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Get to Know the Owner of Melissa Ashley Brides

I have been told that being authentic is the key to social media! I rarely show myself on our store's Instagram and Facebook pages but I want to tell you a little bit about myself and my small business. After over 5 years of owning Melissa Ashley Brides, I frequently get confused with the previous owner, Denise, with whom I have a great working relationship!

So to start, Hi! My name is Kayla Thompson and I am the proud business owner of Melissa Ashley Brides in downtown Westerly. My story with Melissa Ashley Brides started when I was shopping for my wedding gown for my own wedding to my husband James 9 years ago. I was working for the American Cancer Society and traveling a far distance into an office daily. I remember thinking how much fun it must be to work with brides and help them find their dream dress. I formed a friendship with Denise and kept in touch over the years. When the opportunity came up and Denise was ready to move on to other passions, I jumped at the opportunity to own a business in an industry I am so passionate about. The community in Westerly and surrounding Connecticut welcomed me and my family with open arms!

As I previously mentioned, I have been married to my wonderful husband James for 9 years. He is a school teacher and has a passion for teaching and coaching the youth of our society. We have 3 beautiful daughter's- Callahan (7), Peyton  (5) and Sloane (1). We often joke that I will own this shop for the rest of my life because we will need many prom dresses and wedding dressing in our future! We live just over the border in a small town in Connecticut, where I coach softball, am a member of my towns board of finance and participate on the school's PTO. Suffice to say, I am a busy lady!

One of the things I love the most about owning my own small business is the flexibility it provides as a mom. I really can have it all! I can participate in my kids school, I can attend classroom parties, volunteer on the PTO and in certain times of the year even get them off the bus. The only positive that Covid has brought about is the appointment-based scheduling that my business now operates off of. I am able to be 100% a business owner when I am at the shop and dedicate my time to my children when I am home. Weekends are always a balancing act as Saturday's tend to be the busiest day at my shop. My husband will hold down the fort on the home front while I get to make bride's feel beautiful!

I am a part of two different industry groups to help me grow my skills and make connections and I feel like I am always learning something new to better serve my customers. I pride myself on my staff and the experience we provide at the store. We want to provide custom one on one appointments that are low key and enjoyable! We know that their are many places to shop but we strive to earn your trust that we are the place you want to go to find a dress!

One of my favorite parts about this job is the buying! It constantly feels like Christmas around here when we get new inventory in and I love finding pieces that I feel will really connect with our customers. We may look like a tiny store on the outside but we pride ourselves on the depth of our inventory and trying to have all different dresses for all

different people. I spend a large amount of time looking through our options for buying, picking out things that are different, finding dresses for all different sizes and finding those dresses that just surprise you.

My other favorite part of the job is when you watch someone put something on that makes them feel beautiful! When someone loves a dress and loves how the look in a dress their smile brightens up the room. There is a look on their face when they have found their dress and even if they don't know it at that exact moment I can see it in their smile and in their eyes. That is why you should always love your dress because while the dress is beautiful the smile on your face will make it that much more beautiful! My one rule in the shop is you have to love it and that goes for all the people who shop here: Bride's, Mother of the Bride's, Mother of the Groom's and our Prom Girl's. I even have a little something for the guys and offer suit and tuxedo's to purchase or rent for your special day!

Thanks for allowing me to formally introduce myself and my family and considering my shop for your bridal and formalwear shopping experience! It would be my honor to help you find your perfect dress!

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