Cara Whyte, mum of three and wifey owns Story of My Dress Bridal Showroom, a gorgeous little shop in West Malling, Kent. Story of My Dress Bridal Showroom was born from a love of vintage and has grown into a treasure trove, where original vintage sits perfectly alongside Cara’s own designs. The shop is a dreamy haven for brides who are looking for something truly unique. We managed to grab a few minutes of Cara’s time to hear about her life as mum, lady boss and style sista.
The shop of dreams
Cara and her husband renewing their vows
Cara pictured right, wearing her handmade and restored dress to renew her vows. Originally worn and made by her very own Nanny.
What did you do before having the shop and what made you decide to take the
plunge and open your own shop?
I was a stay at home mummy for nine years, I absolutely loved it but the time came for me to have something else to satisfy me! My children were going to school and I knew I wouldn’t be fulfilled waiting at home for everyone! I started travelling around the country to vintage and alternative wedding fairs, this was amazing for three years and then I realised I needed a base! Luckily for me, the timing was right and my friend who has a shop told me of the little one next to her that was up for rent! It was a huge risk, life changing and added pressure to my already busy life. My gut was telling me to go for it! I knew deep down I could make it successful as I had done enough research and in my area there aren’t any vintage or independent bridal designers! My dresses are affordable and on trend, with vintage design details. I knew all the brides I had talked to at those fairs wanted something different and relaxed. Thankfully, the risk has paid off and I’m loving life, meeting new brides weekly – and seeing them wearing my dresses.
How do you juggle family life and being a lady boss?
Hahaha…winging it!!!!! I guess ultimately I’m quite strict with that line between my family and my business. I only work when my children are at school and on a Saturday, when my husband happily has the day with them. They do not see me on my laptop at home, if I need to I wait until they are in bed. Occasionally, I ask for help from grandparents if I need to do any evening appointments and of course on half terms. I am forever apologising for not replying to emails quick enough, nightmare!!! However, my babies come first. Touch wood, I’ve not been late for any deadlines or brides so far so it’s working!. Luckily, I am quite organised – so I know my timeline of brides and my dressmaker who works with me is amazingly helpful. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s overwhelming, especially in the half terms as I really want to be with my kiddies, but they have clubs they love and family they love to spend time with. My little girls also love coming to the shop and helping me on days I don’t have brides in, they especially like to model my accessories for me, super cute!!
What’s your fave emerging trend of 2018?
Not so much a specific trend per say, but a riding feeling from my brides and brides I see at fairs. They want to be one of a kind, they don’t want to wear the same dress as other brides. Be it with personal embroidery, or adapting my dresses to suite their specific tastes. For instance, I have a bride who shortened our florrie lace skirt, a bride who added a bell sleeve to one of our tops, a bride who made a separates look into a dress! They all walked away with a one of kind look and totally loved it! This, for me, is a big trend if you like – and something we are very happy to encourage!
What’s your style secret?
Do not care what other people think, wear what makes me happy, look how I want to look! Have fun with it.
“Do what you want to do, you cant please everyone so please yourself!”
Dream supplier to the shop?
Obv its you!!!!! (We blushed – BCD)Leather jackets get sooooo much love. Also the only other brand I buy in which is Rolling in Roses dresses, run by another absolute lady boss, who is so inspiring!
Top tips for a 2018/19 bride?
Enjoy the process, don’t get too hung up on the minor details and make amazing memories along the way. It all goes too quickly and you’ll love looking back at your planning process, fondly. I think we give our brides a really relaxed, friendly, happy experience. We laugh a lot and it’s always so sad to say goodbye on that last fitting! I have stayed in contact with a few of my brides, they become friends after spending so long with them! Again, do what you want to do, you cant please everyone so please yourself!
What’s your Monday mantra to get you out of bed and back to business?
If it’s sunny, I have no need for a mantra, just a coffee and cuddle with my three before they go to school!
Cara’s shop is 45 minutes from London, in a gorgeous part of Kent.
The Mill Yard, Swan Street, West Malling, ME19 6LP. www.storyofmydress.com