"One of our customers coined us an elegant one-stop shop for brides," said Cherie DeSorte, owner of A Beautiful Touch. That customer hit it on the tiara-ed head. The cozy boutique in Westmont, N.J., run by mother-and-daughter duo Cheri and Cherie DeSorte, offers everything a bride-to-be could ever desire for her special day and special occasions ever after, from jewelry to veils to bridal apparel to personalized gifts, invitations and party favors (calligraphy done by Cherie). "We supply everything but the gown," Cherie says.
Its gem, though, is its lingerie section, a careful repertoire of classic pieces in simple silhouettes and colors - almost always white or ivory. As the mother-of-the-bride is the typical shopper, a favorite piece is the more formal peignoir; for traditional customers willing to spend more, Jonquil peignoirs are popular, while contemporary customers tend to go with Betsey Johnson. Cotton loungewear and basics sets by Arianne are also favored, next to more playful pieces by Classy Bride. Shoppers spend an average of $300 on lingerie alone, but often drop more than $800.
"We've had people talk about us on The Knot [wedding website], people come from Delaware and Pennsylvania just to get our lingerie, because real bridal is hard to find," Cherie says. "It could just be handful of people that come in every day, but every person that comes in buys something."
Oddly enough, A Beautiful Touch didn't start out as a bridal store. When the two opened their shop in 2000, they combined their entrepreneurial spirits with Cherie's background in interior design and sold floral arrangements to hotels and other business clients. On a whim, one day they set up a small table of wedding accessories and a few bridal panties, which grew into a significant inventory of lingerie. The rest is history.
"A couple of pieces of lingerie became a $75,000 investment in a lingerie department," Cherie says.
Cherie's design background still comes in handy. The 750-square-foot space, while small, is smartly decorated, with white walls, handpainted furniture, sparse floral decor and an overall shabby-chic look. After it selection, what sets A Beautiful Touch apart is, well, its personal touch. Cherie and Cheri are the only two employees, and they work hard to maintain a friendly, family-oriented atmosphere.
"We really care and our customers really see that," Cherie says. "I am very friendly but my mom is even friendlier, and people come in and ask for her by name. When you wake up in the morning, you have something to look forward to. It's your reputation. It's your living."