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  • bjerkemorgan

"It's Been A Long Time Coming"

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

It all started with a passion, a passion for fashion. Owning my own business wasn't always in my plan for life, but pursuing my passion was.

Where it all began.

I wish I could share a magical story, with a magical moment - where and when I knew exactly what I wanted in life, but that's not how the story goes.

I am your typical small-town, midwest girl. I grew up on a swine farm in rural northeast Iowa. One of three children, my siblings and I spent our childhood being supported and guided by our parents in every way they could. Looking back, I don't know how they did it. We lived on the very edge of our school district, so just getting to school was a 30-minute commute. My mom would drive us all over; 4-H meetings, sporting events, FFA contests, friends' houses.

With such support, I had the opportunity to explore my passions and interest. 4-H and the county fair was a huge passion of mine. I loved meeting new people, I loved showcasing my talents, and I loved having an outlet that supported and challenged me. Through my years in 4-H, I participated in many project areas including - photography, citizenship, swine, clothing, and fashion.

I always said I had a passion for fashion, and that passion lead me to many opportunities. One of them being a 4-H competition at the Iowa State Fair called Stitch This. My good friend and I were paired with two other girls from Southern Iowa to participate in this competition. We had never met these two other girls, and none of us had much sewing experience, so we were in it to have fun! The challenge was to take three prom dresses and create one dress around the theme 'America the Beautiful.' We arrived with zero supplies in hand. When going to check-in, we saw teams with bags and bags of supplies, mannequins, patterns, sewing machines, you name it - they had it. We looked at each other and cringed. We quickly realized we were the odd men out. The other teams had a plan and strategy, and there we were, staring at three old prom dresses and sewing supplies we were given. Knowing we were already the outcast, we took a completely different spin on the challenge. Most teams were going with a traditional red, white, and blue-themed dress. We combined our yellow, brown, and green dresses to create a dress around the concept of 'America isn't Beautiful without Agriculture.' While the other teams were seriously working away, we were having fun and going with the flow. Low and behold, we won the competition. Our dress was taken and mass-produced for a homecoming line.

It was always a white dress.

Would you be surprised if I told you I was a bride for Halloween (see picture above). My childhood friend and I would always play 'wedding' one of us would wear the wedding dress with the crown (aka pope hat) and the other was the groom, we would dance up the stairs to her mom's room (aka the alter) and would giggle our way back into the living room. We would play for hours.

I bought my Junior year prom dress 18 months before prom because I saw it, it was on sale, and had to have it. It was white with lace! I know, such a shocker. It was a classic 2010 wedding dress vibe. Stain pick-ups, halter top neck line. I loved it! My senior year prom dress was also white.

I love the memories of shopping with my mom and sister! We were always out for a good deal and would come home with way too many purses and shoes for my dad's liking. But I could always justify my purchase for the deal I got and how many events I could wear it to! I was that girl who would get more excited about dressing up for a volleyball or basketball game day more so than the game itself.

Even though I was a 'girly girl' I was also independent, strong-willed, and have always worked for what I wanted.

The Next Chapter.

If you are still with me, bless your heart! I love sharing my story and journey, but this is the part where I start to cringe, because all I have done is talked about myself. So, thanks for bearing with me, now where was I?

Oh yes, college. Fall of 2011 I headed to Loras College in Dubuque Iowa. I was on the fast track, I had taken many college classes through high school in hopes of saving time and money and getting my degree in three years.

I wanted to grow up faster than I already was. I wanted to get in, out, and on with life.

My fall semester freshman year I dove into my major head first. With the goal of becoming a TV anchor (ha, that is laughable now). I took all the advanced Media Studies classes I could. I already had my freshman-level classes done. Most of my peers thought I was a transfer student since they had never seen me but I was in their upper-level classes. It took time to feel like Loras was the place I was meant to be. I consumed my time with classes and school work but knew I wanted more.

Knowing my passion for fashion, I started Googling prom shops in Dubuque. I enjoyed my prom dress shopping experience and thought it would maybe be something I could do in my 'extra' time.

