An Ayrshire bridal shop boss admits the two years since opening have been a rollercoaster – and a big one at that.
Kathleen Richmond Couture opened its doors in January 2020 and they’ve still not had a solid year without closing.
Covid restrictions since March that year have hammered the wedding industry and had a huge effect on Kitty Richmond’s business in Kilmarnock.
The Sturrock Street bridal wedding dress shop is up and running now that weddings are getting back to normal – but Kitty admits it has been a nightmare, saying it got to the point they had to use pencils in their diary to score off dates so often.
All of this was after a full refurbishment of a building which needed rebuilt in a project that took Kitty, her husband Barry and his dad between 18 months and two years to complete.
Kitty told the Kilmarnock Standard: “We opened in the January of 2020 and then by the March we were totally closed down.
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“So we’ve not even done a full year yet. But we have done really well so far – the response to our shop in Kilmarnock has been excellent.
“We couldn’t ask for anymore, people are starting to shop local again and they are making a point in coming to our boutique which is great.
“I had a bridal alterations shop in Ayr for around 13 years and we actually made dresses so it was just moving on from that. We always wanted to move shop and when this building came up in Kilmarnock it was a great opportunity.
“My husband Barry and my father-in-law renovated it fully; they pulled it back to bricks and built the building back up again.
“It’s turned out really nice. The building is lovely now and their hard work really paid off.
“It was used as a store room before for the paint shop. There was plaster falling off the wall and the roof was coming down.
“That’s why it had to be pulled apart, the ceiling and roof had to be repaired. It was a shell of a place before we had it.”
Kitty continued: “When I first saw the place I thought there was no chance we could take it on, it just looked…oh my goodness!
“But Barry’s dad came in and said, ‘yep, I think we can do this!’, so that was it and it just went from there.
“It was pure blood, sweat and tears from them, I just stayed out of the way until the decorating needed to be done!
“We built a mezzanine inside which means we have two floors now, which is ideal. It was quite a high ceiling so it was going to be wasted space if we didn’t do something like that.
“It’s a great location, it’s very central and it’s really been good so far.”
Kitty admits she was gutted to see the stress that some of her customers faced as Covid restrictions changed constantly throughout the last year.
She said: “We are seeing an upturn in the shop now that things are getting back to normal, and the more people hear about us the better we are doing.
“A lot of people want to shop local now and it’s nice to have something special in the town. To be honest, it was horrible for the girls. There were some girls changing their dates four and five times.
“They were postponing them thinking things would change, but then restrictions would be put in place, it was such a shame for them.
“It got to the point we actually just had to use a pencil for the diary and we were scoring dates out so often. We just had to play it by ear over the last year; it’s been eventful put it that way.
“The poor girls were stressed because they didn’t know what was happening even a week or two before the wedding as they didn’t know what restrictions were going to come in.
“They were scared to put invitations out just in case – as if a wedding isn’t stressful enough to plan!”
Kitty’s store also received a huge boost when former Miss Scotland and One Show presenter Jennifer Reoch modeled one of their dresses at the SEC Wedding Show recently.
Kitty said: “We decided to take part in the fashion show. Someone came and told us who was wearing the dress and we were over the moon!
“It was the first time we’ve done the show so we were absolutely delighted. It looked fabulous on show. Jennifer was one of the models at the show, then we heard she was on the catwalk wearing our dress. It was really good.”
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