By Faith Greco
Fairy Dreams Bridal Boutique is a luxury bridal shop that plans to open this spring in the heart of the Glebe. The boutique is moving from its original Kanata location into the site of the former Glebe Emporium at 724 Bank Street and its windows are already displaying wedding gowns.
Stocked with the bridal industry’s top brands, the boutique carries dresses from world-famous designers like Vera Wang, Liz Martinez, Berta Privée, Tatyana Merenyuk, Alexandra Grecco and Suzanne Neville.
The store’s aesthetic follows a copper, pink and white scheme that exudes elegance. The boutique caters to one scheduled appointment at a time, granting each bride full attention.
“I want to give (the brides) an experience that’s fun but intimate,” said owner Irene Mei. “When you walk in, we close the door. No one will be shopping around you. It’s only you, your family, your friends and our sales team.”
Mei plans on pursuing a variety of business ventures at the new location by dividing the space into three. Mei says she’s thinking about first adding an evening dress shop alongside the bridal salon. Then, a shift from fancy dress: after watching her one-year-old son battle eczema, Mei was inspired to create My Baby Shoppe; this organically sourced baby store is scheduled to open alongside the boutique.
“I would have never imagined myself owning a building in the Glebe,” Mei said.
A life filled with ruffles, embroidery and lace came from hard work and dedication. Mei’s family immigrated to Canada from China with limited belongings and no financial stability when she was a young child.
“My brother and I grew up really fast because we had to understand the value of money. We didn’t get any presents…Instead, we would wrap up some free books in newspaper and pretend.”
Growing up, Mei juggled various jobs alongside her studies because working was the custom in her household. After attending Carleton University for psychology and law, Mei began working with her brother on his start-up discounted flight business called I Only Fly First Class. The company gained traction and Mei assumed the position of finance coordinator, a job she maintains to this day. It has provided Mei with some financial security and spending money for the first time in her life.
In 2019, Mei became engaged to her longtime partner and searched for the perfect wedding dress. Mei realized she couldn’t try on certain brands because the designers weren’t selling their dresses in Canada. Longing to see the dresses in person, she planned a trip to New York during Bridal Fashion Week. While there, Mei convinced fashion event organizers that she was in the bridal wholesale business, which granted her access to see and try on bridal gowns.
“I loved the dresses, I really loved them,” Mei said.
Following the trip, famous French-Israeli designer Liz Martinez reached out to Mei to ask if she was interested in selling her wedding gowns. Without hesitation or a plan, Mei jumped at the offer.
“At that point, I messaged my husband and said, ‘I ordered a lot of dresses for a lot of money, and now I owe a lot of money. So, I’m going to open a bridal shop,’” Mei said.
In March 2019, Mei opened Fairy Dreams Bridal Boutique in Kanata. The boutique withstood the trials of the COVID-19 lockdowns that led to the demise of so many other small businesses. Mei’s passion and work ethic helped ensure the business survived.
Construction complications have led to a few minor delays in the boutique’s relocation, but the Glebe’s newest addition is expected to open its doors sometime in June.
“Everyone’s been super welcoming in the Glebe,” Mei said. “It’s kind of funny because never in my life did I think I would be where I am now.”
Faith Greco is a second-year Carleton University journalism student.