So one day, I put on my cowgirl boots, and I stopped into to Cheryl-Ann Bridal & Tuxedos. I spoke with Sherrie, the owner, I told her a little bit about myself. I asked if she needed any extra help with prom. She took a chance on me and took me under her wing. Being a farm girl herself, we instantly bonded.

In the meantime, I was quickly learning that being a TV anchor wasn't in the cards for me. I didn't want to live in a big city, I didn't want to always be reporting on bad, sad, and negative news. I wanted to live a simpler life, the life I knew and loved. So I switched my major to Public Relations and Business. I felt that it was still something I enjoyed but was also broad enough that I could be an eligible candidate for a range of jobs.

I continued working for Sherrie and expanded into helping with not just prom, but bridal, bridesmaids, prom, tuxedos, and mothers. I help with her socials and website. And even though I didn't get much exposure to the business side, I fell in love with the 'feeling' of being surrounded by a positive, exciting, joyful moments in a woman's life. I built a connection and relationship with brides and their families!

She took me to experience Chicago Bridal Market. I loved it and couldn't get enough. When a class group project arose to write a business plan, I opted out of the group part of it and did my own. I bet you will never guess what I wrote it on, yup, a bridal store. I put months and miles into research. I learned about the market, I created a store layout, and I researched designers.

I guess this would be a good spot to insert a key player in this story. The summer before heading off to college, I met a boy. He was older than me. He was also in school and working back in my hometown. We spent the first few years in a long-distance relationship. He was always my biggest supporter, cheerleader, and humbler. In everything I did. While I was working through creating my business plan, he would take weekend trips with me hours away to do market research. He was always willing to listen to my big ideas and would always be the first person to bring my big ideas back down to reality.

Fast forward to May of 2014. I did it, I earned my degree in three years. I then moved back in with my parents and started working for the Allamakee County 4-H program. I was back to my roots, back to what I knew and loved.

In October of 2015 Shawn and I got married! I could wrote a whole blog post on our wedding, so I will spare you the details of that for today. But long story short, it was a perfect day! Absolutely perfect!

The Opportunity - My Turn

Any business plan is a working document. Since 2014, mine had been edited, dreamed about, put on the shelf, and revisited many times. So many nights I would scroll commercial real estate listings. I would draft floor plans and look through current dress styles, but I kept the dream silent. It was a far-fetched dream. Maybe someday. Maybe when the time feels right. Maybe when the kids are older.

Insert 2020. We were blessed with our second child, Raelyn Jean, on March 19, 2020, just as the world was shutting down. No hospital visitors, no home visitors. No one knew what was going on. But she was the little light we needed in our lives and were very happy and content to be home as a new family of four!

This time quickly make me prioritize the things that mattered in life. My family, my health, my happiness.

When I get asked what made me want to open a bridal gown boutique, I often respond with a silly witty comment like 'life's too short not to do what you love.'

And as much as I loved my previous position, it was time for the tables to turn. Instead of encouraging youth to pursue their passions, it was my turn. My turn to live out my dream.

So long story long, this business wasn't just dreamed up one day. It truly has been a long time coming. And each experience, memory, and story I shared was a piece that led me to where I am today.

Another silly comment I make is, 'Nothing like a newborn baby and a global pandemic to make it feel right.' That feeling was right, and I am so glad I stuck with my intuition to finally put my plan into action!

It hasn't been easy and it hasn't been super pretty, but it has been an absolute blessing and joy to be able to live out this dream every day! This isn't business it is personal. You are letting me live out my dream and trust me to help you with one of the most important garments you will ever wear. I mean, how can that not be personal? Every single bride I have the joy to work with holds a special place in my heart!

I will end with another one of my go-to lines, 'if you aren't having fun, you aren't doing it right.' From the 'Stitch This' competition to singing silly songs with my kids in the car, this life motto has heald true through so many moments of my life and is something I continue to live by!

Now, if you had made it this far, wow, you deserve a medal! I get my storytelling abilities (or lack thereof) from my mother! And her and my dad also deserve a huge shoutout! I couldn't have done any of this without them! But in all seriousness, thank you! Thank you for being on this journey with me!

I am so excited to use this blog as a creative outlet to share information with you! So, as always stay tuned!

XOXO - Morgan

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