We caught up with Lesley Vaughan owner of the Bridal Studio Dollar, Clackmannanshire giving you an insight of what you can expect when meeting with Lesley in her beautiful studio in central Scotland with easy access to both Edinburgh and Glasgow and surrounding towns.
The studio is located within the picturesque village of Dollar, nestled within a quaint row of shops with a choice of eateries, bars and specialist businesses. Historic Castle Campbell has been a scenic wedding venue where many of my clients have married.
Lesley, firstly can you tell us more about what brought you into the wonderful world of Bridal?
My profession was as Property Director for a prestigious Edinburgh Solicitors. Having gone through major surgery I was advised by my consultants to give up work, this was a shock, this was my career. Things happen for a reason this had to be viewed as an opportunity to change direction rather than do nothing, I became self-employed allowing me to pace myself, less stress than the corporate world. I initially considered Ballgown hire from home however, after a chance meeting and locating premises I decided on Bridal, to many a bold and mad decision as I knew absolutely nothing about Bridal, but as the song goes “I’m still standing”.
I work solo giving a personal one to one 2-hour private consultation, I feel privileged and honoured in being part of such an important event in my clients lives as they choose their perfect gown.
Wow, that sounds brave, but you obviously have a good eye for it! What can you tell us about your shop and why it is unique?
I have a spacious fitting room with a large mirror, statement high back chair, carpeting throughout, choice of petticoat styles and shoes while fitting. There is white leather seating with a large screen showing videos of catwalk shows. The interior and exterior of the studio has been newly decorated.
At present I carry circa 150 gowns offering a wide range of styles to suit all tastes and age groups. As for styles that is a difficult one, so many clients come with a fixed idea having looked online or in Magazines, this can totally change when seeing the dress up close and trying on getting the feel for the dress which is so important. The experience a bride-to-be receives from me, I always start an appointment with the introduction “Do you have an idea of style you think you want because I am actually going to ignore this and put you in every conceivable style”, I follow this up with “I cannot tell you how many wild card dresses clients when trying end up choosing”. When “The Dress” is found it makes my efforts so worthwhile however I am very honest and if I feel more comfortable that they should consider overnight I will suggest they do so as they have to be absolutely sure with their choice. Fortunately, most will come back to me, sensing this is an experience thing, it’s very easy to be carried away in the moment, it’s not ‘get the sale at any cost’, this is the most important purchase they will make, and it has to be the right one.
What styles are popular and how do you stay current?
Styles which have been popular with brides-to-be with me, although trading has been very limited over the past year are Willowdean style 18451, an elegant crepe gown with fabulous detailing on shoulder, sides and plunge back. Audrey style 69157, a ballgown with illusion bead/lace top, plunge back drop waist effect giving both fit over fuller skirts. Robyn style 68060, a traditional lace/sparkle A-line gown with illusion front and back, with further detachable train. Regardless of which collection dresses come from they are all current it is down to what makes the client feel and look fabulous in, timeless classic gowns will look amazing when looking back at their albums in years to come.
Willodean, style 18451
To stay up to date with bridal trends I am guided by Grant Jones my amazing Ronald Joyce representative for Scotland, although sometimes we do differ, he is an invaluable asset especially when I am unable to attend Bridal Shows which I do miss attending. He brings the show to me with all new collections, choosing from a brochure in my opinion is not helpful. Scottish brides’ tastes can vary to the rest of the county and I want to pick the best to show them, seeing the detail and quality of craftsmanship up close.
That’s great to hear! Do you have any celebrity clients or memorable stories to share with us?
All my clients are celebrities and deserve the VIP service; which I appreciate sounds rather trite. Several years the winner of The Voice, his bride purchased her gown from me that was memorable. Some brides are somewhat apprehensive opening with “I am not girly at all and hate shopping” and “I am a big girl and out of my comfort zone “ happily after 2 hours with me and the studio to themselves they totally relax and actually enjoy the experience making my efforts worthwhile and enjoyable.
I did have a very sad case which made front page news a few years ago, the bride contacted the paper. I met with a lovely girl and her mother when she ordered her Ronald Joyce dress, over the next few weeks her mother became ill, her decline sadly became rapid. The bride contacted me saying things were so bad she wished to marry at her mother’s bedside that day, on hearing this she came to me collected my dress, along with petticoat, shoes, hairpiece, and display bouquet. It was so sad, I was glad I was able to help ensuring the wedding would happen and her mother would see her daughter marry, I know it meant so much to the family.
My working model has never changed, I give 2-hour private appointments when clients have the studio to themselves. I work to accommodate client’s schedules, if my first appointment is 7pm that’s when I open, on occasion clients flying will contact me on landing at the airport and I will travel to studio. These instances happen as most of my business is referral whose friends/family will have bought from me and they are happy to travel, there is no better recognition.
Girls who didn’t find their dress with me are gracious enough and take time to thank me and intimate they will definitely recommend me to others which is very gratifying.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I truly love my work, the day I wake up and think “not another bride” I will shut the door.
I would like to finish with my heartfelt thanks to all within the NHS please continue to follow guidelines, keep safe and remember life is very precious.
Lesley of Bridal Studio Dollar