Sally Wood isn’t a fan of the phrase ‘you can just picture it’.
Along with her mother Beryl Masters, Sally is co-owner and founder of Gown Bridal, a bespoke bridal shop based in Chorley’s Pall Mall, and she is all about the seeing, not the visualising.
“Some people expect you to pay thousands of pounds for a dress whilst saying ‘can you imagine what it’ll look like?’” she explains. “Nobody should have to imagine what a dress looks like, they should be able to get in it and feel confident.
“That was my remit.”
Under the leadership of the dynamic mother-daughter duo, Gown Bridal has blossomed since it first opened its doors some two years ago.
In fact, the shop – originally catering for curvier women with a fuller figure – has had to move to a new premises owing to increased demand, and is now offering their typically perfectly tailored range of bespoke dresses in a wider range of sizes as they adapt to a surge of interest in their dresses from brides of all shapes and sizes.
“We’re really proud,” explained Sally, 40. “When you open a small business you don’t really know how it’s going to go [and] while we’d done well, now we can get people in off the high street and offer a bit more flexibility in terms of ladies being able to come in and have a look around without making an appointment.
“It gives us that visibility as well - the shop window allows us to do really nice displays and that’s what we needed to get to the next level,” she added. “It’s been quite busy; it’s given us a new lease of life.
“We’re getting all sorts of brides in, too: we predominantly known for curvy brides, but we get a lot of smaller brides now so I think our demographic will naturally change as we grow and cater for all ladies.”
Gown Bridal are all about collaboration in the pursuit of perfection.
Both Sally and Beryl are trained designers. Beryl, 68, has decades of experience working in the wedding dress industry and makes all of the shop’s dresses herself from her daughter’s designs.
Herself graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in design and textiles, Sally then spent 20 years working for M&S, Next, and other high-street retailers designing handbags.
But it was whilst she was on maternity leave a few years back that Sally had a brainwave and asked her mum if she wanted to open a bridal shop with her.
The rest is history.
“The original plan with the store was to make sure that anybody that walks through the door would be able to try a sample on,” said Sally, who is herself from Chorley and hopes to release a new collection in the coming weeks. “When you’re not a size eight and they try and put you in a size eight dress it’s awful.
“Dealing with ladies who are going on the biggest journey of their lives is really nice,” she added. “The dress is, for most girls, the most important thing so it’s nice to be with them to make sure they feel 100% confident on their wedding day.
“Lots of lovely moments happen in the shop - lots of tears of happiness - and it’s great to know that we’re going to make someone’s dream happen.
“I want to make sure that when they leave through those doors they’re going to have a good experience.”
From their extensive range of bespoke wedding dresses to numerous veils, accessories, and even prom and bridesmaids’ dresses available in over 150 colours, Gown Bridal has it all.
And as Sally says, her remit of making sure that a bride’s vision soon becomes their reality has not changed since she started out.
“We’re collaborative, it’s like a design service,” she explained. “Every bride has their own vision of what they want, so it’s lovely to think that they’re leaving super happy.
“That’s the shop’s USP - we’re collaborative, we can mix-and-match styles, we can put a twist on a dress.
“Fluid and flexible.”