As part of a series of our #TravelThursday blog posts highlighting the independent sprirt of Dorking, Notallaboutskinny co-founder Kate is back with the skinny on the incomparable BRIDE by Aster. Kate is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach and Dorking local. Kate has just returned from a year traveling around the world.
For those of you who have been tuning in to the blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m passionate about all things Dorking. This week, I had the privilege of meeting the fabulous Hannah Mac Lennan, founder of BRIDE by Aster, a truly beautiful new bridal boutique in town.
Hannah has been in the hospitality industry for years, and she’s a seasoned pro when it comes to wedding co-ordination and high end catering. She has a string of successes to her name and has spent her career working with high profile clients such as Simon Cowell, Michael Bloomberg and Jamie & Louise Redknapp. She turned 30 this year and felt that the time was right for her to branch out on her own and as a consequence, “BRIDE by Aster” was born…
If you’re a soon-to be bride, you won’t want to miss a trip to Hannah’s magical boutique where you’ll be treated like a queen from the moment you make contact. I visited Hannah on a cold, wet, grey day but the minute I entered the shop, I was transported to a world of tulle, sequins and feathers and the world outside seemed a million miles away.
BRIDE by Aster is all about the experience. Hannah has created a fun and playful space where brides feel like they’re walking into a fantasy dressing room. From the twinkling lights, the candles, the carefully selected music, the fluffy unicorn slippers to keep your feet warm between try-ons and the giant jars of marshmallows, it’s impossible not to suddenly find your inner 8-year old princess jumping out as you immerse yourself in a world of THE most exquisite dresses you will ever see.
“Brides have an expectation of the experience they will have when they start looking for dress. Sadly, it’s often an experience that doesn’t quite match up to expectations and we aim to be the brand that turns that around”. We operate on a private appointment only basis, so our clients and their tribes have complete exclusivity of the boutique. They have the whole place to themselves and we offer refreshments, sweets and music to enhance their experience. That way, they can fully relax and try on as many dresses as they like. It’s all part of the fun of preparing for their big day and I want to make it a memory that they’ll cherish. That is truly the main aim of our brand”.
Now, it’s been 15 years since I was married, but I am a sucker for anything vaguely sparkly and glam and I have to admit I was a tad distracted from interviewing Hannah because every time I looked up from my notebook, another fabulous creation caught my eye! Hannah is rightly incredibly proud of her collection and focuses on working with brands she chooses carefully. “First and foremost, I need to like the designer!” she says. “ I get a feeling from the designer and the company. I want to know about whether or not they care about their stockists in the same way we care about our brides. That is hugely important to me and I have turned down working with some designers in the past. I need to feel those warm and fuzzies and really trust the people who will ultimately be creating our girls’ dream dress. I also like things that are a little bit different — not too off the wall and crazy but something a little out of the ordinary, something quirky. We’re adding to our collection all the time and by spring 2019, we will have our boutique completely full. It’s been a dream choosing the dresses and I will always go for something that is a little different”.
Although BRIDE by Aster has only been open since April 2018, one of Hannah’s first projects was a photo shoot in May at the beautiful Hartsfield Manor. Connecting with her colleagues and suppliers in the industry, she collaborated with Kate from Hedgerose and Honeysuckle (if you haven’t seen Kate’s delicious silk flower creations then be sure to check out her website) and submitted the pictures to Surrey & Sussex Bride magazine. Hannah had previously featured on the front cover of the magazine in 2013 when she styled a 1950’s themed tea party she was inspired to shoot in a pine forest. “I was so thrilled when I got the call to say that our photos had been chosen for the annual front cover 2018/19,” she tells me, “we had only been open for three weeks when we shot it and it was such a huge honour.”
Hannah was excited to share her plans for the future with me, which start with the launch of a new range called Lush Curve. “I feel really strongly about offering all of our girls a variety of dresses that emphasise their amazing bodies and uniqueness. I don’t really like the term plus size and I feel as though all of those bridal campaigns are an afterthought. Either that or they’re beautiful “plus size” labeled campaigns with stunning photos but they’re actually using size 12 models”.
She is currently in talks with a few instagram influencers to be her Lush Curve ambassadors. Of the launch in April 2019 she says, “I’m just so excited to collaborate with people on this as I genuinely want to offer bootylicious brides like myself an amazing range of dresses to choose from. The shoot is going to be really playful and I’m running with the strapline ‘Absolutely Fierce’!”
Hannah is also busy collaborating with designers to create a unique range of flower girl dresses that will be exclusive to her boutique. She already has ‘ASTER’ the unicorn dress which comes with a matching headband! “I have so many ideas!” she grins. “It’s a good job I run this business with my husband. He keeps me grounded. I’m the kite and he’s the anchor”. Hearing her talk about her plans for these dresses, I’m excited too! If they’re anything like Hannah herself, they will be beautiful, a little bit different and very, very cool.
If you’re a bride to be and are looking for a decadent, fun and truly bespoke experience, then BRIDE by Aster should be at the top of your shopping list. Immerse yourself in sequins, lace and layers of chiffon or keep it simple with a chic satin gown. Sip on champagne and twirl around the shop in as many fabulous creations as you like… Whatever your heart desires, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it in this magical little corner of Dorking.
Tags:Business Spotlight, Travel Thursday
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