They were just 21 when they took a chance and set up a bridal shop in Holmfirth, becoming the youngest owners of such a venture in the country. Two years on and Philippa Lloyd and Kirsty Horne have proved that age – and young children – do not hold back business success.
IT WAS while searching for her own wedding dress that Philippa Lloyd first started to think there was a niche for a bridal shop in Holmfirth.
And so she decided to set up with a friend.
“It was hard to find what I wanted in the bridal shops in the area that I visited,” said the 23-year-old. “And I didn’t enjoy the experience very much.”
The bride-to-be and her bridesmaid – former school friend Kirsty Horne – began to talk about what kind of service they would offer to customers if they had a bridal shop.
At the time Philippa was working in the NHS and Kirsty, a trained hairdresser, had found a job in accountancy, but they continued to mull over the idea of going into business together.
Finally, in January 2010, they launched Lace and Beaux in the centre of Holmfirth, becoming, they believe, the youngest bridal shop owners in the country.
“We looked on the internet and found a shop in America started by a 21-year-old who said she was the youngest there,’’ said Philippa. “We think we are still the youngest here.’’
Kirsty, now 23, who lives in Shepley and has two children aged seven and four added: “We spent six months researching everything before we opened. We both cut our hours at work so we could keep our jobs and run the shop between us. We were open seven days a week.”
Philippa, who married at the age of 20, is also a mum. She has a son of 15 months and is expecting her second child.
Juggling parenthood and the demands of a newly-established business – especially one set up during a period of economic recession – doesn’t seem to faze the young women who now staff their shop six days a week, sharing the workload between them. In fact, they say that having their own shop allows them to be flexible and decide on their own working hours.
Their first year in Holmfirth proved to be a steep learning curve but in the past few months – and after re-locating their shop to new premises in Thongsbridge – they feel that Lace and Beaux has turned the corner.
“Business has really picked up in the last six months,” said Kirsty. “The first 12 months were a bit scary, especially after we left our jobs to run the shop full-time.
“We wondered if we had done the right thing, but now we are glad we did it.
“I love what we do. It’s the most amazing job, being part of someone’s special day and seeing all the happy brides.”
Philippa, who moved from the Holme Valley to Sheffield and now commutes to work, agrees: “We get invited to the weddings and out for tea with the brides and their mums. It’s great.”
They believe the secret of their success is in offering friendly service, a cup of tea at the right times and giving an honest opinion.
It’s a service based on what Philippa wanted when she was looking for her own wedding gown.
“There is no hard sell from us and we will be honest about what someone looks like in a dress because we want them to look their best,’’ she said. “It does our reputation no good if they walk out with the wrong dress.’’
Just occasionally, customers are taken aback by their youth.
“They ask us who owns the shop and when we say ‘we do’ you can see they’re quite surprised,” said Kirsty.
“But we wouldn’t want to do anything else now.”