It could not be more fitting for two childhood sweethearts to co-found a fashion brand, based entirely on the build-up and bliss of getting married. Founded in 2019 by Lucy and Ross Menghini, Six Stories has become a beloved name in the bridal fashion space with its eclectic mix of bridal edits, from trendy loungewear to elegant evening wear and Instagrammable accessories.
Acutely inspired by her own bridal experience, Lucy launched a brand to celebrate the micro moments of getting married, or rather, the ‘six stories’ in each bride’s journey: From getting engaged and selecting her bridal squad, through to wedding-dress hunting and hen-do partying, the big day itself and the honeymoon thereafter.
Six Stories initially gained traction on Etsy, where Lucy, a former Social Chain Marketing Director, showcased her handcrafted flower girl garments, recruiting local mothers and nans as her passion project grew. From handcrafting tutus in a local scout hut to launching apparel in ASOS, Selfridges and expanding into the US, Six Stories has successfully grown into an eight-figure business, with 500% YoY growth and plans for 300%+ growth this year.
We spoke to Lucy Menghini about carving out her niche in the bridal fashion space, navigating the pandemic, plus the importance of wholesale and good brand marketing.
What inspired you to launch Six Stories and how easy was it to bring your concept to the market?
In essence, I’m our customer- a completely romantic Bride. I literally lent into every single inch of getting married, so much that I began to teach myself how to make little flower girl outfits- hair vines, tulle tutus, things like that- and popped them on Etsy. I think because I was the Marketing Director at Social Chain, my knowledge of SEO, paid social, content creation and the importance of having a face behind a brand, the understanding of all that against other smaller Etsy businesses really got me off the ground. It made me stand out a little bit more to other people that might have been doing it for a longer amount of time. The response to these made-to-order pieces was crazy. As demand grew, I rented out a little scout hut in my hometown and sourced on our local Facebook group, 23 young mums and retired nans to help me craft these signature tutus. It was mind-blowing. We were making hundreds and hundreds of skirts a week!
The problem was, we’d created this lovely community and lovely feeling about our brand, but our customer was buying made-to-order children’s clothing for her wedding. You know, she’d fallen in love with us when she first got engaged and then she probably wasn’t going to be able to shop with us for two years or so. And that a sparked an idea in my mind- to have this kind of casual, informal wear that she could purchase and feel really proud about. She could make a really big statement that wasn’t tacky or throw-away. And so, almost creating our own category, we came up with the original design of our slogan ‘BRIDEY’ tees, and we launched them in the October just before COVID.
How did the pandemic affect Six Stories? It seems you’re currently reaping the rewards of a post-pandemic bridal boom but how did the crisis force you to rethink your business trajectory?
When COVID hit we had hundreds and hundreds of customers that had been waiting such a long time to be able to buy for their kids, and then everything was cancelled or at least delayed. We had also just invested considerably in marketing shows and wedding fairs, with plans to launch our new ‘BRIDEY’ collection at Bridal Fashion Week in London. So we had boxes upon boxes of stock, all stacked in my little spare room- not going anywhere. The response was twofold. My first initiative was to get these t-shirts out of our spare room. The second, was to find a way of helping our immediate customer who I knew was feeling terribly deflated at home. I wanted to keep the excitement for these brides-to-be, by reminding them that they could still feel like a gorgeous bride in lockdown. And so, we launched a ‘FREE BRIDEY TEE’ campaign on our Instagram, inviting affected brides to DM us for a free t-shirt. All they had to do was pay for the postage. Well, we ended up giving away 10,000 of these T shirts, it was incredibly heart-warming!
It may sound strange, but being in the thick of it all together really helped us understand the mindset of our customer, and appreciate what she wanted from us. The pandemic, with all its standstills and delays, actually allowed us to step deeper into this category and carve out more of our brand belief- that ‘getting married’ isn’t about getting married as in the fleeting albeit beautiful wedding day. It’s about how people celebrate your engagement. It’s about appointing your bridesmaids, and partying on your hen-do. It’s about the pure rush of love that comes with the entire journey of getting married. And that excitement, that’s what we try and bottle and deliver through our product and our marketing. That is our customer. She’s just so eager about this whole journey that she’s on. She literally wants to soak it all up.
On that note, what have you found to be the most effective form of marketing for Six Stories? What in your view makes good brand marketing?
I think knowing who your customer is, is paramount. We’re really aware that our customer isn’t buying the sweatshirt because it’s a quality sweatshirt, she’s also not buying it because of its price point, she’s buying it because it means something to her identity. We totally get what she is feeling so we try to create product and online experiences which really mirror that; whether it’s our customer service or our online content, we try and say that we’re like the ‘maid of honour’ she didn’t know she had. You know, we’re like really helpful, really funny, really honest.
