By Alison Rooney
Charlotte Guernsey owns Lambs Hill Bridal Boutique and Gate House Realty in Beacon.
What prompted you to open a bridal boutique?
I was handling condo sales at 1 East Main St. and decided to buy a couple myself. I own a wedding venue called Lambs Hill, and I envisioned creating a hub at 1 East Main with photographers and all the other services. After the dress person backed out, I decided to give it a try. I wanted to design something pretty and intimate, bringing in my fine arts background and my love of all things equestrian. I wanted it to look expensive but with Hudson Valley pricing — rustic farm mixed with mirrors and chandeliers.
Is there a lot of squabbling between mothers and daughters?
That’s what you see on reality TV because they need drama. More often mom wants what the bride wants. We have a range of styles and a large inventory of plus sizes for the bridesmaids because we want everyone to feel good about themselves and what they’re wearing. We also host parties where the bridal party can try out hair and makeup ideas and accessories and, of course, eat and drink.
What do brides ask for?
It’s usually simple, bold and modern, very Meghan Markle [the American who married Prince Harry in May]. Some say “absolutely no strapless” and wind up with one. Many say they want “sexy, but not inappropriate.” For that, we can add a bolero for the ceremony, then she can take it off. We had a bride who put a skirt over a jumpsuit. We’ve had bridesmaids wear jumpsuits at the rehearsal dinner. We’ve had couples both wanting a dress.
What advice do you have for people trying to open businesses?
If you go in with realistic expectations, it can work. If customers feel they’re getting value at fair prices, they’ll be loyal. I bought my first building in Beacon in 1999, and that helped. Twenty years ago I saw what this city could do, so I bought something, lived here, and put my own money into it. That’s not possible for many people, particularly nowadays.
Has Beacon reached its potential?
It has come up a lot over the past five years, but there’s still a lot on the drawing board. There are and will be more people, and more development, which helps to give us a thriving Main Street. There will be a correction to all the rising prices. There are a lot of fundamental things going for Beacon: we’re not dependent on one business and we have a quaint Main Street nestled between the river and the mountains. It’s a great place to be and a great place to invest in.