‘I Do’ What I Do – VOL 6 – Gabi Lee – The Sentimentalist

If you’re an Atlanta wedding vendor or bride, you’ve definitely heard of The Sentimentalist. This boutique bridal shop provides a luxury shopping experience that will cater to almost any bride. From traditional to boho to glam, this shop offers a little bit of everything. Gabi Lee, the shop owner, was kind enough to chat with me about what sets The Sentimentalist apart from other bridal shop experiences, why she got into the business and how she plans to keep growing! Enjoy!

Lizzie : How did you find your way to owning a bridal shop? What drew you to it?

Gabi : I worked for an independent bridal designer and boutique while living on the West Coast and at the time, nothing similar really existed in Atlanta – my hometown. The spot in the market was there and I felt like I knew the Atlanta clientele that wanted a more nontraditional wedding vibe. I had the support of several small designers and the backing of my family. It was more of an opportunity and less of a draw ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

L : When deciding what dresses/designers to bring into your inventory, what are some things that you consider?

G : Well, there’s already a limited number of designers out there that would qualify for our type of boutique. We don’t work with corporate factory collections or big box bridal labels. And for the first 5 years of business, we only worked with American-based designers. Our collections are generally designed, cut, produced, and shipped under the same small studio – giving us direct contact with the designer and control over customizations and quick turnarounds. We also tend towards a general aesthetic that is either vintage-inspired & bohemian or modern & alternative. 

L : Who are some of your favorite designers that youโ€™re carrying in the shop right now?

G : We’ve had many of our designers since opening in 2013 and don’t expand very often, so I have to brag on some of our newer collections that have blown me away in the last few years. Tara La Tour’s Rose & Williams line is made to perfection – tailored, fresh, and fits the chest like… a miracle ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also Anais Anette – a Canadian brand we added to the crew last year that is selling like crazy – soft silk crepe, interesting fabrics, and really good prices. 

L : What is the best piece of advice you can give to brides when purchasing their wedding dress?

G : Don’t overshop or overthink. The more heady we make the situation, the less… “heart-y” it will feel. Brides are always asking me if they’ll cry, but if you’ve spent 6 hours a day looking at models in dresses on Pinterest or you’ve price-compared your favorite style across a dozen consignment sites, you will develop snow-blindness (all you will see is white!) and the feels will be hard pressed to find. Search out a few stores that carry designers you actually like and a price point you feel comfortable with, and then enjoy the process.

Oh, and stop letting other people, including your wedding planner, make your shopping appointments for you! You’ll miss out on some important pre-shopping information and potentially end up at stores that will not provide you an enjoyable or efficient appointment because it’s just not right for you! This generally causes more miscommunication than convenience for the bride. 

L : What was the biggest adversity youโ€™ve had to overcome on your way to success?

G : I’m not sure I could pinpoint just one lol. I have a problem thinking I’M the only thing that’s ever truly in my way of success. Over-working and over-worrying in place of essential self care maybe? Needing something to be perfect, when really it just needs to be done? Generalized anxiety and stomach ulcers? 

My divorce, the year before we opened, was certainly an adversity but more of a push on my way to success rather than a stall. 

L : What sets you apart from other wedding shops?

G : Apart from our aesthetic, we are known for our shopping experience. Our space is pretty lux and we take customer service very seriously, so brides can have a really fun time while essentially fine-dining on fashion. Our stylists are incredibly educated on the collections and are near-designers in their capacity to customize our looks. We offer a full beverage and tea service, swag for sentimental brides, and pretty non-stop assistance. Myself and our sales manager both come from busy restaurant backgrounds, so we really do run things with a sense of urgency and  service excellence. 

L : What is the next step for you? How do you intend to keep growing?

G : We opened our new Atlanta location less than 2 years ago and it’s four times the size of our original spot. We are lucky to have the room to grow inside that space for a while, but if we outgrow her – I won’t be mad ๐Ÿ˜‰ Expansion is always on the brain, but I’m less interested in opening more cities and more interested in other opportunities to service our current clients out of Atlanta. 

L : If people want to contact you for more information about your services, what is the best way for them to do that?

G :Check out our website for lots of info – www.thesentimentalistatl.com , but you can also set up an appointment by reaching out via phone, 404-355-7500, or by emailing us at hello@thesentimentalistatl.com

May 15, 2020