As the Traverse City area continues to grow as a national wedding destination, Sovis and Zimmerman each had ideas about starting a local bridal shop to be part of this expanding opportunity. But neither knew about the other’s plans until they had a conversation about the idea when they were both employed by the Yen Yoga and Fitness shop in downtown Traverse City. Sovis had managed the shop for several years, and Zimmerman joined her staff after living in Chicago and studying the fashion business.
“I felt like I had all this energy and knowledge, but didn’t know where to put it,” Zimmerman said.
After learning of each other’s mutual interest, the pair started working in the Spring of 2016 on their idea. With a lot of hard work and help from family members, in late December they moved into a former law office in the Front Street Commons building on East Front St. and One Oak Bride (a word play off “One Of A Kind”) became a reality.
Their USDA Loan from Venture North helped the pair acquire inventory – beautiful wedding gowns that display their own tastes in fashion and style.
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t getting things that could be found everywhere,” Zimmerman said. “We wanted to make sure ours are different.”
Both ladies said Venture North’s support was critical to their being able to launch their business, as they didn’t have a long history in business which makes it difficult to secure traditional financing.
“It was tough – we’re young and we don’t necessarily have a lot of collateral on our side,” Zimmerman said. They worked with SCORE counselors and did extensive research into other bridal options to develop a plan for their business.
“They had an amazing business plan,” Venture North Executive Director Laura Galbraith said. “It was very impressive.”
Sovis and Zimmerman said One Oak Bride is off to a fast start. They participated in the Downtown Traverse City Association’s Annual Bridal Show in January and gearing up for a big first year as the region’s wedding season approaches.
“I think we latched on to a niche that seems to be working pretty well so far,” Sovis said.
For the two natives of the Slabtown neighborhood on Traverse City’s west side, their new business venture is like a match made in heaven.
“It’s just like this business was supposed to happen,” Zimmerman said. “Our skills really complimented each other.”