What a Bridesmaid Taught Me About Business

bridesmaid

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:

  1. Making her dresses with elastic so they fit all sizes and yet still look good.
  2. Shipping the dresses to the bride so she doesn’t have to send her bridesmaids to the store.
  3. 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.

Conclusion

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.

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Comments

  1. This is a quite intriguing post. The emotion and logic topic is something which stood out for me, people act on their emotions i.e when I went into a store today, something had been priced at £17.99, although this had been previously £35.99, my emotions got the better off me and I did not end up purchasing because of thinking the quality was not good. I saw a similiar pair of jeans and because they were prices at 39.99 I was more drawn towards them because they looked good and I assumed they were good because of the price.

    • Yeah, it definitely poses interesting questions. People are constantly utilizing logic and emotion throughout their respective days without realizing it.

    • I think you have no idea the real value of the clothes you see in stores. I used to work in a clothes store a long time ago and I received some jeans at the real price which was $10 or something while in the store they were sold at $50, so there is nothing strange in buying clothes when they are on sale because that is closer to their real price.

  2. Sue Blumenfeld :

    I loved reading this article! I haven’t been a bridesmaid for years, so I was a bit shocked at the $250 figure. I used to hate paying $100 for a dress to be worn once.
    I have had an errand service for almost 14 years. I recently started offering cleaning services. I was afraid to price my services too high for fear I wouldn’t get many clients. I decided that I was going to be offering top of the line service so I could price my services accordingly. I am so glad I did! I’ve never been turned down on a bid because I was too high.

  3. Neil
    I particularly liked the idea about before you start your business make sure you are solving a real problem… and ideally one that hasn’t been solved before. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I’ve priced my services well below what other are charging because I don’t believe you need to made huge profits to be successful however like you’re saying, possibly I should charge more. Thanks for the advice!

    • Yeah, maybe you need to. Good luck! hope it all works out..

    • The main point of starting a business should be to solve a problem. In the beginning you can start with lower prices but if you want to increase your profit you should first start to oversell to your customers and to offer them something better for a few $ more.

  4. Great post Neil. You always provide good post. I hope your friend really succeeds in her business. The wedding industry is huge and always happening.

  5. Derek Jensen :

    Neil, when I saw this headline I was thinking you were going to reference to the movie, Bridesmaids. I was wrong, but the lesson here is good.

    Just because you want to make money and gain the benefits you must be willing to give more than what you first think someone would pay for.

  6. Great advice Neil!

    I especially like the idea of “if there is a will there is a way”. In my humble opinion reducing your standard of living (living at your parents, making your own lunch, etc.) to go for your dreams will always pay off.

    It payed off for me as I am traveling around the world on $25 a day and livings my dreams.
    BTW: Once you’re ready to take your long overdue vacation, let me know. I’m sure we can come up with some awesome adventures for you :)

    Aloha,
    Marco

    • Awesome story. Yes, I am sure you will know when I retire, if I ever retire ;)

      • I think retirement is dead! Give up learning and you’re mind will fade.
        In that spirit you don’t have to retire to learn another language, experience a different culture or have a mind-blowing adventure. But you do have to take a break from what you’re currently doing :) Good Luck!

  7. Dam right about where there’s a will there’s a way, many of times we wish for certain things to happen, or to do certain tasks, but just cant find out how to, all we need to do is take a step back, and be more creative in what we want to achieve, everyone’s scenario is different, but what we can learn is how others handle various situations.

    “ Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing. ” – Albert Schweitzer

  8. I love this post. Really knowing your customers is so important.

  9. Yes, very true Neil…. learning should never stop.

  10. Everybody’s a businessman.

  11. I don’t know much about traditional businesses, but any business which revolves around Internet, must solve a problem. From face-book to Google, to any tiny blog on something, must solve some short of problems, in its own ways……….

  12. “You didn’t expect to learn anything new about business from a bridesmaid, right? I know I didn’t…”

    Really, Ramit? You know that normal, smart women with jobs and college educations act as bridesmaids for a very small part of their lives?

    Do you think that, by agreeing to support a friend at her wedding, women become stupid?

    This is like saying, “You wouldn’t expect to learn anything about business from a bachelor party attendee” or “You wouldn’t expect to learn anything about business from someone who washes their ass in the shower.” Yes, life is long, and people should not be marginalized or demeaned for something they do for a few minutes or days.

    You sound like an ass.

    • Gotta disagree. I think he is used a great title for effect and to elicit interest. MANY people believe they can only learn about business from a “Businessman”, i.e. old white man. Neil is using a unique business to show that one can glean solid business advice from non-traditional businesses.

