Love Story by Angela’s Bridal and The Alterations Studio are an elegant bridal boutique and alterations studio owned by Janet Cooper in upstate New York. We sat down with Janet to learn about her compelling career that’s taken her to both sides of the Atlantic, and about the recent evolution of her business and how she worked with Gravity Capital to make it happen.
From working at the English National Opera to owning a Bridal Store, you have a fascinating career history!
Janet: Owning Angela’s Bridal is a full circle experience for me. My interest in a career in fashion began at about the age of 11 or 12. My mother worked for a bridal boutique and she often took me to help her backstage at fashion shows. I fell in love with the theatrics of it – also the gowns. Outside of fashion, I stumbled upon costume design, which became my primary focus for many years.
After marrying an Englishman, I moved to England and spent eight years at the English National Opera – eventually becoming Head of Wardrobe. I just fell in love with theater, costuming, and the quality of the garments – especially with the opera – it was so intricate and detailed. But I did begin to miss bridal.
“I realized it was where my heart and my passion truly was – that mixture of costume and functional fashion”.
I started designing for people who were looking for something bespoke in London. I was able to juggle both my work at English National Opera and wedding gown design. It was at that point that I realized it was where my heart and my passion truly was – that mixture of costume and functional fashion. And so therefore I decided that I wanted to purchase or run my own bridal boutique.
How was that transition from Costumer and designer to full-time business owner?
Janet: As I became head of a department, I was much more involved in management: running the day to day; the operations; holding the purse strings. These were all great qualities I could bring to becoming a business owner, but I was moving further away from the creative side. What I love about owning my own boutique is that it’s so creative. There’s so many hats you can wear, so many different things you can do. You never get bored.
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We also provide our own alterations service. I am able to work very closely with the gowns in terms of altering and customizing certain elements for a bride – something that is unique to our area. I really enjoy it and have been able to grow my business based on the reputation of our fit, not just the gowns that we sell.
After living in London, what inspired you to choose Troy, NY as the home for Love Story by Angela’s Bridal?
Janet: London is so unique and the boroughs are so different from each other. I guess what I was looking for was that same vibe. Troy had a little bit more of that pedestrian-feel – people walk around, they have a farmer’s market on Saturdays – there’s just thousands of people walking in the streets. It is such a unique town that’s definitely going through a renaissance as well. I think 2013, there were some people who invested in major businesses in the area, and it’s been growing ever since.
“What I love about owning my own boutique is that it’s so creative. There’s so many hats you can wear, so many different things you can do. You never get bored”.
During the pandemic, you reimagined the vision for your store and the bride’s experience. I’d love to know the story behind your evolution.
Janet: The bridal industry paused as a lot of couples were putting-off their weddings. I think because of that we were able to pause and take an opportunity to change the business. And that’s what I did. It was a really positive thing. We started to see this huge snowball of alterations that were going to be needed – we had committed to so many brides for the summer of 2020.
So, we decided to flip the store into two locations and they’re both in Troy. We opened up the alteration studio and it was such an intimate and wonderful experience. We used to have the alterations inside the actual store, and you always had the two energies from the bride at the beginning of her process finding her dress and the bride at the end of her process ready to walk down the aisle. Both wonderful energies, but – and I didn’t realize this until we separated them out – they were competing against each other.
We opened up [a separate] alteration studio and it was such an intimate and wonderful experience. We used to have the alterations inside the actual store…both wonderful energies… but they were competing against each other.
So we opened up the studio and had much success with that during 2020. Then slowly, we were able to open up the salon again. But with the restrictions in place in New York state, in order to accommodate that and make sure we were staying safe, we opened up a smaller studio for the shopping experience. The way that I describe it to a customer in terms of what their experience would be is that it’s their home for an hour and a half. They walk into a large walk-in closet. It’s very personable. The space makes it easier for them to focus.
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One of the things that worried me in the beginning was with having one appointment at a time, you had less opportunity to sell. But I found instead that our closing rate increased. The feedback we get from our customers is that they absolutely love the experience. We have the same number of gowns, the same quality garments, but they have the space just for them and their loved ones.They can really just make that time about them.
You used Gravity Capital funding to help expand your business. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience?
Janet: I applied for Gravity Capital just when everyone came back. Cash flow was a bit tighter as a result of the pandemic, and I knew that I needed to make these moves to separate the business [into a retail store and alterations studio]. Applying for loans was tricky at that time. Gravity Payments was able to help me with that. Also recently I’ve used it to boost my inventory. If I can be frank, I really like two things about it. One, it doesn’t impact my personal credit score. I have a great credit score and I like to keep it that way. Two, is the way you repay it. For me it’s so seamless. It’s almost like you don’t feel it. It just automatically goes back to Gravity Payments [out of my processing revenue]. It’s nice as a small business owner to have one less thing to worry about.
The experience with Gravity has always felt very authentic. They want to make sure [their financing] works and that we can have longevity in our relationship.
The experience with Gravity has always felt very authentic. Pouria [Product Manager, Gravity Capital] helps me, and makes sure that it’s going to be the right business decision. I just always feel like I’ve been supported. It’s not about how much money Gravity can make from us, but they want to make sure it works and that we can have longevity in our relationship.
ABOUT LOVE STORY BY ANGELA’S BRIDAL
Love Story by Angela’s Bridal is located at 112 N. Greenbush Road, Troy, NY. The salon provides the intimate service of one appointment at a time, in the charming setting of downtown. Angela’s has always believed in the love story that is being told through each bride that walks through our doors. And in return we want to provide an intimate space, for you and your loved ones.
Janet Cooper took ownership of Angela’s Bridal in 2008. Her vision was to create an exceptional bridal shopping experience in a relaxed environment, delivered by knowledgeable consultants. https://alovestorybridal.com/