made me feel so excited and I felt so beautiful. Thank you for your work. And so I don’t think I’m the best seamstress. Like I know I’m not, I know I have skills that I still need to learn. Like I know that I’m like, not the best around, you know, and I, I knew that from the jump when I started my business, and I know that now, but I do know how I make people feel and how important that is in the wedding process.

And yes, I’m always going to be continuing to like grow my skills, just like we always want to do as a wedding vendor, but let’s not forget what is so memorable. And that’s How we make people feel like they have this really short time in their life. They’re really stressed. They have so many decisions to make.

And so if they can feel like at peace for that, you know, hour long appointment or consultation that we have with them, we can make such a lasting difference on how they experience their wedding that goes beyond, you know, the service that we’re providing for them. So I’ll have, I try to include like five senses, you know, so we have the pretty music playing, I have the.

yummy melts going, so it smells really good and I try to have the same scent, you know, every time that I order. I have little mints for the brides, I have a sign that says, you know, welcome Kelsey, or whoever the bride’s name is and like they have plush carpeting in the I have like a cute little, you know, whatever, the faux fur rug in the dressing room, just lots of things just make them feel.

beautiful and special and like the bathroom has all pretty like soaps and lotions and like I don’t know those kind of things that just make a little experience when you come in, you know So think about places that you go whether it’s like a really nice restaurant or like a Specialty shop that you like to shop in or whatever like a gift shop and what about those places make you feel like?

Oh my goodness. I love this store, you know, and for me, it’s like I love places that smell good I love when it feels cozy and there’s like little like You lights and like nooks and I don’t know. So that’s what I wanted to create for clients. And so it’s rememberable. It’s rememberable. It’s memorable.

Becca: I love it.

One of the other things I talk about actually is sometimes in my stage talks, I have another quote. We’re bringing up all my quotes today, which is people don’t remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel. And I really, really think that’s that’s where we’re actually going wrong.

There was a little light bulb moment that lit up as you were talking and sharing all of the stories and where it went wrong when you didn’t feel like you had the right outfit on. I feel like this is actually a big problem with where we’re going wrong as an industry as a whole is that we’re really good at hyping up and building up and saying all of the things about how amazing this is going to be and how it’s going to be bespoke to you and personalized to you and you know we’re going to give you the best day ever yet so often We then let them down because we’ve done such a great job of hyping them up and putting them in that space That then when we don’t meet that expectation They left feeling disappointed and what we want to be doing is leaving them wanting more Not feeling like they got less than they wanted one of the big things that happens here in the UK and I’m sure it’s the same Out in the United States as well is wedding shows.

I talk about this a lot because people, brides and groups go to these wedding shows where they go and look around all the vendors and all the exhibition tables, but before they get to the show, they’ve built up the idea that they’re going to have this amazing day out and they take their friends and they take their family and they turn up dressed up to this show.

They walk into a room where everyone just tries to sell them stuff and they leave feeling really deflated, but yet they’ve gone into it thinking they’re going to have an experience. And so you’re messaging around the fact that you’ve been there. Built up this experience and then delivered on that experience is something that I feel like we can all definitely learn from.

Nadine: Yeah, because it is so much easier to like make cute coherent posts on Instagram and then you, that’s easier than like, yeah, just showing up here, like ready to go and already meeting them in their excitement and like following through. So that’s a really good point. So yeah,

Becca: thanks for helping me.

Helping me

have that breakthrough moment that we actually need to make sure everyone is doing what they promise on the internet.

Yeah. So when you get to the end of your journey, obviously you give the dress back before the wedding day itself. Do you have kind of a post dress delivery or? off boarding thing that happens. What do you do once you’ve given them the dress?

Nadine: I know, it is sad because it’s like, okay, well, follow me on Instagram.

I’m going to be, I always say I’m going to be stalking you on Instagram because I want to see all the wedding week, you know, details. And so typically when they come for their final fitting, that’s the last time that I’m guaranteed to see the bride because I’ll keep the dress to steam it. And usually it’s like a friend or family member comes to pick up the dress.

So, you know, A gift goes a long way and it doesn’t need to be a 50 gift, but we can talk about how you can kind of like cushion gift money into your pricing. But I always like to give them, I have little satin bags that have my branding on them and then I’ll kind of switch it up throughout the season.

I’ll get like, like one time I did locally made bath bombs and soaps. I’ve done branded coffee samplers, so one of my girlfriends has a coffee roasting company, and so she made a Sweet Francis Sewing Co. blend, so that’s what I gave to brides. I’ve done emergency kits, but emergency kits aren’t really cute.

They’re not, like, special, you know? I’ve done, like, scrunchies and candles, you know, so I kind of mix it up a little bit with what brides get, but they just get something when they leave. And then there’s also a little reminder like if you want to get your dress cleaned and preserved, you can come back to me.

And I also worked with other local businesses. I don’t have one going currently, but like last year one of, we have a luxury lingerie shop in town, and it’s beautiful. They have like, like just those beautiful pajamas, like beautiful Stuff in there and just like a lovely, lovely place to shop. And so she gave me like a 50 gift certificate that I could share with each bride.

