Editor’s Note: Never Knew I Needed has been named to The Story Exchange’s list of 12 Brilliant Business Ideas.
Wedding planning can be a nightmare. Abby Greenberg’s Never Knew I Needed, a new type of wedding boutique, could make it more of a dream – especially as she aims to be inclusive in a wedding industry that often seems stuck in the past. The Ottawa, Ontario, company specializes in customized products that can be printed with preferred titles or pronouns, and bills itself as a safe space for LGBTQIA+ customers. The boutique also provide inclusive sizing. Greenberg, who sells traditional fare as well, recently launched a subscription box service and has spent much of the pandemic creating a “huge new hype” for what virtual weddings can be.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
What was your reason for starting your business?
We found a huge gap in the wedding space. The majority of the wedding industry is stuck with a heteronormative view point of what weddings should be. The apparel and accessory industries are starting — finally! — to move in the right direction. But the bridal world is struggling to catch up. Many products are only available in “Mr” & “Mrs” or the sizing only goes up to large. Our company is different. We go up to 5XL in all of our apparel, with plans to add more sizing options. We print the majority of our products in-house, meaning we can use custom prefixes like “MX” or terms like “Marrier” or “Spouse.” We are a budget-friendly one-stop-shop for everything but the dress.
How do you define success?
I don’t think I will ever feel truly successful, it is a part of who I am. Everyday I get up and go to work to make my company and our customer’s lives better than yesterday. I guess I would say I am successful because everyday I get to go to work, do what I love, and make the world 1% more inclusive through design and products.
What is your biggest success so far?
Our subscription box launch! Unlike other bridal subscription boxes, we cater your box to you and your bridal needs. You’ll get products that you will actually use on your wedding journey.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
As a young woman with a lot of energy and a bubbly personality, it is hard to be taken seriously in an industry that is hesitant to change. I address this problem by showing up everyday and showing these “traditional companies” the importance of diversity and inclusivity.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
2021 was filled with more personal loss than I wish on anyone. I lost both my grandparents in a matter of 4 weeks, one to Covid. As a family-owned business, there is no one there to support you when you have to take a break. There is no other employee to take over or customer service agent to handle the emails. You have to keep going and that’s what we did. Every day is a gift, I have learned that.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just start. There is no perfect launch day or seamless collection. Open the shop, start the Instagram, and go.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I don’t. That is the realest answer I can give. We all have the dark days, but we push through and survive until there is that little blur of light. When I see that little blur of light I am reminded that I have the happiest job in the world, supporting couples during the happiest times of their lives. That gives me hope and inspiration.
Who is your most important role model?
Cheesy answer, but my mom! She taught me at an early age that my prince was never going to come save me. I needed to build the life I wanted. ◼