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An up-close and personal interview with Peiru Teo, the owner of La Belle Couture (“La Belle”), to find out more about her and how she manages and innovate in her business that made La Belle stands out in the bridal industry.
YM: How and why did you start the Bridal business?
P.T: I started my career as a Management Associate in Citibank. Subsequently I worked for a real estate private equity firm.
I wanted to do more in life. It was by chance that an opportunity came along, and I decided to go for it.
With my experiences, I feel that I can definitely add value to this industry by putting processes and structure in place to the business and also in areas of management, sales and marketing.
Therefore, together with a partner, we decided to take over an existing bridal business.
YM: What has been the most challenging part and what did you do to turn it around?
P.T: After taking over the business, we discovered that there was serious cashflow mismanagement of the the previous owner.
The business was literally bleeding every single day and my partner decided to pull out of the business.
I was very focused on the sales and turn around the profitability of the business.
With that in mind, the team worked very hard in driving marketing activities, as well as deliver the best customer service in the industry.
We were doing events and roadshows every other week back then in 2010 and 2011.
We had to thread the delicate balance of quality and volume, to increase our receivables.
Slowly the business began to grow and we started to increase prices in order to provide better gowns and services.
It was also a time to start being very selective of partners that we worked with, in order to ensure consistency and deliverability.
YM: What is La Belle Couture’s Mission and Vision?
P.T: Mission — To transform dreams into reality by providing stress-free experience through professional and sincere services
Vision — To be the Number 1 bridal service network in Asia
How would you describe La Belle’s positioning?
Our positioning is similar to how Zara is to Chanel.
We are not cheap, but neither are we very expensive.
Our prices are comfortably in the affordable luxury range. Clients enjoy stylish good quality designs, with excellent workmanship, yet at a reasonable rate.
YM: What are La Belle strengths? How are they different from the other Bridal studio?
P.T: One of a kind gown designs sewn by Singapore’s top tailors
Our one of a kind gown designs, created by our in-house designer and sewn by Singapore’s top tailors have been a strong selling point for us.
The tailor has also worked with some of Singapore’s top designers with boutiques in Orchard and charging a much higher price for the same quality.
We are also the first to launch a Plus-sized Collection “Adele” which cater to plus-sized brides, which is an underserved segment of brides in Singapore.
One of Singapore’s largest photography studio
In 2013, we officially opened our new photography studio, which at 3000 square feet is one of Singapore’s largest photography studio with specially crafted props and backdrops with realistic themed concepts for brides to choose from.
We take really nice photos too! Our photographers were invited to shoot for blissful bride’s magazine bridal spreads and also the 2013 magazine cover featuring Jade Seah.
Our professional and sincere services
We put a lot of emphasis on delivering good service, to being on 24hours standby for brides on their wedding, we have an internal goal to resolve all issues on hand asap, within 1–2 days turnaround unless for exceptional cases, and to standardise procedures to ensure greater consistency across customer experience.
We also do surveys with all customers after their wedding to ensure we keep a good pulse check and act on feedback in a timely manner.
We make a proactive effort to listen — we make an appointment with clients before any appointment starts just to listen to them, to understand them better.
Throughout the process, we actively encourage and facilitate communication process with our couples, and because of that, we do spend more time per couple compared to other boutiques.
Hence, as each couple gets more attention, it helps us making more informed suggestions to our clients.
Many of our coordinators do put their hearts out for their couples.
They give in to clients’ requests and sometimes secretly make little accessories for clients without me knowing, which is very sweet of them.
They genuinely care for their brides and do feel very happy when their couples are happy. On the flip side, they get sad when clients take them for granted or makes unreasonable requests that put them in difficult situations.
Strong network and endorsements from industry professionals
Because of our strong network, we are almost offering wedding vendor recommendation services — for free as a complementary service to our couples.
We operate on a no hidden cost mantra and offer the most flexible packages in Singapore.
In the form of vendor recommendation, our clients enjoy discounts from our preferred vendors as well.
We screen the vendors before adding them to the list, check on their market feedback, and speak to them to ensure that their service values are in line with ours to be consistent and reliable.
We also provide a wide range of complementary services like honeymoon planning services; photo shoots as we have overseas partners in Greece, Taiwan, China, Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Starting in 2016, we will be the first in Singapore to implement augmented reality to allow clients to ‘try’ dresses and visualize without having to put the dress on.
We are also the first to conduct workshops for couples in the industry. In March 2015, we did an Ultimate Wedding Bootcamp, which was featured on the radio and had a very good turnout of more than 200 participants.
Who is your Target Audience? How different are they from the consumer 5 years ago?
We reach out mainly to women between the ages of 25 to 34, white collar PMET workforce. They are busy professionals with little time, and appreciate service and quality.
Customers now are very internet savvy and active online — our brides have their own secret facebook group, and are also kept updated with our weekly blogposts and social media updates.
YM: How would you describe your team and how different are they from the other studios?
We are a fun vibrant team, always brimming with energy. We want to be the “go-to” company, always presenting the latest trends, experiences and ideas to our brides, and also the team that makes our couples smile every time they come.
We want to be a company that provides so much more value and fringe benefits to our clients than the usual bridal studios.
Clients benefit with the resources given to them like the blog, wedding planning guide and other useful content put together by our team based on real life experiences.
At La Belle Couture, we love delighting our customers, making sure that they look back to their wedding planning with joyful memories. Therefore, we are launching in 2016 our service framework: Delight, to better guide clients through every stage of the preparation process:
Our team takes pride in our proprietary DELIGHT service framework as to deliver a stress-free wedding for every bride’s very own happily ever after.
YM: What do you think you have done well that have helped La Belle to be one of the most sought after bridal studio in Singapore?
Ability to craft a consistent message through our staff services, website, social media and the partners we work with.
Professional and sincere services are what La Belle Couture promises to our customer. We believe in investing in training for staff of all levels to constantly improve and progress professionally.
This in turn will translate to better customer service and experience, which is at the heart of what we do.
For more information, please visit La Belle Couture’s website at www.labellecouture.com.sg or contact the studio at 6327 3983.