Three women making their mark on Napa's wedding industry

Three women making their mark on Napa's wedding industry

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Imagine walking into a real-life wedding Pinterest board. Maybe it would look shabby chic or maybe it would be streamlined, elegant. And maybe there’s a place to see it in person.

That place is Bustle & Wed. It’s part wedding studio, part boutique and part workspace. And it’s right on Clinton Street in Napa next to Anna’s Bridal Boutique.

“The collaboration – the coworking space – is just even better than we dreamed it would be,” said Jennifer Philips, owner of Jen Philips Photography. The longtime wedding photographer is one of Bustle & Wed’s three female owners.

The three friends, all of whom were working in the wedding industry, had been talking about their plans for a storefront for years before making their move. They were already supporting each other’s business for a decade, but it wasn’t until last year that their cards aligned.

“We were scared a little bit to take that leap,” said Kristin Maher, who owns farmhouse, an interior design, event rental and home décor retail boutique that now resides inside Bustle & Wed.

The store is something different for each woman.

For Philips, it’s a place to meet potential clients, showcase her photography and work on editing.

For Maher, it’s a place to display rental options, her design aesthetic and sell some household goods.

For wedding planner Jennifer Stone of La Grande Fête, it’s a place not just to meet clients, but to show them the types of options they have when designing their dream wedding.

“We have an inspiration table in the studio that we change every few months,” Maher said. The place setting, the floral arrangement – it changes with the season. Bustle & Wed’s welcoming open floor plan and chic décor is the perfect place for Stone to have design meetings with clients and, when they want to see a sample linen, she can just take it off the shelf.

Although business was slow at first, Philips said that it’s been growing. When they moved into the building, renovations were still going on and, she added, there weren’t many customers.

“Downtown is expanding,” Philips said. “Clinton Street is becoming part of that hub.”

Housley Napa Valley – a tasting room – recently opened next door and other wine bars and restaurants are just down the street.

Since opening the storefront, Philips said that her business has increased by 25 percent. Just being in the same space together and having a place to advertise their skills has proven beneficial, she said.

One of her new photography clients came to her after the bride’s mother came into Bustle & Wed to get her make-up done. The woman saw Philip’s photos and reached out to her.

“More of my name is getting out there,” she said. “More people are referring me because of my Bustle & Wed connection.”

The women have opened up their space to other vendors in the wedding industry who have been renting out the workspace and featuring their businesses inside the store.

Current members include a make-up artist, hairstylist, florist and stationary designer. Other collaborators include Bright Event Rentals and La Tavola Fine Linens.

By sharing the costs of the lease among its members, Bustle & Wed provides a more affordable space to business owners who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

“Lease prices in downtown Napa are very high (and) make it sort of impossible to open up any sort of small shop,” Philips said. That’s part of the reason the women decided to have the storefront be part retail shop and studio and part coworking space.

The women are looking forward to having a few more members join and to opening up the space for community as well as industry events and workshops.

“The wedding industry (in Napa Valley) is very popular and booming but there’s never really been a downtown presence,” Philips said. The women were inspired by Love and Lovely, a former wedding studio in Sonoma. It was their dream, she said, to bring something like that to Napa.

Besides being their dream, opening Bustle & Wed has given these friends a place where they can work more collaboratively, bouncing ideas off one another in the moment and boosting their overall productivity. Even when they just spend the afternoon talking, Philips said, it helps.

“It keeps you invigorated,” she said.

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