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A photo of Bev Berson, Jessie Foss, and Toba Goodman from 2004

Gigi MKE Boutique’s Success Spans Generations

Excellent service never goes out of style.

Beverly Berson knows this from personal experience as the owner of the Gigi fashion business since 1959.

Good business sense has run in her family, as her parents had many business endeavors through the years. Berson’s mother, Toba Goodman, had retail experience in the bridal department of Zahn’s in Racine. The Goodmans moved to Milwaukee when Berson was a teenager. Berson helped her mother open their first store, Gigi Bridal, at 37th and North. 

A photo of the Goodman family at GiGi Bridal, circa 1963.

-The Goodman family at GiGi Bridal Shop, circa 1963. Pictured from left to right: Phil, Bev, Harry & Toba.

The mother-daughter duo came up with the name Gigi because their last name was Goodman. The elder G and little G ran their full-service dress shop with in-house alternations for custom-ordered bridal and mother-of-the-bride gowns. Berson describes this as such an exciting time to be a teen and work side by side with her mother, a true trendsetter and entrepreneur, which was uncommon for women in the 1960s. 

“My mother was a marvelous example, not only in how she treated customers, but also in how she treated her employees with respect, honesty, and compassion,” Berson added.

-GiGi Bridal Shop at Fond du Lac Ave and Capitol Dr, circa 1963.

Word spread about Gigi Bridal, and so the business expanded. Harry Goodman, Berson’s father, and Phil, her brother, helped run the business. And Gigi Bridal moved to another location on Fond du Lac and Capitol. While the Goodman men focused on bookkeeping and ordering, the Goodman women concentrated on finding the best dresses and serving their customers.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Gigi Bridal changed styles with the times and expanded its products to include evening wear. Additional growth precipitated a move to a store on Brown Deer Road and later to its fourth location at 76th and Bradley.

-“Brides to be… see GiGi” Original business card from 1964.

The Goodman family remained involved in running Gigi Bridal for thirty years. In 1987, a time of recession, Toba and Harry retired, and Phil moved on. Berson became the sole owner and operator, a pivotal moment as a single mom of three children. Berson’s resilience and determination helped her business endure.      

A few years after, Gigi Bridal moved to Mequon and became known as Gigi of Mequon. Berson first leased the land and building and later purchased the building in 2000. At the same time, Berson’s daughter Jessie joined the business. Gigi of Mequon continued as a multi-generation business, one of Berson’s proudest memories.

Photo of Bev Berson and Jessie Foss

-Photo of Bev and daughter Jessie, originally published in a 2003 feature article about wedding planning in Wisconsin Woman magazine.

“Jessie brought ingenuity to marketing,” she explained, “she promoted Gigi of Mequon in new and different ways and ran great style shows.”

Their ongoing business success paved the way for building Gigi of Mequon. At the new store, they expanded their product line with more evening wear and day wear. The mother-daughter duo also developed the retail strip mall attached to Gigi of Mequon. Later, Jessie would move to New York to create a charitable fashion organization called Shop Repurpose, applying her mother’s lessons to her new endeavors. 

Photo of the original GiGi of Mequon store location in 1992

-The original Gigi of Mequon store, pictured in 1992, prior to the construction of the much larger flagship store.

In 2019, the store moved to its current location in Walker’s Point and is now known as Gigi MKE Boutique.

“It’s exciting to be part of the vibrant downtown area. It has good energy,” Berson explains.

Like other small businesses, Gigi MKE Boutique experienced challenges during the pandemic. Two aspects have been key to their success: relationships with manufacturers and excellent customer service. When many other big fashion retailers closed down as online retail grew, Gigi MKE Boutique endured. Berson also says her store’s intimate service and in-person interactions are something that the online experience cannot replicate.

-Three generations of Gigi women: Bev Berson, Jessie Foss, and Toba Goodman, as featured in M Magazine Northshore Edition, August 2004.

Gigi MKE Boutique has evolved by upholding its outstanding reputation and responding to customers. Berson and her employees are happy to help anyone who wants to dress beautifully for special occasions and every day. She estimates that she has sold more than 10,000 gowns during her time in business. Through the years, Berson has acted as a mentor to her employees and, in turn, has learned from them. 

“We all bring special gifts to help our customers,” she explains.

Just as her business has spanned generations, so has Gigi MKE Boutique served multi-generation clients. It is remarkable when they have helped dress a grandmother, mother, and daughter for their milestone moments.

“I love when a bride’s eyes light up or when a mother’s eyes light up when she has tried on THE dress,” Berson says. She adds, “My enjoyment is going to work. It really is. I love what I do.”

Her passion for her work and serving customers with beautiful style is truly timeless.

Beautiful bride in wedding dress

Bride-to-be? Do yourself a favor and head to a trunk show.

What is a trunk show and why should you attend one before deciding on a bridal gown?

You’re officially engaged and planning a wedding (Congratulations!) and the time has come to start looking for your dress. If you’ve started the process, you’ve probably heard the term trunk show and there’s also a possibility you have no idea what that phrase means.

Even if you do, with so many beautiful dresses out there, sometimes a trunk show can sound like a daunting and overwhelming process. Well, don’t fret! Here’s a little bit of Bridal Trunk Shows 101 to give you the lowdown as well as the benefits of attending a trunk show.

