The journey to finding the perfect bridal gown often elicits a wide and sweeping range of emotions – excitement, fear, joy, frustration – creating a deeply personal and memorable experience that is often shared by close friends and family. With this in mind, Krysta York and her team of stylists are decidedly raising the bar for wedding dress shopping at Charlotte’s Weddings & More in Portland, Oregon. After purchasing the business in 2007 from its original owner and founder (named Charlotte, hence the store name) Krysta set out to further improve the unparalleled experience that clients receive at Charlotte’s, all while staying true to its foundation: “One thing that was so unique about Charlotte’s was our private bridal suites. So when I bought the store, those needed to stay, and as I expanded we have added more. It’s a feature that our brides always rave about!”
One of Krysta’s most significant new additions is a training program for Charlotte’s stylists, designed to create a sense of cohesion among her team while enhancing customer interactions. By providing regular training with a continuously-evolving program, Krysta has ensured that each of her stylists maintains the confidence that brides have had in Charlotte’s for decades. Overcoming challenges like the 2008 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened the resolve of Krysta and her team. She now speaks publicly to others in the industry on a variety of topics, such as inventory control, training programs, capturing reviews, pricing, hiring and employee retention, using her own experiences and lessons learned as a guide for success. Another key factor in shaping the Charlotte’s experience? Building solid relationships with affiliates and designers built on trust.
As a result of Krysta’s investments in her staff, the Charlotte’s team is a major reason this bridal boutique stands out today. “The biggest accomplishment I’m most proud of is my employees, past and present,” Krysta says. In taking extra initiative to hire individuals who truly care about their brides, and who would continue to grow into strong and independent young women while inspiring beauty and confidence in others, Krysta has created a hardworking, loyal and dedicated family to represent Charlotte’s, and who she considers to be the backbone of her company.
Stylist Stephanie Jarrett is one such member of the Charlotte’s family who expresses her affection for working in an environment that is largely centered around empowering others, both customers and employees alike: “I love that I get to work in a place that is led and run by ambitious and kind women. Our number one priority every time we open our doors is to not only help brides find their gown, but to create life moments, and our brides can feel that.”
Beyond simply finding the right wedding gown, Charlotte’s stylists like Stephanie seek to know and understand their brides, and show them that all brides are deserving of a more luxurious, and less intimidating, dress-buying experience. “Our goal at Charlotte’s is to create a safe and welcoming environment for brides to have the space to not only find their dress, but to create memories as well. We do this by curating a diverse collection of wedding gowns to fit ladies of all shapes and sizes, with well-trained stylists to help and celebrate you, and private suites that create an intimate experience for brides and their guests,“ Stephanie explains.
Before ever trying on their first gown, every Charlotte’s bride is spoken with ahead of time for the opportunity to share vital information about their wedding, and then interviewed upon arrival to their appointment by their personal stylist- all an effort to better understand the bride’s individual needs. The extra time and effort taken to get to know the bride is what makes the gown selection process so unique for each Charlotte’s bridal experience. Gowns are not simply picked out based on the bride’s own choice in style or design, but also with deep consideration for the type of wedding event, the bride’s personality traits, and any fears or concerns that brides may have over finding the right dress.
By closely listening to the bride’s hopes and expectations for their wedding gown, while taking into account any prior gown-shopping experiences, Stephanie is able to select gowns that are not only beautiful, but are right for each bride in every way. “Brides feel like they can trust me to help them see the best parts of themselves, and to celebrate that by finding a dress that is perfect for them. They feel like I listen to their wants and desires, and I am more like a friend helping them find their gown, versus a salesperson,” she says.
Attesting to the personal Charlotte’s experience is Lauren Allee of PNW Weddings, who Stephanie directly assisted in expertly finding the perfect bridal gown. With a professional background in the bridal industry, Lauren had her own hopes and expectations while searching for a wedding dress. After a disastrous first appointment on her day of planned bridal shop visits, Lauren entered the Charlotte’s showroom wary and discouraged after having previously been pushed to settle for gowns that weren’t exactly what she had in mind.
“I was blown away by Charlotte’s,” she says. “Stephanie pulled 5 or 6 dresses that were all perfect, but I felt an instant emotional reaction to ‘the one’ – there’s never been a dress that’s more me.” Affirming the Charlotte’s goal of making their brides feel comfortable in every way, Stephanie succeeded in providing Lauren with an intimate, exciting and stress-free experience that “felt like shopping with a friend.” Aside from the breathtaking choice in designer gowns, Lauren was also impressed by the chic decor, friendly team of stylists and private salons that provide every Charlotte’s bride with an elite experience.
Thanks to Krysta’s commitment to her business, and the passion and care of stylists like Stephanie, Charlotte’s has grown more popular than ever and is ready to continue serving local brides for years to come.