I said...YES to Myself | Mesita of Ivory Bridal
In a world where curves are only truly celebrated if you have a waist line of 25inches and under, Ivory Bridal of Atlanta offers a haven for the true woman of today. You see, I have never been a thin/small framed person. I have a medium frame and the only time I may have had a waist line under 26inches was before I was 20 years old. I envied those girls who had a natural thin frame or small waist line and curves but that wasn't me or most women around me.
Although, the most frustrating thing wasn't just my waist but my broad shoulders that my dad's side of the family gifted me. You see my mom's gene line on her mom's side, well they were natural "brick houses or hour glass shaped" women. I guess I fell somewhere in the middle of that melting pot of genes. It was rough developing and trying to find the right cut, fit and style of clothes that complemented me. I wore boys or men's tops but needed women's bottoms for thighs and hips. Going through that inspired me to start sketching or designing my own clothes. I was already painting and drawing, so naturally I was drawing clothes that I wanted to wear ( look out for my clothing line in the near future!).
I loved raiding my mom's closet. I loved the style of that era (60's/early 70's) but I only could fit a few things. Remember, my mom had a true hourglass shape and I would always have trouble with the waist line being too small or the shoulders being too narrow. So, for women like me, when you find a line or shop that provides styles for medium to thicker curves and frames... you feel Celebrated! And Ivory Bridal does just that.
On a day, that most women look forward to all their lives, not finding the perfect dress can make a woman fall apart. But there is a new woman who has emerged. Who's soul purpose is to make those curvy ladies moment in time Fabulous! ....Meet Mesita. Mesita and her Ivory Bridal boutique is slowing but surely becoming the talk of the town here in Atlanta. Her boutique was recently picked to be filmed for Bounce's hit TV Show "Saint and Sinners" and she was also featured for a day on AspireTV's instagram for their "National Mom and Pop Business Owners". Due to her natural talent of planning events, Mesita has discovered her purpose in life. And from the looks of things ...saying Yes! to that talent - it seems her moments in life from here on out will be nothing but Fabulous!
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with my fellow high school classmate at her boutique for a little Q&A.
1. Were you named after anyone?
Lol, supposedly my dad was watching a movie and their was a baby named Mesita. I don't know the name of the movie.
2. How did you get involved with event planning? I initially went to school to become a pharmacist. I went to Xavier in New Orleans and I didn't get into pharmacy school. So, I came back home and I went to Georgia State but I didn't know what I wanted to do. I took some hospitality electives and one day during class we went to the Georgia Dome and Congress Center. I heard about an internship and I told my teacher that I didn't know what I wanted to do but this hospitality thing sounds fun. I would love it if you can help me get this internship and she did. So, I worked in the Park my last semester of school for the company that manages the Dome. I was in charge of the Cafe and when I graduated; a sales manager position was available for the Convention Center. Then I got promoted to be in charge of the events for the Dome. I managed all the suites on game days, a wedding on the 50th yard line, and a lot of other cool events. I handled corporate events from 5 people to about 5,000 people. It was something I really enjoyed. It seemed natural to me. I did events at a hotel, a couple of private clubs, and that's all I was doing. One day I looked at the sales goals I had. I had like a million dollar sales goal. I was also looking at what I was actually getting paid...I thought I could do this for myself. So, I left it all behind and that's where the thought of possible doing my own business came from. 3. Who or What inspired you?
Oh, well. I...I think I was born an entrepreneur. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Like when I took my first job out of college...I was like this isn't really for me. I just knew that inside. Everyone has to have some kind of order but I just wasn't one for telling me how, when, where, and I just didn't function well in those kinds of environments. So, I can't say that there was just one person that inspired me or made me want to start my own business. I just honestly feel like I was born this way. I was born to have my own company or business I guess.
4. How was Ivory Bridal born?
So, when I got married I had a really difficult time trying to find a dress. I wanted a mermaid cut dress and at the time I was probably a size 10/12 but that actual size is a 16 in bridal wear. And most stores have really small samples for you to try on. I was so discouraged because I couldn't try anything on. Oh and when I was in college I wanted to do a prom boutique with some friends but that never happened. So, the idea was always kind of there. But at that time, I have this situation and I thought...I want to open up a boutique that had sizes for anyone to try on. I wanted them to be able to envision themselves in the gown they wanted. That experience just really fueled the inspiration to open up my boutique. Yea, I just did it and some days I just look back on it and say...your crazy!
5. What was it like finally starting Ivory Bridal? It was really scary for me to leave my stable job! I really didn't have any money in the bank with the intentions of doing this! I just did it cold turkey one day. I just said this is it. I can't take this anymore! I'm meant to do something else. And, uh...that was in December of 2013, I believe...so yeah. After the new year I said I wasn't coming back, lol. And took that leap of faith.
6. What has been the best part and hardest part of your journey so far?
The best part...well um. It has been a huge joy for me to see the bride say YES!... to the dress. Just that reaction on their face. Sometimes, I just can't hide the tears. So, okay sometimes, I just know if I'm always there helping them... I would cry every single time. It just makes me happy that I can be apart of such a momentous occasion in their lives. The ladies have really cried because they have been to so many stores and couldn't try anything on. So, they get really emotional. And basically if they don't cry...I won't cry. That's my favorite part of it really.
