10 Questions with Lanie List, Founder & CEO of Lovely Bride
1) What did you do before Lovely Bride?
Before starting Lovely, I was the Chief Merchant of a Brand Ownership company, Iconix Brand Group. I had direct management of over 15 fashion brands, ranging from Couture to mass market women’s fashion brands.
2) What was the actual experience you had when shopping for your wedding dress that inspired you to open your first Lovely Bride?
When shopping for my own wedding dress a decade ago, the experience felt really stuffy to me. In most cases, it felt very formal and intimidating; a real life ‘Pretty Woman’ experience. But the biggest disconnect was not being able to browse the merchandise myself. I’ve never wanted to put my fate into others hands, so I was confused by having a salesperson be more in control than I was. With Lovely Bride, I wanted to make the entire experience feel more inclusive and relaxed, and more in the hands of the bride.
3) What was the concept that made Lovely Bride unique?
Lovely is the ‘OG’ indie bridal shop, so what made us so unique in the beginning was stocking indie designers that were not yet in marketplace. We were the first retail location for many of our indie designers, who now have big businesses! I also think our chill, more casual approach to bridal was new (and refreshing) for millennial brides who weren’t as entrenched in traditions. She does it her own way. We also launched with a popular blog before we opened our first shop in 2009 and were early adaptors of social media, like Pinterest and Instagram. So we were just engaging with her in a different way than other bridal shops. Lovely has become a lifestyle for our brides. We were the first shop to create a bride tribe that we call #ourlovelies.
4) How many stores so far and are there and are they all franchised?
I own 4 of our shops, and we have 13 franchised shops.
5) Has the bride changed her shopping habits since you first opened?
Definitely! She has so many shopping options now, so it’s easy to want to explore all of them. I also think she wants to do more ‘prework’ online.
6) What trends are selling well now?
We are seeing a return to clean, sleek, and minimalist. We love this trend because designers really need to concentrate on the fit. Fit is the key to feeling amazing on your wedding day.
7) What is the criteria to be a Lovely Bride store owner?
We are pretty picky, and we only have a few markets left that we’d want to be in. Overall, you have to be business oriented with a love of bridal. Not the other way around. And like a bride with a mate, ‘when you know, you know’. We keep it very organic when accepting new Lovelies.
8) Does each store select their own merchandise?
They do! We have a curated set of designers each shop can work with, but within those boundaries, they have total freedom. As they should, since each market is unique and we expect each shop owner to be a master of their owner market.
9) Anything new on the horizon for Lovely Bride?
We are really excited to be pioneering the ‘indie plus’ market. There have been very few cool, indie options for brides above size 16. So we were thrilled to recruit Theia to produce an exclusive Curve Collection just for Lovely! It consists of their 6 best selling styles in sizes 18-24. Since Theia is known for dressing women of all sizes (Hi Oprah!), it was a natural, and Don O’Neill, the designer, hopped on board immediately. We have also brought a new curve indie darling from Israel to the USA, called Studio Levana. And we are stocking samples in sizes 18+ in Alexandra Grecco, Louvienne, and other unique indie brands. We now have a large selection of samples in our shops over size 18 so our brides can try on a good assortment of styles in their real size. We are committed to doing better for brides of All Sizes.
10) Knowing what you know from your previous career at Iconix, how do you think the bridal industry could modernize itself?
I do think the modernization is happening! And it’s exciting to see. The biggest step forward will be for more transparency and better ways to make the shopping experience easier for brides; more in line with how they shop every day. We’ve got some fun tricks up our sleeves that we’ll be rolling out this year.