Women of the Wedding Industry Wednesday: Spring Sweet
I don't always quote scripture, but when I do I usually find myself in the poetry of Ecclesiastes, the wisdom of Proverbs, or the eroticism of Song of Solomon.
And with the changing of the seasons, nothing feels as engraved into my memory of study as this little diddy:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
It's spring in Northern Michigan. And spring in my bones. And there's a beautiful familiarity to what I am feeling right now and what is going on around me too.
A purposeful sense of work, an excitement at seeing new things you forgot existed in the world return. Like irises on the side of our house. I totally forgot those were there.
While I took some time away from social media at the beginning of the month to blissfully digest some mental rest, I was most excited to find my energy for it again because of this blog, and the women whose stories I get to share.
Spring (yes, that's her given ethereal name) was the woman who sold me my wedding dress. That's a special kind of relationship, and Spring is a special woman who has been a part of my Revel Rose journey before it was birthed.
She did things differently as a shop owner. And in an industry that initially can feel sterile, and fake, and a little too raw for a girl who never even wanted to get married, stepping into her boutique shop in Holland was like finding my island. I can't even describe the peace it brought me to walk into her small town America meets Parisian shop.
When I put on my dress for the first time, the one that became my wedding dress, I was alone. And I could breathe. And I held the lace in my hands, and I did a twirl in the mirror and checked out my ass, and every woman who has ever had an emotional response to finding their wedding dress can relate to this feeling. Even if they were least expecting it.
When I told Spring this week how I was having a hard time with the whole social world versus real world dichotomy for some reason, and felt like stepping back, she gave me some wise advice: "Seasons for everything."
Spring it is, my'ladies and gents.
With Spring Sweet, Owner and Creative Guru at Spring Sweet of Holland
Spring Sweet, by Amy Carroll Photography
You're from Holland and your shop is in Holland, and carries your namesake. What does that mean for vulnerability, as well as accountability as a small business owner?
Ooh good question. Naming the shop Spring Sweet was a tough decision, and one I resisted for quite some time. Some people thought it was the obvious answer, but it felt a little pretentious to me. I just wasn't sure I wanted my name on it. But, I came around. It made sense to me because the store has always been an extension of me. I am very purposeful about the merchandise and content of the store. I only buy things I love...so I think it makes sense that the store carries my name. And let's be honest. It's a pretty whimsical name. It just works for a store name : )
I don't think I gave the whole vulnerability/accountability thing much thought when I named it. But, I've definitely thought about that more lately. I think I run my business with the same integrity and accountability that I would have even if it didn't share my name. But, it's definitely something in the back of my mind at times.
The enchanting storefront of Spring Sweet, in Downtown Holland.
What year did you open Spring Sweet and how has the shop changed and evolved since then?
I opened the shop in May of 2011 (coming up on our 8 year anniversary in a couple of weeks!) and it was originally focused more on home goods. We had a VERY small selection of flowers, and about 8 styles of clothing. As each year passed, I started to realize that people wanted more unique clothing options at great prices, more jewelry, and more flowers! So, I started adding more to the mix. Three years later, the owner of September's Bride (the downtown Holland bridal shop) let me know that she was selling her business, and she wondered if I might be interested in buying. That proposition was definitely out of left field. I thought it over for a couple of days and decided that this could be a really interesting and fun business model. (Who doesn't love wedding dresses?!) We renovated their 2 story location to accommodate the original Spring Sweet on the main floor, and moved bridal to the second story. We slowly figured out who we were as a bridal shop, and what kind of dresses we wanted to bring to Holland, and it's been evolving ever since!
The beautiful wallpaper wall at Spring Sweet
When I walked into your shop as a bride in early 2017 as my ONE LAST ATTEMPT to find a wedding dress, it felt immediately different than the other's I had been in, and that set the precedent for an entire experience that just felt right from beginning to end. What was your intention in creating the shop?