      I also doubt Carrie has a problem with the title as she is getting great publicity for her business and is shown as anything but stupid.

      Don’t try so hard to be offended and offensive. You may wan to look elsewhere for signs of a sexist.

    • you are harsh with this comment. all he wanted is to use the power of good title so people click and read more….relax and learn.

      great post! so light and full of good points.

      carry on!

    • Sorry if it came off the title came off that way. My mom is the smartest person alive, and yes she too was once a bridesmaid :).

  13. Hi I love the topic, I am a Decorative artist; and I do Hand-Crafted; Hand- Painted gift Ideas for Bride & Grooms, I am just getting set to add another product to my line, now I just need to find out sources to show my products, not sure if I should stop into some of the Bridal shops to show them what I do, or talk to some wedding planners, I do everything from Hand painted Unity Candle sets with the Couples Photo on the Candle, to Hand Painted Table Centerpieces candle holders and favors, and Personalized Hand Etched Wine Glasses etc, I do not have a Website as of yet, because I am just starting out, but I have not seen any one offering the type of business products that I do in my area; I do other Gift Ideas as well for other occasions! I do have a facebook fan page; Creative Strokes by M.J.

    Thanks,

  14. The pricing advice is…priceless! I put myself out of my web/graphic design business many years ago by NOT properly valuing my time and abilities. Guess what…the IRS was more than happy to put a much bigger price tag on my work!!! Don’t learn the hard way, learn from me. Don’t sell yourself cheaply due to fears about potential reactions. Those who truly understand and value your expertise will gladly pay you what you want.

  15. Neil,
    Great post. It’s huge for the new business owner to boot-strap and keep it simple. Thanks for the great illustration.

  16. It’s right you can learn anything from anyone. The best learners are always ready to learn from anyone: even little kids.
    I love your post, Neil.
    Thanks

  17. marla guglberger :

    nice post! and…as we meet, work, or talk online, let us remember to treat each other with kindness…”the only thing we can really offer another human being is our own state of consciousness.” ram dass (aka dr. alpert), buddhist psychologist

  18. I like your spirit Neil of being open to learn from everyone.

  19. Loved the article. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, what a marvelous concept!!!

  20. Hi Neil,

    Great post! Keeping an open mind to other peoples ideas can absolutely help your business. In fact, having another persons perspective can sometimes open your eyes to ideas that you never would have thought of by yourself.

    I think that Corie has an excellent idea for a business and as long as she gets the word out, she shouldn’t have any troubles making it work.

    Thanks for sharing this story Neil and have a good one!

  21. Hi Neil,
    I am inspired by your deeds. You are so cool, because your ideas gives us lots of strength to be something in life. I am actually working on a Business Plan and it should be in action by 2012.

    Thank You,

    Michael Lobo

  22. Hi Neil,

    I came across your site after googling “Business Centurion Card Benefits” and boy, am I glad I found it!

    I love reading your articles and I’m really impressed with your level of business knowledge at such a young age.

    Keep rocking!

    Annie

  23. Thank, Neil.
    Our friends & relatives will help us to save money :D !

  24. This post help me a lot. But using emotions is hard for service sites. I really like this post and wanted to use the emotions logic into my business

  25. This is a great ideas

  26. Hi Neil, Great sharing and loved the post. This is where smart thinking comes from which new business ideas can emerge. Keep your eyes and mind open and new ideas will click…

  27. Neil, what a great post. Its true if you can solve a problem, you are through. You really rock. Keep sharing such posts.

  28. We do hear that there is no place for emotions in business since it leads to wrong decision and divert us from the profit making path.But as i believe solutions comes out from the problem itself….same as considering the emotion of the customer if we land up in the business it is definitely going to be a rich deal.

    Your post is superb Neil…

    An Addition to the quote “A happy bridesmaid makes a happy bride…..Not only a happy bride but a happy entrepreneur too”

  29. Nice reminders about the emotional side of business. I am overly logical and I tend to forget most people are not.

    BTW, you never said whether you ended up doing any business with her or if she did actually “pitch” you… although from the sound of your post she pitched you in an indirect way by not doing what you expected.

  30. Hey Neil,

    I can 2nd the emotion over logic thing. I’m in the wedding industry for a long time and EVERYONE is emotional… No one uses logic to make decisions.

