You know the drill.
Your friend gets engaged, and shortly after embarks on a time-consuming mission over the next six to 12 months searching for the ‘perfect dress’ while visiting a ton of snooty bridal retailers stuck in a 1980s time warp. Everyone feels uncomfortable. And no one is having fun while doing it.
Enter Sophie Westley, the 25-year-old Premium member disrupting the traditional wedding industry with her startup, Love Find Co. Sophie identified a gap in the market in 2015, when she was working part-time as a fashion coordinator at One Fine Day, and assisting the PR team at Australian bridal designer, Karen Willis Holmes.
“There was nothing for a contemporary, cool and fashion-forward bride,” Sophie tells Business Chicks.
“I didn’t want to provide the same old traditional bridal industry inspiration. I wanted to focus on the modern bride and showcase to her both up-and-coming and fashion-forward wedding dress labels.”
Love Find Co.’s business model combines three different ideas in one. The ‘dress concierge,’ a collection of Australian-based bridal designers and bridal boutiques for brides beginning to search for their wedding dress, ‘style files’ a personalised service for brides wanting styling advice, and an online boutique.
Love Find Co. stocks talented Aussie designers like Karen Willis Holmes, One Day Bridal, Moira Hughes, Sant Elia and bridal boutiques Sphere Collective, Amante Bridal and Bluebell Bridal.
“The wedding industry is huge and can be very overwhelming for brides so narrowing and editing that down was one of my main points of difference.”
“I thought that while other businesses focus on all aspects of the wedding like the photographer, cakes, band, I wanted to focus purely on all aspects of the bride.”
“Brides these days are so time-poor. I wanted one destination that they could get really good styling advice, inspiration, find incredible bridal designers and be able to shop for accessories. I wanted one destination that they could find everything about styling and finding their wedding day look.”
“I love that it doesn’t feel like work. There is a great sense of accomplishment and excitement about being responsible for making the decisions that will affect the success of my business.”
From her first light bulb moment, Sophie spent almost a year developing the concept before going live in February last year. She launched the brand on Instagram ahead of the website, a move which has now seen the brand amass a 19K following.
“The focus for the Instagram account was always really highly curated and edited content that is a visual representation of our aesthetic, and that mindset has never wavered.”
“For any new brand, it is really hard to build a following and it takes time. The algorithm isn’t your friend – you have to post good content, constantly.”
“It’s also important to know your analytics. With the ever-changing algorithms, you need to constantly look at stats to see what is working and what isn’t and be able to change your approach accordingly.”
As if managing all the aspects of the business wasn’t enough, Sophie’s startup has also spurred another side-project, Love Find Co. Creative Studio. A consulting business she hopes to grow in 2018, and with weddings being such a hot topic in Australia right now, her timing is perfect.
“We’re a huge supporter of equal rights and same-sex marriage,” Sophie says. “After Australia voted ‘Yes,’ we can assume the sheer volume of weddings will increase which means destinations like Love Find Co. will be an even more useful tool for brides trying to find their dream dress and accessories.”
“Allowing same-sex marriage in Australia also means it opens up new niche markets within the wedding industry. We are very excited to see what is going to happen in the industry within the next few months.”
Connect with Sophie here.
Find Love Find Co. on: