Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a huge honor. It’s also a huge pain in the wallet.
Looking to make the process a little less draining, Hyde Square resident Kathryn House founded Bridesmaid Trade, an online bridesmaid’s dress consignment shop. It brings former bridesmaids and their never-to-be-worn-again garments with soon-to-be-bridesmaids and their need for perfectly coordinated group pictures.
House and co-founder Jeanette Park started Bridesmaid Trade last summer, after House was disappointed with re-purposing options for her numerous bridesmaid dresses after a particularly busy wedding season.
“I am zealous about recycling and reusing everything, and I knew many women who shared a similar sentiment of wanting an alternative that’s less expensive and less wasteful,” House told the Gazette. “Thousands of women buy new bridesmaids dresses for weddings, wear them once, dry-clean them, and leave them hanging in perfect condition in their closets for years.”
After mentioning her problem to business-savvy Park, the pair got to work. Two weeks later, BridesmaidTrade.com was born.
The model is simple: former and prospective bridesmaids sign up. They list and browse dresses. Once a sale is made, the dress is shipped to House and Park, who inspect the dress to make sure it matches the online description and then send it on to the buyer. Dresses are usually priced at half the cost of buying new—former bridesmaids recoup part of their expense and new bridesmaids save.
Recently, Bridesmaid Trade also started renting popular dresses for $30 to $40, depending on shipping costs, and has started developing a model for buyers and sellers to connect directly.
Though Bridesmaid Trade hasn’t been in business long, House already has a few extraordinary success stories, like making a last-minute rental to a woman whose apartment had been broken into and her dress stolen the weekend before the wedding.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to help facilitate the process,” House said.
Bridesmaid Trade has hosted “toasts and posts” parties to help groups of bridesmaids from the same wedding list all their dresses together—“with champagne, of course!” House adds—and participated in Proxy Apparel’s Earth Day Gala and Fashion show as an eco-friendly vendor.
“We’re a small business excited to grow,” House said.
While House did not have any prior business experience, she told the Gazette that Park assisted her parents with their small business when she was growing up and is headed to Harvard Business School in the fall.