When One White Lane Bridal Gallery popped up in Avalon two years ago, I knew I wanted to shop there when the time came. Living only a stone’s throw away from the storefront, I would drive or walk by at least once a day. The constant rotation of gowns in the window beckoned to me and I would ask my now-fiancé which ones he liked the best. Once the wedding planning started, I made an appointment. I couldn’t wait any longer!
Dania Cruz, who opened her storefront in August of 2019, made the process manageable, intimate, and friendly. She runs her business by appointment only, so we did not have to worry about other brides being in the shop. This not only made it much safer during the pandemic, but it meant an intimate session with my bridal crew and a more personalized experience. I was lucky enough to speak with Dania about her business’s success following my appointment.
Dania spent her childhood interested in fashion, particularly bridal fashion. She decided to open up shop at 608 California Ave mostly because Avalon is easy to get to from many parts of the greater Pittsburgh area and she anticipated a blossoming business section for the borough. “Back in the day, my fiancé and I used to dine at Mia Madre and so we always liked the area and saw a lot of potential… so it just seemed right.” Not only was the location promising, the building allowed for her to achieve her vision. “I loved the space because of the unique features. I loved the high ceilings. I loved the brick wall. I wanted a space that was comfortable but I also wanted a space that felt elevated. That’s why I went with French chandeliers and the contrast between the black and the white. I wanted an eclectic and transitional space.”
When hit by the pandemic, she like other business owners had to close for 9 weeks. Outside of that, Dania’s business has stayed steady. “We were very lucky in the sense that a lot of the things that other companies had to change, we already had in place. We have always been by private appointment; we only take one client at a time. We’ve always had the ability to have virtual appointments via Zoom and Facetime, or any other app.” Dania stated that some of the challenges she faced during the early days of the pandemic were due to the sheer newness of the virus. “There were a lot of unknowns about where the virus could live, so we had to allow ourselves more time between appointments…we had to steam the gowns and there was a lot more prep put into getting ready for the next appointment.”
Dania credits much of her success to her team, stating that she has had marketing success thanks to a social media savvy team member. “I have been very lucky; I have someone who works with me who is very good at those things, so while I handle the Facebook and the Instagram, she takes point on the Tiktoks and Reels.” I personally loved looking at their videos and posts leading up to my appointment.
My experience at One White Lane Bridal Gallery was everything I had hoped it to be. I spoke with Dania privately about my vision and what I was hoping for, and she picked out several dresses for me that were within my budget and matched my taste. My group of friends and family were there to offer insights that helped me figure out what I liked about one dress versus another. Dania listened closely to my reactions and found a dress that incorporated all of the qualities I liked about others I had tried on before. This made the decision easy, quick, and celebratory. After dozens of photos were taken and tears of joy shed by my bridesmaids, I met with Dania who discussed sizing, payment options, and when to expect my dress for fitting with the seamstress. The hardest part was knowing that I will have to wait a full year to show my soon-to-be husband the gorgeous gown I bought!
When asked what she hoped for One White Lane Bridal Gallery’s future, Dania said she hoped to expand her social media footprint and her business as a whole. One thing she won’t compromise on is her by-appointment-only business model. “We have clients who come in with large bridal parties and it is a really lively experience…but I also have clients who come by themselves or with one other guest and are looking for a very calm appointment. For us it really is about customizing the experience. They might not buy the dress here, but it’s important to me that they have a good experience here.”