Joelle Scholl: The Barefoot Bride

Memphis-based small business owner Joelle Scholl takes pride in helping brides find their perfect look for an affordable price.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in this business?
I’m married to attorney Mike Scholl with two fantastic grown-up kids, Brad and Kaile Pippin. Originally from Hawaii, I’ve lived in Memphis on and off for the past 20-something years. I got involved in the bridal business by becoming a “frugal” bride at 42.  I started the wedding dress quest and quickly discovered that the experiences in boutiques were quite similar —overwhelming and not much fun! I hated the experience so much that I bought my first gown online.  When it arrived, I was wildly disappointed so I sold it to another bride who loved it. I tried every way conceivable to buy wedding gowns — eBay, Craigslist, and overseas custom gowns makers and boutiques. Each time, I just wasn’t satisfied with the gown, so I resold it, made a small profit and made someone else really happy. After my experience at other salons, I thought “Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if girls had a fun place to shop for gowns and save moolah?” My hubby encouraged me to go for it as a fun little hobby. After two years, what started as 30 gowns in 500 square feet quickly grew into almost 1,500 gowns in 3,000 square feet!

C: How long has the Barefoot Bride been in business?
JS: The Barefoot Bride has been in business for about two years.  We started right after my honeymoon on New Year’s Eve 2010 and have been going strong ever since!

C: What distinguishes you from other businesses in your category?
JS: We’re not really in competition with other traditional bridal boutiques because we can’t order gowns — what we have on the rack is what’s available.  We have discontinued styles, overstock, designer samples and the occasional cancelled wedding gown — all five years old or less, and new with tags priced at 30 - 80% less than retail.  Girls are shocked that they can grab an authentic designer gown for well under $1,000.  The average Barefoot Bride gown retails for more than $1,200 and sells for $300 - $700.

C: What do you like best about your line of work?
JS: Everything! There’s nothing better than receiving hugs from a couple right before they are showered with rice — or candy sprinkles at our last reception — telling us how much they appreciate all we did to create a seamless and stress-free event.

C: What advice do you have for brides who are beginning their search for the perfect dress?
JS: Wedding dress sizing stinks! Wedding gowns can be sized one or two sizes bigger than what you’d wear normally. I always tell our brides “If it fits, it’s your size — we’ll cut the tag out for free!”

C:  Do you watch any of those bridal gown shows (like “Say Yes To The Dress”)? If so, which is your favorite and why?
JS: I love the bridal shows!  I don’t watch them as much as I used to, since I’m sort of living the reality of bridal gown shopping every day.  We were approached by the producers of The X Factor and American Idol to do our own reality show.  The pilot is being shopped out to the networks in March, so maybe my new favorite will be “The Barefoot Bride?”

C: What are some popular trends in bridal fashion you’ve noticed lately?
JS: We’re seeing a lot of color, lace and interesting back details. Vintage is huge right now, but not ‘80s vintage or Grandma’s vintage, more of a retro sort of vintage with romantic designs. Lots of brides are requesting keyhole backs or lace cap sleeves. Strapless remains the number one seller, though.

C: What is your biggest challenge as owner of the Barefoot Bride?
JS: Sometimes we may not have a gown in the size a girl needs or the right color since we don’t order gowns. We don’t want to see our brides leave disappointed that we didn’t have the gown that they wanted, so we’ve had several instances where we’ll find it for them at another store to maintain a positive relationship with the brides. 

C: What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business?
JS: The Barefoot Bride has two other businesses under our roof.  Gia Marina Makeup, Brows and Lashes is a cute little shop that specializes in event makeup and brow tweezing.  Propcellar is a vintage rental company dealing in antique furniture, china, lace and other goodies to class up a wedding or event. I’ve been called the crazy cat lady of wedding gowns.
I guess I could be called worse?

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