Beth's Headshot :: Carla Ten Eyck
This month, we're extremely happy to introduce Beth Chapman to you all. This sweet lady is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the bridal fashion world. Not only does she own and run a bridal boutique, The White Dress by the Shore, in a cozy, antique house, but she also has co-authored The White Dress In Color (with another installment on the way!) and does styling and consulting for women as well as for editorial shoots. Her focus on making sure each bride she works with not only finds the perfect dress, but also feels comfortable and beautiful through the entire process is truly inspiring. Read my interview with Beth, below, to hear more about what makes her bridal boutique special, what inspires her fashion choices and why it's so important to have a bridal dresser!
DANI :: How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
BC :: I have always loved and worked in fashion. I officially started my career in Ann Taylor’s corporate office right out of college. I started in an entry level position and worked my way up the ladder. When I left the company after a decade, I was a Vice President of Merchandising.
DANI :: What made you decide to open a bridal boutique and get into the bridal fashion industry?
BC :: During my time at Ann Taylor, I was engaged and got married. My passion for weddings really started then. I helped Ann Taylor to launch their bridesmaid collection and often found myself on the phone speaking directly with brides ... and I loved it! While shopping for my own gown, I was disappointed in the experience. I found that the sales associate were not as knowledgeable as I had hoped, the stores and the gowns were dirty, and being in merchandising, I wanted to change something about every gown that I tried on, but was told that was not possible. Ultimately, I had a custom gown created by a bridal designer through my connections in the industry. I worked one on one with her in her showroom and it was a very intimate experience. It was that experience that inspired me to create something similar for brides. I wanted brides to be able to shop in a space that was beautiful, with sales associates who were educated and knowledgeable. I envisioned brides having access to gowns from different designers, but that all had a similar hand and aesthetic and that were customizable, so that the bride could have a say in creating her look. I was able to bring that vision to life when I opened The White Dress by the shore in 2004.
photog cred :: Amy Trahant Photography
DANI :: What do you find most challenging about working in the bridal fashion industry?
BC :: The most challenging aspect is maintaining exclusivity to lines. When I first started in bridal nearly 13 years ago, designers only allowed one store per state to carry their collection. Now, there is a lot of over-saturation of markets and our own designers are selling from their websites. But, that just requires that we make the experience in our store that much better so that we stand out from our competitors!
DANI :: Do you have a specific signature style for yourself? And for your boutique?
BC :: My signature style is classic, with a bit of a fashion twist. That is also the aesthetic that we cater to in the boutique. Our brides love to shop at J.Crew, Kate Spade, and Tory Burch for their every day wardrobe. Generally speaking they love fashion, and want their wedding day look to be timeless, classic and unforgettable!
photog cred :: Laura DeCarlo Photography
DANI :: How have you created an experience for brides that differentiates The White Dress by the Shore from other bridal boutiques?
BC :: Firstly, I think our atmosphere itself sets the tone for the experience. We are situated in an old home that was built in 1763. It has hardwood floors, exposed beams and two stone fireplaces. Brides feel at home as soon as they step in through the wrap around front porch. Each bride is provided a dedicated sales associate and have a private room for trying on gowns with their family and friends. We strive to educate our brides on the fabrications and silhouettes that she is trying on and help her to uncover her wedding day style. We help to carry that vision through from her gown, to her accessories, to her bridesmaids and mother’s looks as well. I am a stylist as well, and have trained my staff on the art of styling. We love nothing more than creating the entire look for the bride and her party. Our favorite part is the champagne toast that the bride receives after she says yes to her gown!
We have also created signature services that we offer to our brides. Over 5 years ago we launched The White Carpet Appointment. This unique experience allows a bride exclusive, private access to the entire boutique for 3 hours. She and her guests shop while nibbling on catered treats and sipping champagne. The entire shopping experience is documented by a photographer and the bride leaves with not only her wedding day look completed, but with a fabulous swag bag.
The sister service to The White Carpet is the The Bridesmaid Soirée. During the soirée, a bride and her party have 2 hours of exclusive access to our bridesmaid atelier, which is a renovated barn that houses our bridesmaid collection. For 2 hours, the maids work with an associate to select their dresses while sipping mimosas and enjoying cupcakes. Each maid receives a discount off of her dress and leaves with a precious swag bag.
photog cred :: Amy Trahant Photography
DANI :: You do styling and consulting not only for brides, but for editorial shoots as well. How does your process work when it comes to deciding on a style (or styles) for a shoot?
BC :: Styling is such a passion of mine! The process for styling a shoot is not that much different than styling a bride for her wedding. I am presented with the shoot’s vision by either the magazine editor or the planner. From that inspiration, I scour the designer’s collections to find the perfect gown and accessories to complement the shoot.
