WomenVenture Entrepreneur of the Month for December
A great deal of time and money goes into planning a wedding. Some of us have experienced it first-hand; others have heard stories from friends and family members. Jaisa Zuraff was strongly inspired by her own wedding experience and not having a place to bring all of her used items after the big event—so much that it propelled her to create a business.
Launched in 2011, Bride to Be Consignment is the largest bridal consignment shop in the Midwest offering everything you need to plan your wedding: thousands of wedding gowns, formal dresses, accessories, and reception and ceremony decorations.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Jaisa always knew she wanted to be one as well. While working full time in corporate banking, she utilized 20 to 30 hours of her free time each week constructing a business plan, and researching how she could turn gently used wedding items into a profitable venture. Jaisa spent six months exploring her concept, looking at other bridal stores for layout ideas, and utilizing friends, social media and word-of-mouth to build the wedding inventory she needed. She also purchased basic consignment software.
Bride to Be Consignment’s initial Burnsville location opened with the help of Jaisa’s mom, aunt and husband. It was a small store with a limited inventory of dresses and very little décor items. Sales were booming and after only three months Jaisa expanded the business, leasing more space in her initial location.
Jaisa quickly learned that using family to help run the store wasn’t practical. Six months after opening, she hired her first employee, followed shortly by four more. But cash flow was challenging and the computer software she was using was no longer adequate. Making tags for the dresses that were flooding in was time consuming. By early 2013, the store was crowded and there was no more room for growth. She realized a bigger space was needed.
Having to make all the decisions about every aspect of the business wasn’t easy, but Jaisa was also experiencing the benefits of being an entrepreneur, and that propelled her forward. “Even with all of the challenges, the freedom of running my own business allowed me to put my strong professional attributes to work, and that was really rewarding.”
Jaisa came to WomenVenture for resources. She first attended classes, participated in Small Business Showcase events, and eventually obtained a loan to help move Bride to Be Consignment’s four semi-trucks of inventory to her new location. “My experience with WomenVenture has been very positive. I have built relationships with other entrepreneurs and received great support. I felt really cared for, even while being critiqued,” she said.
Now located on Penn Avenue in Bloomington, Bride to Be Consignment employs a staff of 22 and continues to be a bustling hub for soon-to-be brides and wedding planners. The business has received numerous awards as well as recognition from the Star Tribune, Sun Times, The Knot and Twin Cities Live. Always looking ahead, Jaisa continues to work with WomenVenture to explore opportunities for growth in the future.