The hardest part. Honestly, is just trying to manage everything. I think people look at having your own business and they just see or only think of the pretty stuff. But they don't know or see all the things that go on behind the scenes and what it takes. I'm basically a one woman show. I'm my own everything basically. I'm the sales person, manager, secretary, accountant and etc. You know in the corporate world you have a team of people and everybody have their own roles. Every part that a corporation has money to hire out for... I am doing myself.
7. Your shop focuses on average to plus size women. Why did you decide to focus on that market?
Well, we've done just plus size for about a year and a half now. But the final decision came about from thinking how can I differentiate myself from all the other boutiques here in Atlanta. We've been in business now for about 4years. I always had larger samples but I was... honestly really scared to say we only catered to plus size women. I thought, I don't want to loose out on any money and people in my ear saying the same thing. But on my quest and over the first year or so I knew I really had to find my niche. I believe a business that has their niche will do very well. I thought about so many other ideas with my friend ...like maybe only carry designers who were green. Just a lot of different ideas because I was still on the fence about it. But I just kept coming back to the plus size thing. And honestly, that was really the reason why I wanted to open up my boutique in the first place. So, as of January 2015, I changed up all my marketing, branding, new logo and that was the best decision ever. My sales actually tripled that year because I was only catering to fuller figured or curvy women. We now have sizes starting 12 up to 28. And one of the new designers I will be adding will go up to a size 34 in bridal sizes. Which is different from street or regular sizes.
8. What is your process when preparing for a client? We have a consultation process and it's pretty standard. After they book their appointment we send them a questionaire about everything from the dress color, cut, neckline, and length and on and on. Then when they come in we have a clear idea of what they are looking for and we have those dresses ready for them to try on. I'm really big on customer service. I want them to feel really comfortable. I've shopped around shops that don't make you feel that way at all. They hardly speak to you. So, we make it a big deal. We have a chalkboard and we put their name there and everybody loves that. So, they takes pictures, we offer them a beverage and just try to build a rapport with them. Every bride wants to talk about their big day and it can even become a bit of a consoling section. It's just a really nice process. We only try to keep the focus on the bride. A lot of times the bride brings so many people with them and they all have their opinions. However, we want it to mainly be about the bride. We try to keep that focus with her, her thoughts and feelings about everything.
9. Your shop has been getting some attention over the past couple years. You even had two hit TV shows film at your boutique. How has that been for you? Um, it's been cool. You know. It's just been cool. I uh...just never expected any of that stuff to happen at all. So, to have people call and say we want to do this or we would like to film that...I'm like oh. Okay! Little ole me and my boutique?! Um, I'm just grateful. It's been cool. It really has, lol. That's all I can say really.
10. Where do you hope to be in 5 years? You know I go back and forth with that a lot of times. Okay, so, a part of me is like. Well, I'm the type of entrepreneur that likes to build or make something really hot and then cash out. I think I'm that type of business woman. But then I have a friend that would say..."are you really going to walk away if you become a million dollar company"?. And I think about it. But don't you think of bridal shops as a place where there's this little old lady running the store or something. And she's been doing it for 30years? ...I just don't see myself as that person, lol. But then I think I could create a "legacy". Have something my child or future children could be apart of. I don't know right know. I'm just living in the moment. Oh, but what I am planning on adding is prom. I have been getting so many calls about plus size prom dresses and I kick myself for it because I'm missing out on that. So, I will have a small collection and see how it goes next year. And then formal wear too. That's something I've been thinking about. Cocktail dresses and gowns for events and balls. But who knows maybe I'll open up a second location somewhere. Like Flordia because I love the beach. So, maybe then I won't mind being that old lady, lol!
11. What have been 3 key points in branding yourself and/or building your client base? If I could go back and change anything I would have hired out for other things. I would have put the money I didn't sort - of or kind - of - have towards hiring people for the areas that have been really important. I mean there's beauty in learning things but if I were to give advice to someone starting a business that would be it. Because you really can't afford not to. Doing it in the beginning with the right people...you...you could be so much further along. That's my main key point.
Now a few fun questions. 12. How would you describe your style?
Um, well, my style has definitely evolved over the years, lol. My style is fun and colorful. I've always loved a cool shoulder, beautiful dresses, and a pop of color on the lips.
13. What is a bride's must have? This is a tough one. For the wedding dress I would definitely say alterations to get the perfect fit. For weddings in general all brides need a great planner! (preferably me #plug) But seriously, a great planner will keep you sane and execute your day flawlessly.
14. I have to ask. How does a woman know he's the one?
When you know he's the one you just know! He'll be the perfect guy that makes all the guys in your past look like fools! Then once you've found the one I recommend reading "The Power of a Praying Wife " by Stormie Omartian. I gift all of my clients with one!
For more information on Ivory Bridal follow them on instagram @ivorybridal or visit their site shopivorybridal.com
*All boutique photos by Hologram Productions (tifarah naava)*