In 2007, attorney Belle Manjong decided to branch out from her legal career and found her successful event planning business B. Belle Events.
Now, seven years later, Manjong is expanding her business by converting a space in the Historic Woodrums Building in downtown Charleston into a go-to boutique for brides-to-be.
The Boutique by B. Belle Events will open May 2 at its space at 602 Virginia St. E. Manjong is currently overseeing the final renovation and putting the finishing touches on the new space. The boutique will offer designer dresses, accessories, floral arrangements and a host of other wedding day needs.
“This has been a natural progression,” Manjong said of the decision to open the boutique.
While she has and will continue to do planning for a wide variety of events, 31-year-old Manjong has always had a special place in her heart for brides.
“There’s just something about a wedding — it’s such an intimate, personal time,” she said. “It feels very empowering and very humbling to be entrusted with this monumental occasion in someone’s life.”
She hopes the boutique will provide a local place brides can use to have the day of their dreams come true.
Manjong said the idea of the boutique grew out of the time she spent working with brides whose wedding she was planning. More specifically, it came out of the time she spent traveling with brides to find that perfect wedding day centerpiece: the wedding dress.
She said she found herself traveling to places in Ohio, Georgia and New York City to help them find “the” dress. Eventually, road-weary brides started asking her, “Have you thought about opening a shop?”
That’s when she decided to help brides skip the travel and find their bridal wares here at home.
“There isn’t an independently owned bridal shop in Charleston, West Virginia — the capital,” she said. “I mean, how odd that the most populous area in the state lacks a bridal shop.”
While there are places to buy dresses, the stores don’t offer the personalized experience that she felt she could offer.
“The time was just right for it,” she said. “The state is craving this. Brides are looking for this. They want an alternative.”
Just like her event planning work, Manjong said her bridal boutique will focus on helping brides craft the vision of their day and them provide every aspect needed to pull it off.
“It’s a story,” she said. “It is the way it is for a reason and it all comes together to paint this beautiful portrait and tell this beautiful story.”
At the centerpiece of that story is the bride and her dress.
At Manjong’s boutique, she and her staff will work with brides to make sure their dress matches their ideal for the day.
“This is a personal experience — it’s not look at the racks, pick whatever you like and take it home,” Manjong said.
“I want to understand what your vision is for your day, I want to understand what you love about yourself, I want to understand what you want to highlight about yourself, and then I want your dress to tell that story.”
The boutique will feature several designers — including Pronovias and JLM Couture — not currently offered in the area. She’ll have a seamstress in-shop to make sure each dress can be tailored to a bride’s specific needs.
Manjong also said the dress lines will not just cater to petite brides. She said she selected one collection of dresses that specifically caters to more full-figured women.
“This is not a space where it’s only for skinny brides,” Manjong said. “Every woman, every bride, there is a dress here for her ... every bride should look and feel beautiful on her wedding day.”
Manjong said with the abundance of bridal magazines and the explosion of Pinterest, today’s brides are very savvy and know what they want.
She said she strives to make sure every detail of a client’s wedding is the best it can be. Her business motto reads, “We’re inspired by our clients and driven by excellence.”
“I put myself in my clients shoes,” she said. “It’s very simple, it’s the Golden Rule — what would I want for myself — it’s my compass.
She said she wants brides to know every aspect of their wedding will be uniquely suited to them.
“The are flowers selected for you, they’re not flowers that we keep in our cooler constantly,” she said. “We want it to be different — no two arrangements are alike. It’s customized, it’s designed with the bride and her very special event in mind.”
In addition to a seamstress, Manjong has also hired local floral interior designer Dee Watters to handle the floral aspect of the business. Her mother-in-law Linda Sutton will work as the on-site manager of the boutique, her sister-in-law Anne Sutton will be the accountant, and she will have several part-time employees.
Manjong said she has also received tremendous support from her husband, Matthew Sutton, and a host of friends and family in launching the business.
Aly Goodwin Gregg, a friend of Manjong who has been helping with the opening preparations, said customers and the public at large should be pleased with the boutique. She said Manjong has paid thorough attention to detail to ensure the space looks good and is pleasing to passers-by.
“For Belle, this opening boutique is the next part of a natural and logical progression to continue to provide that ultimate experience for brides,” Gregg said. “She has such a unique perspective that I think people in Charleston, when they drive down Virginia Street, will be pleased when they see what she’s doing.”
In addition to serving as a boutique, Manjong said the store and the nearly 2,000-square-foot lobby of the Woodrums Building can also be converted into a wedding space.
She’s planning to show off the space and the boutique’s offerings during a grand opening celebration May 2-4.
The celebration will feature a trunk show from bridal line Pronovias, as well as drinks, Parisian macaroons other refreshments. The celebration will last from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
After that, the boutique will be open Tuesday through Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. It will be closed Sundays and Mondays. Bridal consultations will be made by appointment.
For more information about the business, or to schedule an appointment call 304-382-6200, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit its website, www.bbelleevents.com.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at email@example.com or 304-348-4836.