    Do u think this applies to all humans or just wedding times? :-)

    • Denise Meredith :

      @Mary – definitely speak to wedding planners because you can show them what you do and they can recommend you to their clients. Use etsy too as that will help you get more business.
      I used to be in the wedding industry and trained as a planner but soon realised that I wasn’t particularly keen on weddings and I was constantly being asked to work for £4 an hour which is less than the minimum wage over here. I was dumb enough to think that a wedding is an event – it is but I didnt like dealing with bridezillas and groomzillas.
      I learn about business all the time and rebranded this year so I organise corporate events without a bride in sight LOL and during the past 5 weeks, I have set up a business networking company. To make ends meet (it has been a tough couple of years), I got a job doing admin work for a small IT company who taught me to do my own SEO work – now my networking business is on the first page of Google. I am always learning and even learn how not to do things by watching others and vowing that I will never treat clients in such an abominable way, I must be doing something right on that score because the MD of a rival business networking company has been quite derogatory about me behind my back and has changed his business model slightly in an attempt to compete with me – he vowed never to have networking meetings on Monday mornings and since I started a successful one, he is attempting to do the same.

  31. I have a comment on your first section. you wrote that “80% of bridesmaids don’t wear their dress again? Yet they spend hundreds of dollars on a dress that they’ll only wear for a few hours during a wedding” – BUT when I bought my wedding dress that was my aim – to wear it once in my life notwithstanding it costed several hundred dollars, so I object to you by saying that it is normal and not hasty purchase based on emotions.

    • Great point. I think a wedding dress is something sentimental that applies to you, yourself. Bridesmaids, although very important to weddings, aren’t the central piece. Again, this is just my opinion…I totally understand your point as well.

  32. Hi,
    Great possibility to observe and take right conclusions! That everyone can use. :)
    There are more than enough possibilities and we only need to find them and use them. Corie did: good research , good service, hard work.

    Jelena
    P.S.Thank you, for showing your respect of everyone who just do their job. As now here.

  33. There is a theory that everything is interrelated, your article further proves that point. I had also learned about the emotional aspect of business and consumer products through my partner who was a wedding cake designer in her former life. The wedding industry embodies the emotional aspects of purchasing and pricing.

    The bridesmaid may be on to something. Recently I read “Not For Free” by Saul J. Berman who discussed at least one emerging business that rents high end clothes and accessories and is doing quite well at it.

  34. Good stuff. I like how she is so devoted to what she wants to do and she makes all these sacrifices!

  35. To starting a business is not easy and Corien have the conditions that many not have; no rent, no food costs, not partying, can staying at friends and family, etc.
    But what she has done is to start a business in a small niche with great potential, what Corien have is that she belief in herself and she works hard to succeeds, there are the two most important pieces of being self-employed.

  36. Hello Neil,

    I think your meeting with bridesmaid is wonderful, It don’t matter if you don’t learn anything from her about business but she taught you , how to a bridesmaid live in her life.

  37. Couldn’t agree more about buying based on emotions. It’s almost always the case.

  38. Hi Neil

    You seem to pick out the best business headlines from different business ideas.
    Your quite right in explaining that emotions seem to overtake logic. This happens in everyday life with retail shoppers. Its that emotional trigger that seems to take there wallet out of there pocket and credit card to the retail till to purchase either a WANT or a NEED. The want always seems to be the winner.

    I have my wise shopping antenna alerting me everyday when I walk in a shop.
    Once upon a time I bought a pair of good business working shoes for $7.00 and wore these shoes for 5 years. I didnt have any other working shoes. These were my number one.

    I consistently applied black boot polish every week and brought it up to a nice clean sheen. I wore these shoes everywhere. The soles were nice and thick. Then I dedided that it was time to purchase another pair, unfortunately not for $7.00. They were about $30.00 and they only lasted 5 months.

    I agree in solving problems. Many business empires are made because of this fact.
    Your sure right when there is a will there certainly is a way. I’m trying to work on this will but there seems to be less hours in the day because I full asleep sometimes at my computer and dose off when I’m doing my 7.30am to 3.30pm job everyday.

    Thanks Neil

    Richard

  39. Yeah, definitely it was a great idea for any local person to start Business without any big investment, you can earn with your unique idea its true and hence proved ;)

  40. That is quite an accomplishment, and what a great idea to boot. I was fortunate enough to be in a wedding the the Bride’s father bought all of our dresses. So I have yet to succumb to the unfortunate spending on hayness dress that is expensive. I love how she is also super money savvy. It is smart that she has made the decision to not spend where she doesn’t have too. Does she have a blog or anything that she has put together regarding what she has done or how she is trying to accomplish it?

