Fringe & Lace by Brittany is bringing boutique retail back to Northwood, Iowa. Brittany Low has always loved to sew. When she married Tom Low, a life-long resident of Northwood, she began doing alterations for friends and family out of her home. As her friends and family increasingly referred their friends, Brittany realized that she could take this side business to full time. “I was so busy just from word-of-mouth and personal recommendations,” she said. Brittany also noticed every spring, local girls were preparing for prom by buying and selling their formal dresses on social media. After hearing about girls meeting up at gas stations and trying on dresses in bathrooms, she saw that these girls needed a safe and clean location to sell their previously-loved dresses. In early 2017, Brittany founded Fringe & Lace by Brittany, an alterations and consignment dress shop, specializing in prom dresses and tuxedos.
After a year, Brittany decided it was time to explore expanding her business model. She knew she wanted to add bridal but wanted to make sure she did it right. Brittany worked with the North Iowa Area SBDC to find the best way for her business to grow. “They helped me put all the pieces together and we made sure it was a good decision to add the bridal line, bridesmaid dresses, and expand into a bigger location.” In February 2018, Fringe & Lace by Brittany opened in its new location on Central Avenue in downtown Northwood.
The new location has been a great fit for Fringe & Lace. “Bridal and formal attire is still a market where people want the experience,” Brittany explained. “They want to be able to touch, feel, and see before they buy, online shopping doesn’t fit the customer’s needs.” Brick-and-mortar clothing retail is increasingly concentrated in larger metro areas as online sales continue to drive change in industry. Brittany sees a personalized bridal boutique in Northwood as an opportunity to bring some retail back to town and keep it there. “My mindset is that I don’t have to be the biggest but I want to be the best. Everything we do is focused to provide that small town service, the top trends, the best variety, and the best quality at a price point that’s realistic for our area.”
Brittany has a few words of advice for fellow entrepreneurs. “One of the most important things that has helped me get to where I am is the city of Northwood itself. If you’re starting a business, the first thing to do is go talk to your city leaders, your economic developers, your business resources. They want to help you – but they can’t help you unless you ask. The support of the North Iowa SBDC & NIACC Pappajohn Center has also been so valuable. It helped me realize that I don’t have to know everything, I just have to know my own strengths and find the right team to fill in the blanks.”