AT BELLA BRIDESMAIDS, WE HAVE OVER 55 LOCATIONS – ALL OWNED BY LOCAL FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS. HERE WE WILL SPOTLIGHT OUR AMAZING FRANCHISE OWNERS AND THEIR ROAD TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP!
Interview with Meredith Hartman of Bella Bridesmaids Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA.
How did you know you wanted to become a Bella Bridesmaid owner?
I was a Bella Bridesmaids customer many times. As a bride, I shopped at Bella Bridesmaids for my bridesmaids' dresses and I bought my bridesmaid dress from Bella Bridesmaids for several weddings that I was in.
I LOVED Bella Bridesmaids and was always such a happy customer! When I moved to Philadelphia, my sister was getting married, so I Googled the Bella Bridesmaids in the area and found out there wasn’t one.
I was shocked and knew I had to be the one to bring the store to the Philadelphia region!
What did you do prior to Bella Bridesmaids?
I joined Teach for America after graduating from college and through that program, I taught middle school science in a low-income school in North Carolina.
After getting married and moving to Tennesee, I continued to teach middle school science at a new low-income school. I absolutely love middle schoolers and truly looked forward to teaching them new cool things every day. Teaching science was SO fun because we got to do hands-on activities and labs often.
After teaching for 6 years, I became a recruiter for a charter school (KIPP Philadelphia Schools). I helped hire teachers for our four schools in the area.
Then, the Bella Bug bit me and I opened Bella Philly.
What’s your favorite thing about working with your clients?
I’m a people person and I love connecting with clients and getting to know them. I feel like I gain new best friends after each appointment and I hope they feel the same.
Do you have a favorite wedding moment (your own or one you stood up in/attended)?
During my wedding, some of my friends were having a dance-off. One of them decided to get my mom involved in order to win. He picked her up above his head and spun her around. My photographer snapped a pic of the pure FEAR on her face when this was happening. It was hilarious!
Needless to say, he won the dance-off.
What advice would you give another female entrepreneur?
Don’t let fear stop you… if you can dream it, you can do it!
The thought of starting my own store from scratch scared me to death. But if I had let fear get the best of me, I wouldn’t have my incredible business. I truly LOVE being a Bella owner and I’m so glad I didn’t let fear get in the way of my success.
What’s something you have learned since becoming an entrepreneur?
The road to success isn’t one smooth pathway up. There will be bumps and downward dips along the way. It’s how you deal with those bumps and dips that make you a better and wiser entrepreneur.
Use EVERY experience (whether good or bad) as a learning experience for next time.
What’s been the biggest surprise being a Bella Bridesmaids owner?
I didn’t expect to become such close friends with my amazing employees. Our team has always been so tight-knit and I value all of my employees (past and present) so much. I’m great friends with all of them still.
What’s your favorite restaurant or attraction in your city to pair with a bridesmaids appointment?
The perfect #bellaphilly shopping day would include a cold brew from Menagerie Coffee, a trip to find the PERFECT dresses at Bella Philly, followed by brunch at High Street on Market (get the grilled cheese, you can thank me later).
Then, take a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley to see the adorable and historic houses (AKA the perfect photo op for you and your bride tribe).
Finally, close out the day with a drink at Spruce Street Harbor beer garden or onboard the Moshulu.
What is your favorite thing you like to do in your free time?
Yoga! Philly offers free Yoga in the warm months on Race Street Pier. You can find me there after work on nice days.
If you could attend anyone’s wedding (living/not) who would it be?
Lilly Pulitzer's wedding. Her story inspires me (how she thought to make a brightly colored clothing line after spilling juice on her dress and her clothes make me happy.
How could you NOT smile while wearing brightly colored patterns? I would have loved to have seen her get married and see what she and her bridesmaids wore.