I'm SOOO glad that you could feel that right away! My intention for bridal (and for the rest of the store) is to create an experience. A lovely, easy-going, laid back experience. Let's be honest, planning a wedding (can be) incredibly stressful. Timelines, budgets, family drama, keeping up with the Joneses. And then you add in trying to find a dress that makes all your dreams come true and makes you feel incredible and amazing and like the most beautiful bride that ever walked down the aisle? No thanks, we don't need that kind of pressure around here. I really want the experience to be pretty and lovely. But even more importantly, I want our brides to feel relaxed. I want them to find unique dresses that they haven't seen everywhere else. I want them to be guided by a stylist that really listens to what they want, knows what will look amazing on their body, AND keeps the dress buying experience fun and zero pressure. I've got the best women around working in our bridal salon. They really believe in the vision for the store and are a huge part of what makes the experience upstairs so great.
Forever obsessed with my wedding dress from Spring Sweet. Photo by Amy Carroll
You recently told me something I find pretty amazing. You created a stunningly gorgeous short film for your upcoming season and collection and you modeled in it. You said you wanted to make sure that someone with your body type was represented in your creative material. What was it like stepping out of your comfort zone to do that, and did it give you any insights into the dress shopping experience?
Gosh! THANK YOU!!! Making our bridal look books and videos are some of my favorite work we've ever done! And honestly, I can take no credit for that amazing video. Jackie Palmer is the videographer that put that gorgeous film together. She's a complete genius.
We've been working really, really hard to get some quality, beautiful, curvy girl wedding dresses in the shop. Now that we've got a good collection together, I wanted to make sure women of all sizes and shapes knew we had something for them.
Personally, I've been a work in progress for a while. I've only just recently started to like my body. Still learning to love it. It's powerful and strong. But also soft and curvy. And capable of so much. But sometimes, it's hard to continue to see yourself in that positive light when most of the advertising and images around you are women that look different (i.e. smaller) than you. I wanted to make sure our advertising reflected a wider range of women. Modeling was a major step out of my comfort zone, but I gotta tell you, I felt like a million bucks by the end of it. My friends and family and staff were cheering me on, and really gave me the confidence to put myself out there.
As for shopping insights, yes. Always. We're always learning in bridal. About what works and what doesn't, and how to make women feel incredible in their dress, and how to camouflage their insecurities. Having me try on all of our plus size dresses was incredibly helpful to know how to make them work for women, and what styles/designers we want to add to the mix.
Forever obsessed with my wedding dress from Spring Sweet. Photo by Amy Carroll.
Your love life is SO UNDER THE RADAR but I at least need to know his name and what you two do for fun
Hahahahaha.... I feel like I'm an open book! I'm not intentionally under the radar : ) But, his name is Joseph and he's an incredible man (and incredibly good looking!) We've been dating for about 10 months and honestly love doing just about anything together. We're both happy being homebodies and watching a good Netflix series... or equally happy surrounded by friends and family, having good conversation, and sharing good food. And travel. We love to travel.
Your girl group. Can we talk about them? I think Amy told me you gals have all been friends since you were kids, so I'd love to know more about these women, and what it takes to keep your friendships so alive, healthy, and fun through the flow of life
Of course we can talk about them! They are a HUGE part of my life. They are actually all sisters. I was good friends with Karri in high school, but we lost touch when I went away to college. We got reacquainted again in our early twenties. She invited me into their sister ritual of weekly girls nights, and I weasled my way into a friendship with all of them...hahahaha. They are my sisters now, and a major lifeline. They are kindred spirits. They are beautiful, wonderful and wise women. I think truly close relationships take vulnerability, and intentionality. We are honest with each other. We are incredibly vulnerable with each other. We celebrate each other's highs and mourn in each other's lows. We show up for each other. We make time for being together. We can sit in someone's living room and laugh and cry and talk about everything and nothing for HOURS. Our friendship is one of the best/most important parts of my life.
You are SO multipassionate. From bridal dresses to fashion to flowers to interior design to absolutely stellar marketing, you have a ton of interests. What freedoms did entrepreneurism open up for you? What would you be doing if you weren't in this shop?
I love that the store affords me the opportunity to get involved in a lot of different things. I love finding a new project or working on a new facet of the business. I think that's one of the reasons that buying the bridal shop felt right to me. I loved exploring something new. I don't want to get bored. However, I definitely feel like I'm a jack of all trades, and a master of none.
