Small Business

Small business spotlight: Chic Parisien in Coral Gables

Company: Chic Parisien

Location: 3308 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables

Service: Designer boutique, dressing women worldwide for weddings and other special occasions.

Years in business: 45

Management Team: Catherine Fox Milian, owner, buyer, all-around bridal expert (also known as the “Bridal Boss”).

Revenues: 2013: $3.5 million; 2012: $3.2 million: 2011: $3 million; 2010: $2.8 million; 2009: $2.8 million.

Employees: 18

Milestones: 2014 marks the 45th anniversary of Chic Parisien. “We were the first bridal shop to open on Miracle Mile and helped establish the street as the place for brides from around the region, country and globe to come in search of their dream wedding gown,” said owner Catherine Fox Milian.

“In 2007, we made the strategic decision to move off of Miracle Mile to separate our brand from the dozens of other bridal stores that now occupy that street,” Milian said. “The change in location has proven to be successful — our customers and partners enjoy the exclusive locale that is a bit off the beaten path, yet still in the heart of Coral Gables.”

Another important milestone, she said, was expanding the shop’s offerings beyond bridal gowns. During the past four years, Chic Parisien has increased its focus on special occasion gowns, and has added a room in the boutique just for evening gowns. Many of the evening dress collections Chic Parisien carries are created by the same designers of bridal gowns found in the shop, such as Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Packham, Marchesa, Romona Keveza and Naeem Khan and more.

“We’re proud to be the exclusive South Florida retailer for these and other leading designers,” Fox Milian said. “By featuring these special occasion gowns, we’ve enhanced our business as we are able to dress brides as well as the mothers of the bride and groom and anyone searching for an incredible evening/special occasion gown.”

Impact: After 45 years in the bridal industry, Fox Milian said Chic Parisien has built long-standing relationships with both customers and vendors.

“Former clients repeatedly send us referral business based on their positive experience with our team. After four decades, that means we’ve dressed mothers, daughters, nieces, best friends and so on,” she said. “We’ve become a landmark of sorts and a bridal tradition within families. It’s a tremendous feeling seeing brides take photos outside our store to capture the fact that they’ve made Chic Parisien part of their special day, as perhaps their mother, aunt or sister did years ago.”

Keys to success: “We credit our success and longevity to a variety of things, namely: a strong work ethic, which starts at the top and flows throughout our entire team; the owner’s presence and involvement — Fox Milian is physically at the store every day; changing with the times; solid relationships with customers and vendors; commitment to community; passion for what we do; staying true to who we are — we opened our doors as a family business and remain a family business today; and ensuring that every customer is happy.

Strategy for next steps: To continue with what has worked, yet evolve with the times.

“We know it’s important to understand that things change. For example, styles may vary and we’ll continue adapting new ways to get the word out about those trends — today, social media plays a big part in how we communicate with our customer,” Fox Milian said. “Yet, with change the bottom line is that the formula in our business is still the same. A wedding is an extremely emotional and special time for every bride and her family. We realize and appreciate that selecting a wedding gown to wear for the occasion is a big life decision. Our goal has always been and continues to be making brides’ dreams come true.”

INA PAIVA CORDLE

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