Inclusion Makes Good Business Sense
The pictures below may explain why I am so desperate for the bridal industry to become inclusive for all brides. I was that bride, who when shopping for her own gown, was squashed into dresses like a sausage roll, you could clearly see from my body there aint no way my curves were going to fit into a size 12 sample gown, weather you were going to leave the back of it open or not! Over the years I've met bride after bride who's been through exactly the same experience as me and I've had to listen, time after time to horror stories of how girls have been shown to the deepest darkest corners of boutiques with little or no choice of gowns available to them, they are told this dress doesn't come in your size, how much weight are you planning to loose?! erm excuse me but what gives anyone the right to ask a woman to loose weight to fit into a dress? The dress should work for the woman not the other way around and surly if she's spending a huge amount of money with you, its your responsibility to provide an abundance of sizes and styles that work for EVERY body....but then I get off my soap box and I loose the feeling of anguish over this whole situation and I realise that not everyone has my experiences or witnessed the things I have and so I decided its time to educate and come together!
My focus, when I say inclusion, is on sizing as mental health can be at its lowest point for brides when they come to shop for their wedding gown. so many brides feel pressured due to certain comments they read on social media. One of the most disturbing hash tags that was to appear over the Christmas period at a time when it is popular for proposals was #looseweightgainahusband. This caused quite the stair on social media after which, the account later removed and posted a formal apology!
I DO NOT discuss sizing with my brides and remove the metric size label from their gowns. Im so disappointed that in 2019, if you are above the average size of a 16 you will struggle to find a bridal gown that fits.
Here I am a size 22-24, ashamed of my body and covering up with a full sleeve and tights.
At a size 8, I wasn't happy and was suffering complications following extreme weight loss after gastric surgery.
Surgery reversed and now, a size 16-18, 4.5 stone heavier and a lot happier.
Working in the bridal industry and being customer facing for a decade, has had its pros as I have actively listened to customer feedback. Gaining knowledge from this feedback combined with me being a BA qualified designer and pattern cutter, I have had the platform to be able to question suppliers manufacturers and designers approach when it comes to curvy bridal.
So far I have received a great response including Phoenix plus rebranding to Envy by Phoenix and losing the plus size labelling and my work has encouraged a designer over seas, the phenomenal Manuel Tiscarino, to open up his sizing to be inclusive of curves. (His designs will be landing in my boutique later on in the year, another revolutionary move im making to give my curvy girls access to couture)
After lengthy discussions with my amazing mentor Caryn Franklin MBE about inclusion in the bridal industry she calls me a warrior, as she sees I am trying to make a positive difference…not just for the customers but also, for our industry as a whole.
So, I look to demonstrate, from my own successful business, with the response from my customers and the support from some influential people in the fashion and bridal industries; Felicity Hayward, Caryn Franklin, Manuel Tiscarino, Shanelle Armstrong Fowler and Hannah Almassi (to name just a few) that inclusion makes good business sense, and we need to try and pick up the pace in the bridal industry to keep up with the changes we see on a daily basis in fashion.
“We can no longer remain stagnant in the approach to diversity in our industry when we are competing with big players like the bridal retail chains and high street brands offering bridal collections but also millennials wanting to see change NOW.” – Marisa Rooney
This is the most important garment any woman will wear in her lifetime, and surely it is our responsibility as the companies who are providing a service and making profits from our clients to give the consumers the best experiences, which they will be able remember and take with them on their bridal journey.
I absolutely love what I do, my heart and soul belongs in bridal.
I can tell you what an impact I have made but I will leave that to my brides.
Here are just a few comments to reveal to you why you should be pro active in listening to the feedback, collectively we can make a change and improve the mental health of bride’s nation wide.
"I love the dress so much. And I actually loved myself in it too! Thank you for giving my confidence such a boost, it really is amazing what you're doing for curvy brides. So glad I chose your boutique." - Laura Anne.
"Where do I even start? What a God send you have been!! Jenny and I were both blown away by each others dresses on our special day, and we're so glad that we both put our trust in you. Where else in Liverpool, or indeed, the UK, can you get a curvy bridal, or indeed, shopping experience quite like this?! Curvy brides to be out there, take a trip to Liverpool for a bridal shopping experience like no other. Marisa, having you with us on our wedding day was an added bonus!!" - Jenna Watkinson
Im not going to lie, I was dreading my appointment. As a plus sized woman, you’re not made to feel like you can be beautiful, elegant or stunning.
When I stumbled across the Beautiful Brides Liverpool Instagram page and scrolled through, I instantly felt Marissa’s dedication and passion for inclusion of all plus size brides, and knew it would be worth travelling from the West Midlands.
And it was. As soon as me and my mom walked in to the boutique, I started to feel at ease, like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders and you fall in love with Marissa immediately!! Her personality is so infectious!
She was extremely patient and I even found THE dress!
