Cassie David named her bridal boutique Honest in Ivory. She thought something “a little cheeky” would be appropriate.
The store on East Trent Avenue opened in August, selling designer gowns in an old warehouse. Lace, tulle and beads – and a pale pink sofa – mix with concrete floors in the open, loftlike space.
Honest in Ivory’s gowns are a bit unconventional, too, David said. Dresses from Hayley Paige’s label feature glitter. Some gowns are romantic and girly; others are sleek and modern. Most are a bit edgy.
For years, David pictured owning a bridal boutique. But the 27-year-old speech therapist thought it would be her retirement job.
While David earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Washington State University-Spokane, she worked in retail, selling prom dresses and bridal gowns. She liked helping women find the perfect, special-occasion dress.
“I thought if I won the lottery, I would open a bridal shop,” David said.
Her thinking changed when one of her speech therapy clients died unexpectedly. It was a child – a 3-year-old with Down syndrome whom David adored.
“I had this whole, existential crisis,” she said. “I thought, life is too short. I have these two passions. Why can’t I do them both?”
A week later, David was researching how to write a business plan.
David works Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday as a speech therapist at Stepping Stones Pediatric Therapy in Spokane. She devotes the rest of the week to Honest in Ivory.
“Because I’m young and I don’t have a family, I can work this crazy schedule and make it work,” David said. “I truly love both jobs.”
David credits the Women’s Business Center at SNAP for helping her launch Honest in Ivory. After local banks turned her down for business loans, she was able to get financing through the center.
“I didn’t have collateral to put up for a loan. They took a risk on me,” David said.
She also received business mentoring and help finding an accountant through Startup Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Incorporated.
The wedding gown industry still relies on brick-and-mortar stores for the majority of its sales, David said. Only 11 percent of brides buy their dresses online. Most women want to try on wedding gowns before they make a decision, she said.
David said Honest in Ivory helped fill a gap in the Spokane bridal business with harder-to-find designer labels.
“I’m my customer,” David said. “I’m 27, and I know what I want, what my friends want and what my customers would want.
“They’re building a memory and they want a wedding dress to match – a dress they haven’t seen around town.”
Hayley Paige is Honest in Ivory’s best-selling label. Many of David’s customers have seen the designer on “Say Yes to the Dress,” a reality TV series on TLC about women shopping for wedding gowns in Manhattan.
The store also sells lots of dresses by Theia and Wtoo by Watters. Instead of taffeta and other stiff fabrics traditionally used for wedding dresses, many of the gowns are made of stretchy crepe.
“They feel like yoga pants,” David said.
Prices for Honest in Ivory’s gowns range from $900 to $3,500. Sizes run from 8 to 32.
The shop is open by appointment only. Women schedule a two-hour slot to try on dresses, and they usually bring an entourage of soon-to-be bridesmaids, friends, sisters, mothers and mothers-in-law. Sometimes, dads and brothers come, too, David said.
Honest in Ivory makes shopping for the gown an occasion, she said. Friends and family members sip mimosas while one of the boutique’s stylists helps the bride-to-be select gowns to try on. There’s some theater involved.
Each of the shop’s four dressing rooms has curtain walls. The stylist pulls back the curtains for “the big reveal” on each gown. When women are modeling the dresses, they stand on a wooden podium built by David’s dad, Jim.
After the bride-to-be has selected a gown, Honest in Ivory orders it. The gowns arrive in three to six months, David said.
Women treasure the experiences leading up to a wedding, she said, and picking out the gown is one of the highlights.
A wedding gown is “a symbol of a woman’s personality,” David said. “She’ll keep those pictures forever.”
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