This time for the supplier love series, I’m heading back home. Jemma and I grew up in the same town and have mutual friends, but never knew each other. When I discovered Jemma’s bridal boutique in the Old Town, Hemel Hempstead along with the fact that we both started out businesses at around the same time, this was exciting. And if you see the gowns Jemma has on offer at Halo and Wren, you’ll totally start to understand what I mean. Here are some words from Jemma, the founder and Director of Halo and Wren about her journey into the wedding industry, her love of cake and how to really identify ‘the dress’ and why staying at home is life’s biggest adventure.
Tell me about you! What’s your background, an unusual fact about you & your journey into the wedding industry?
Well, Halo & Wren was created because of my own, let’s just say unique bridal gown buying experience! I wouldn’t describe myself as a Bridezilla but I did visit 11 boutiques, queued up for two sample sales, drove the length and breadth of the country trying on second hand gowns, had a fake one made in China and finally imported the gown from the US! So, to use that old cliché ‘been there, done it and got the wedding dress’ would be an understatement. I feel perfectly experienced to own and run the modern bride’s bridal boutique because it’s everything I didn’t get as a bride myself.
What do you love about your job? What job title would you give yourself?
Every single thing about my job is an absolute dream from styling the store, to picking the gowns, to running the social media and creating the brand and the cherry on the cake is finding the brides their dream gown (and then seeing a picture of them in it getting married!). I would like to call myself Owner but that simply states that I own the business, when actually I am knee deep in every single detail and aspect of the day to day running of the boutique and appointments so I guess Director would be closer?
What inspired you to create your company?
I didn’t realise it at the time but throughout my own bridal buying experience, I was learning. And it wasn’t how to run to a bridal boutique! It was ‘Why am I not catered for as a modern bride’. So once I was married, I was able to reflect on my bridal gown shopping and create a business based on what I should have received and didn’t.
What’s different about the service you provide to others?
The whole experience of H&W has been thoughtfully created right from the easy online booking system to the chic, beautiful gowns from indie designers around the world that are affordable and unique to relaxing, inclusive shopping environment through to the tiny details like the block heel, soft dusky pink velvet heels you try your gown on with. But the real main difference is ‘care’, I actually care about my brides, their experience with me and finding their dream dress is my number one priority, I would never make a bride feel like a number, just another wedding. Every bride’s journey is important to me.
What is your favourite part of what you do & why?
It’s an easy answer and that’s helping a bride find ‘the One’, I always get asked if I will get married again so I can wear one of my dresses and honestly the first year after opening, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t suggested it several times to my husband, but now, I don’t need too, I get that kick and that buzz and that the emotion that I am craving when one of my brides picks a H&W gown.
What advice do you give your brides when choosing their wedding dress?
There is so much advice out there but this I find is one of the most asked questions instore:
How do I know it’s ‘the One’, you know what this is such a tough question to answer because we’re all so different, you’re not going to react the same as your best friend, your sister, your mum, your neighbour’s aunties daughter when they found their dress, so don’t worry about the whole ‘Oh you just know’ malarkey. There are no rules, yes it can be the first dress, in the first shop, yes it might make you cry, no it might not make your Mum cry, yes it might be the one you were least expecting and yes it might be the one you were expecting, you don’t need to compare your journey to the dress with anyone else’s to confirm it’s ‘the dress’, you don’t need to feel overwhelming sensations of emotion, you can just feel good in the dress, it’s enough to look in the mirror and think ‘hey, I look pretty dam amazing in this and it’s comfortable too’. AND, you know what else, I take my job pretty seriously and it’s my passion to make you feel relaxed enough in my company and that your true feeling and thoughts about how a dress looks and feels on you are encouraged and naturally you will speak how you feel, and I will help you, finding my bride’s dream dresses and making sure they have the best experience is by far the upmost important aspect of the appointment and I do it in the most supportive way.
What’s your favourite food (if you can choose)?
Burrata, gimme all the Burrata and then some more. And bread obviously.
What is your favourite cake flavour?
Carrot cake all the way, love a spicy, nutty, thick with icing slice of carrot cake and a steaming mug of tea. I would happily but not healthily eat a slice of carrot cake a day for the rest of my life.
What do you do when you’re not working?
My husband and I have a young family Poesy Wren my daughter who is six and Heath my son who is five along with Bunty the sausage dog and Luna our rescue dog and we have just moved to the country and purchased a run-down cottage with grand plans of a dream home in the country so our days off are filled with battling overgrown Ivy and feeding the cows at the bottom of the garden and plenty of welly walks around our local area with frequent stops at the farm shop café. I also have recently begun Bikram Yoga at a local studio near Halo & Wren; Indee Yoga and I love it because it’s so hot, I lay on the mat and pretend I am somewhere exotic (and I get a workout too!)
What’s your most memorable adventure? Tell me all about it!
Without it sounding like a cliché, I feel very content in my life and very grateful to have a loving family, a dream job and for everyone to be relatively healthy. I feel like everyday is an adventure and the little things really mean make the most memorable experiences, last week the children stayed with their Grandma for one night and we managed to get a table at a fancy restaurant close to us but the only space they had was 5pm, by 18.15 we had finished four courses and three cocktails and were trying to find somewhere to go! We had a night off and wanted to make the most of it, we found a table in a local craft beer and gin bar but could only stay until 19.00 as that was booked up too, nowhere else had space so we decided to wander along the high street and spotted a little family run Italian, we asked if it was ok for us to go in and before we knew it we were eating a full size, homemade margarita pizza, whilst drunkenly giggling away to ourselves. We then made our way home and went for a late-night dog walk and watched the stars. Perfect Wednesday evening, that we’ll never forget.
I couldn’t agree more on that it’s the smallest things that make the biggest adventures. But you have to also see the goods to know what Jemma’s venture is really all about. You can view more of the gowns and designers she has to offer over on her website as well as see more behind the scenes at the stunning setting of here bridal boutique is a gorgeous location here on Instagram.
All photos by Little White Photography