Another coffee shop gave me like, you know, a free latte or whatever because other businesses want to get in on this too. And when you’re giving something like a promo code, that’ll get your bride in their door. So I also have a a waxing salon by me, a hair salon. So like you can partner with local businesses and just get a little promo code because the bride, even if they don’t use it, Oh, another place I’ve worked with a local massage, like a day spa done the same thing with a promo code.

And so brides love that. And they see that as like a special gift that they’re receiving. So I think it’s important to just give them something back in the day. I would write a handwritten note for every bride, but I just couldn’t keep up with that anymore. So I don’t think it like a typed out card. that you know I make on Canva and preprint.

So there’s definitely, I probably could make the offboarding a little bit more exciting, but it’s like I give him a hug and I give him the present and then it’s like,

Becca: okay, bye.

Yeah,

but the present is the offboarding. That is the exciting part. And just because you’re giving it to everyone, they’re not expecting it.

Right. It’s the, it’s the, you know, it’s that excitement. Unexpected thing that brings them that joy. That’s the thing that they remember. I checked into a hotel last week and there was a plate in there where they’d written welcome in a little bit of chocolate. Like it was a tiny little thing. It probably took them like one minute, but to me I felt really special because they put the plate of chocolate in my room.

So, you know, you know, they’re doing it day in, day out. Maybe everyone got the chocolate. I don’t know. But in that moment I felt seen and I felt special. That’s what you’re doing for your brides when you’re giving them their little. They’re a little gift that they’re not expecting. They’re expecting to get the dress.

Everything else is a bonus. And I love the way you talk about collaborating with local businesses as well. So much good stuff in all of these conversations. So much good stuff. Now, we need to bring this to an end because we, I could chat to you all day otherwise, and actually we, we just don’t have time to do that.

However I always end my podcast with the same question, so I’m going to pose that one to you now. And it’s this. What’s one thing you wish you’d known sooner in your own business?

Nadine: Well, I kind of cheated because I touched on it a little bit sooner, I think earlier in the conversation, but learning to say no, I, I have permission to say no.

So I can say no to, you know, Projects I don’t want to do, brides I don’t want to work with peers that I don’t really want to associate with. Like that’s a big thing too. It’s like, you have control of who you allow to influence you in your life and you can kindly say no to that or like back out of that.

You don’t need to take on all of the clients who reach out to you or like, you know, taking on more than you think you can handle or like the projects that just don’t sound like fun. Like I don’t, I know what I like to sew and sew. as like a planner, like, you know, what kind of event you want to plan or like, you know, what budgets you like to work with.

And so if it’s not fun for you, it just makes work so difficult, which sounds actually, that’s like really trite. That’s like not really advice. It’s just something that we all should know, but you can say no. And probably the sooner that I, I wish I had, yeah, known that sooner. Yeah.

Becca: And it, it, it kind of comes, it comes right back to the beginning of your story, because you had to say no to teaching to say yes to something else.

And sometimes we have to say no to things and, and that changes the journey that we’re going on. And it’s not a bad thing to say no. It Maybe changes us in a different direction. So yes, it’s not trite is a good piece of knowledge that we all need to remember and I’m sure there’s plenty of people listening to this right now who are thinking, Yeah, I need to say no to something because otherwise I’ll be hemming jeans for the rest of my life.

And actually, I can say no to the jeans in favor of the wedding dresses, right? It’s right. There’s a whole new world waiting for you. Just say no. Amazing. Now, if there are people listening that want to reach out to you, perhaps There’s some bridal seamstresses or maybe some budding seamstresses that want to find out more about you and what you do.

Give us some information. Where’s the best place for them to find you? I think you’ve got a resource as well that people can find.

Nadine: Oh yeah, yeah. So I have a podcast called Secrets of a Bridal Seamstress Podcast. So you can find that wherever you are. you stream your favorite podcasts. And you can find, find me on Instagram, Secrets of Bridal Seamstress.

And I do have a private podcast series. So if you are currently a bridal seamstress and you’d like to consider charging for fittings, if you’re not doing that or creating branded fitting packages, I have a private podcast series all about that. So I can link that in the show notes as well.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely.

Send it over to me. I’ll make sure I put all of your links in the show notes and do go and check out the Secrets of a Bridal Seamstress podcast because you can go and find an episode with me on there as well where we talk about the darker side of the wedding industry. So if you’re interested in that, go and check it out over on Nadine’s podcast.

Thank you so much for being a guest today. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you and I’m sure we’ll talk again very soon. Thank you. I love that conversation with Nadine. Isn’t she great? I love her enthusiasm. I love how she’s making her brides and all of her customers feel. And I love that she’s passing on that confidence to the next generation of bridal seamstresses that they absolutely can charge their worth for this incredible skill that quite frankly, I don’t know how anyone can do.

I’ll see you next time.

Becca xo

0 Comments