A Sheffield-based bridal start-up that caters exclusively for curvy women expects to double its annual turnover in its second year after recording strong month-on-month sales figures.
Celebrating Curves is a bridal shop specialising in wedding dresses between sizes 14 and 32. It was launched by Jane Burbeary in April 2016 after she faced redundancy from her job in the training industry and decided to pursue an alternative career path.
Jane was inspired to set up Celebrating Curves after she was left disheartened by the limited choices of wedding dresses on offer for plus-sized women. Noticing a gap in the market, Jane turned to the government-backed Start Up Loans Company for support.
She secured a £25,000 loan from the government-backed scheme to launch her business idea. The organisation, which merged with the British Business Bank earlier this year, provides low-interest finance and support to new businesses and those trading for less than two years.
Jane received support from Finance For Enterprise, an official Delivery Partner of the Start Up Loans scheme, who helped her develop her business plan. Jane used her Start Up Loan to cover the cost of buying stock, securing a lease on the premises, decorating the store and pre-launch promotion, including visiting trade fayres around the UK to build up a network of contacts.
Located on Main Street, Celebrating Curves works with four main designers, White Rose Bridal, Allure Bridal, Eternity Bridal and Victoria Kay, to create the perfect dress for a bride’s special day. It also sells bridal accessories and flower girl dresses and, has plans to branch into occasion wear, targeting Mother of the Brides, over the next year.
Jane Burbeary, Founder of Celebrating Curves, said: “When I was about to be made redundant, I decided it was now or never. While I didn’t know anything about starting a business, I’d always liked the idea of being my own boss. I’d previously found it challenging to find a wedding dress to show off my curves and when I was thinking about my next career move I decided to turn my problem into a business. I wanted women of all shapes and sizes to feel beautiful on their big day. We’ve proved to be a hit amongst many brides-to-be already, and we only expect this to increase as we head into our busy period of summer weddings.
“Finding the money to launch was the scariest thing at first – I had customer service experience and had done lots of industry and customer research, so when I secured funding from The Start Up Loans Company it gave me the confidence to make it work. We’ve had a great first year and a strong start to our second so I’m excited to keep growing the business by offering more designs.”
Joanna Hill, Interim CEO of The Start Up Loans Company, said: “Celebrating Curves is a great example of taking real life problems and creating a business solution. With her keen perception of the gap in the market, Jane’s business meets the demand for real-size clothing across the industry. So many people have a business idea and push it to the back of their mind, but there’s support out there to help you get started.
“When you’re switching career and starting something totally new, it’s not always easy to raise financial support; that’s why we provide mentoring and business advice alongside the loan to give you the best start possible. If you’re inspired by your personal experiences and want to turn them into a business, then give it a go.”