Editor's note: In the Start Me Up series, the Kellogg School spotlights young members of the Kellogg community who are bringing bold entrepreneurial visions to life.
Kacey Burgess knows finding affordable, stylish and unique bridesmaid dresses is no easy task. When your bridesmaids have newborn children, school and busy work schedules, it’s even harder.
“We live in a small area and there aren’t a lot of options,” the Bentonville, Ark., resident and bride says. “As far as going and finding what we were looking for in-store, it was hard to get everyone together.”
Burgess struggled for months before stumbling upon Brideside
an online boutique featuring more than 150 designer dresses that brides and bridesmaids can browse by color, style, fabric, length, designer and price. Brideside ships dresses or fabric swatches to brides and bridesmaids so they can try them on at home. Online sizing tools and customer support make the experience even easier.
‘Make the bride the hero’
Co-founders Sonali Lamba ’12 and Nicole Staple ’12 developed the idea for Brideside while at Kellogg. Already interested in starting a company in the wedding space, Lamba was further inspired by Intro to Marketing with Clinical Professor of Marketing Julie Hennessey
. During one particular class, Hennessey brought up the need to find an underserved group and develop a product for them.
“She said, ‘You build your new companies for people … [who] have a very clear pain point that’s not competitively served,’” Lamba says. “And as I’m writing this all down, I’m thinking, ‘This is totally bridesmaids.’”
The company launched in early 2013 with the help of mentors and classmates, some of whom agreed to model part of Brideside’s catalogue when they applied for and won a spot with start-up accelerator Dreamit Ventures
. So far, the partners seem to have found a niche supplying bridesmaids who don’t have the time for multiple fittings at a boutique. “We’re trying to condense those experiences to make the bride the hero,” Lamba says.
“You convince one bride to use your service, you sell multiple dresses,” Staple says.
What’s next for Brideside?
Lamba and Staple say they hope to develop more partnerships and expand their line of products — bringing in more dress designers, jewelers and shoe designers. The added accessories should help Brideside differentiate itself further from brick-and-mortar boutiques, Staple says. Still, they already have changed the way brides shop for dresses, consume fashion trends and plan that special day.
“The best way to stay competitive is to have an authentic voice and not blend in,” Staple says.
Read more in the Start Me Up series: