ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Members of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists (AWGS) met early last month to elect officers, participate in interactive seminars and award the first annual Jack Barth Memorial Award of Excellence.
Initiated by Linda Stokes-Barth in remembrance of her late husband and his achievements, the award recognizes an AWGS member for outstanding contributions to the organization and advancement of wedding-gown care.
Malcolm MacGregor, of Browns Cleaners & Tailors Ltd. in Ottawa, Ont., was recognized with the Barth Award. He has been a member of AWGS since its inception in 1987, twice serving as its president. MacGregor has also served as president of the International Drycleaning Congress (IDC) and the Ontario Fabricare Association (OFA).
“Perhaps the responsibility I most enjoyed was my term as the first international member of the Board of Directors of the Drycleaners & Laundry Institute (DLI),” MacGregor says. “It was an opportunity to bring together cleaners from all countries and demonstrate the benefits of international cooperation.”
Speakers at the three-day conference addressed different aspects of bridal marketing in the 21st century. Katie Martin, operator of wedding planners Elegance & Simplicity and editor-in-chief of Eco-BeautifulWeddings.com spoke about “green” weddings—which she defines as giving back to the community by choosing locally-sourced food, flowers and vendors.
“You can be stylish and ‘green,’” she says. Gown specialists shouldn’t be intimidated by “‘green Nazis’ who tend to think a wedding must not be ‘green’ if the bride spends a lot of money.”
Brian Lawrence of Local Traffic Builders reviewed each participant’s web presence, and offered tips on building brand recognition. Gown-preservation specialists are lucky to be at the end of the process, he says.
“Every other wedding vendor is a potential funnel for your business, but all of the others are trying to attract the bride’s attention before the wedding, while you alone approach the bride with a post-wedding product.”
Andrea Lown appeared to discuss the trend toward buying pre-owned or sample gowns; her SmartBrideBoutique.com attracts 60,000 shoppers every month. “Once you earn that bride’s trust,” she says, “you create a loyal customer for life.”
Sonny Ganguly, Chief Marketing Officer of WeddingWire.com, appeared to encourage the group to make social and mobile media central to their marketing plans. “Smart phones already bring in as much as 8% of an active wedding vendor’s business, and the trend can only grow,” he notes.
AWGS also toured The Cleanery, an Albuquerque plant owned by members Kurt and Jodie Lucero. The Luceros recently installed a new Union machine designed for Kreussler’s SolvonK4 acetal solvent, and Kreussler’s Richard Fitzpatrick and Union’s Tom Sheridan demonstrated the new machine and solvent.
Foster-Stephens’ Nancy Jones and Kathy Daniels marked the company’s 75th anniversary; association members Mark Witt, of Arcadia Cleaners in Phoenix, Ariz., and Jan Bohn, of Margaret’s Cleaners in San Diego, also spoke. Finally, association president Kermit Engh, of Omaha Lace & Fashion Cleaners in Omaha, Neb., announced the incoming members of the AWGS Board.
For more information about AWGS training and membership, call 800-501-5005 or visit www.WeddingGownSpecialists.com.