But I think I'm okay with that. Life is short, and there are SO many things I find interesting. I love that I've found a job that keeps me interested and engaged! Before I opened the store, I worked in corporate finance for 9 years. And I didn't hate it. But I definitely knew I couldn't do it forever. And after becoming an entrepreneur, I know there's NO WAY I could do it now. If I didn't have the store, I would still be working for myself. I have a million business ideas!
The Law Bridal. You have them and it's all I care about for the foreseeable future. What is The Law doing and how does it fit into the next moment in bridal fashion? What do clients need to know about this particular style?
I'm so glad you're digging The Law Bridal. We saw them in NY at bridal market and loved their aesthetic. And as a fun bonus, Megan (the owner) is from Holland! The Law is about minimal silhouettes and exquisite details. They cater to a woman that has a clearly defined style, for sure. I hesitated bringing this new line to the shop, because I know it's not for everyone, and not our "typical" bride. But, I just loved her work. You know how I only buy what I love? I couldn't resist. So, we started with just a few pieces. I wanted to bring this fresh bridal perspective to Holland. It's something that you would see more readily available in New York or LA, but hopefully making it available here will be an answer to someone's bridal dreams. I would say we're always trying to push the envelope in Holland, in regards to new styles. We always love a timeless look, but, just like street fashion, bridal trends change and we want to bring new and cool things to West Michigan.
An iconic The Law bridal look pulled off by The Elope Co. team for their winter editorial in Grand Rapids. The Law Bridal Leia Cape over the Lindsey dress by Elizabeth Dye from Spring Sweet. Modeled by Ray Anne Barker. Photo by The Kismet Collective. Design and Floral by Linnaea Floral. Hair and Makeup by Krystle Waivio. Shot at Wealthy Studios.
What are some collections you are really excited for? And give us the laywoman's lingo about what is happening in the bridal industry now that is different from say, even five years ago.
The bridal industry is constantly changing and evolving. Not only in bridal fashion, but in everything. It used to be that weddings all looked the same. The flowers, the hair, the dress, the venue, the vows. I'm SO excited that bridal is evolving. A marriage is intimate and about two people- shouldn't their wedding be the same? Shouldn't it be about the food they love, the venue that feels like a special gathering place, a gown that makes you feel like the best version of YOU? I'm really happy that weddings are taking on this new approach and bridal fashion is catching on. Five years ago, in West Michigan, all of the wedding gowns were the same 3 silhouettes. The same fabrics. Now, we've got several independent designers that design very specifically. Dresses that highlight an amazing lace. Gowns that feel like second skin. Wedding dresses that are as special and unique as the women wearing them. I get excited just thinking about it. We're currently really into minimal crepe gowns, ball gowns that have special lace details and a slightly vintage feel, and romantic, flowy chiffon.
In case you didn't already know, ruffles are the creme de la creme for 2019/2020 wedding season.
What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead, personally and professionally? What fuels you outside of this industry?
My biggest source of inspiration both professionally and personally is travel. There are so many beautiful and wonderful places in this world, and they're all inspiring in one way or another. Getting away also reinvigorates me. I am refreshed, and come back to reality with a fresh outlook and new ideas for my home and the store- excited to get shit done. Personally, I'm looking forward to more home renovations (well, looking forward to them getting DONE- it's a major work in progress right now). But I'm excited to get rolling on some more projects and finish more of the house. And spend more time with the handsome Joseph ; )
Professionally, I'm excited about some changes throughout the store that I've been wanting to make. Little things that I just haven't had time to finish, or create. There are also lots of new programs/incentives and creating lifestyle content for the store that I've had rolling around in my head for a while, and I'm excited to put them down on paper and start creating them with my team this year!
Spring Sweet is located at 56 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423, and the shop is open for general browsing from 10 AM - 6 PM, Monday - Saturday, with late hours on Monday and Tuesday. Bridal appointments are scheduled online at http://www.springsweet.com/bridal or by calling the shop at (616) 355 -1433. Follow along the Instagram goodness at @springsweet.