When you enter All the Rage in Virginia Beach, the special occasions department of evening gowns, party wear and prom formals sparkles with promise and allure. A blur of pretty dresses freshly picked by a talented salesperson whisk by, ready to be shown to an excited client attending a formal event. Enter the adjoining room that is Studio I Do Bridals and the energy is palpable, with sounds of joy and confirmation as a bride-to-be stands before her closest admirers to say yes to her dream dress.
Only someone like Ashley Kimberl McAchran, the president and owner of All the Rage who began her journey within these very walls as a high school student, could have the vision to one day own and operate not only this Virginia Beach location, but broaden the brand with three more stores and an exciting future ahead.
Vow Bride editor Kim Wadsworth got to the heart of Ashley McAchran’s beginnings and follow her successful path to where her business is today.
Kim Wadsworth: Where does your bridal story actually begin?
Ashley McAchran: I began my journey in the bridal industry at the age of 16 when I was brought on as a part-time Prom & Special Occasion Stylist for All the Rage stores. After a few months learning about the special occasion side of the shop, I was ready to learn more about the store as a whole and made my way to the bridal department. I assisted the bridal consultants with merchandising, catalog pricing and organizing bridal files. I took in every experience they had with their brides – falling in love with all the special moments and memories that were created with each. I knew I had found my place in the world or weddings.
How did you finally get involved in it?
In 2011, I was given the opportunity to work for Barbara Anderson, who has owned Style Events Wedding Planning and Design Company for over 20 years. The experience working with her expanded my awareness of all the aspects of the wedding industry. I loved planning the details with couples to make their wedding day vision come to life. This enhanced my love for the industry and my passion for styling couples for their special day!
What was the inspiration behind the Studio I Do brand?
When I returned to All the Rage in 2014 to purchase the store, I knew the name recognition was so strong in our community for having a large selection of prom and special occasion dresses. However, I always felt the bridal department was a hidden gem. For years, they helped brides and their bridal parties find the perfect gowns while having a special experience. I wanted to take it to the next level and highlight All the Rage as a place that brides would visit for all of their dress shopping needs. Not only did the bridal department require a new look; it needed a new name and image that would speak to newly engaged couples throughout Eastern Virginia. In December 2014, All the Rage in Virginia Beach introduced the Studio I Do Bridals brand to the 757 and it quickly grew into one of Virginia’s largest bridal purveyors.
Its rapid success was made possible by enhancing a bride’s experience while educating her on the in’s and out’s of wedding dress shopping. This opened our eyes to yet another trend and market of the bridal industry that Studio I Do could not fill. Here & Now Bridal was created for brides looking for a quick off-the-rack option for their “dream dress at a dream price.” Here & Now Bridals also provides alterations for any bride that needs assistance finalizing their wedding day look.
You are quickly expanding the All the Rage brand. You have two stores in Virginia Beach and one in Chesapeake. How are you making each one distinctive?
Since 1980, All the Rage in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake offer the largest selection of prom, special occasion, bridesmaid and formalwear dresses in the Mid-Atlantic region as well as rental suits and tuxedos. Both locations proudly provide the same fun shopping experience to their customers.
Studio I Do Bridals located at All the Rage in Virginia Beach is known for its large selection of special order bridal gowns in an array of styles and sizes, with a variety of price points averaging from $1,000-$4,000. Studio I Do prides itself on giving each bride a stress-free and personalized experience, ensuring that each feels beautiful and confident with their gown purchase.
Here & Now Bridal carries a vast selection of off-the-rack bridal gowns ranging in size from 4 to 24W; and 40 percent to 80 percent off regular retail prices. We are excited to offer a high end dress shopping experience to brides on a budget; as well as alterations for any and all brides in the area.
Are there any plans to expand and franchise your brand?
In 2016 I had the pleasure of meeting Jordan Winfield who had years of experience in the bridal industry; and has the same love and passion for styling brides that I do. Instantly I knew that we were meant to work together and bring great things to the wedding world. We feel so strongly about what we bring to the table with regards to our brides; and wanted to expand our special service and brand to other portions of Virginia. In December, we will be opening a second Studio I Do Bridals location in Roanoke, Virginia. Jordan will own and operate it with the same goals and standards our brand represents here in Coastal Virginia. This is only the beginning of what’s to come for the Studio I Do Bridals brand!
What is your approach to helping brides find their dream dress?
We understand that for most brides, dress shopping can be an overwhelming experience. We do our best to ease their minds by listening to what they want and need while educating them on the process of finding the ‘Perfect Dress.’
You’ve been married two years. What kind of wedding gown did you wear?
I’m just like most brides. I thought I wanted one thing but ended up with something completely different! And honestly, you would think that having a bridal store would help make the decision easier but it actually made it difficult to decide on The Dress. I ended up changing my mind at the last minute and chose to say my I do’s in a timeless vintage lace sheath gown by Allure Bridals. It was the perfect dress for me to wear for our surprise wedding!
Do you have a favorite silhouette for brides shopping for a gown?
Each member of the team has a favorite silhouette and style. Yet once we meet a bride, we are able to pull the right silhouette that complements her shape and style perfectly, making it our favorite for that individual.
What sets the Studio I Do Bridals approach to wedding wear shopping apart from other bridal salons?
At Studio I Do Bridals, it’s all about the bride. From the moment you walk in the door, our friendly team makes sure your shopping experience is special and memorable. We are known for continually bringing in the latest trends and styles. Due to our outstanding relationship with Allure Bridals, one of the country’s top bridal manufacturers, I am asked to sit on a panel that assists in designing and curating future collections. Because of this relationship, I am able to be a direct voice that reflects our brides’ feedback, bringing personal insight to future styles and collections. This is what keeps us on the forefront of bridal fashion in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.
What 2017 trends are you excited about?
One of our favorite upcoming fashion trends is the ability for brides to mix and match different gown elements to create a custom look that is unique to each bride’s individual style.
To learn more about All the Rage, Studio I Do Bridals and Here & Now Bridals, visit studioido.com.