If this issue had an unofficial theme, it might be: persevering through difficult times.
    I say this because our main story, Battling Cancel Culture, talks in detail about three boutiques that endured intense, unpleasant and disruptive backlash from the cancel-culture mob due to situations that were no fault of their own, only to come out stronger on the other end. Also, this issue’s VOWS Profile, Modern Bride & Formal Shop in Bedford, N.H., has weathered quite a few crises through its 35 years in business and, in spite of them all, is absolutely thriving today.
    I was really inspired by their story – in addition to weathering all kinds of traditional industry challenges, like big-box bridal and online knock-offs, this boutique has also experienced two separate tragedies in its lifetime - a fire AND a flood, either of which could’ve put them out of business. And, of course, there is also that monster we’ve all been battling, COVID-19.
    And yet, the overwhelming attitude of owners Brian and Renee Fortin has always remained positive, hopeful and simply exuding with passion for bridal. Sometimes, you interview a store and you just get an immediate sense of why it’s successful. In this case, the owners’ positivity, passion and perseverance stood out from day one. It’s the same trait I noticed in each of the three stores profiled in the Battling Cancel Culture piece. Their experiences were stressful, yes, but they dug their heels in and fought for their boutiques and, most importantly, never lost sight of their why: an absolute love for helping brides find the dress of their dreams and celebrate their big day.
    It was terminally ill Carnegie Melon professor Randy Pausch who said in his famous Last Lecture, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
    No matter what your brick wall is, dig your heels in and never give up! This industry is full of inspiring people who constantly go above and beyond for their why, as well as for each other. A genuine love for what they do is at the root of a lot of this, and the number of barriers that have been pushed through is truly inspiring.
    Reader stories make VOWS and we’d love to hear from you. Head on over to our Facebook page and tell us about a difficult situation your boutique has overcome, and the silver linings you have enjoyed as a result. I can’t wait to read them!