Krystle Hunter, a recent Spring GR graduate, credits the intense entrepreneurial course and support she received from her community, including Streams of Hope, with the success of her local bridal salon, Tailor Made Bridal. Her mission is to tell curvy women that “You are loved. You are beautiful. And you are celebrated!”
For Krystle Hunter, going to work has always been about using her passions to influence people for the better. Only now, instead of helping raise up the next generation by working in the local school system, she seeks to empower curvy women through finding the perfect dress that shows them how beautiful they truly are.
In her previous job as the Director of Extended Learning at a charter school, Krystle relished the opportunity to speak into the lives of students. But she has always had two passions–education and bridal–and now she continues to volunteer in schools despite the demands of her start-up business.
As a lifelong Michigander, Krystle first arrived in Grand Rapids four years ago and has since started to make this place her home. She felt that there was so much kind support within this community that it was the most “fruitful ground” to plant the seeds of her new business.
Before she enrolled in Spring GR training, Krystle recalls a time when her dream for Tailor Made Bridal was almost lost. Just home from college, she happened upon a business card for a plus-size bridal boutique in Detroit, and her spirits immediately fell.
“I’ll never forget this moment,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘Somebody did it before me!’ And I was so hurt. And so disappointed. That’s when the dream died. That’s when it got killed.”
But it was the people in her life, and her old boss in particular, who encouraged Krystle to keep going. When she heard that Krystle wanted to start her own business, Krystle’s boss introduced her to the Spring GR program. During the classes at the Streams of Hope campus, Krystle learned practical tips as well as received the inspiration and encouragement she needed to launch Tailor Made Bridal.
“One of the reasons why I loved Spring GR so much was because it wasn’t textbook jargon,” says Krystle. “I didn’t set up my life to be a business owner; I just wanted to do my passion. I didn’t go to school for a business degree–the business came as a result of the passion behind it. Spring GR helped take that passion and then gave us tools to be successful in starting and launching a business.”
Another influential person in Krystle’s life is Barb Natua, the Food Pantry Director at Streams of Hope. Barb also served as the Program Director for the Streams of Hope Spring GR site, and Krystle says the encouraging atmosphere and Barb’s above-and-beyond care for each trainee was invaluable. The Spring GR participants received weekly emails from Barb with a recap of each lesson and additional resources.
“Barb really was wonderful. Barb is an angel in disguise,” laughs Krystle. “You could see Barb pulling us to the side and having these conversations to just encourage us and to say you’re doing fine, stop beating up on yourself.”
At the Spring GR graduation, the top candidates are awarded a cash prize. Despite months of hard work, Krystle was ready to hang up her dream after she didn’t win the Spring GR competition. Her coaches, on the other hand, knew that she didn’t need the prize money to make her dream a reality. They pushed her to keep working, keep dreaming, and keep growing her business.
Krystle said a defining moment in her entrepreneurial journey was making her very first sale this May.
“I remember sitting down like, ‘oh man,’ ” says Krystle. “ It’s still the most surreal experience I’ve ever had in my life. I’m still on cloud nine.” The taste of fulfillment in that first sale with a happy bride still drives Krystle to work hard at her business every single day.
Although the business is still young, Krystle has ambitions to launch Tailor Made Bridal storefronts in 5 more cities around the state, including in the Upper Peninsula, before expanding to the rest of the United States.
She also has a heart to mentor teen girls. An upcoming “Pretty at Prom” event at her storefront will help girls find the perfect dress while also teaching them what it means to be beautiful on the inside, too.
“I look at people as valuable,” Krystle says. “Selling dresses will be cool… But at the end of the day, I want to make sure that I’m impacting people’s’ lives.”
To learn more about Krystle Hunter and Tailor Made Bridal, visit www.tailormadebridal.com. To get involved with Spring GR, visit springgr.com.