A former financial analyst is taking a leap into the downtown retail scene.
Lindsey Livesay plans to open Annalise Bridal Boutique at 1309 E. Main St. in October. She has leased the 1,625-square-foot space to sell bridal gowns, veils and accessories in an appointment-only setting.
A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Livesay worked for seven years as a financial analyst with National Geographic, Capital One, and GPM Investments.
A self-described “spreadsheet nerd,” Livesay doesn’t have any retail experience but said her time in finance will serve her well. She got interested in the business of bridal gowns when she got married and had to find one for herself.
“It kind of got started when I planned my wedding,” Livesay said. “I just got sort of enthralled.”
In analyzing the potential demand for her new shop, Livesay she heard of Virginia brides driving as far away as New York to purchase their gowns.
“They’re going outside of Central Virginia to get bridal gowns,” Livesay said. “I believe there’s a market for the gowns I just have to find the right avenues to (sell them).”
Annalise will sell brands including Anne Barge, Liancarlo, and Hayley Paige. Gown prices will start at $2,000 and go up to $6,000. Customers will consult with Livesay prior to visiting, then they can try on sample dresses and have their measurements taken for a custom dress.
Livesay said she reached out to designers and eventually met them in person at a bridal show in New York. She said one of the challenges of the bridal gown industry is navigating the buying requirements designers have and the mercurial nature of fashion trends.
“You have to spend X number of dollars just to maintain your territory rights with your designers,” Livesay said.
Livesay said she expects to spend $80,000 on inventory this year. Her uncle-in-law, Paul About, is helping finance the venture.
In setting up shop downtown, Livesay said she wanted to be in a part of Richmond where few other bridal shops are, to set her shop apart. Her storefront is part of a property owned and developed by The Monument Companies.
“I just didn’t want to be in Short Pump or anywhere out west,” Livesay said. “That’s kind of where the other bridal shops are and I wanted to differentiate myself.”
She’ll compete with other local bridal stores including Sealed With a Kiss, Bella Rosa Bridal, and Alfred Angelo Bridal in Short Pump. Further east, Urban Set Bride opened in Church Hill last year.
Despite the competition, Livesay said the esprit de corps shared among Richmond’s entrepreneurs in the bridal industry encouraged her to take a chance on a venture of her own.
“There’s a huge wedding industry here and they’re very tight knit,” Livesay said. “I just noticed there were a lot of startups and local businesses and a lot of support for those businesses.”