Bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes, including curvy girls.
Ashley Young and Charles Young started a bridesmaid’s apparel brand that was created with this reality in mind. The Maryland-based couple runs Bridal Babes. The bridal tech company offers sizes from small to 5XL at an affordable price.
“The idea came about after our wedding in 2016, where I was trying to find dresses for my bridesmaids of all shapes and sizes and I was just stunned at the lack of options that were out there for something that was sexy and curve fitting,” Ashley said.
The wedding was held in Mexico. The bride wanted to integrate use of bright colors without utilizing heavy satin or other dress fabrics. Mixing and matching options from a variety of different stores left her feeling like finding bridesmaids dresses should not have been that difficult.
“I just thought there should be a place where you can shop for the full-size range,” Ashley said.
The bridesmaids ended up feeling good about how they looked in their dresses. Their curves were shown off and not concealed. Ashely said her wedding went viral.
While on maternity leave with her first son, Ashley began exploring groundwork to start a business. By 2019, Ashley and Charles officially launched a website for Bridal Babes.
While some businesses took a hit during the pandemic, Bridal Babes experienced a gargantuan boom. The entrepreneurial couple decided that virtual offering would be better than offering hybrid consultations that included in-person appointments. Carrying dresses and toting a young baby became undesirable. By March 2020, the business exclusively offered virtual consultations.
“People just shifted completely over to us. We actually had to do a lot to keep up with the demand,” Ashley said.
Bridal Babes had already gained the trust of customers. While some other bridal stores had to set up online options, Ashley and Charles did not have to scramble to convert their model to an online focus. It was already up and running. Since most of the bridal industry is brick and mortar, they were in a winning position.
Bridal Babes’ business model remains attractive to consumers. Ashley added that the majority of Bridal Babes’ customers still do not come into their studio to try on dresses.
“Ninety nine percent of our customers are online only and that’s because we really recreate the in-store shopping experience online. We have virtual consultations where the girls can come on with their bridesmaids who can be all over the country, so they no longer have to go to one location which is really nice,” Ashley said.
Free Zoom calls are offered so brides can ask questions. Bridal Babes’ founders created a unique, easy shopping experience, according to Ashley. The company offers size charts for all their dresses.
Clients are also taught how to take their bust, waist and hip measurements or they are advised to seek assistance from a local tailor who can measure them accurately. She added that tailors typically help for free because women may commonly return needing alterations for their evening gowns.
Most of Bridal Babes’ dresses are ready to ship, although a signature collection which is a luxury, high-end line allows some customizations, such as colors and larger sizing, in addition to offering options for taller women.
By the beginning of 2022, the husband-and-wife team who offered diversity in the wedding industry became full time entrepreneurs.
Ashley and Charles secured a deal with Emme Grede on “Shark Tank.” The show aired last October. Grede is a businesswoman and entrepreneur who is partially known for founding a new generation lifestyle brand, Good American, with Khloé Kardashian.
“That is literally what catapulted us,” Ashley said, referring to the deal.
On the show, Grede reportedly made a $250,000 investment for a 20% equity stake in Bridal Babes.
As COO, Charles manages Bridal Babe’s operations and logistics. He offered his perspective about the company’s success.
“We are working to solve an issue that our CEO actually went through and understands. We are providing a service that just didn’t exist prior to Bridal Babes,” Charles said.
He added, “Taking this entrepreneurship journey with my wife is great because I’m doing it with someone that I trust fully. She understands the plan, the goal and the drive to accomplish something great. In any business, communication is key and after being together since high school ,marriage and children, the one thing we can do very well is communicate.”
Visit Bridal Babes’ website at https://www.bridalbabes.co/.