10 questions with Britta Wilson of Chosen, A Bridal Boutique
Britta Wilson is filling a need. Bridal gown shopping should be one of the best experiences for a bride-to-be and her family. However, on a trip with her now daughter-in-law, she noticed the struggles of a plus-size bride across the showroom. Given just one dress to try on, Wilson was shocked and finally ready to bring the dream she had in college to life.
Opening Chosen, A Bridal Boutique just two months ago, Wilson is now juggling two careers. And while it makes for a busy schedule, she says it’s all worth it when it comes down to making bridal dreams come true. We sat down with Wilson, or, as she refers to herself, the Chosen Bridal Chief Encouragement Officer, to learn more about her inspiration, motivation and favorite bridal trends.
1. What is a typical day like for you and your team?
The boutique has only been in business now for two months, so for now I still work my regular, full-time job as a practice administrator at Bruns Family Dental Center Monday through Thursday. I am very fortunate that I work for my best friend who allows me to leave during the week for any appointments that are scheduled. Friday through Sunday, I am at the boutique all day during regular open hours for walk-ins and appointments.
I start the day at the shop sweeping outside the front doors and cleaning inside. Throughout the day, I answer emails from brides and vendors, steam and hang any additional samples that come in, style any brides that come in for appointments or walk-ins, and prepare any orders that need to be placed. Before I leave each day, I print out the contact sheets for my brides’ appointments for the next day and write their names on the chalkboard welcoming them to store. I like to leave the boutique ready for the next day so if a bride were to meet me at the door in the morning, all I would need to do to start her bridal transformation is turn on the music and the lights.
2. What is your professional background? How did you get into bridal?
I have a marketing degree from Southeastern Louisiana University. I started my academic career at SLU as a nursing major, but once I started clinical rotations I realized it wasn’t for me. One of my sorority sisters recommended that I switch to marketing, and I loved it.
It was while taking one of my business classes that I decided I wanted to own my own bridal boutique. My very first business plan was written in a graduate-level course that I took as an elective. So this boutique has been a dream 20 years in the making, and through countless business plan revisions and a lot of prayer, it is what it is today.
3. How does Chosen Bridal fill a need in the community? What sets the store apart?
There has been a gap for years in the bridal community when it comes to plus size. I am pleased to say there are boutiques in the area that have increased their selections, but Chosen Bridal was formed specifically to fill this need.
I like to think we do so much more than just sell a dress. Many plus-size women have bold confidence and their presence is known when they enter a room. However, while some are confident in many areas of their life, when you put them in a wedding dress, every insecurity about their body starts to surface. It is my mission and, in my own way, a form of ministry to encourage and make each one of these women feel like the most beautiful woman in the room. Yes, I can order any gown in the boutique in a size down to a size 4. But, there are no samples in a size smaller than a 16. This is by design.
I was inspired to finally move forward to open Chosen when shopping with my daughter-in-law for her wedding gown. She is not plus size and was able to buy her dress off the rack at a sample sale. There was a plus-size bride who had an appointment at the same time as my daughter-in-law, and there was only one dress in the entire store that she could actually try on. One! I realize that this is not the case in all stores in the area, but the experience is one that is all too real for many plus-size brides. Her dressing room was directly across from my daughter-in-law, and every time the curtain opened, she had to see a dressing room full of size-6 wedding gowns. The entire topic of conversation of her appointment was Weight Watchers. As wonderful as her stylist was and as encouraging as her friends were, it did not make for a special day. This kind of experience will never happen at Chosen. The bride in the room across from you has likely had similar experiences and may be trying to highlight her décolletage and cover her arms, too.
4. What are the first things customers see when they walk through your doors?
Immediately, customers will see whichever gowns are being displayed in the windows and the window décor. I really love dressing the windows! I have so many ideas for future window displays. Brides will also see an area set up with gift and wedding-day items for purchase. These are things like bridesmaid “ask” bags, flower girl bags, Champagne flutes, picture frames and other items I just like and think brides will enjoy.
Body shaming is frowned upon and should not be done by the bride or anyone in her entourage. We actually have a sign on the showroom floor stating the Chosen “words to live by,” one of which states, “God made you perfect the way you are. Focus on your ‘fav’ parts!”
6. How do you find designers that suit your clientele? How do you keep things fresh and up to date?
I prefer to work with designers that do not charge extra for plus size and/or carry lines specifically designed for someone with curves. I am large busted, so I look for gown with bodices with good structure and boning that I feel could support me. Designers that offer bespoke options to the bride are a plus.
To keep things fresh and up to date, I attend bridal market annually. Last year, I went to both New York Bridal Fashion Week and to VOW New World of Bridal Show in Atlanta. This fall I will be going to Atlanta for the VOW Bridal Show and will also add the World of Prom show.
7. Can you share a hint about what your customers will see in your store next season?
I am considering carrying prom and Mardi Gras ball gowns. I have also had some customers interested in debutante ball gowns.
8. When did Chosen open, and how has it grown or changed since then?
We just opened April 12 of this year, so nothing has changed yet!
9. What advice do you give to a bride looking for the perfect dress?
I recently wrote a blog post on my website about this very thing for plus-size brides. To sum it up, my advice is to try on, try on, try on. Even if you don’t think you will like it, try it on anyway. How it looks on the hanger, especially in plus size, is not indicative of how it will look on your body. Nearly every bride who comes in to Chosen has a certain dress in her mind that she is looking for. You have to be open to other styles. I have several brides I have pulled gowns for that, when pulled, they turned their noses up at them. But once in them, the smiles came out, little dances were done on the stages, and even hugs have been given.
10. What is your current favorite wedding trend?
I really love timeless, simple designs like Meghan Markle’s wedding gown. I am also a fan of capelets, which are a great alternative for brides who want coverage on their arms.
To learn more about Chosen Bridal, or to book an appointment, visit chosenbrides.com.