  41. What they tell you…. That you really see how crazy chicks are around wedding time! Lol

  42. Hi… you seriously need to become a writer ! Gosh… your articals are so interesting everytime i read them. and the way you put the stories and business together and make it fun to read is amazing. how many other motivational articals i read and they are so formal and some of them are boring but yours are never :)… you good man !!! love you

    Olya

  43. great article. I truly believe that one should keep learning all the time in business. It doesn’t matters whom you are learning from children, books, guru or business associates.

  44. interesting article, and as I can see on comments people thougs differ, for my opinion wedding dress is supposed to wear once a life time :)

  45. Interesting post. I’d like to comment first on People buy off of emotions not logic, that’s true – humans usually react on a situation based on their feelings and emotions. When we’re mad we tend to do something we regret in the end, sometimes we act impulsively. And yes, most of the time we purchase clothes we look and feel good at without considering other factors. But what I like the best is the last point Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, natural beauty stands out, so don’t complicate things, we are beautiful the way we are. Always remember in whatever dress we wear we are always beautiful because we are created in God’s image and likeness. Great job neil, keep it up!

  46. Martin Oddy :

    “People buy off of emotions not logic…”

    Yeah it’s pretty well documented and often comes up in business- & marketing-related books. Rational thinking, after all, is still a relatively new human trait in evolutionary terms.

  47. Hi Neil,

    When i saw this post thought you are talking about brides alone but you have explained all the facts really enjoyed reading it

  48. I really like how you are able to make these connections and basically turn every interaction or relationship into a learning experience. I guess the best player of a game is also its best student. Keep up the great articles!

  49. Great post Neil. There are more than enough possibilities and we only need to find them and use them. Corie did: good research , good service, hard work.

  50. Well all points are good but the one i really liked and 100% agree with is “The best businesses are ones that solve problems”.

  51. I know this is off topic, but where did you get that cool sidebar that shows your best blog posts?

  52. Jason Baxevanidis :

    When you said brides and bridesmaids buy on emotion you are 110% bang on….they defy logic.

    There is a specialty lender who gives brides loans for their wedding now, too!

  53. If there’s a will, there’s always a way.. another great post Neil, keep it up and more power.

  54. Hi Neil,

    When i saw this post thought you are talking about brides alone but you have explained all the facts really enjoyed reading it.

    Yogindernath

  55. Nice post about brides Neil thanks for sharing it

  56. There are nice tips new brides to start own business. Thanks for this helpful post.

  57. Hey Neil, I found this post quite interesting, particularly strat on was amazing. In which you said that people buy emotions and dont use logic. Haah!
    You know which thing bring me to your blog is the way you write your blog. I found it very simple , easy to understand and practice in nature…

  58. I have seen people who like to sell their product with logic, and fails in last. And I agree that If you are able to play with emotions, you can actually get sales.

    Thanks Neil

  59. perth internet marketing :

    Learning from anyone at anytime is one of the emphasize truth here. Let us not be a prejudice, but listen because we could learn something, whoever that person is. A friend of mine shared this link to me and I just scanned with your the topics and I’ve seen that it is very helpful. I’m blessed to come across this blog. Thanks for sharing your success.

  60. Hi Neil,

    Great post! well that’s what you always do. I find this post very interesting. This is a real intelligent article, at first I can’t really imagine how business can be linked to bridesmaid. Now I understood the reason behind it. Thanks or sharing!

    Joan

  61. I can really relate to this post. It is certainly intelligent thinking and applies to real world situations – and all types of customers.

  62. This is a pretty interesting perspective, I passed over it the first time thinking…”What the hell was he thinking”. After reading It made more sense.

  63. i am a high school student from Mumbai, India. i plan to go to the UK for my undergraduate studies in business and management studies.

  64. Very insightful business information. I think Brian Tracy would give the same sales advice as Corie Hardee.

  65. “People buy off emotions not logic.” Love this post, these tips ring true across every industry. Thanks!

  66. Alex @ Easy ways to make money :

    This is quite true Neil – Businesses that solve problems are really the ones that stayed longer and prospered in their own field. I remembered a small store who sells bolts and screws, though it may seem that this things really not that much. In time, that shop became the #1 supplier of all types of industrial bolts and screws. They owe that success from just solving small problems and that made them big.

  67. It´s absolutely true that people buy for emotional reasons. Another example is a group of kids all wearing the same stuff because peer pressure tells them it what they should be wearing. Wouldn´t you like to have a brand like that.

  68. I think Corie has a sensible head on her shoulders and will make a great entrepreneur in the days to come. It was nice to share her tactics here. Thanks for the tips.

  69. hey neil,
    yeah u are right i learned a lot from this post. great attempt.
    great tips as well.

    Thanks.

    Matt

  70. Loved the article. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, what a marvelous concept!!!

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