What started with a Craig’s List ad has turned into a unique business in Uptown Bay City, focused on creating an experience. Britney Reed owns Infinity Bridal and said when she started out, she had hoped to take over another area shop, but in the end, everything fell into place to open her own.
A few years ago, as a college student planning on becoming a lawyer, Britney Reed never imagined herself owning a bridal boutique in her hometown. But Reed says a lot has changed in Bay City.A couple of years ago Reed, 31, was working at a bridal shop in Auburn and at her full-time job as deputy court administrator for juvenile court in Bay County. She had an interest in taking over ownership of that salon, but said when that didn’t work out, her dad encouraged her to open a shop in Bay City.
As a young entrepreneur, Reed had to work a little harder to partner with as she developed her business plan.“My mom thought we were crazy,” but now her mom is her greatest help. “At first we weren’t really sure where it was going.” Reed said her uncle, who is a real estate agent in Bay City had been showing her storefronts, but a phone call from a local developer set everything in motion.
In February 2019, things started to move pretty quickly. “I was working out of the community center with my mom and got a call from Pete Shaheen (developer of Uptown Bay City),” she said. “He said, ‘I’ve been told that you’re looking for a space for a bridal shop, and I’d love to show you one of the spaces in Uptown.’”
That phone call was the catalyst she needed.
She met with Shaheen and agreed to fill a space in the riverfront development. With that, her plans for Infinity Bridal started to take shape. “A few weeks later my mom and I flew to Atlanta and we purchased our first 50 dresses.”
Though her plans fell into place like dominos, Reed said there were a few challenges.
At 31, Reed is a full decade younger than the average entrepreneur. According the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the average entrepreneur founds his or her business at 42. Different statistics exist for the number of male vs. female business owners, but all show women entrepreneurs in the minority.
“I didn’t have a lot of people in the beginning that I could ask a lot of questions,” Reed said. “There’s a large generation gap in the people who own businesses in Bay County,” and she saw the need to find connections with people who could give her guidance.
The bridal shop name came from its motto.“I have a good connection with the older generations who have a much wiser, different approach to business, but then again I have my youth that allows me to connect with a younger generation, who are constantly evolving in their way of communicating.”
Those connections led her to the people she needed who could partner with her in the business.
Where did the name come from?
Finding the location, the dresses, and establishing her business was one part of the process, but coming up with the name was another. Reed said she polled all of her girlfriends and went through hundreds of names before settling on Infinity Bridal.
When she returned to her hometown, Reed missed the nightlife of Chicago. That's changing, though, as Bay City evolves.“I hope I write some of them down,” she said, “especially some of the names that my dad wanted to call it were just very interesting.” Reed said the name finally came from the tagline for her business. “Our tag line is ‘love is timeless, love is limitless, love is infinite,’ and infinite is the only word that could have fit at the end of that sentence, and then Infinity Bridal just made sense.”
Reed said the infinity symbol is also a simple expression of that concept, and the idea that “as a woman you should have infinite possibilities in all of the things, so not just your wedding dress, you should have infinite possibilities in your career and family life, and all the things you want to succeed at.”
Coming up the logo wasn’t as simple as drawing it out. Britney said a neighboring business owner is also a graphic designer and helped come up with the symbol and signage. “She did my first round of logos, and I cried. I couldn’t believe it because it was the first time I was really seeing that this was going to be something.” Britney said when she saw her sign go up, she started to realize it was actually happening.
Reed has tried to create a warm, welcoming space where her customers feel at home.Why Bay City?
Reed is a native of Bay City, but spent a few years in Chicago working on her undergraduate degree in history. She thought at the time she’d go to law school. Instead, she got her graduate degree in administration. When she came back to Bay City to be closer to family, she met her husband, Michael. Michael's job keeps the couple in this area, but Reed said she missed the eateries and nightlife she left behind in Chicago.
Infinity stocks gowns in sizes between 8 and 28. They can order both larger and smaller sizes.“Back in 2012, Bay City was still really underdeveloped. We lacked the restaurants; we lacked the cool bars that are here now,” Reed recalled.
A lot has changed since then. The first phase of Uptown Bay City is open and work has begun on Phase 2. Small boutiques and new restaurants are filling long-vacant spaces in nearby downtown Bay City. Combined, it all makes Bay City the right place for her shop. “There’s so much more here now, it just makes sense.”
Reed says hopes women feel they have infinite possibilities in every area of life, including wedding gowns.Reed said she wanted to build a warm, welcoming space where her customers could feel at home. “We just wanted it to be simple, and be just an experience where you felt relaxed but you are also in a beautiful, intimate space, and you can enjoy time with friends and family.”
Boutiques and one-of-a-kind businesses opening throughout Bay City make this the right time and place for Reed's bridal shop.Reed said by the response she’s getting, she knows she’s getting through to people that an Uptown location doesn’t equal unaffordable or out of reach.
What she hoped for when she opened just over a year ago was a place where brides could come in and find just the right dress for themselves. “It’s really the only detail about your wedding that is only about you,” she said. “You have to share the rest of the details with everybody else, and it should be a reflection of you.”