By Rachel Katz, Special to the Independent
Something borrowed, something blue, something old, and something new in Laguna Beach. Elizabeth Findlay Bridal is a new bridal shop in town with beautiful gowns at reasonable prices.
First time business owner Deborah Badillo opened up a shop for soon-to-be brides to obtain the dress of their dreams at a fraction of the cost of typical retailers. With a background in retail, Badillo has expertise in customer service and recognized a business opportunity in her own less than ideal dress-shopping experience.
Badillo’s focus in helping women find their wedding dress started with her own tribulations trying to find one for herself. She finally found the ideal dress, but it exceeded her budget. When she found the same dress online and discounted, she acted immediately and had it shipped to her. “All the dresses were starting to look the same and after you leave the store, you’re just near tears. You’re thinking like this is not going to happen. I’ll never find a dress,” said Badillo.
Unfortunately, the dress of her dreams didn’t fit and needed alterations. After that, Badillo realized she could help other women avoid the trouble she endured, with her own shop.
Badillo got to work and soon got the keys to her space at 763 S. Coast Highway last December and officially opened the store in April. When choosing a name for the shop, she decided to name it after her mother, who died before Badillo’s wedding day. She married Russell Furgason last November at the St. Francis By-the-Sea American Catholic Church in Laguna Beach. Her mother loved birds, so Badillo decorated the shop with hummingbird pictures to remind her of her mother. “I put them around so even though my mother wasn’t really able to be at my wedding, now she can be apart of all weddings now in a different way,” said Badillo, who takes pride in the personal touches she’s added.
“From the moment I walked into Deborah’s boutique and met with her, I knew she had something special,” said client Ai Linh Kroll, of Irvine. “I love that Deborah has created a gorgeous space where brides can shop for high-end dresses for less and brides can pass on their beautiful gowns to other lovely brides.”
Peggy Wright, a member of the service team for The National Bridal Service, says that consultants play a key role in helping a bride pick their wedding dress. “The biggest key to success for a store is customer service,” she said.
Not only does Badillo want women to find the dresses that are perfect for them, she also wants to give brides the shopping experience expected of bridal salons. Her shop is designed as a dress boutique to give brides the option to browse or receive one on one time with Badillo, who assists clients in making a selections.
The inventory of the store consists of couture sample and consignment dresses. Every dress that comes through the door is carefully chosen and handpicked by Badillo. She makes sure each dress is unique in its own way, but also selects an array of designs, from more modern to more traditional.
The dresses have exquisite features such as hand-beaded designs, Chantilly lace, and silk lining. Badillo says she has a lot of dresses similar to the one she wore on her wedding day.
Wedding dresses at larger stores typically start at $1,500 and can go up to $10,000 or more. At Elizabeth Findlay Bridal, dresses on consignment range from about $600 to $2,000 and sample dresses go from $1,200 to $4,000.
“I wanted to give brides an affordable option for a dress and I also wanted to give them the experience that goes along with it,” she said.