“There was no guarantee that I would be successful, but I still took the risk”

Q&A with Dede Palmer

When I first met Dede Palmer, I immediately found myself admiring her confidence. Something about her truly says, “I’ve got this.” After learning more about her background as an accountant and complete 180 degree turn into the bridal industry, it became clear that any sense of accomplishment that Dede portrays is because she’s earned it.

Dede is smart and savvy, sure, but it’s her drive to be great at whatever it is that she decides to take on that is truly inspiring.

But being a numbers gal with a keen eye for ivory gowns is just one piece of what makes this working mom a success. She takes care of her family the same way she operates her business – by giving them 110%.

Self-promo time. Tell me about your business.

I own Altar Bridal, a boutique that specializes in selling designer wedding gowns and wedding day accessories. The store opened June 1, 2010 in Kansas City, MO, just south of the Plaza. I made the decision to move the store to Leawood, KS July 2014. We opened with and continue to focus on carrying a collection of gowns by designers that are up and coming, have a unique flair about them, are made with high quality in mind, and that are not carried by other boutiques in the Greater Kansas City area. We also LOVE to support local Kansas City designers. We currently have 2 local gown designers that we work with as well as numerous local accessory designers.

If making brides look good wasn’t your job, what would you doing?

I love teaching and helping others problem solve. So, I could go for teaching classes at the college level or small business consulting.

What is the best part of being a business owner?

Freedom {for the most part}. And not just freedom from the day to day grind of the office job I used to have, but freedom to choose how I run my business. Freedom to decide what my day is going to look like…or at least how I think it will look. You never know what the next phone call or email will bring you in the bridal business.

Tell me about a time you failed or really messed up.

Oh boy. Failure is like a demon to me. I’ve never really wanted to do or try anything that I might fail at until I started this business. And even then the early mantra was “Failure is not an option.” Since then, I’ve been trying to be ok with the possibility of failing. And so while I don’t really have any massive failure to report, there have been lots of mistakes along the way. I’d say the biggest one was over-hiring early on for the store. I thought I needed numerous employees – but really that was just a cash suck. I’ve loved everyone that has worked at the store at one time or another, but if I could go back in time, I know I would do things a bit differently when it comes to hiring and managing my payroll expenses.

How did you overcome it?

I now run the store pretty lean. But try to recognize when we do need the extra hands on deck. I’m also better about managing hours being worked and only hiring and having staff work when I need them.

What is a typical day like for you?

Hmmm, doesn’t exist. But I think that is one of the perks of owning your own business. Now that I have a staff at the store that I can fully trust and rely on, I don’t have to be at the store every day. Which is life changing. If I want to go to the gym, get laundry done, work on some store marketing, take my daughter to violin, balance the store checkbook, get dinner started, promo a trunk show on social media…I can. All in one day.

They say it takes a village. Who takes your daughter to violin if you can’t swing it?

This is where my family is so blessed beyond measure it’s hard to even explain. About 6 years ago we became friends with two other families that had kiddos about the same age as ours. Over the last 6 years all of us have truly become friends that are family. We eat dinner together 1-2 times a week on average. Our kids are more like siblings. And whenever someone needs backup, it’s a no-brainer, they will be there. It’s awesome. I can’t imagine getting through life without them.

Have you had to miss a moment in your child’s life that you regret?

Of course I’ve missed some moments here and there but nothing that I deeply regret. But if I didn’t have the freedom that I do because of owning my own business, and was back in the cubicle crunching numbers…I fear I might have a different answer.

What is your favorite part about being a mom?

Just knowing what it’s like to love a human being like you love no one else in the world. I know that sounds cheesy, but when I truly stop the world around me and intentionally look at my kiddos, it takes my breath away. In those moments, it’s when I feel the overwhelming feelings of love and responsibility for these two human beings.

If your kids take away one thing from you running a business, what do you think that would be?

I hope that they realize that there was no guarantee that I would be successful {still isn’t}, but that I still took the risk, put myself out there, and did the hard work. I don’t want them to ever second guess their ability to follow their passions or fear failure without even trying.

What keeps you sane?

Time off. Like off the grid, time-off.

What’s your best piece of advice for other working moms?

Don’t worry about the other moms. Do what works for you and what makes you feel like being a good mom to your kiddos.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

Yes. I have a loving family, amazing friends, food in my belly and roof over my head. What else do ya really need? Well, besides a few cute outfits to make you feel fashionable on a gloomy day.

If you know someone getting ready to tie the knot, I can think of no one better to outfit the bride to be in the gown of her dreams than Dede and her staff at Altar Bridal.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

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