During my work life, I have done many different jobs. Being a baker’s kid, my first job was in the bakery cleaning the trays and the pots and pans. Then as I got older, I would help my mother with the sales…packing orders at first and later waiting on customers, slicing bread on the bread machine(that was a scary piece of equipment, trust me) and using the cash register. All during High School I was expected to work on Saturdays from 8-1 and then I was left go for the afternoon to meet my girlfriend. I continued to work in the bakery during my college years.
After college, (I was an Education major), I did substitute teaching and continued to work in the bakery. After a year of subbing and not able to get a full time position, I took a sales position at Junior/Fashion Colony up at the local mall and stayed for a year before taking a position for sales in a bridal shop downtown. (that year in the mall was an experience I will never forget nor wish to repeat.)
The bridal shop was a family owned company…a husband and wife team. She was in charge of the store itself…there were 5 of us who were the bridal consultants and two seamstresses for the alterations. I learned a lot about the bridal business while being there that still is helping me today with my Etsy shop. The husband was in charge of picking up the gowns every week in NYC and checking out new and unusual gowns. They both had impeccable taste. The shop also had other clothing as well. We were responsible for all facets of our bridal sales…and the bride. The bride’s gown, her attendants, mother, etc. When the gowns came in and were altered, we were responsible for the pressing of the gowns before they were picked up(that took hours!)
Some of the brides were complete treasures…one I remember was a lovely woman in her 50s. She and her fiancé had been engaged for 30 years. They had not married nor lived together because their mothers hated each other. After the one mother passed on, the other one gave them her blessing at last and they were planning their quiet wedding. The bride had an antique cameo that she wanted to wear on her gown so that set the tone for something vintage looking. I found a tea length ivory lace dress with matching hat that fit her perfectly but she was concerned about the price of it($500..which today would probably be $1500). She asked if I would hold it while she talked with her fiancé. She called an hour later saying he had told that they had waited for 30 years for this day and he wanted her to have the dress of her dreams. The day she came to pick her dress and hat up, she had stars in her eyes.
Another special bride was in the military. Her wedding was in three years(trust me when I tell you that the brides who have that long of a time to think about their weddings change their minds so many times!) At Christmas, she came to try her gown on and had her fiancé there so he could see it. Six months later, I received a payment for her gown with a note in it that she was not engaged to him anymore but she still wanted the gown. Later, another payment, another note…engaged to someone else. Final payment, final note…address to send gown…not engaged to that man anymore but still getting married on that date to fiancé number 3!
If business were slow, as it sometimes was, there was always something to do. Every week the two show windows were changed. All of the clothing had to be steamed before being placed in the window. We also were responsible for making up various complete outfits to hang throughout the store. I loved it when the men would come in looking for a gift for their wives…grasping at straws, they would look at an outfit hanging up and say, “I like it. My wife would look nice in that ” I would ask, “what size does your wife wear?” Most of them had no clue and would look around at all of us and finally pick one and say, “she looks like the size of that lady.” I would find out what my coworker’s size was and would pack up the desired clothing. Invariably, two days later the man’s wife would come back with the clothing, saying, “I can’t believe he thought I was this size!” Most times though, they still wanted the same clothing he had picked.
Other slow days were cleaning days…we all hated those days! Sometimes I would have to clean the boss’s car! We were also responsible every morning for cleaning the sidewalk…sweeping it. Then there would be inventory days…
keeping track of all of the gowns, hats, accessories was a daunting task.
I worked 3 years there and when I left, they begged me to stay on as a manager. Those were definitely learning years…all of the lace names, the gown styles, and the love for the bridal fashion that has stayed with me still.
til next time, Eva