Gilded Social Debuts Bridal Offerings
Historically focused exclusively on bridesmaid apparel, the Downtown Columbus boutique is now offering wedding gowns as well.
Gilded Social owner Tanya Hartman is taking some big steps forward. Despite a major economic downturn amid a global pandemic, the Downtown shop owner is growing her bridesmaid and social occasion gown boutique.
“In our business, we celebrate friendship and create a memorable experience for bridesmaids, moms, flower girls,” she says. “But if I’m not offering a critical piece of someone’s story, it’s a big part of the market that we’re not in.” She’s referring, of course, to wedding gowns.
“People are still shopping for wedding gowns in person,” even as they host online ceremonies, elope or postpone their big days, she says.
By leveraging existing partnerships, the Gilded team will soon offer all six New York-based Amsale bridal gown lines (the shop already carries four), a modestly priced Blue Willow Bride line by Anne Barge of Atlanta, and the Rosa Clará Group’s Aire Barcelona line, among others. Gowns will be available for all budgets, ranging in price from $600 to $5,000.
“In April, we were no different than every other business that looked forward and saw a very bleak picture,” says Hartman. The shop saw a one-third decrease in revenue during the beginning of the pandemic. “This is going to help us make it long-term.”
As unlikely as it might seem, the pandemic actually drove Hartman’s decision to expand. After restructuring debt and taking on a PPP loan, she says she had two choices: “We could operate by just hanging on, or we could say, ‘Now is a great time to get in with designers.’ ”
However, Hartman is quick to add that the expansion into bridal will not be made at the expense of her bridal party or other sections, and combined appointments will not be offered. “I am not interested in cannibalizing that experience for the bridesmaids, because they still deserve their appointment,” says Hartman. “We don't want anybody to ever feel like they’re second fiddle.”
Perhaps the main thing that sets Gilded Social apart from other brick-and-mortar stores of its kind is its online catalog, which matches inventory that can be found in-store and includes the new bridal collection.
“I am all about the experience of shopping. That’s what makes shopping in a retail store better than shopping online,” Hartman says. “If I’m not going to give you a good experience, I’ve got nothing left.”