What is your full name, title, and business name?
Give us a summary of your business in 200 words or less.
La Jeune Mariee is a traditional, designer, special order bridal boutique. In other words, when a bride comes in for an appointment, tries on samples and when she says yes, we order her the gown in her size and color preference. At LUXEredux, our gowns are the samples that originate from designer special order boutiques like LJM and other boutiques around the country. When a bride says yes at LUXEredux, they get to take the gown with them that day!
How did the idea for your business come about?
I purchased La Jeune Mariee from the previous owners in 2008 and as the business quickly grew and changed, I knew after several unsuccessful sample sales and growing inventory, I needed a store that was a sample sale ALL THE TIME. There was space available near where La Jeune was located at the time so I took advantage of the proximity in being able to manage both stores. LUXEredux opened in 2011.
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
The beginning of 2012 was a huge leap for many reasons. We moved La Jeune Mariee from 800 sq. ft. in Worthington to 4,000 sq. ft. downtown. I added more staff and hired a General Manager for the first time. It also meant that I would be further from LUXEredux as LUXE stayed in Worthington at this time. The 800 sq. ft space where La Jeune was became a bridesmaids only store. In an instant, I went from 1 store to 3 stores and to what felt like an army of employees so that was exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
I feel both proud and responsible being an entrepreneur and business owner. I grew up in a small business, retail world with my parents owning a business so the hours and hard work weren’t new or different, but the responsibility being on MY shoulders was humbling. I understand my business employs and supports many people now and I want the work that is done at both stores to be meaningful, enjoyable and serve a purpose for both our clients and the employees. I am proud of the fact that our stores have grown in revenue each and every year for over 10 years now. Having bought LJM in 2008, to be able to grow during a time that economically was so hard for many, I think that is huge. My staff is amazing too and I learn as they do. We are all really competitive with ourselves and our goals. There’s a common thread in all of us.
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
I love being in Columbus! In the last 10 years, what I have witnessed in the local bridal industry is the bride’s location. In the early years, so much of our demographic was the bride that moved away after college to Chicago or another larger city and came back and bought when they were visiting family over a holiday. Now, our demographic is living in Columbus currently because they stayed! Columbus has grown and evolved so much in our client demographic the last 10 years and people think it’s cool to stay now and build their lives here first instead of moving away.
Are you from Columbus? If not, please explain what brought you here and ultimately what made you stay.
I am not originally from Columbus. I moved here after deciding I wasn’t going to chase boys and their dreams and instead live my own. #realtalk – Listen up ladies. Do YOU first. Always. 🙂
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
This is so cliche but: have a business plan and understanding of the actual business and don’t do something because you think it’s going to be “fun.” So many people get into the bridal business because they think it’s “fun” and it IS, when you’re doing it well, but at the end of the day, like anything, it’s hard work. You’re running a business, not sipping champagne with your clients.
Also, every business makes mistakes so if you have a poor experience somewhere, don’t think, “I can go out and do it better.”
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
Oh goodness, I feel like this would be wishing everything thus far had gone perfectly but since I understand that you must learn from mistakes and that’s also a catalyst for growth, I don’t know that I would say one particular thing. Of course there have been bumps and “I wish I had done that” but nothing in particular that stands out.
Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
Definitely staying out of the weeds and allowing my employees to do their job. When you start a business as the sole employee, you wear many hats from CEO to marketing to janitor to salesperson. As I started to grow and bring on others, I wasn’t the best at training and letting go. I micro managed a lot and lost employees I am sure because of this behavior. With time, maturity and implementing EOS, I have become so much better at staying in my lane, focusing on big picture relationships, projects and truly being a visionary in my company.
What was you biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
Biggest Mistake-Luckily, I don’t believe there has been one huge mistake but something I have learned from over and over again is to make sure to interview or look into the professional people I surround myself with in more detail. As business owners, we get so busy and when we need someone (an accountant, a lawyer, a web developer) we find one frantically and don’t take the time to really interview multiple professionals and choose who we would work best with. I have made that mistake many times over instead of being more methodical and making sure I am making the right decision.
What tool has helped you the most for your business (invoicing, accounting, shipping, plugin for website, etc.)?
When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
In bridal, everything is driven off of being able to take appointments based on demand. When we had waitlists we couldn’t touch, that’s when I knew we needed to grow. I knew when I bought La Jeune Mariee back in 2008 that I wanted it to be bigger with more lines and outreach so I suppose I knew going into the business this was a long term goal.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
Becoming a member of the local Columbus chapter of EO and implementing EOS into how we structure and run our business. While they sound and look the same, they are not necessarily related.
What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?
Franchising LUXEredux is both terrifying and exciting at the same time. We went back and forth for some time in deciding on whether to grow organically or franchise. We started down the path of organic growth to 4 stores but we realize now that franchising for us makes the most sense. It is only the beginning of our ride so we are excited for this journey!
What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
We work with our digital media company on different avenues. Hiring an in house marketing coordinator nearly a year ago was a game changer for us. I adopted the rule of feeling like I couldn’t afford to hire for that position to “I can’t afford not to.” It was a risk that has definitely worked out for us.
Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)? Please provide name and business name so we can give them credit!
BHM is a new accounting firm we started with this past fall and thus far, we have had nothing but a great experience with them. They really care and go the extra mile.
Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
I definitely TRY to vent to my husband but over the years I have realized it’s not the best solution to my problems.
I have a friend I met via phone 10 years ago when I first thought of expanding and we hit it off. She is a bridal shop owner in St. Louis and Stephanie has become my confidant and best friend. We only see each other 2-3x a year but we are now business and personal friends and have even vacationed with one another’s families.
For big picture problems, being a part of EO in Columbus has also been a game changer for me. Being in a like-minded business group of other entrepreneurs is a huge advantage in gaining perspective to issues and ways to solve them.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
I see La Jeune Mariee continuing to offer the best in designer bridal in a large boutique setting. LJM could potentially expand and offer more dressing rooms and/or have an even larger selection or more locations!
I see LUXEredux successfully franchised across the United States and our flagship continuing to offer the best in support and training as well as our e-commerce portion of the business offering multiple channels for B to C and B to B relationships.
What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?
Sara Blakely is my ultimate #girlboss idol. I would for sure ugly cry if I ever met her. She is the epitome of a person that makes success look REAL. She’s a ridiculous goofball with 4 kids, has a crazy husband who is also successful. She has a philanthropic attitude to her business and again, just keeps it very real in terms of how she handles work life balance.