Agápe Bridal. Agápe. Hum. What does that mean? How do you pronounce it? The dresses on the front window are stunning. The store is beautiful and smells brand new. Dresses are hung neatly in racks and the wooden floor is gleaming. As I open the door and walk in, the woman behind the beautiful granite counter smiles. Her name is Sue. She co-owns Agápe Bridal with her daughter, Amber. We sit down and our interview is soon underway.
PP – Was owning a bridal shop a dream you’ve had, or how did it come to be/ how did you get here?
AB – No, actually; I have three daughters; two of them are married, and neither of them had good experiences with their gowns, and fittings… So one day we were all sitting together and thought, you know, “There’s got to be a better way to do bridal!” So, we thought, we can do this! Three months later, here we were!
PP – Was there any schooling you felt helped you all get started?
AB – Well, I had been a pastor for twenty-five years and my daughter is a nurse, so I think that our background in counseling and personal service really helped out. It’s amazing how counseling training can really help out in bridal! So many young women come in here with, you know, body issues, insecurities, and oftentimes talking to them, and counseling helps out.
PP – Did anyone influence you in your decision to start your own business/ open Agápe Bridal?
AB – My daughters were a big influence, and friends were supportive and kept saying we could do it.
PP – Are you originally form Abbotsford?
AB – No, we’re from Surrey, from Surrey we moved to Langley and from Langley to Abbotsford.
PP – When did Agápe open?
AB – We opened on December 1, 2011, so we’re just working on our first six months now.
PP – When we walk into a store we see that people are busy, but at the same time, we only see a fraction of what really goes on in owning a business. So what’s a normal day around here like for you as the business owner?
AB – Well, I come in in the morning, I turn on all the lights, sweep the floor, wipe the windows, dust, check the phones to see if they’re working, check and respond to e-mails, check up on deliveries, unpack orders, order inventory, serve customers, there’s always something.
PP – What’s the best part of working at a bridal shop?
AB – Making a client happy. Seeing a girl walk out of here with her prom dress, or graduating dress, or a bride with her perfect wedding dress, and being a part of their special days like that.
PP – And the worst part?
AB – Steaming gowns? [laughs] Unhappy customers that come in here unhappy already and no matter what you do they won’t be satisfied. You end up realizing that it’s not the dress it’s something else that’s bothering them, personal problems that are making them unhappy. When you have the time, you know, you ask them what’s really going on and many times they’ll have a nervous breakdown and unload everything on you, so sometimes that’s not so fun.
PP – What’s an advice/tip something that you wish you had known before you went into business?
AB – I wish we had gotten more leasing information. We probably could have gotten much more money for store improvement if we had gotten more information on the leasing.
PP – What’s your favorite part about the store and everything in it.
AB – I love the headpieces and accessories. I just love shopping for accessories! I love all things sparkly, and we’ve got some amazing wedding dresses as well with some gorgeous fabrics. That’s one of the things we love here at Agápe, good fabrics.
PP – Do you have any new features or dresses coming in? Any new projects?
AB – Well, my daughter and I will be going down to the States for the Enzoani event. It’s a trunk show/conference/ buying trip, so we’ll come back with some new gowns and we’re excited about that.
PP – How is Agápe pronounced and what does it mean?
AB – [laughs] We often have people ask us that. It’s pronounced “a-gah-pé”.When my daughter and I were thinking of names we thought of Agápe, because it means “unconstitutional, never-ending love.” So to us it’s a constant reminder of God’s love for us and how eternal and deep it is. So when we’re having a rough day, we remember, Agápe.
PP – Thank you very much, Sue, for your time and answers.