FLINT TWP. — Moving her bridal business during the hectic prom and wedding season between April and June meant long days and late nights for Patti Ruhala, but she pulled it off.
Expressions in Silk Bridal & Prom opened Wednesday at Genesee Valley Center in the Outdoor Village wing. Ruhala relocated from 7530 W. Miller Road in Swartz Creek where she operated many years, having started the business in her home nearly 30 years ago and continuously outgrowing accommodations.
“Growing a business means a lot in these times,’’ said Steve Flynn director of membership services of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce, who attended Expressions ribbon cutting. He praised Ruhala’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Ruhala said it was a tough decision to move but after encouragement from her husband, staff and other mall business owners, “It’s like the signs were lining up. It feels like the right time and the right place.’’
Ruhala also is an ordained minister who officiates at many of the weddings she outfits and she holds a third job as office manager at Genesee Health Careers in Flint Township.
“I have eight weddings this weekend to go out,” Ruhala, a confessed workaholic, said about her busy grand opening week, adding that she conducted the ceremony at three of them. She was also getting ready to participate in a mall fashion show tonight at the mall.
Ruhala partners in the bridal salon with her sister Adi Schwab who runs the floral arrangement and decorating side of the business. Schwab also is the accountant and a multitasker who juggled the move with a loaded wedding schedule.
“I’ve been working until three o’clock in the morning,’’ she said.
She managed to add some floral arrangements to decorate the new store but will add more as they settle in, she said.
She also filled orders for a ton of corsages during prom season and already is seeing girls coming in shopping for homecoming dresses in September and October. “We do birthdays and funerals but weddings are our specialty,’’ said Schwab.
“We like doing things differently,’’ she said of the store’ eclectic selection of prom and bridal gowns including an exclusive line not sold by another vendor within 200 miles.
Expressions in Silk is now a much bigger store than the former Swartz Creek site, which is being sold. Swartz Creek was about 1,400 square feet and the new store is 2,100 square feet.
“It (Swartz Creek) was an older house converted to a business and the rooms were all small,’’ Ruhala said. Now having so much open floor space is a dream come true.
“This is what my vision was when I started 30 years ago,’’ Ruhala said of her new mall location, a former shoe store which needed very little work to convert to a bridal salon. The retrofitting was done by Smyczak Enterprises of Lapeer, owned by her multi-tasking brother.
Ruhala started out 30 years ago making custom veils and silk flowers in her daughter’s bedroom. Her second location was the third bay of a garage, not much bigger than a bathroom, she said.
Ruhala said she started small because her philosophy is not to “just jump out there.’’ She learned the ropes as she grew.