Ashley McAchran has a passion for design, customer service, Chai lattes (honestly, who doesn’t?) and building a brand that dominates the Hampton Roads bridal industry. We first met at All the Rage in the Hilltop East shopping center in Virginia Beach. If you’re local and you’ve purchased anything from a prom dress to a wedding dress in the past 15 years, you’ve probably met Ashley too.
Her career began as a part-time gig at All the Rage in 2000 and quickly turned into a full-time job that lasted 11 years. She has a passion for helping women find the perfect dress for any occasion, especially their wedding day. But by 2011, Ashley felt that she had reached her maximum potential at the company and made the difficult decision to say goodbye. She spent the next three years learning the ins and outs of marketing and graphic design while also working part time as an assistant producer at Vow Bridal shows.
When Ashley met her now-husband, he encouraged her to return to All the Rage, only this time as the owner. So, she bought the business in 2015, restructured the store and introduced Studio I Do Bridals to the brand. Under her ownership, the bridal business doubled in size in just one year. Under Ashley’s management, Studio I Do secured local exclusivity with premier design house, Allure, making them the only place in town where a bride can access the coveted dress line. Today, Ashley herself helps curate the Allure collections and even designs a few dresses. And. We. Got. To. Try. Them. On.
Look at these beauties! I almost cried when I put it on (and when I had to take it off), and I’m not even engaged. The girl has talent.
But not only is Ashley skilled at bridal design, she knows the business, and more importantly, she knows how to cater to her customers.
After seeing a need for an “off the rack” option for brides with smaller budgets, Ashley opened Here & Now, just a stone’s throw away from Studio I Do. Between the two boutiques, there’s something for everyone.
Ashley says she owes her accomplishments to her own work ethic and drive, as well as the support of her husband who constantly reminds her to take risks and not be afraid of failure. After learning more about her business, we don’t think she has anything to worry about, as she expanded with stores now in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Roanoke. When we sat down to interview her, we asked what it is that makes Studio I Do so successful in an area inundated with bridal salons? Her response? It’s all about the experience.
“Studio I Do consultants devote themselves entirely to every bride that walks through the door,” said Ashley. “While most days we’re fully booked, we continue to encourage brides to schedule appointments so we can give them our full attention and the best possible service.” The store also prides itself on being organized by style, not brand or price like most bridal boutiques. “This ensures that brides don’t become overwhelmed by the experience,” noted Ashley. To top it all off, Studio I Do is also one of the only bridal salons that doesn’t pay its consultants commission, so a bride never feels that she is forced into a sale.
It’s hard not to be impressed and inspired by such a remarkable success story, so we asked Ashley to dish out some advice for you, dear reader:
“If you’re looking to start a business I would say to focus on your strengths. You won’t be able to be the best at everything so find your focus and find the right team to help you get there.”