Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meet & Greet: Ashley English, owner of Jacksonville

Ashley in her Jacksonville shop
Let’s take a little trip to beautiful, sunny Florida to soak up some rays and talk with Ashley English, owner of Bella Bridesmaid Jacksonville! Since opening up her store in August of 2008, she has established some fantastic friendships with the rest of the Bella’s as well as sharing her passion of all things weddings with the brides of Jacksonville. Ashley shed some light on being a part of this fab Bella family…

BB: What did you do before owning Bella?

A: I have a pretty diverse background. Going back a couple jobs, I used to be a middle school teacher, grades 6th-8th, but then decided to change my line of work and made the move into the corporate world. Before I started Bella Bridesmaid, I worked for a company in Jacksonville called TEKsystems, which is a leading technology staffing company. I was with TEKsystems until I decided to open Bella Bridesmaid Jacksonville. The move was very easy for me because who wouldn't want to open a Bella Bridesmaid in their own city? I'm definitely a people pleaser, from making little kids excited and happy to learn, to finding people their ideal job, so it was an easy transition to making brides and bridesmaids happy for the big day!

From the left, Allison Long, Ashley, Christa of the Orlando
Bella and Bridget Brown, franchise owner
BB: Why did you want to become part of the Bella franchise?

A: My story is a little unique. My husband is a great friend of Allison Long's husband, Jesse. Allison happens to be the owner of Bella Bridesmaid Charleston. My husband, Will, and Jesse went to Georgia Southern University and was in the same fraternity, ATO. Allison and Jesse told us about Bella Bridesmaid and what a great opportunity it would be for us to open a Bella Bridesmaid in Jacksonville! We had a lot of questions, but we knew it was an opportunity we could not pass up. Being part of the Bella Bridesmaid franchise has been wonderful! I always wanted to be a business owner, but I'm not a big risk taker, and starting a business from scratch seemed daunting at the least. When we saw the success of the franchise, and how established it was for all stores, we knew it was a business that would be great for Jacksonville.

Ashley with Christa Edgar of Orlando's Bella
BB: What is the most memorable moment so far in your boutique?

A: I would have to say it was when my very good friend was getting married and I was in her wedding! We had such a great time picking out her bridesmaid dresses. The bridal party ended up wearing Jenny Yoo's Phoebe, Marni and Becca in Turquoise. It was a beach wedding, so the pictures were beyond beautiful!

BB: Tell us about a favorite recent bride that has an interesting story/wedding.

A: I really love working with all my brides, but this wedding in particular touched my heart. One of my recent brides who had been dating her boyfriend for many years had popped the big question! Unfortunately, her dad was recently diagnosed with cancer, so she wanted to make sure her dad shared in this special day. The bride and groom decided to move their wedding date up so her dad could walk her down the isle and marry his little girl. We had to rush to get her bridesmaid dresses ordered, but the dresses and her wedding turned out gorgeous! This bride wanted to make sure the day was perfect for her, her now husband and her dad and mom. It was so sweet and I was very lucky to have been able to work with her and be part of their day.

Image via Zimbio
BB: What is your fave celebrity wedding dress?

A: I love lace so I adore a classic dress like Grace Kelly's wedding gown. When I saw Kate Middleton in her lace dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, I just melted! It was beyond beautiful and she looked stunning.

BB: What is the best wedding trend you've seen recently?

A: The big trend at Bella Bridesmaid Jacksonville is to be nice to your bridesmaids and let them pick their favorite style of dress! The brides coming into my store are picking their favorite designer and fabric and then letting their bridesmaids pick from that collection. My brides really want their girls to feel comfortable in their bridesmaid dresses if they are paying for them. They also want their bridesmaids to wear the dress again, so letting them pick their favorite style helps to make this possible.

Ashley with Bella girls and Amsale designer/owner,
Amsale Aberra (middle) and Lisa, Amsale Sales Director (left)

BB: Tell us about some of your popular designers in Jacksonville.

A: LulaKate's silk shantung/dupioni dresses and Amsale's crinkle chiffon dresses are popular with our brides. When a bride comes in the store, I like to talk with her about her likes and dislikes, and what she envisions for her wedding day. Once I know more about the bride, and what she has in mind, I will show suggest designers and styles accordingly. Jacksonville is the largest city by land area in the United States. We have a variety of influences, ranging from beach themes to a traditional southern wedding. If a bride prefers the latter, I like to show them LulaKate. I love LulaKate since she let's the bride and her maids design their own dress and they always look awesome on the girls! But, if a bride tells me she is getting married at the beach, I like to show her Amsale since the dresses are very lightweight and they are beautiful on all body types. These are my two favorite designers and they always make the bride and her party very happy.

                                                                                                                   Thank you Ashley!

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