With bridal heritage dating six decades, designer Charlotte Balbier talks about innovating sector

How did you become a bridal designer?

I have a bridal heritage in my family because my grandparents owned a chain of several bridal boutiques in the UK and were involved in bridal manufacture. My mother Amanda Wyatt has been in the bridal industry for over 20 years and I was brought up around her penning dress designs and fabrics. When I decided to come a bridal designer I recognised a gap in the market. The bridal industry seemed super traditional and there were hardly any modern, fresh designs in the market. I spotted that no one was using the fabric lace either. I designed a fresh line to appeal to a younger audience of brides.

What sets your brand apart? What are your core values?

We’ve created a really strong brand identity with Charlotte Balbier so when brides purchase a gown they don’t just get the dress. A bride receives a whole load of bridal love and much more. Brides are welcomed into our Charlotte Balbier family of pinkness and happiness. We love making brides feel really special and magical. Many of our gowns have an ethereal quality to them and we love creating the magic of wearing a Charlotte Balbier gown in our lovely photo-shoots. 

We’ve really created a brand with core values and colours such as nude, pinks and ivories are in all our collateral. Our recent Willa Rose images for the last campaign are simply stunning and emulate exactly what our brand is all about. I am also extremely personal with all the brides purchasing dresses and contact many of them individually congratulating them on their wedding day.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

The bridal market has become extremely competitive. Many mainstream high-street brands and also designer brands started creating a bridal niche when they realised it was such a lucrative market. We have to constantly evolve the brand to stay ahead of competitors. We never stop on our pursuit of re-branding Charlotte Balbier to stay ahead of the game. If you look at our photo-shoots for the 2016 Willa Rose Collection and new Separates Collection, our brand has exceeded itself in photography this year and our brand really has an edge. 

I’ve learnt the art of dealing with challenges as there are always obstacles running a business. You always have to face challenges head on and just brainstorm solutions. There is no need to become negative and you just have to learnt to be strong and overcome things.

Do you ever find it challenging doing business within your family?

It actually works really well because we all bring different things to the table. My mother, Amanda Wyatt, has obviously been in the industry a long time so she is so knowledgeable about design and dealing with our bridal stockists. I have been brought up in a world of social media and this is all new to the older generation. I have helped the Amanda Wyatt brand with all of its social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter and Amanda Wyatt is always on hand for advice on how to grow sales and interact with our clients.

How has growing up in a family of bridal designers influenced your path in life, and has any advice from family members stuck with you while running your own venture?

My Grandfather Alan Wyatt has passed on so many invaluable words of wisdom and helped me build my brand. He always says to me “if you always do what you always did you always get what you always got”. He has always encouraged me to make changes, always evolve and be a leader not a follower.

It’s been said that you’re an avid user of social media when it comes to communicating with brides. How essential is this personal touch?

I pride myself with keeping in touch with many of my brides on social media and we love it. I think it’s the perfect touch to someone’s day to be contacted by their bridal designer and it makes a bride feel super special. We’re one of the only brands where the actual bridal designer takes the time and communicates with the brides on a personal level. We decided this year we’d love to identify our brides who buy Charlotte Balbier dresses even more. So whenever a bride buys a Charlotte Balbier gown we’ve created a pink plaque saying “I SAID YES to the Charlotte Balbier dress,” they can be photographed with in-store and the image is put up on Instagram and Twitter. It’s been a great idea to engage with our brides.

Read on for tips on how to build an unknown brand into a well-known one.

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