Rebecca Bryson (35) is the owner of NI’s only exclusively plus size bridal boutique
The hair and makeup artist was born in Lisburn but grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, returning to NI when she was 21. She lives in East Belfast with her husband and their chihuahua Holly who is often the star of the show on their Instagram stories.
Before embarking on her journey as a business owner, she worked full time as a freelance hair and makeup artist primarily bridal and editorial. Rebecca has had the honour of being featured 11 times in Vogue Italia and being handpicked by Pat McGrath to join her team at Paris Fashion Week.
Find out more about Rebecca and Curvy Chic Bridal:
Tell us a bit about your business?
Curvy Chic Bridal is Northern Ireland’s only exclusively plus-size bridal boutique and the largest in the UK and Ireland. We cater to brides, mothers of the bride/groom, bridesmaids, wedding guests, and formal guests from a size 14 to a size 48 (with the exception of bridesmaid which starts at a size 6). We also offer accessories and wide-fit shoes and have recently launched our casual collection.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Out of necessity really, as a plus-size woman I couldn’t find a dress to fit me in a store in Northern Ireland.
Who/What inspired you to start your business?
My mum! She really encouraged me to take the risk.
Who is your target market?
Plus size women who want lovely things to put on their bodies, be that a wedding dress, mother of the bride outfit, cozy jumper or something to wear to their freinds wedding.
What gap in the market does your business fill?
The plus-size market is massively overlooked, especially in the bridal sector, before we opened there were a few shops that could order in a plus-size dress but didn’t have samples for you to try. After a few months we were being asked repeatedly for bridesmaid and mother of the bride options which is when we began to expand our offering and realised just how few options there are for plus size women in Northern Ireland. Currently, we are also the only boutique in NI offering plus-size clothing in the form of our online store Curvy Chic Online.
Have you received any significant funding for your business? If so can you reveal it and tell us what different it made to the business?
No, we haven’t received any funding at all.
Who are your main competitors and what do you think sets your company apart from them?
There is one other plus-size exclusive store in ROI that opened a few years after us, I believe what really sets us apart is that myself and our team ARE our customers, we are plus-size women, brides to be and know the true struggles that plus size women face. This lets us make better dress and sizing choices for our brides, and also means we are the only people that can do dresses up to a size 48.
What is your vision for the company over the next few years?
We would love to expand, we get asked often to open stores in Dublin and Scotland, two areas we get a lots of brides travel to us from. We also want to grow our new online offering curvy chic online which is clothing for every day.
What are the main achievements of the company so far?
We started the company with £3000 in the spare bedrooms in our house and within 4 years we have expanded to a 2200sq ft boutique with multiple change rooms and a 1/4 million turn over. We have also achieved a 32% rise in sales in 2019 which we are extremely proud of especially as our business is so young. We have also made significant donations to our local food bank with help from our customers and grown a really amazing community of curvy women.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Never take anything at face value and always be upfront and honest with your customers.
Make sure that it’s needed, there’s no point in opening a business if there are already 20 other businesses doing the same thing and covering the market, in order to succeed in a world saturated with businesses you need to find a niche in the market, fill it and give it everything you have got. Also, don’t overlook social media, get someone in if you don’t know what you’re doing, but it is vital.
How can people get in touch with you?
Tik Tok – @curvychicbridal