We’re also unapologetic when it comes to our self-encouraging, confidence-boosting, ‘you do you’ personality. At the National Wedding Show, we set up this huge affirmation board, where we handed out pretty pink post-it notes and had everyone write a little love letter to themselves and stick it up. So many brides think ‘oh no, I have to wait until I’m getting married to feel beautiful’, I have to ‘loose weight’ etc. But of course, our customer doesn’t want to wait to feel beautiful. She wants to feel it now. And so we give her permission to do that. We let her know that by coming to us she can feel like a Bride from the very beginning. I think that’s something I learnt from Social Chain: Personality- you buy from people.
Whilst direct-to-consumer is instrumental in building your brand, do you feel wholesale is now growing in importance? Why ASOS and Selfridges?
Absolutely. We set our sights on wholesale, going into ASOS and Selfridges, and we’ve proudly achieved each of those this year. At the end of last year, America also went crazy, so we’re doing a lot of business over there now. Likewise in the EU, we’re excitingly expanding in Germany.
ASOS was such an interesting one, because we understand that to our core customer, she’s a long-life friend, a trusted person that you go to in a time of need. And while our customer, she’s one type of person, ASOS has a completely different kind of shopper, so we knew that we wanted our brand on that platform. We have a lovely assortment with ASOS, from statement sweats to satin slip dresses, and we’ve recently been working on some gorgeous stuff for next year.
Similarly, Selfridges is so important to this country. In fact, before the Birmingham branch reached out, we asked our social media following ‘Out of the department stores in the UK, where should we be and what sort of experience do you want?’, and ‘Selfridges’ quite naturally came flooding in. Of course, Selfridges is your dedicated retail hotspot for a special moment, particularly if you’re a bride-to-be. It’s incredibly immersive. From buying gifts for your fiancé, to getting your makeup done, to having a beauty treatment, treating yourself to Prosecco or purchasing your wedding shoes, you know, it’s like a lovely, lovely in-store experience. And we knew that we wanted to be aligned with that.
We’ve got these great concessions in Manchester Trafford Centre and Birmingham, which are not only stunning but successfully immersive. We’ve found that our customer is really cherishing that face-to-face retail experience. She just loves debriefing the staff on all of her wedding plans and taking out her bridesmaids to browse from an array of flawless dresses. Plus, it’s especially wonderful to be in our hometown. It’s a slow and steady build.
You’re tapping into loungewear, occasion wear and accessories simultaneously, do you have a best-seller and is there an edit you’re most proud of?
Our ‘WIFEY’ sweatshirt is undeniably a cult-favourite. We sell thousands of those a week. She just absolutely loves it- the clean aesthetic of it, the colour of it, how it makes her feel when she’s got it on. You know, she’s absolutely committed to being this person. A lot of people buy it for their honeymoon to travel in.
I also think our ‘White Edit’ has done really well, which is a collection of stunning white dresses and tailored pieces, matching back to those special ‘six stories’. Whether its an outfit for her hen-do or a dinner to surprise her bridal party, we’ve got her covered for those core micro moments. We took the collection to Ibiza to shoot (because we’ve also just dropped swimwear) and when the model emerged, it actually felt like it was her wedding day. It was very emotional to see these dresses accidentally transition from statement pieces to wedding-day dresses. In fact, there were two dresses that I was convinced I could see on any of the bridal designers which I follow. So that’s quite exciting, to think that we could maybe venture down there.
What does the future of Six Stories look like, what are your ambitions and how do you plan to develop the brand moving forward?
We’re growing out our ranges for the bride, predominantly; adding personality and product where there’s gaps. For example, we’ve got new iterations of the sweatshirts coming next year, which are a move-on in the design and a nod to personalisation. We’ve also got bridesmaids gifting that we’re going to offer her and a few other exciting things.
Something I am really ambitious about is sustainability. We’ve got a lot of our dresses being made with sustainable fabrics, and bags and scrunchies made out of dead stock. Plus, we’re making little baby bow-ties, sashes, and pocket squares. Tied to this initiative, is addressing the headache of Returns, which is bonkers in the occasion wear sector. From an operational point of view, we’re going to look at how to make it better, easier and how to educate our customer. You know, the problem is, she’s always going to buy an 8 and 10.
I’d also really love to develop some more face-to-face experiences. America and the EU are going crazy, so we’d like to the same thing again over there. World domination of ‘WIFEY’ sweatshirts, basically!
If you could give advice to someone starting up their own fashion brand, what would you tell them?
Don’t sit on your creativity, just start. What you’re thinking now isn’t what it’s going to become. You can start small, just sell one thing. If you don’t know too much about marketing or you’re unsure on the product side, then find someone who does and collaborate. There are so many talented people out there. I’d also place a special emphasis on the hand–crafted. Start doing something with your own hands.