11/05/2012This season kicks off with me closing my store on Wilshire Boulevard, which I was in for more than 20 years, for the very last time. Since this was such a significant moment for me, I wanted to take you behind the scenes to share what this experience really meant to me – and to give you the inside scoop on the new space!
The feeling of leaving my store, which you saw in the episode, was bittersweet. On one hand, no longer owning the building felt like a loss; on the other, I felt like my fresh inspiration was sort of zapped and it was time to go. Still, the familiarity was comfortable, and I was sad to leave. After all, I raised my four children in that building!
That building also taught me how to take on a challenge and emerge yet stronger. My very first salon, which I was in for about 10 years, had windows half a block long. These displays were my business card: In bridal, all you need is a mannequin with a wedding gown in a window and you can start selling almost immediately. The location on Wilshire, however, had no windows at all. Without displays, I had to rely on the brand I’d built up and reach out to all of my past clientele to help spread the word that I’d moved and was open for business – not to mention call every catering manager, hotel concierge and party planner in the city to share the news!
I also invested in a 10' x 6' brass sign of my signature to place on the front of the building and worked harder than ever to get brides through the door. This effort paid off tremendously. My business relationships grew, and my brand became firmly established. All because I took what could have been an enormous detriment – no windows on the front of a building – and turned it into a positive.
While working from my Wilshire salon taught me so much, I had to come to terms with the fact that it was time for a change. One of the biggest issues was the fact that the structure and interior were pretty dated. The building (decked out with travertine marble and terrazzo floors) was classic ‘60s. Younger clientele, who are used to Beverly Hills businesses changing looks every couple years to stay modern, were not as familiar with what some may refer to as its "established" look. The landlord wanted me to shut down for six months in order to get the building updated and overhaul the entire plumbing and electrical systems -- to me, staying just didn’t make sense.
So, again, I had to turn a negative (having to move) into a positive (new opportunity). The unknown is always intimidating because, by nature, we tend to gravitate toward what is familiar to us. But I’ve learned that we need to reach down and trust that even if we are faced with challenges, the time is going to pass in spite of everything.
After I found a new space on Melrose, I began the task of renovating it into my dream salon. Even though I'm a veteran retailer, the anticipation of the actual move and getting used to the new set-up was definitely a task.
The first issue was the square footage. The new space is actually a bit smaller (the Wilshire salon was 8,000 square feet broken up into offices and cubbyholes, while the new location 6,000 square feet). However, the configuration is more spacious. Therefore, the layout of inventory can be a bit more challenging.
Designing a brand-new space was thrilling. I wanted to create a place that’s both extremely comfortable and luxurious. My inspiration was, believe it or not, the Apple store. I love the clarity of the layout and accessibility of product. With my vision in mind, I designed one area to be like a hotel lobby or elegant living room (the “great room"), and another to reflect the interior of a gorgeous closet (the “boudoir”). There’s also a “grand salon” that’s painted in colors of kiwi and fog.
As I say in the first episode, I felt like a bride myself opening the new store for the first time. Brides have the giddy, butterflies-in-the-tummy sensation -- they know exactly what they are getting into, but their excitement doesn't diminish.
While I’ll always remember the store I had on Wilshire, I love the new location and all the opportunity that has come with it. Everyone -- including the many tourists that come to meet me (the show is very popular in Europe) -- is overwhelmed with the salon, how gorgeous it is, and how magnificent the inventory is. I wanted people to feel right at home even in the grandeur and I feel we have achieved that, especially with the addition of a fantastic candy station that we’ll change every month for our clientele to enjoy.
This move was a big transition for me, but, as with many of the challenges we face in life, I found strength in reminding myself that every chance or opportunity is something we need to hold on to, embrace and look forward to. Because with that attitude, we can be sure that … the best is yet to come!
In the premiere episode of "Brides of Beverly Hills," Linda Hogan tried on gowns in the new store! (Credit: DCL)