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Boho bridal boutique Rock the Frock has rules for stock

Karen Whybro set up Rock the Frock when she struggled to find her own less formal wedding dress. She has some clear priorities for suppliers.
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Wedding dress boutique Rock the Frock launched in 2014, when founder Karen Whybro decided she wanted a change from her career as a primary school teacher.

Having been married recently herself, she had noticed a gap in the market for less formal bridal wear when looking for her own dress.

“I launched the first boutique in a small antique centre in Essex. For the first two years, it was just me running the shop, managing the business and doing everything in between. From there, we have grown to a staff of seven in a bigger, flagship boutique in central Chelmsford city centre,” said Whybro.

Choosing stockists

Rock the Frock stocks exclusive and ethical boho wedding dresses, as well as a range of accessories including veils, hair accessories, shoes and bridesmaid gowns. The brand is “very much about aesthetic and ethics” and all products must be ethically produced locally to each designer.

“We enjoy supporting small, independent businesses which allows us to align our values with our designers but also ensures our brides are gaining access to exclusive dresses which can’t be found elsewhere,” explained Whybro.
“Rock the Frock six amazing independent dress designers from England, Spain, Russia and America.”

Whybro maintains a close working relationship with all of her suppliers to make sure everything is running smoothly for everyone, from brides to franchisees.

“We have learnt the hard way that a positive working relationship is crucial to the supply chain working well. We have now hand-selected suppliers we know we can trust 100 per cent with our business,” she explained.

“Our top priority is quality, closely followed by ethics and the relationship with the designer. It is crucial to us that our suppliers work with aligned values to us but also take responsibility for their products and service.”
Currently, the business operates contracts on a yearly basis to ascertain how sales are performing for each design.

Managing franchisees

Recently, Whybro has stepped back from the day-to-day running of the boutique to lead the franchise business, operations, marketing and PR.

Whybro heads up the buying of new designs, and the franchisees can order stock from the core range. Franchisees also have scope to find designers themselves as long as she gets final approval.

“The terms we have in place with our suppliers has secured amazing exclusivity – with the whole of the UK covered so that our franchisees can be sure that local competitors won’t be stocking the same dresses as in their boutiques. Equally, any new designers must be approved in order that the aesthetics and values of the brand are not jeopardised,” she explained.

Consistency across the stores is important, and franchisees have to appreciate the Rock the Frock ethos.

“Rock the Frock works with carefully curated designers to ensure there is consistency. Our franchisees are selected to ensure they are totally on board with Rock the Frock’s aesthetics and values to ensure this consistency is carried through all boutiques across the world.”

The young, but growing business, has big plans for the next year – with a Berkshire boutique opening in January, followed by Okanagan in Canada in April and Yorkshire in September.

Total Gas & Power will be exhibiting at the Franchise Show at London’s Excel on 16-17 February, where we’ll be helping franchise businesses with their energy needs. Tickets are free. To find our more visit http://connect.totalgp.com/franchise18

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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