Winning The Hearts of Brides Throughout The Years
The Bride’s Project began in Toronto, ON nearly 18 years ago in 2004 by Helen Sweet, who at the time was searching for her own wedding dress. During the process, she questioned the logic of buying an expensive garment for just 1 special day. Helen also reflected on the loss she suffered the years before of her best friend at just 9 years old to cancer, along with several other family members who were impacted in the years that followed. That’s when Helen created The Bride’s Project providing an option for all of the beautiful dresses that would fill the racks to be more than treasures hidden in a closet and to have a purpose beyond being a one-shot wedding wonder!
The Bride’s Project is an enterprise designed to raise money for cancer charities – and since opening in 2004 have raised more than $1.4 million dollars. All of the gorgeous dresses are donated by salons, designers, and previous brides and are sold at 50% or less of their retail value. This provides each bride with not only an economical option but also one that is socially conscious and environmentally sustainable.
When Helen applied to the ShopHERE Powered By Google Program she hoped to receive dedicated support to provide her business with a ‘restart’ after all the company went through during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a small business, there is no dedicated IT or marketing representative, and having set up the business 18 years ago, times have changed – and the methods of marketing and advertising have developed so much over time. Helen wanted to learn about all the resources that were available and how to apply them to her business.
When asked about her ShopHERE Experience, Helen says,
“… I loved it. I thought it was an incredibly valuable experience. I also appreciated that it wasn't someone doing everything for me, but more sustainable… It was someone teaching me how to do these things for myself.”
Helen worked with Mark, an eCommerce Coordinator who shared numerous tools and methods to facilitate the process, and to allow Helen to make their website look fresh, ‘cool', functional, and also something we could grow with in the future.
The Brides’ Project now has a fully functioning Shopify store which has already allowed new clients to come into the shop! The process is now quite simple as brides-to-be can measure their waist size, and then shop from hundreds of dress options before coming in. This allows a chance to share photos with friends and family, to talk about silhouettes and favorite looks, and then come in and make their bridal dreams a reality in a warm and fun-loving environment.
With the new website officially launched, it saves The Brides’ Project countless hours working with clients to ‘shop’ for their dress. The website taught them to do the shopping at home, and only come in and try on select pieces. Helen says ‘the cost and time savings are incredible.’
Now, reflecting on the benefits of having a newly launched website, Helen says everything has changed!
“Being a bridal shop, brides used to come in and search through the racks for dresses to try on. It's hard to have any idea what a gown on a hanger is going to look like or even the type of silhouette it has. Now they see the ENTIRE collection online, and when they come all the ‘shopping' is done… we do the fitting part and advise about alterations etc. It has made a huge difference in the wear and tear on our dresses (which is massive given that we only have 1 of each), the efficiency of appointments, and the general client experience. Clients love it, WE love it and I'd never go back to our previous methods.”
Helen says she can't emphasize the efficiency issue enough.
“We used to have clients come in and tear through our racks (and dresses) only to leave saying ‘I didn't see anything I liked.' Now we know when someone comes there's at least something that appeals, so we save an enormous amount of time and money as a result. That's money that can now go to our beneficiaries. Yahoo!”
When asked about what advice she would give small business owners who want to make the transition online, Helen says,
“…don't be afraid to get online and get your feet wet one step at a time. It doesn't have to be an expensive transition and in the end is extremely cost-effective.”
Checkout The Brides’ Project, for all your wedding dress needs, and help support a great cause! If you are a small business or know someone who could benefit from participating in the program, check us out HERE. To learn more about Digital Main Street and how it is helping local businesses survive the pandemic, click HERE.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Meta, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Lightspeed, Ebay and Canada Post.
Continued investment from the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) has allowed the ongoing expansion the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital across Ontario.