Today I had lunch with Corie Hardee, who not only has been a bridesmaid four times, but she also owns a business that revolves around bridesmaids. At first, when I met up with Corie, I thought I was going to get asked by another entrepreneur for money, but I was wrong. As we talked, she actually taught me a lot about business.
Here’s what you can learn about business from a bridesmaid:
People buy based on emotions, not logic
Did you know that 80% of bridesmaids don’t wear their dresses again? Yet, they spend hundreds of dollars on a dress that they’ll only wear for a few hours during a wedding.
Bridesmaid dresses can also be cheap, but women naturally want to buy clothes that make them look and feel good.
If you are trying to sell something, you don’t always have to appeal to people’s logic. If you can play with their emotions, you can make a sale. In many cases, appealing to emotion is stronger than appealing to logic.
The best businesses are the ones that solve problems
As I mentioned earlier, Corie has been a bridesmaid four times. Every time she has been a bridesmaid, she spent around $250.00 for a dress. One of her good friends has been a bridesmaid nineteen times, and she has spent over $4,000 on dresses that she has worn only once!
Instead of continuing the trend and buying dresses that a bridesmaid ends up wearing only once, Corie came up with a business idea that would allow bridesmaids to rent dresses. This way, they only have to pay a fraction of the price of the dress they would be buying otherwise.
Her business model sounds a bit unorthodox, but it solves a real problem. People hate spending a lot of money on things they don’t anticipate using much.
Before you start a business, make sure you are solving a real problem, ideally one that hasn’t been solved before.
Don’t take pricing for granted
When I asked Corie why brides and bridesmaids don’t pick bridesmaids dresses that cost $100 or less, she answered that those dresses are perceived to be low in quality because they are cheap. And bridesmaids don’t want to wear something that will make them look bad in front of hundreds of people.
Although Corie is able to get good bridesmaid dresses made for pennies on the dollar, she keeps her prices above a hundred dollars per rental. It’s not because she can’t make a profit charging less money. It’s because people perceive her dresses to be better when they are priced higher. And when I asked her how she figured this out, she told me she did this by surveying potential customers.
When you are pricing your product or service, you shouldn’t only base it on your costs or what your competition is charging. You should also base it on what your customers are willing to pay. You may end up learning that if you charge more money, you’ll actually get more customers like Corie did.
If there is a will, there’s a way
Corie is in her early 30s, and she is starting her first business. She doesn’t have much money, but she is really passionate about creating a business that revolves around bridesmaids. Even more important to her is to help bridesmaids save money.
When I asked her how she survives, she explained that she lives with her parents so that she doesn’t have to pay rent. She eats meals at home and doesn’t go out to party. And when she travels for her bridesmaid business, she tries to stay with family or friends instead of staying in hotels.
If you want to create a business and you don’t have the money, there are ways to make it happen. You just have to get creative like moving back in with your parents or borrowing money from friends and family. Or even returning your clothes to J-Crew like a buddy of mine did, which allowed him to put this money towards creating a company that did 38.5 million dollars in revenue.
The devil is in the details
Bridesmaids are picky about both what their dresses look like and how they fit their bodies. There is nothing wrong with being picky. It’s actually a good thing to pay attention to all of those little details.
If you can be picky by paying attention to all of the small details in your business, things are actually going to run a lot smoother. In addition to that, you’ll notice that your customers will be happier and more likely to tell others how great your company is.
A good example of this is Zappos. Not only do they automatically upgrade their customers’ shipping to next day air every once in a while for free, but they also offer a 1 year return policy to keep customers extra happy.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
Brides have a lot on their plates when planning their weddings. The more things you throw at them, the more stressed out they get. But if you make their lives easier, it’ll make them happier.
Corie realized that brides are typically stressed out, and they don’t need any additional stress put on them when it comes to picking out bridesmaid dresses. So, she decided to make the process simple by:
- Making her dresses with elastic so they fit all sizes and yet still look good.
- Shipping the dresses to the bride so she doesn’t have to send her bridesmaids to the store.
- Offering packing and labels so that bridesmaids can easily return the dresses after they are done using them.
If you can make life easier for your customers, they are more likely to come back and keep spending money with you. Just look at Nordstrom. They don’t just make your shopping experience easy, but they also offer great service.
You didn’t expect to learn anything new about business from a bridesmaid, right? I know I didn’t, but it shows that you can learn something new from anyone at any time.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. You can learn as much about business from a child as you can from a serial entrepreneur.