Bridal shop The Bridal Dressing Rooms in Cosham aims to celebrate each bride's uniqueness

FOR Nicola Willshire, having her own business was always something she’d dreamed of.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 1:29 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 8:17 am
Nicola Willshire runs The Bridal Dressing Rooms in Cosham, picture by Paul Messer Photography

With a long-standing interest in the fashion industry, it wasn’t until getting married herself 10 years ago that she fell in love with weddings.

Starting off by making as much for her own wedding as she could, she soon began making bouquets for other brides.

After undergoing training and buying a mini collection from another company, The Bridal Dressing Rooms began trading in April 2017.

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Nicola Willshire runs The Bridal Dressing Rooms in Cosham, picture by Paul Messer Photography

Nicola said: ‘I loved it. From the first bride I had walk through the door, I knew this is what I’m meant to be doing.’

By May 2018, Nicola had moved into her premises in Cosham High Street.

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She said: ‘I always say things happen for a reason and opportunities are put in front of you. Sometimes you’ve just got to take them.’

Nicola Willshire runs The Bridal Dressing Rooms in Cosham, picture by Paul Messer Photography

While Nicola is the owner and manager of The Bridal Dressing Rooms, she said it’s very much a family business.

She said: ‘My mum has been with me every step of the way, through family illness and Covid. She’s not here with me on a day-to-day basis but she is around a lot, she comes and does the mannequins, and my dad is always here when I need painting and decorating. So, it’s me mainly, but it’s definitely a family business at heart.’

The Bridal Dressing Rooms can dress a bride from head to toe, with dresses, jewellery, hair accessories, veils and shoes.

Within the shop there is only one dressing room, an intentional move to ensure that the experience a bride has whilst shopping for her dress is all about her, with no other brides to compare herself to or having to fight for the attention of the stylist.

And while The Bridal Dressing Rooms does offer more traditional dresses, there is also a range of ‘out of the box’, unique and alternative dresses.

Nicola said: ‘I’m very much about celebrating each bride’s uniqueness.

‘Being a black woman in business, diversity is important to me. Within the wedding industry, diversity is all about tokenism and is nowhere near as diverse as it should be. I want to do my bit to bring that forward.’

Nicola uses her own models for her photographs and wants her brides to look on her social media accounts and website to see themselves; for it to reflect her mission to make everyone feel unique and special.

She said: ‘I’ll have a bride come in that’s had a bad experience in a shop because of her size or ethnicity and it’s just not acceptable in 2021. Every bride should come in and have exactly the same experience; they should feel celebrated and loved.’

During the pandemic, The Bridal Dressing Rooms began offering a video appointment service, something they’re still doing now to ensure that with restrictions on the number of people in the shop, loved ones can still be involved in this beautiful part of the wedding planning process.

Nicola said: ‘We had to learn to adapt. We’ve held on and our brides have been amazing. But the lockdown has also given us a time to reflect and some of the plans we now have may not have happened without

these tough times.

‘I think this last year has taught us about life balance. It’s really, really important.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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