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Aug. 16, 2022

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Working in Clark County: Lisa Bagley: owner, Sincerely the Bride

By , Columbian staff writer
5 Photos
Lisa Bagley, owner of Sincerely the Bride, stands near a display of dresses at her Vancouver store on Friday.
Lisa Bagley, owner of Sincerely the Bride, stands near a display of dresses at her Vancouver store on Friday. (Ariane Kunze/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Any given day at Sincerely the Bride, a sparkling boutique in downtown Vancouver, Lisa Bagley and her five bridal consultants field phone calls from future brides, schedule appointments for fittings, help select accessories, process stock, manage accounts and vendors, and simultaneously make preparations for an upcoming bridal show. It’s a bustling shop where Bagley and company take pride in helping brides experience that special “I found the gown” moment.

“A bride can find a dress within any store,” said Bagley, “but it’s the whole experience that makes the difference — professionalism, one-on-one intimacy with her friends and family, and taking the time to listen to what they want. We are now starting our fourth year in business and couldn’t be more proud and humble. It’s been a monumental amount of work and stress but is certainly worth it.”

Residence city/neighborhood: Vancouver/Fisher’s Landing.

Business name: Sincerely The Bride, 111 W. Seventh St., Vancouver.

360-953-8523, www.sincerelythebride.com and on Facebook and Instagram.

Age: 44.

Education/professional background: Growing up in the small town of Clatskanie, Ore., my interests were always art and horses. I have always been creative and my parents supported my talents in every way they could, including private art classes as a teenager and buying my first horse at age 8. My love for horses kept me busy in 4-H where I learned how to be a leader, public speaker and responsibility, earning many awards, including a national title. I graduated from high school with both a 4-H and art scholarship. I graduated from The Art Institute of Seattle with a degree in visual communications and graphic design. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit so I started my first design business in Longview in the mid-1990s while also raising my two children. In the span of 15 years, I worked in the graphic design/marketing field and ran a horse-training facility, learning all aspects of business.

How and when you got started in your business: In 2008, when the economy suffered, I was laid off and decided it was time for a change. I wanted to utilize my creativity in another way so I started an event/wedding planning business which I called Birds Of A Feather Events, which I ran for several years.

I soon realized that it wasn’t going to sustain full-time work. Not everyone could afford to have a wedding planner, but I loved working in the wedding industry. So I figured it was time to go back to college to gain another skill set that would complement what I already had. I chose fashion design with a focus on bridal. Having been involved in fashion and runway fashion designers— my daughter was in modeling— it all paired really well with my love of wedding planning.

However, so much of what I was being taught, I already knew from my other design degree and business experience. Many of my instructors suggested that unless I wanted to be the one actually sewing the dresses, to just go out and start a business. It was 2013 and my daughter was working at a local fashion boutique, so between the two of us, the idea of opening a bridal shop began. With the help of both my parents and a small business adviser from Washington State University, we decided what our bridal shop was going to offer and how we were going to stand out: The experience and amazing customer service.

We are now starting our fourth year in business and couldn’t be more proud and humble. It’s been a monumental amount of work and stress but it is certainly worth it. I have an amazing team dedicated to providing the experience every bride wants and we have hundreds of five-star reviews. Brides travel from all over including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, Alaska, and more to experience our bridal boutique.

Personal/business philosophy: My parents have taught me that hard work pays off and family always comes first. We don’t live to work, we work to live. So I try to be a great leader for my team and give them the tools that they need to do their job so that they can live outside of work too.

Most rewarding part of job: There are so many, but the No. 1 is definitely seeing the bride and her family and friends crying in happy tears when they experience that special “I found the gown” moment. I love it when the bride’s mom hugs me, thanking me for giving her and her daughter the experience they deserve.

Most challenging part of job: Balancing work and home. Starting a new business is so demanding. I eat, sleep and think about my business all the time so it’s hard to shut my brain off.

Something surprising about your work: Most people don’t know that the wedding gown process can take up to a year so brides need to shop as soon as they can. It literally takes at least four to six months for the manufacturer to make the dress, unless it is in stock. If the bride waits too long, it may force her to buy “off the rack” which limits her choices. Then she needs to plan for two or three months for alterations.

Best feature of my Clark County community: The people. Clark County offers some amazing bridal vendors. We work as a team to provide the most beautiful and special weddings in the area.

About being downtown: I love it! Initially, when we decided on a boutique atmosphere, I knew I didn’t want to be in a big box or a strip mall. We looked for a special spot. I saw an advertisement for this space, so at 10 p.m. at night I peeked through the windows and it was absolutely what we wanted — beautiful hardwood floors and big front windows.

What would make your community a better place: Helping to solve the homeless situation. So many families and individuals are suffering on the streets. We need to provide better services to help solve the problem.

Your favorite travel destination and type: I love traveling to Los Angeles with my daughter. It’s nice to enjoy the sun and we shop for special accessories for the store. It’s like a treasure hunt for the special pieces you wouldn’t find elsewhere. We try to always go somewhere new but also have our little rituals, like eating out at Bottega Louie at the end of the trip.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Beaches. I admit I always eat the same thing; the crab and artichoke melt is my favorite.

Hobbies: Being a grandma to my new grandbaby. I still love horses. I am in the search for my next show horse. I have three dogs (two Chihuahuas and a German shepherd) so they keep me busy trying to get them to the dog park as much as possible.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in the past 12 months: I’m a total sucker for love stories and a hopeless romantic so anything by Nicholas Sparks. I own all his books and movies that were made from his novels.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Take a really good tropical vacation this year and every year thereafter. I also want to start traveling more overseas and seeing more of the world.

One word to describe yourself: Dedicated.

Person you’d like most to meet: Oprah Winfrey.

Columbian staff writer

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