Beth Chapman Styling Logo :: Coral Pheasant
photog cred :: Justin and Mary Weddings // beauty :: Erin Infantino // Gown :: Hayley Paige // styling :: Beth Chapman
DANI :: Why is it important for a bride to have a bridal dresser?
BC :: I always say that a Bridal Dresser is like an insurance policy for your wedding day. Having a dresser there allows the bride and her party to relax and enjoy the wedding preparations, because the steaming and prepping of the gowns, dresses and accessories is in the hands of an expert. I am also there to prevent and take care of any and all fashion emergencies that might occur. Having a bridal dresser present on your wedding day also assists the planner and photographer. The planner can focus on their important task of ceremony and reception set up rather than having to focus on dressing and bustling the bride. The photographer appreciates a dresser because I am available during the first look and portraits to ensure that every hair, and important gown detail is perfectly in place.
photog cred :: Carla TenEyck // beauty :: Vera Joyce Hair Studio // Gown :: Gustavo Cadile // styling :: Beth Chapman
DANI :: Where do you find your inspiration when it comes to trends and the ever-evolving fashion industry?
BC :: I am still a lover of fashion magazines! This time of year is my favorite because all of the Fall issues come out. I also love to watch the runway shows unfold each season!
DANI :: You and your work has been featured in many publications over the years. What has been your favorite editorial work thus far?
BC :: Oh my gosh! I swear, after every shoot, I declare, “that was my favorite shoot!” It is so hard to choose, as each has their own personality and aesthetic. If I had to choose, my favorites might be a collaboration with Kat Harris when we shot a floral Kate McDonald gown and striped bridesmaid dresses. My vision for that shoot came together flawlessly and I loved the end result. I also love the ballerina inspired shoot that I collaborated on with Justin and Mary. We only used one gown for that shoot. It was a simple collaboration between the photographers, the beauty person and myself. But, the end result was like bridal art!
photog cred :: Kat Harris // beauty :: Jennie Fresa // gown :: Kate McDonald Bridal // dresses :: LulaKate // styling :: Beth Chapman
DANI :: You co-authored The White Dress In Color with two women we’ve also featured in our “Who Run The World Series,” Carla Ten Eyck and Candice Coppola. What did you find most fulfilling in working on this project?
BC :: Firstly, I adore collaborating with these talented women. So that in and of itself is fulfilling. But, I also love seeing our work in a book. We have had editorials featured in countless magazines and on blogs, but there is something so special and timeless about having your work featured in a coffee table book.
photog credit :: Carla TenEyck // planning :: Jubilee Events // gown :: Hayley Paige // styling :: Beth Chapman
DANI :: How was your styling process different between The White Dress In Color and your second, upcoming book, The White Dress Destinations?
BC :: The White Dress in Color was a compilation of various shoots in all different locations around the world. The White Dress Destinations really focuses on weddings in a destination or hosting a wedding at home inspired by a destination. In this book, we not only show inspirational shoots as we did in the first book, but there is a lot of written content about planning a destination wedding, dressing for your destination, and choosing a photographer. In the destinations book the fashion had to be beautiful and inspirational, but also easily transported! I talk in the book about choosing the appropriate fabrication for a destination wedding and how to travel with your gown.
DANI :: Do you have one article of clothing (or accessory) you just could not live without?
BC :: Again, so hard to choose and it of course changes seasonally! If I had one thing currently, it would be new suede Sam Edelman lace up wedges. They are so comfortable!
I have been wearing them every day! They are easy to dress up or down! I am on my feet all the time, so comfortable (and fashionable) shoes are key for me!
DANI :: Do you have a favorite bridal designer?
BC :: My current obsession is with Carolina Herrera. I have always been a fan of Mrs. Herrera’s aesthetic and I am thrilled to announce that the bridal collection will now be available at The White Dress by the shore!
DANI :: Where do you see yourself and/or your business 10 years from now?
BC :: Ah..the age old question! Well, my children will be graduated from college by then! I can’t even believe that! Who knows, I may even be planning my daughter’s wedding.
I am not sure what the future holds, but I do know that it will always involve bridal fashion!
photog credit :: Carla TenEyck // dresses :: Donna Morgan & Theia // beauty :: Erin Infantino & The Beauty Bar // styling :: Beth Chapman
Thank you, Beth, for giving us a little more insight into what you do every day in bridal fashion. Your passion and dedication to the industry is inspiring and your boutique is absolutely beautiful and quaint. I know where I will be going when my time to walk down the aisle comes around!