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Meet Dominick DiMichele of N.E.S. Bridal in East Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dominick DiMichele.

Dominick, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
At 20 years old, I began to DJ part time for small events such as friends parties in Pennsylvania between New York and Philadelphia. Over time, I was fortunate to find myself being booked more and more frequently through word of mouth in the close knit area. After about a year, decided I would like to expand the business and happened to see an advertisement for a local wedding show that was looking for vendors to exhibit to attending brides. I signed up on a whim without knowing how that one decision would affect me years later.

Upon walking into the exhibit area of the hotel or the show, I found myself a bit overwhelmed by the large variety of vendors, but most of all, I felt completely over-matched by the level of competition of the other DJ’s that were also exhibiting. They had intricate lighting systems, sound systems that easily cost 10 times what mine did, and they were dressed in expensive tuxedos and suits while I was in jeans and sneakers. I was sure I wouldn’t book a single wedding that day.

As the 4 hour show began to unfold, I found many brides wouldn’t so much as make eye contact with me, or completely avoided me all together. I felt embarrassed and a feeling of failure consumed me until I remember looking up as an attending bride to be began asking me questions. I thought that out of all the attendees at that show that had ignored me, for some reason, this potential customer wanted me. She mentioned she liked the fact that I didn’t dress up and play the part like the others, and I didn’t seem stuffy and robotic like the other vendors she spoke to. She then began to ask if I knew any caterers or limo companies I could recommend. That was the beginning of the conversation that lead to my first booked wedding as a professional DJ. There would be others, but the first one is the one I would never forget.

Over the next few years, I would move away from being a DJ, but the business lesson learned from that show would stick with me for life. I realized the tremendous opportunity presented to both the vendor as well as the soon to be bride at that even. The attendee had an opportunity to shop for the perfect vendor they need for each facet of their wedding. They could interview the vendor, explore their personality, see what they were offering, and compare to many others. The vendors had the opportunity to show their offerings face to face to potential customers and explore the needs of potential clients while also exploring the opportunity for a perfect fit. I realized there was no other opportunity for that to take place in the wedding industry.

The bridal show business never left my mind, and in 2011, upon relocating to Scottsdale, I recognized the opportunity I had to finally present a bridal show of my own. I researched other shows around the country and discovered most charged an entry fee or sold tickets. Some charged as much as $15-$20 per attendee and even charged for parking. This would mean an attendee bringing a fiancée, mother, and 2 friends would need to spend $100 just to walk through the doors. Plus parking. I quickly decided that this point would be what would set m shows apart. M shows would be free to attend for all attendees, and attendees would be encouraged to bring their entire bridal part, all free of charge

I searched for a perfect location, and decided on the Spring Training home of the San Francisco Giants, Scottsdale Stadium. The location was great, and there was enough space for dozens of vendors. The location was booked, and I went on m search for vendors who would like to participate. It was at this time when I received an email from Anthony DeLaurentis. Anthony worked for me at 2 separate companies over a few years in Pennsylvania, and he asked me if I could help with his resume. I told him about the bridal show I booked and asked if he would like to help searching for vendors. He was on board.

The first N.E.S. Bridal Expo took place on April 7, 2012 at Scottsdale Stadium and was a success. Small independent vendors competed on the same level as large companies. Attendees came and shopped. Anthony and I began to plan more shows almost immediately.

Since April of 2012, N.E.S. Bridal had conducted just under 50 N.E.S. Bridal Expos in 5 cities with more scheduled starting next Spring. To date, N.E.S. Bridal Expos have had over 13,000 attendees and over 1800 vendors participate in the shows.

Has it been a smooth road?
Not all shows were perfect. We have encountered weather of over 110 degrees for an outdoor expo in Cave Creek AZ, and a blizzard during an expo in Allentown PA that dumped 2 feet of snow while attendees were inside exploring vendors. These shows were less than 6 months apart, and we found ourselves scrambling at one show to provide as much water as we could (to everyone we could see) as fast as possible so people wouldn’t pass out while shopping to helping people dig their cars out of snow and push them onto the road so they could leave the show. We also realized we were very much in the customer service business as we were faced with challenging vendors and attendees as much as any other type of business.

These experiences taught us to be more proactive and thorough and made us better at what we do over the years

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the N.E.S. Bridal story. Tell us more about the business.
What sets us apart from others is our core values: Everybody wins, always do the right thing, and never charge a fee to attend one of our expos. In order for us to be successful, both vendors and attendees have to be successful in what they are looking to get from our show (everybody wins). We always make every effort to help and understand situations that arise with vendors and attendees and will do whatever it takes to make a situation right even if that means going above and beyond normal business practices (do the right thing). The policy of not charging for attendance has also befitted us by larger turnouts, we have found that is has also benefited our vendors as there are more decision makers speaking with them at each show.

We are most proud of the growth we have been able to accomplish without straying from these core values.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I feel the next 5-10 years will be challenging to the industry. The industry is currently facing skyrocketing advertising costs along with experiencing increased costs for venue rentals and insurance. Managing these costs are key to keeping vendor fees affordable, and must be constantly monitored. There is also the ever growing competition of the internet, but we have found that there is a large section of the bridal shopping public that would like to see these types of vendors and items in person. Leveraging those costs against the demand of attendees is critical in the next few years of the industry.

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