Never underestimate the fury of a customer scorned, especially when that consumer is a bride-to-be, shopping for a perfect wedding gown.
Floravere cofounder Molly Kang was so mad after enduring small humiliations and big disappointments during her shopping odyssey that she channeled her anger into a disruptive bridal business model to take revenge on department stores and wedding gown “factories,” which turned what should have been a profoundly personal moment into a scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
“The company was inspired by Molly’s wedding dress shopping experience,” cofounder Denise Jin said. “All the dresses she loved were way out of her budget, and those within her price range felt crunchy, mass-produced, and not-so-chic.
“The average price of a gown is $1,700,” said Jin of Floravere’s offerings. “We wanted to make luxury more affordable. The entire collection is under $3,000. We had to rethink every step of the supply chain. Not everyone has the budget to afford a Monique Lhuillier.”
But Floravere’s design team comes from luxury bridal brands such as Lhuillier, among others. Its direct-to-consumer business model cuts out the cost of wholesaling and operating a fleet of stores, although it does have a concept store in Manhattan with another due to open in Los Angeles.
Kang wrote an admissions essay for Stanford Business School about her concept. It was incubated and one of her professors was her first investor. Serena Williams is another investor. Needless to say, Kang got an A on her assignment.
The company has served 7,000 brides since its launch in November 2016, and experienced 12-fold year-over-year growth, Jin said
Floravere allows future brides to order online and try on wedding gowns in their homes. Floravere has opened nine showrooms across the country that offer a bespoke experience driven by retail technology, and recently opened its first concept store, a 1,500-square-foot space at 18 Jay Street in New York’s TriBeCa.
“In New York, we previously partnered with the Mondrian. We were just seeing too much demand,” Jin said, explaining that Floravere closed its showroom at the hotel in anticipation of opening the concept store. “In other cities, [our showrooms are] in luxury hotels.
“The concept shop has lots of luxury touches,” Jin said. “Everything we learned from hotels.”
The concept store has a functioning flower shop from Thursday through Sunday, rounded velvet club chairs, a custom lacquered sculptural coffee table, vintage rugs and a mid-century daybed. Bookcases display brands that may appeal to brides during the big day and beyond. For the wedding, there’s Jennifer Behr jewelry and headpieces, J. Hannah and Ceremony fine jewelry, and Kosas conscious beauty; for the honeymoon, Solid & Striped swimwear, Cuyana travel bags, Journelle lingerie and Dedcool fragrance; and for married life, The Land of Belle home decor.
Floravere’s beginnings as a direct-to-consumer brand ensure personalization is built into every touchpoint of the customer experience, Jin said, explaining that the favorite styles preselected online by the bride will be waiting for her in one of three private suites when she arrives at the store, along with personalized details such as a digital wedding mood board and custom playlist, all facilitated through Floravere’s digital questionnaire.
“The Millennial woman has already done research,” said Jin. “Social media has changed how brides shop. Eighty percent of our brides have a Pinterest board.”
When a client arrives at the concept store, she’s greeted and offered a drink from the wet bar. Then, the double doors of a large “dream closet” are thrown open by her assigned stylist. On a recent day, the closet was filled with gossamer gowns, including a ballerina-inspired A. Pavlova style — all dresses are given literary names — with a crepe bodice, plunging V neck and asymmetric, tiered lace skirt, $2,750; H. Golightly, an architecturally inspired dress made from ivory silk mikado, $2,250, and J. Didion, a fit and flare silhouette with tiny floral lace details on the bodice, hand-placed and sewn for a textured gown with draping, $1,775.
Floravere offers samples from sizes 0 to 26. “Usually everyone tries on the same sample, regardless of their size,” she said of traditional bridal retailers. “At these price points, you’d be out in the open and another bride’s mom would be commenting on the fit of your gown.”