Victoria Davis of Fern & Foxglove Bridal
Fern & Foxglove founder Victoria Davis has always been entrepreneurial but it wasn't until her sister was frantically searching for the perfect wedding dress that she decided to launch her own business...
When Victoria Davis received the keys to her new Custard Factory store last month, she couldn't have been happier.
After over a decade of working as a fashion buyer for leading names such as River Island Primark and Boohoo, she had long had the desire to launch her own business.
However, it wasn’t until her sister was getting set for her big wedding day that she decided it was time to go it alone and launch her own business using her 10 years of industry experience.
“I've spent the last 10 years travelling around the world and wanted to come back to the good old Midlands to put down some roots,” she told BQ.
“My sister had asked for help in getting a dress for her wedding as she couldn’t find what she was looking for in the Midlands and this sparked the idea for Fern & Foxglove Bridal.
“When we were looking around, all of the dress shops had a similar theme and look and I wanted to provide a different customer experience, bringing in new and interesting fashion designers for the creative, fashionable Midlands folk.
“Launching my own business has always been on the cards for me I was just waiting to be inspired to look for a gap in the market and this was it.”
So, after a career spent buying party, casual and everyday dresses for some of the country’s leading retailers, why the risky switch to bridal dress?
Vicky added: “Throughout my buying career I specialised in dresses so I have always had a great affinity with them and the holy grail of dresses in my opinion is the wedding dress.
“For most people, it’s one of the most important days in their life and they want to look amazing but they also want to look like themselves and not a dressed-up doll.
“I think your dress should reflect your personality, it’s very easy to get styles wrong for your body shape but I’ve had a long career in testing what is the most flattering and I have very high standards when it comes to quality.”
Launching a bridal business would be seen by many entrepreneurs and investors as a risky move. Especially since it’s not every day consumers go out and buy a wedding dress. For most consumers, it’s a once in a lifetime purchase.
But that isn't the only factor that deters many from getting into the industry. As a market, the bridal wear industry is quite a traditional one built on reputation and most retailers have been around for years, making it quite hard for newcomers to break into the market.
Luckily for Vicky, she had an idea which she felt would set her apart from the more traditional retailers. ”We have a completely different customer experience; we are in an exclusive studio where our brides will have the room to themselves and their bridal party.
“We also offer them a one-to-one consultation where we can help them choose the best style for them and go through any images on social media or magazines of styles they have seen. The designers we offer are not sold anywhere else in the UK so we can really offer that exclusivity.
“The products are also fashion feminine shaping and they use luxurious fabrics but have a very foxy rebellious vibe. We also have a gorgeous vintage sequin range for the evening bride, why wear one dress when you can wear two! We are not a pretentious brand but you will see we are really focussed on what the brides want in a fun and laid back way.
“The biggest challenge so far has been getting our name out there when the more traditional bridal shops have been around a lot longer. However social media is very important to us and being able to create an attractive visual for the customer. We are working with some of the biggest wedding blogs in the UK to get our name out there.”
As both a fashionista and an entrepreneur, Vicky has a keen eye for detail and a clear image of what she wanted to create. As she mentioned, all of her dresses would be striking and would set her apart from her competitors but she also knew location would be key. And with ambitions to come back to the Midlands, setting up shop anywhere outside of Brum was never even questioned!
“I am very proud to be a Brummie born and bred, and without question the most creative part of the city with new and interesting brands is the Custard Factory,” she said. “The loft style space enabled me to create a botanical garden effect with tropical plants set back with velvet vintage style furniture. This all overlooking the cool graffiti art back drop of the Custard Factory where thousands of people come every day to take photographs.
“We moved into our amazing new outlet in February and have been working on the refit but we are happy to report we are open for appointments now. To get to this point I have received funding from a company called Fashion Angel who provide mentoring, business support and access to funding for the fashion industry. They have really helped me move the business forward and offered some invaluable advice.”
And looking forward, Vicky doesn't just see herself selling rare wedding dresses but has ambitions to provide the complete package. She concluded: “I have so many ideas for new products but most of all we aspire to be a hub for connecting brides with other businesses from hair and make up to wedding jewellery and even invitations! Watch this space.”
Victoria’s top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs: