HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody!!! So how was your 2011? I hope that it was wonderful and if it wasn’t, well, I sincerely hope that 2012 will bring happier times for you. I’m actually sorry to see 2011 go, I’ve been blessed with a fabulous year and am ultra excited about the year ahead! As I type this on New Year’s Day 2012 our baby Arabella (now 5 months) is bouncing in her Jumperoo (wow, what a great invention that is), the doggie is snoozing on my foot (going slightly numb – my foot, not the doggie), my Darling husband is putting our clean washing away (yes, he is an Angel) and I’m lucky enough to be able to reflect on a great year and all that the team and I have been able to achieve!! So here’s a run down of the year’s business highlights. Are you sitting comfortably? There’s quite a few:
January got off to a flying start within our 2400 square ft of Bride n’ Groom gorgeousness and we enjoyed one of our busiest months ever, in fact it was our best January in 6 years!!! February was a totally loved up month, a bit Disneyesque as we fell for the new collection of Disney Princess themed Alfred Angelos that arrived in-store. Media wise we were interviewed and featured in Colchester Circle’s ‘Love is in the air’ and also launched our first in-store formal team training day, it was just superb (well done Guys). March was utterly fabulous!!! We won our biggest and best award yet! Kirsty (Our BRILLIANT Shop Manager), Rob and I attended the British Bridal Exhibition and on behalf of the team were crowned with the UK title ‘Best Customer Services Team’. One word to sum it up? MAGNIFICENT! (Such an incredible achievement. So proud!).
In April we welcomed Spring with a delightfully cute Easter themed window that featured mini fluffy chicks on a big hay bail which was (hilariously and prematurely) evicted from the window as a result of Rob’s acute hay-fever! (Whoops, yes, I forgot, so funny, poor Rob). And so, although slightly earlier than anticipated, Kirsty created a sensational Royal Window in anticipation of THE long awaited Royal wedding dress and boy oh boy did Kate Middleton look absolutely gorgeous or what??
In May we welcomed Sarah (gorgeous, happy and ultra friendly) and it was another great media month for us! Proudly I featured in Woman & Home magazine in their ‘New Directions’ section alongside several exceptionally talented and inspiring Business Woman. In addition, we were selected by ‘An Essex Wedding Magazine’ for a feature on ‘Elite Wedding Dress Shops in Essex’ another proud article for all to read – We were spotlighted as the shop delivering the best and most personal VIP style of wedding dress shopping!! (Thank you so much to the ‘An Essex Wedding’ for contacting us).
In June I was invited by Bridal Buyer (leading industry trade publication) to become their new Columnist after more than 2 and a half yrs of writing for Attire, (another excellent trade mag). Bridal Buyer has such an influential voice and is seen as the bible of our industry, so as you can imagine I love being their Columnist – Great fun, except when I get writers block 10 words into a 1000 word piece, lol.
In July our world literally stood stool (and finally so did I) when I gave birth to my darling Daughter Arabella Grace Neill! A long awaited and cherished baby girl. There are no words that can describe how much she means to Rob and I and how much she is loved! An arduous journey to parenthood but well worth it….
In August we welcomed the newest of our fantastic bridal dress labels to our rails ‘D’zage’. Modern, stylish and affordable the gorgeous ‘D’zage’ dresses are absolutely fabulous and we were delighted to see them on our Brides! In September the lovely Amanda (customer driven, ultra professional and hard working) held the fort for us as some of us attended the British Bridal Exhibition at Harrogate where we once again were blinded by the bling, tempted by the tiaras and dazzled by the dresses. There, we brought the new seasons dresses and literally danced our socks off at the RBA dinner and awards dance! Well done to our wedding dress designers Mark Lesley and our accessories company Richards for being voted as the best – we voted for you because we LOVE your designs!
October was yet another fantastic month, we always love October. It’s always buzzing right after the our fab local Charter Hall wedding fayre! This time I was asked to help write The Gazette’s Wedding Show guide and Planner which I LOVED doing, (thank you to the Gazette for inviting me to play such a big part in such a great wedding publication).
In November we welcomed Tom (smart, friendly and quietly professional) to the Groom’s Room and Jessica (soooo well mannered, mega kind and beautifully smiley) as receptionist and it was another incredible month for awards!! We did the double (‘again’- says I proudly smiling like a Cheshire cat) and won two at The Colchester & District’s Business awards; Growing Business and Customer Services, two titles that we won back in 2009 and two titles that mean a great deal to us, many thanks to the gang for all of their hard work in helping me put our submissions together and of course to Springlands and CCL for awarding us. AND also (drum roll please) …. We won the regional titles for Best Menswear Supplier and Best Bridal Retailer for the East of England in the 2012 Wedding Industry Awards!! – This is all with thanks to our incredible customers who voted for us and to the judges who assessed us. We were up against some exceptional companies and were totally thrilled to win in not just one but in both of the categories! I’ll be honest after whooping and cheering in disbelief I literally nearly cried!!
So lastly in December we occasionally spent time drinking mulled wine and eating mince pies with Customers and then on the 17th we finished the year with our staff Christmas do! We celebrated with a wonderful night out which included Secret Santa gifts, a yummy meal and drinks and Kirsty’s amazing handmade crackers. There was a lotta laughs and a lotta love and just generally a great team spirit and everyone was excited about the long Christmas break ahead.
Finally, I was invited to sit on the judging panel for the British Bridal Buyer awards which are held in March! Such a huge responsibility and a total honour, thank you Bridal Buyer for the opportunity. After a marathon 13 hour judging session and several hours of research during the Christmas break I was able to submit my recommendations, can’t wait for the glittering do…..
So there you have it, my 2011 business highlights in a nutshell…… And now a few thank you’s – First to all of our wonderful Customers, for all of the customer feedback and suggestions that you have for us, we love looking after you, we love our business and (all) unanimously strive to provide you with a VIP shopping experience and be the very best at what we do!!! Secondly a huge THANK YOU to all of my team, especially to Kirsty, Sarah and Amanda for managing the shop so well this year, to Anne who works so hard steaming and cleaning behind the scenes and to Jessica and Tom our fab newbies, welcome aboard …. Finally to my adorable Husband Rob; The Groom’s Room Boss, my Business Partner and Best Friend without whom it would all be an awful lot harder, much of it impossible and either way certainly a lot less fun!! Here’s to a fabulous 2011 and to an equally brilliant 2012!!!