Bridal trunk shows 101

Trunk shows are events held for a limited time, usually 1-3 days, featuring a specific designer’s newest collection before it is available in stores. Trunk shows can include best-selling styles from that designer as well. If you’ve been following a specific designer and/or if a trunk show is coming to your area and the collection looks appealing – this is definitely the time to shop!

Besides being able to see a number of dresses, designers will often offer special services at a discounted rate or at no charge at all. Things like adding extra buttons, changes in necklines, and purchasing a veil can all be free! It is also a time to see if the dresses you’ve been loving on Instagram and Pinterest still make you swoon when you see them in person.

Interaction with designer representatives

Frequently, trunk shows will also have the designer or someone from the company who knows the ins and outs of the collection in attendance. Their expertise, as well as knowledge of customizations, are great assets to a bride looking for their dress.

Even if someone from the company is not in attendance, often times the staff at the bridal boutique has been well versed in what is being offered. During trunk shows most stores are also willing to show you gowns from other designers they carry if you’re not finding your dream dress in the collection being featured.

TL; DR

Trunk shows are a great time to see numerous dresses at one location and get some bridal gown knowledge under your belt. Even if you walk out without finding “the one”, it is an opportunity to try on a number of styles and narrow down what you are looking for the next time you head out to shop!

If you’re looking for some bridal trunk shows to attend in the Milwaukee area, please check the Gigi MKE Boutique events page to see upcoming bridal trunk shows and other helpful events for brides and bridal parties.

Elegant wedding couple

Guide to a Flawless Fit on your Wedding Day

You’ve found your dress (Congratulations!) but your ensemble is not ready to head down the aisle just yet. Most dresses need a little, or a lot, of nipping and tucking before the wedding day. Whether your dress is practically a perfect fit, just a hem and a bustle and you’re ready to go, or you are totally re-working a dress you found at a sample sale, most brides will need a seamstress or tailor before the big day. Don’t underestimate the importance of a skilled atelier, the fitting of your dress can make or break how you look and feel on your wedding day. Here are a few tips to get you through the fitting process.

Make sure you are seeing an expert!

At Gigi, we pride ourselves on our experienced alteration staff. Our seamstresses are trained to work specifically with couture and designer pieces and have individually honed their craft for decades. This isn’t the time to go to your local dry cleaner or department store tailor. Bridal gowns and evening wear have very intricate and delicate details and fabrics that require a skilled hand and understanding of what can and can’t be accomplished when altering your dress. A good tailor or seamstress will give you an honest opinion and additional options and advice to look your best. Our seamstresses use specific hand sewing, machine sewing, and pressing techniques to create your individually tailored look and ensure your dress fits like a dream giving you the look and feel of a custom-made garment!  

Scheduling your appointments

We suggest starting your alterations 8 weeks before the date of your wedding. You can start a bit earlier or later depending on your schedule but the most important thing is to try to maintain the build of your body from first fitting to wedding day. Most brides meet with a seamstress/tailor 3 or 4 times before the wedding depending on what type of alterations are being done. At Gigi, when alterations are complete we press your gown, place it on a bust form and hang it from a special garment rack until you pick it up. At pick up, your gown is placed in a garment bag and carried out to your car. From purchase to pick up, your dress NEVER leaves our store.

What to bring

You must bring the shoes and undergarments you plan on wearing on your wedding day with you to all of your fittings. At Gigi, we are happy to keep your undergarments with your dress so you have less to haul. If you haven’t quite made the final decision on your shoe, then pick a heel height to bring to your fittings and make sure the shoe you wear on your wedding day is the same height. We carry a beautiful line of shoes from Angela Nuran that ensures you can walk down the aisle and dance the night away in the same shoe and avoid having your dress drag on the ground because you have kicked off your shoes or changed into flats. Our in-house alteration department is stocked with cups that can be sewn into your dress, as well as pieces of lace, loose beads, tulle, fabric, etc. to enhance and complete your look. Your fittings are a great time to coordinate accessories like jewelry and hairpieces because you’ll be in your dress. Bring your accessory options with you. We have beautiful jewelry, hairpieces, and veils that our expert stylists are happy to show during your alteration appointment.

Who to bring

We suggest leaving your entourage at home for your dress fittings. Your mom or a good friend can help as a second set of eyes and/or another opinion. Your maid of honor or whomever you would like to learn your bustle should accompany you to your last fitting so they can see how to get you into your gown and how to do your bustling on the wedding day. The journey of your gown begins when you say yes to the dress and ends when you walk down the aisle. Make sure you are in capable hands for the steps in between.

about US

Gigi MKE Boutique is your premiere source for designer bridal gowns, formal and evening attire, and unique casual wear in Southeast Wisconsin. Explore the latest collections from the world’s premiere designers at our inviting Walker’s Point boutique. We offer a stunning selection of styles including jewelry and accessories to complete any look.

business hours

  • Monday By Appointment Only
  • Tuesday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Thursday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Friday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Sunday By Appointment Only
  • EXTENDED HOURS AVAILABLE Please Call!

location

Downtown Milwaukee

234 W. Florida St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 
(Near the Iron Horse Hotel in Walker’s Point)

© 2019-2022 Gigi Bridal Shop, Inc. / GigiMKE.com. All Rights Reserved.