It was an absolute miracle. I felt SO GOOD!! I felt like a real life princess, all thanks to Marissa. Could never thank her enough for making me feel like a beautiful bride and make me feel good about ME. Kirsty Homer
"When I first got engaged I was so excited to plan a special day with my partner - we quickly booked the venue and church and all the bit in-between ... but there was one thing I didn't want to do and that was go wedding dress shopping. I was nervous, anxious, sick at the thought of someone in a bridal shop to look me up and down and shake their head and say 'sorry we don't have much for you' ... I do my clothes shopping from my living room these days and I have converted my bedroom into the changing rooms! I did have this experience of the scrunched up face from one bridal shop and despite my efforts of buying the tightest spanks and expensive bra, it still wasn't enough to nip and tuck me into something they had. So I went home and did my research ... the closest shop was Marisa ... what did I have to lose? I lost it all in the first bridal shop anyway?! I booked in to see her and I was AMAZED at the reception I received, the warmth I felt and the happy smiling face looking at me. I had rails of choice, dresses that made me cry and Marisa who showed me how beautiful I was ... no shape wear needed. I was overwhelmed, excited, beaming from ear to ear. I didn't feel fat anymore. I felt normal. I can't thank Marisa enough for doing what she has ... there has been no stress or worry about my dress and I cannot wait to wear it! I've also been given this ball of confidence to venture out of my bedroom and onto the high street again, where some shops are opening up their doors to real women out there! I am far more comfortable in my clothes these days and even dare myself to go above and beyond my comfort zone. Sizing still does have a long way to go, but the small sense of high street inclusion is working wonders for the big girl that didn't want to come into town and spend a penny on herself. Regulate sizing and you embrace a whole new demographic of shoppers!" - Georgia Carney
"Thank you so much Marisa! To say I was nervous going dress shopping was an understatement, especially with being a plus size girl, I was expecting to hardly fit anything and feel uncomfortable but after seeing Beautiful Brides I knew that was the right place for me to go and I wasn't wrong. You made me feel like a princess from start to finish. I'm so grateful of such a lovely experience and you helping me find my perfect dress (and veil and earrings and tiara)! I just can't wait to wear it now!" - Katie Webb
"Well , we’re do I start on my wedding dress journey? I’ll never forget my first experience shopping for my wedding dress, I couldn’t wait to be wooed and to feel beautiful. Well, I was wrong two shops I went in and was shoved in a little corner with all the same type of wedding dresses and all because I was curvy. I got looked at like I shouldn’t be getting married, I came out feeling less confident then I already was, ugly and did not want to go in any more dress shops to feel unwelcome because of my size. Then, my amazing chief bridesmaid came across Beautiful Brides Liverpool, I was so nervous to go back into another dress shop but ohhh my what an amazing experience I was in for. Myself and my bridal party were greeted with a lovely smiley face and of course that was Marisa, I have never met a lady like her. We were welcomed with Champaign, treats, tea, coffee, but mostly the amazing dresses and choice of different styles.
Straight away within minutes I felt amazing in myself, I was excited to try on all the dresses, every dress made me feel like a beautiful bride.
Marisa made me confident in my body shape and nobody has ever made me feel like that, she taught me that it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are, everyone is beautiful no matter what.
I didn’t just find a wedding a dress, I found my confidence and learned to love myself again. I found a lady who believes in everyone and makes all your wishes and dreams come true !" - Kelly Molyneux
Everybody says a girl dreams of their wedding day their whole life. I didn’t.
Everybody says they have their dream dress planned since they were a little girl. I didn’t.
The reason why? I’m an overweight girl with zero self confidence. Wearing a dress filled me with dread. Everybody staring at me because I was the bride pushed my anxiety to levels like never before. I put off the dreaded day of going for my dress Incase they didn’t fit or the woman made me feel even more awkward or embarrassed than I already was about my size.
The day came.
From the second I pushed open the door I was made to feel welcome, comfortable, relaxed and excited for the first time in the build up to my special day. Marissa made me feel beautiful and made me begin to accept myself and my body shape just the way it was and for the first time I felt good enough to be a bride. She made me feel special and beautiful in my own skin. My day was made so special, going with my mum my daughter and sister it was truly a day to remember and one none of us will ever forget. The dress I chose was absolutely stunning I wouldn’t change it or myself wearing it for the world as I have never felt so good. Marissa is a wonderful person who pushes girls like me to love themselves and see myself the way my wife did for the first time in my life. I can never thank her enough for the day she gave us choosing my dress and it didn’t end there. When my dress arrived at the venue the label inside said it all. It was a very special message for me and still to this day I don’t know nor do I care what ‘size’ my gowns was. My new friend was there with me the day I faced walking down the aisle. She helped me to dress and gave me the last boost of confidence I needed to go down that aisle and amaze my family and friends with the new woman she had made me become. I looked just as amazing as she made me feel. I can never thank her enough, her words inspire me, and I will never forget everything she done for me. Thank you Marissa for everything you done for me and continue to do for every other girl in my shoes. Jacqui Balmer Atherton
I am pleading with all of our designers and suppliers; lets pick up the pace for the much needed inclusion and follow what is happening in fashion.