What a joy it was to walk with Free Ever After Bridal hand in hand through their luxury brand launch process! I was drawn immediately to Free Ever After Bridal because I loved their message, their heart, and how they were taking something timeless like wedding dresses and using them to impact and transform lives. This luxury brand was an incredible before and after, if I may, Cinderella story to work on!
Cynthia was an absolute sweetheart to work with, and really fun for me because she is local to Tucson, so we actually got to sit down in person and talk through her story, her vision, goals, and values – something I don’t normally get to do with my national clients! It was such a wonderful treat to be with her in person, and hear her heart for her business and her vision to impact the world through her bridal boutique.
I adore Cynthia. Her heart, her drive, her creativity, and her drive to think outside of the box and bring a whole city with her, inspire me beyond belief. Working with her has continually kept me on my toes as our conversations would turn again and again into these wild brainstorming sessions that left both of us squealing in excitement at the progress we had made, both in branding, and in Cynthia’s business approach. Cynthia was always taken in such creative ways of thinking as we talked and dreamed together about what her brand would become.
Cynthia and I were able to take her current business model, which was a bridal resale boutique, and innovate together to create a new form of approach to the same idea. Before we jump into that, let me share with you, though I may be teary-eyed as I write this, Free Ever After’s heart as a business. FEA originally began as a non-profit, accepting donated dresses that they would resell in order to empower survivors of sexual exploitation through mentorship and rehabilitation (the other part of their non-profit). However, they realized that it would make more sense to walk this out as a for-profit business model and they needed an elevated brand to be able to compete in the wedding industry. Tucson is a highly sought after wedding destination so her shop needed to be extremely high quality everywhere clients could hear about her. At the same time, because her revenue is shared with paying out employees and funding their non-profit arm Masterpiece Mentorship, they could no longer be charging lower prices for their amazing dresses.
We talked through the importance of finding a niche audience that would love what she does but be willing to pay the price she needed to be able to run a successful bridal shop – we prayed through that part, because Cynthia and I are both Christians, and really felt that the high end, sustainable bride was the perfect target audience to market these gorgeous wedding dresses.
Sustainability is an incredibly big movement in branding right now, and many businesses are tapping into this approach to appeal to younger buyers who are environmentally-conscious and impact-driven. Tucson happens to be running along the same line with our city full of sustainable living movements from boxcar housing for teachers (old train cars recycled into upscale tiny homes), cycling as a means of life, and farmers markets galore. Because Cynthia has a brick and mortar location, she really needed to ensure that the target market was going to be a real group of people in the city we live in.
Cynthia was hesitant to go too luxurious because after all, she does sell bridal gowns that have been worn before. But I assured her, though the gowns have been worn before, not all of these women shopping have been married before. Their desire is still to have the high end wedding experience, even though they are getting a steal of a deal on some designer dresses. So, we began to look at all of the places we could elevate the bride’s experience as they interacted with the bridal shop.
We were very fortunate to have a wide number of professional photos from weddings and styled shoots to work with for the bridal shop’s website and marketing materials. Each time a photographer shared a photo shoot with us, we cheered as we looked through the stunning imagery that we would be able to use to highlight the beautiful wedding gowns that had come from Free Ever After’s Bridal Shop.
Because a bride’s experience is the thing to really communicate, we wanted this to be a true-to-life imagery driven, luxury brand. Rather than use stock photos or fashion shots from a catalog as many bridal stores do, we used real models, real brides, and real locations from our city to help brides imagine what they could actually look like and feel like in one of the dresses from Free Ever After.
The driving design vision behind FEA was glamorous, vintage, and luxury. However, we didn’t want to come across as too gaudy or overdone, so we chose to incorporate subtle hints of vintage such as the custom hand-drawn pattern to play at the idea of old still being beautiful.
We also wanted to show luxury and glamour without the feeling being inaccessible for the average bride or unnatural. So, we chose to use a variety of shots that didn’t overcomplicate the bride themselves, but demonstrated glamour through the use of foliage – large bouquets, stunning table layouts, macrame pieces, and other environmental pieces that created a tangible picture of how these gorgeous dresses could be the star of the show.
The fonts that we chose were calligraphy fonts that paired together to create such a sense for this vintage and luxury brand.
We also wanted to choose colors that did not stray far from the original colors of a luxury brand – so we simply matured the color choices from before to elevate the look while not confusing the community too much in the rebrand.
This website was so beautiful and fun to create. I was so privileged to be able to work on the individual elements of the brand and then piece them together to create a cohesive, stunning website that was sure to wow others upon first impression. Cynthia was worried that her website would leave her customers feeling like they were disappointed when they got to her storefront, because it was so high end, but we had a good long mindset talk about the beauty of her store and how to incorporate some branded pieces to bring some cohesion between the store and her site. That included things like new dress tags, custom tissue paper, even a custom wallpaper for later in their store renovation process.
See Free Ever After Bridal’s website here.
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