Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie McCahill.
Hi Katie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Point Loma, and have loved every second of living here. Getting to open this shop in Point Loma is a dream come true. I’d say that I’ve loved bridal fashion since at least the time I was in high school (the 90’s!). I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t more than happy to spend hours looking at wedding magazines or bridal blogs to see the gowns and how brides are styling their big day.
The thought of turning this interest into a career wasn’t something that occurred to me early on. I attended the University of San Diego for undergrad, and then worked in the financial industry for a few years. I met my husband, Jim, just before I began attending California Western School of Law. In 2005, Jim and I were married. A few months later I sat for the California Bar Exam. Soon after, I began practicing law. While I was very lucky to work for a wonderful law firm, after a while I couldn’t ignore the fact that practicing law wasn’t my passion. My heart wasn’t in it.
I believe with any job – especially high stress careers – if your heart isn’t really and truly in it, you’re destined to burn out. Which is exactly what happened to me. Luckily, our first daughter Ava was born around this time. Our second daughter, Vivian, followed soon after. We decided that I would stay home and focus on raising our family. Staying home with my kids is something I will always be endlessly grateful for. Once our girls grew up a bit, going back to work seemed like the next step for me. I decided to give practicing law another try. I was lucky enough to find an amazing firm and wonderful people to work with. And, again, because I was putting so much time and effort into a career that wasn’t the right fit for me – I burned out.
During this time, my family suffered an unimaginable loss when my father passed away. I was down, burned out, grieving. I think one of the only upsides to going through a time like that is that it becomes very clear when you need to make a change. There was no question that I needed to make some changes. I quit my job and took some time to reset. Thankfully, my husband and my mom are my biggest cheerleaders. They loved the idea of opening the bridal salon, and kept encouraging to go for it (I was terrified). It took a while to work up the courage, but once I decided to do it, the experience has been incredible! Because this is an industry I’ve watched for so long, I had a basic understanding of where to start. There’s also been a lot of learning along the way.
The bridal salon is now up and running, and the space is beautiful! We carry three designers (Vagabond Bridal, Rish, and Riki Dalal) – each of whom I’m so very, very lucky to work with. The salon is by appointment only, and we’ve been blessed to welcome many brides already. Every step along this road has validated the belief that finding work that fits your interests is so important. When I quit my job last year, I was really worried about setting a bad example for my daughters. I didn’t want them to see me quit. Now, I view things differently. Now, I’m proud they had a chance to see that it’s okay to make changes when you need to. Now they see that it’s important to know you’re interests and find a way to foster your strengths. For me, those interests and strengths come together in running a business a helping brides find their dream gown.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Yes and no. Some parts of this process were very smooth. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to carry the designers I do. These gowns are absolutely stunning, made with incredible talent, come from designers with a love for the industry and are a delight to work with. Other parts have been more difficult. As with a lot of construction projects, building out the space came with challenges. That was more stressful for me because it’s not a subject I know much about. I’m also working really hard to get up to speed on all things marketing. Social media, marketing campaigns, ads, etc. I kind of enjoy it – but it’s really daunting to see how much I have to learn there.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My career has been a winding road. As detailed in my answer to the first question, my path to this business is, I’m guessing, a bit unique. What I’m most proud of in this regard is that I have found something I love to do, and I’m good at it. I think that translates into providing my clients with a wonderful experience.
As far as what sets my business apart from others in this field – I think it’s the exclusive, relaxing environment we’ve created. The bridal salon is by appointment only, and we only book one bride at a time. We don’t charge for appointments. Giving the bride and her party a positive, happy, memorable shopping experience is an absolute priority. We carry just over 50 sample dresses from 3 amazing designers: Vagabond Bridal, Rish, and Riki Dalal. Carrying only 3 designers gives me the ability to host a wider range of each collection. Also – we are the only salon in San Diego to carry these brands!
A standard appointment is 90 minutes long. In many salons, there are hundreds of dresses. It can be overwhelming and brides often feel like they don’t have a chance to take a thorough look at their options. I want brides to know they have full access to the options here, and plenty of time to explore the choices available to them.
How do you think about luck?
Wow. I don’t think I remember a day in my life when I didn’t think about how lucky I am. Honestly. I know that luck isn’t the answer to everything. I know hard work and determination can make or break almost any effort. That said, it would be dishonest for me to say that I haven’t had many lucky breaks that have set me up for success. I was raised by loving, supportive parents. They prioritized my education. I married an incredible person who is smart, kind, and an amazing father. My husband’s family is welcoming and wonderful. My daughters are healthy, kind, and I love being around them. My friends are inspiring people who cheer me on and pick me up when I’m down. It’s impossible to not feel very, very lucky.
Bad luck has played a role in my story too. Going back to practicing law after staying home with my kids for almost 12 years was a hard decision and a very stressful change for us. After I started practicing law again, my father passed away. It was unexpected and devastating. Covid hit. The schools closed. My job became overwhelming. In the midst of all that – I struggled. I shut down. However, without that struggle, I really don’t think I would have ever found the courage to start my business. I’m proud of what I’ve created, and I absolutely love what I do.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: vivantemalone.com
- Instagram: @vivantemalone
- Facebook: Vivante Malone Bridal Salon