Molly Guy, Stone Fox Bride
Molly Guy, the mastermind behind Stone Fox Bride, has built a bridal empire over the past five years that helps women find themselves, be themselves, and celebrate themselves during the most important milestones of their lives. So how did this trained journalist go from getting her masters degree in writing to building a sun-drenched bohemian oasis of a bridal showroom in SoHo that helps brides realize the wedding of their dreams? Read on...
Tell us about your journey from magazine writer to building a mecca for brides and mamas...
Growing up I was always really passionate about reading and writing — fashion and clothing were always just a hobby, but never a professional pursuit. I come from a family of writers and intellectuals and no one in my family works in fashion. Though, I did have a great, great aunt, who my dad is really proud to say had something to do with Jackie Kennedy's inauguration dress.
I did my school's literary journal and did a lot of acting when I was a kid and then went to college for English. My first job after college was at a magazine. My second job was at a magazine. My third job was at a magazine. All writing — I never had anything to do with the fashion or beauty departments. Then in 2003 I decided to take a break from magazine jobs, I went back to graduate school for, surprise, writing! At that time there were no online magazines or mainstream blogs like today, so, when I got out of graduate school in 2006, magazines had just made this transition to become digital properties and I didn't really have the skill set required. I just didn't understand and back then you had to really know and understand how online magazines worked in order to work with them. You had to know how to get a post up and really know who your audience was and it was all very complicated, and because I didn't have any of those skills, I couldn't get a job.
I went to work for a cosmetics company and it wasn't a great time, but during this time I went on a date with a guy that was about to become my husband. At this point I had lived in New York for a really long time. I grew up in the Midwest, in Chicago, I had stayed in New York as long as I had because I had found that New York gave me this cozy, comforting environment that I loved. I had been able to find everything I wanted here. I had been able to find my friends. I had been able to find my "kind-of" career path. I had been able to find "my spots". I had a really passionate yoga practice, I had my bookstores, and my studios, and my coffee spots, and that's what kept me here. You kind of have to have something that keeps you here in New York, because it's such an unpractical, crazy place to live. Especially when you watch your friends from high school start getting mortgages and 401k's and buying homes and summer homes and living these reasonable lives...
Anyway, when I went to look for a wedding dress, I couldn't find "that" place and I was so confused because ever since I've lived here, I've never really had that experience of feeling alienated. I felt really confused by that. I ended up finding a dress, I planned my wedding, all while I was in this job that I really didn't like.
A week after I was married, I had lunch with my friend Bronah, who had left her job at Cookie Magazine to start a store called Sweet William for little kids and told her I had an idea for a store. She was like, 'Right Molly, everyone has an idea for a store.' She kind of just rolled her eyes. I was like, 'Yeah it's a wedding store.' It was such a crazy idea, I had never even mentioned it to anyone before because it just seemed so outrageous.
I didn't know what to do, so I ended up going to my brother-in-law's office and said, 'I want to start a store.' He was like, 'Good luck, Molly. I don't know who would give you any money or who would help you. You have no background in retail.' He'd always just known me as this writer. But, one thing led to another and my brother-in-law ended up becoming my business partner and that was five years ago, and here we are today.
What were some of the things missing that you felt were important to you when you were planning your wedding and getting married that women now come to Stone Fox Bride for?
Well the first thing is, I really couldn't find a dress. This was 2009 and there really were no places for the dress. There was no website, there were no pictures, and just in terms of a practical style stand-point, I really couldn't find the product or the visual inspiration I wanted. I didn't even know where to get started. I picked up a Brides Magazine and was like, 'This is the only thing I know how to do, but it's not me.'
This is the space I wanted to walk into, especially with the product offering. The book addresses this as well — the act of getting married and how it's a really complicated transition and it involves all sorts of psychological and emotional and economical and financial adjustments. No one ever really talks about any of that stuff. It's all still very Disney princess, happily ever after. But it's like, 'Oh, should I change my name? Should I open a new bank account? What do we do about our finances? What do we do about our religion? What do we do about all of his boxes of memorabilia and stuff?'
It didn't really seem like there was a space to talk about any of that. It was actually really confusing. I knew how to apply to college. I knew how to look for a job, but I didn't know how to get married. I'd like to think that we're acknowledging some of that stuff.
...Wait, so what do you do with all of his boxes of memorabilia?
First of all, there's a really good company called Make Space. They pick up your boxes and they bring it to a storage facility for $25 a month and will bring it back to you if you need it. But, to be honest, I'm not really a fan of the storage facility. I think that everyone get's to have one memorabilia box because we're in New York so it's not like we have an attic, and a fifth bedroom, and a garage, and a mudroom. So I say, 'Do one box. Everyone get's one box.' You can fit a lot in one big like plastic Muji box.
What are some things that surprised you about starting your own business?
I grew up in a home where "business" was what my dad did. He put on a suit every morning and a tie and drove downtown and came home at 6:30 PM every night. He was a businessman. He went to business school, so I always thought that's what business was. It's 2016, and now anyone can start a business in their pajamas from their living room. I've been pleasantly surprised to learn that business really is not about putting on that suit and being buttoned up and pounding your fist in a boardroom. I think it's really about knowing what your bottom line is and figuring out how to meet that in a way that feels authentic and interesting. And personally, realizing that there's this space that I'm comfortable working in and have worked really hard in that I never, ever thought was going to be an option.
