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Meet Maya Byrne of Genevieve’s Bridal Couture in South Barrington

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maya Byrne.

Maya, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I helped my family run a trucking business since I was 18. I was in charge of accounting, however, as any family business goes I had a hand in everything most days. I always knew I didn’t want to work in the family business forever so I set a goal that I would leave by 30- and I did.

I have a B.A. in journalism with a concentration in fashion. Having taken many couture & fashion classes I always had a passion for it, but I knew I didn’t want to just go into retail because there are too much competition and a high turnover rate. So, after doing some research I decided bridal was perfect; it was a niche, couture, and I would be able to create a personal experience which I felt was lacking in the industry.

I knew I had what it takes to run a business since I did it for so long and I could combine that with skills I learned years ago in school. It was a perfect match.

I put a business plan together, got my finances together, locked down a location, and said many prayers. Nine months later the store opened. Thanks to word-of-mouth and a unique bridal experience, business is growing month-to-month.

Has it been a smooth road?
Nothing worth it comes easy. There were struggles right from the start. From getting funding to finding a location (that takes much longer than most people realize), to getting the designers I wanted. And then there were permit issues with the city so my interior construction was put on hold and I didn’t think I would open on time. I had 50+ wedding dresses in my house and a ton of accessories just waiting to be put on racks, but there was nowhere to go. Somehow everything worked out, and I opened September 17th, 2016. There were a lot of trials and tribulations and there were a few breakdowns along the way as well as “what the hell have I done?” moments. The startup of a business can be harder than actual operations once you’re open.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Genevieve’s is a bridal boutique that focuses on the bride. I opened the salon with the intention to make brides feel special. Reading other salon’s reviews before I opened I realized how many girls were lacking the experience they had hoped for when bridal shopping. And many of them didn’t buy a dress from a salon just because they didn’t like the service.

We are hands down known for the experience we give. We only see one to two brides at a time – which is huge, because the brides feel more comfortable, tended to, and overall special. It’s uncommon for bridal stores to do that. When the bride arrives there is a sign in front of the store with her name on it welcoming her, weather permitting of course. They love that! They always take pictures with it and we get compliments on that special touch all the time. She is then greeted by me or a consultant, or both, and we chat about what she is looking for. We then look at any bridal gown pictures she may have saved from the internet that she likes. After that, she puts on a white robe that says “bride” on the back and we browse through our handpicked selection for dresses she will try on. Appointments are typically 1.5 hours and if a bride says “yes to a dress” we then celebrate with champagne and a cute “I said Yes!” sign for photos.

This unique business concept has allowed us to grow steadily because reviews have been so fantastic. And because we don’t carry mother-of-the-bride, bridesmaid or flower girl dresses we’ve stayed very organized and thorough. People ask me all the time to add more to the store than bridal gowns because they have been so let down elsewhere and so happy with our service, but I won’t do it, because I feel that it would take away from what we have now and things would slowly start to lose our special touch.

We may not have some of the sought-after designers that can be found downtown on Oak Street, but we still manage to get girls all the way from the city to come see us because of the experience one of their friends may have had. That makes me so proud of what we’ve done and accomplished in such a short period of time (18 months).

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel so lucky to be living in such a diverse, and populated area. There is a person for almost every niche within a 30-mile radius. Although, that comes with competition that’s good because it keeps businesses like mine, on their toes.

I would say Chicago is a great place to open a business but it depends on what you’re looking to open, and in which neighborhood. Even though there are dozens of bridal salons, there is still always room, because there are so many different styles of gowns, and so many different brides to cater to. You wouldn’t be able to do that in many other cities. But if you’re looking to open a bridal salon, or anything else, in a neighborhood that’s already saturated, I would think twice, and look around a different neighborhood.

Pricing:

  • Gowns start at $1,100 & go upto $4,500.
  • Average ticket price is $1,500-$2,800
  • Accessories and veils start at $50 and go upto $800.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

odin + dixie Instagram @odinandixie

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