‘Show off the melanin, show off the curves’ : Bridal Babes boutique centers brides of color

Ashley Young’s company fills a gap in the $57bn wedding industry: ‘We want to be an example’

Last modified on Fri 10 Dec 2021 05.02 EST

Three years before launching Bridal Babes – a bridal e-commerce boutique that caters to Black and brown wedding parties – Ashley Young was just another Black bride trying to find the perfect bridesmaid dresses. “My girls were of all shapes and sizes, and they wanted to show off the melanin and show off the curves,” Young, the company’s CEO and co-founder, recalls. “We needed sexy, form-fitting dresses in bold, bright colors.”

But traditional bridal shops fell short. Young took her search off of the beaten path, eventually finding a strappy, figure-hugging design in a sumptuous coral shade that worked with each of her bridesmaids’ complexions. Young realized then that there was a gap to be filled in the $57bn US wedding industry and, in 2019, Bridal Babes was born.

Young and her husband, Charles, completely bootstrapped the business. Their efforts quickly paid off, thanks in part to the brand’s innovative virtual consultation services and remote, online showcases – services that would later become industry standard due to Covid. “I like to brag that we were doing virtual consultations a year before David’s Bridal got with the program and launched theirs,” Young says.

Being ahead of the curve gave Bridal Babes its first profitable year in 2020, and Young says that the brand is on track to turn a $1m profit for 2021. And that’s just the beginning.

What do you think is driving the success of Bridal Babes?

Young: We found this niche. Women of color and women with curves are often overlooked in the bridal industry. These women are in their twenties and early thirties, sometimes even younger, and they want to show off.

I think having people that are thinking of women of color as they’re developing the product selection is vital. In our culture, curves are celebrated; we don’t want to mask them or hide under a big tent. When we’re modeling plus-size clothing we use a real plus-size model, not a size 14. People appreciate that because they want to know what they will look like in the dress.

Bridal Babes had its first profitable year during the height of the pandemic. How did you adjust your business to be successful despite all the restrictions of 2020?

Young: We have an online network of over 65,000 brides of color who tell us what they want. They were telling us they wanted bridal shower dresses, courthouse dresses, and T-shirts to show off their new status as wives. So even though people weren’t having big weddings, they were still getting married, and they told us how we could still pivot and be profitable. We listened to them and made the shifts in our inventory.

What’s your husband’s role in the company?

Young: We are co-founders and he quit his job to run the business. People see him and are surprised he’s in bridal, but he definitely manages more of the logistics and operations side as the president and COO. As you can imagine, we get thousands of dresses from our production facility each month, and they have to go out to our customers. So, he manages all the supply chain issues and the inventory issues.

What does it mean to you to build this business with your spouse?

Young: We want to be an example for Black love and Black families. Many of us in the Black community don’t see entrepreneurship in the way the general public sees it. We haven’t always had models to show us the value of providing jobs for your community and providing jobs for your family, and potentially selling your business or having an IPO that can create millions upon millions of dollars. Growing this business to provide a legacy and generational wealth for our family is important, and helping our community figure out ways to do that for themselves is at the heart of what we’re doing.

Source: Read Full Article