By Caroline Shively Sucher
Photos By Anne Casey Photography
For the past decade, Bridget Moore has based her business around personal contact, face-to-face meetings, and hours spent getting to know her clients at K&B Bridal, her boutique in the heart of downtown Bel Air, Maryland.
Then came COVID-19.
Stay-at-home restrictions meant that Bridget and boutique manager Kate Wertsch had to come up with a completely different business model.
“We had to game-plan, strategize, and figure out how we create great customer service when we’re not in the building,” Bridget said.
Their solution? If clients couldn’t come to the boutique, they’d bring the boutique to the clients.
The pair set up video chats with Kate at her home and Bridget at the store, with the brides at another location. The brides got creative too, with some even spacing their bridesmaids at six-foot intervals in the yard so they could all give input while remaining socially distanced.
“Kate would be doing the stylist part of it and I would be running around the shop and grabbing the dresses that she chose for the bride and throwing them on the mannequins and showing them virtually to get their thoughts,” Bridget explained.
On that initial call, the brides could choose up to six dresses to pick up curbside and bring home for a second video conference.
“It would be as if we were in the dressing room with her, but it would all be over video,” says Bridget. “She would be trying on the dresses and we would be filling our role as stylists and having her tell us what she does and doesn’t love.”
It also meant that far-away loved ones could join in.
“People have been really creative. That Zoom link is shareable. We had a bride whose sister was in some amazing tropical place on something like a catamaran, but she was still able to participate,” Kate said.
K&B Bridal and other Maryland businesses were able to open in May after about two months of state-ordered Coronavirus closures, but they limited how many could be in the shop at one time. One of their first in-person customers wanted her 10 friends to weigh in on the dress, so the team had to get creative.
“She had two guests in the shop and eight of her friends spaced out on the sidewalk, and we set up a fitting room so they could all look at her through the window,” Kate said.
As devastating as the Coronavirus has been for brides and the wedding industry as a whole, the K&B team plans to make one part of this new way of doing business permanent – conducting video calls with a client even before she walks in the door.
“We use the screen time to really get to know [the bride] and connect with her,” Bridget said.
That’s the part of Bridget’s business model that won’t ever change – making every connection personal, even if it’s a virtual connection.