Can you tell us about your first marketing campaign? The idea behind the whole "Fuck Weddings" movement?
So, that was never an intentional marketing ploy. The business had opened in February 2011, and I had my first baby on May 3rd, 2012. It was a good store but people weren't really crazy about the inventory that we had. One day my daughter came to work and as a joke I sent my intern Adrian out and was like, 'Can you run to K-Mart and get a onesie and write "Fuck Weddings" on it?' I thought it would be really funny because it was the kind of thing that would make my parents annoyed (laughs).
She literally got a stencil and a magic marker and a onesie from K-Mart and I put my daughter in it, took a picture of her with it on and put it on my Facebook page and sent it to my parents. Everyone laughed and thought it was funny.
When we did our first shoot a few weeks later, I still had the stencil and my daughter came by for the shoot, I was like, 'Let's put her in the fuck weddings onesie and put her in the shoot.' During the shoot we wrote fuck weddings on a t-shirt and we put that on Pamela Love and it just became this thing. We checked if the URL was available and then it started from there, but it was never intended to be anything at all. It was just really... I thought it was funny. I mean I don't think "fuck weddings" at all, I clearly love weddings!
Can you talk a little bit about being a voice for women and why you feel it's important to encourage women to talk about real and sometimes unglamorous issues?
I think that we're all probably pretty guilty in the world of social media of trying to paint a picture of who we are. I mean, I have plenty of things in my life that I don't put up on my Instagram account. While I might be able to get a little more honest every now and then I'm certainly just as guilty as everyone else of trying to paint the pretty picture, you know? But, I do think it's valuable to use the platform to do with it what it was meant for, which is communicating. Talking to people about where you are. It seems that people have always responded to all of those honest posts, so I try to do them every now and then.
You've started moving into the mom space and creating a similar offering and safe place for mamas. Was that another platform that you felt was missing when you were pregnant?
Yeah, I mean I was like, 'Fuck. There's so much to do when you get pregnant.' There's so much to do and there's so much to learn. I'm sure you guys don't know what a ring of fire is. I'm sure you don't know what a mucus plug is. I'm sure you don't know what colostrum is. I'm sure you don't know what the difference between the nuchal translucency is or an amniocentesis or a high risk versus non high risk pregnancy. IVF versus Clomid. There's so much. The learning curve is so high, it's like starting a business. I just felt like I wanted a shot of information. Where's the book? Where's the manual?
It's funny because now when I have a bunch of emails that I've consolidated, and friends of mine are now getting pregnant, I'm like, 'Here's THE email.' But, I just want to be like, 'Here's the book. Here's what I found really useful. Here are the things that no one told me. Here's the difference between a doula and a midwife and natural and non-natural births.' Like everything from the very second you get pregnant to the minute you have the baby. I mean, it's not like the baby comes out and you're like, 'Phew, I got this...', because then it's just more and more and more and more and more. There's so much information out there but it's very spread out. Unless you have the luxury of having the time to really look for it. There's great Instagram accounts where people talk about pictures of natural childbirth and how to raise your kids without screens and all that stuff, but you have to have the time and you have to know what you're actually looking for.
Again, that's why we're now working on the Stone Fox Mama Book. The idea of having it all in one place is really appealing. That's what I wanted.
How how has becoming a mama been for you?
It's so great. It's so crazy and... beautiful, busy, brutal, exhausting, happy, annoying. I mean it's everything. Mostly, it's really rewarding and beautiful.
Can you talk about the relationship you have with your body? From the early years to being pregnant and being a mother to two daughters and now helping other women. How do you feel in your body right now?
Much better, I mean I'm almost forty and I always say, 'Blame it on the nineties'. I mean, Kate Moss was King when I was growing up and again there were no internet forums. There were no chat rooms to talk about any of your feelings or insecurities. No one had a public, open forum to share their experiences. Recently, a friend of mine had a miscarriage and then took to her social media platform to talk about it. That wasn't happening twenty years ago. No one was talking about anything.
But, back to the body thing...all of these weird, shameful feelings I had about how I looked or I how should look just sort of festered. I feel like now it would probably be a different story. I mean, Ellen wasn't even out when I was in high school. No one was out. No one was celebrating anything. It was a little bit of like an Aryan nation type of existence. So, over the years I've had to learn, I've had to find my own peace. I'm not a kid anymore and I don't have a lot time these days to really think that much about how I look, but I also have two daughters and I'm really mindful about raising them in a house where their mom's not totally and completely self-obsessed.
Can you talk about your idea of legacy, what you want to leave behind for your daughters, your family, Stone Fox Bride?
I really have a vision of what I'd like to be doing in ten years and I don't think it involves working in fashion as much as I would like to really ... I feel very passionate about public education. I feel very passionate about pre and post natal, adequate pre and post medical care. I feel passionate about providing creative resources to kids who can't afford it. I mean I feel like hopefully my legacy will be in something more grassroots. Social activism. Social change. And I'd love to think that the store will sustain itself. That the marriage and wedding space will continue to be expanded and redefined even further.