Bridal shopping with a purpose at Gracyn Elizabeth Bride
Ashley Carlow is changing up “tradition” in the Texarkana bridal scene. Carlow, owner of the bridal shop formerly known as Traditions, has given her store a new name, Gracyn Elizabeth Bride, and along with it comes a new purpose.
Carlow bought Traditions Bridal in April 2016, after a trip for her daughter to try on dresses unexpectedly turned into much more. “We went in to Traditions just to let Shelby try some dresses on to see what she liked and get an idea of what kind of fit she wanted,” Ashley remembered. “And I told her, ‘Shelby, we’re not buying anything today, so don’t get your hopes up. We are just trying on today.’” Before they left, they had purchased three dresses, two of which would be redesigned and combined into Shelby’s dream dress, and another for her reception. Just six weeks (and much persuasion by Traditions owner Sandra Garret) later, Ashley was the new owner of Traditions Bridal and Formal.
Ashley, having been a teacher all of her adult life, first tried to juggle both the new business and her teaching career, but soon realized she had a decision to make.
“I was being pulled between the classroom and the store, and felt like I wasn’t doing my best at anything,” Ashley said. So she made the tough call to step away from a 24-year teaching career and take on running the bridal shop full time. In the meantime, she was planning weddings for two of her children and another for a former student and employee at her home. To say it was a busy time for the Carlows would be an understatement. All the while, Traditions Bridal and Formal was growing. Sales continued to grow every month, and Ashley became concerned about space in the location they were occupying. “We were at the old location in Summerhill Square and there were Saturdays when brides had to wait 45 minutes just to get in a dressing room,” said Ashley. “That’s when I realized we needed to expand to a bigger location.”
In March of 2018, Ashley moved her business to its current location on Kennedy Lane, and though friends and family urged her to change the name of her business to make it more “hers,” Ashley just didn’t think it was the right time. It was after attending a bridal seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, as the guest of one of her sales reps that Ashley was able to decide on the perfect “re-name” for her business.
Ashley and her husband Brad lost a baby in 2000, a baby girl who was stillborn. Her name was Gracyn Elizabeth, and her loss is something Ashley and her family have struggled with for years.
So when Ashley began to delve into her purpose, and the “why” that she lets drive her every day, she decided to re-name her business after the baby girl she has loved and grieved for all these years, and to not only honor her by giving her name to the business, but also to use that business to bless other families who suffer a loss like the Carlows did with the loss of baby Gracyn.
Along with the new business name, Ashley revealed the name of her new private label, Gracyn Bride, and a portion of all Gracyn Bride sales will go toward satin baby gowns and blankets for babies lost in birth and infancy. Ashley recruited a couple of local seamstresses who were more than happy to lend their services, and will be taking donations of cleaned, used bridal gowns to be cut down for these dresses.
“I want to show love to families and let them know I’ve been there and I understand,” Ashley said. “Hopefully I can help them through Gracyn Bride, that’s my hope and prayer.”
And in a business that is centered around beauty, a beautiful name - Gracyn Elizabeth- tells a beautiful story, with an even more beautiful purpose.