Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Mindi Linscombe came to Colorado Springs in 2004 to complete a master’s degree in education, with an emphasis in English as a second language. She worked as a Spanish and ESL teacher in Colorado Springs before starting her bridal boutique, Something New, in 2007. Linscombe was frustrated trying to find a wedding dress in Colorado Springs, so she decided to make her dream boutique a reality.
Something New offers designer wedding gowns and Linscombe’s own line of gowns, Brooklyn Grace, which are designed and curated by Linscombe herself. She also sells dresses, tuxes and suits for proms, military balls and special occasions of all types. Something New currently has 10 employees, but had 20 pre-COVID. Like many, her business was impacted by the retail shutdowns related to the pandemic, but it was doubly affected by the cancellations of schools, and their proms, last spring.
Since its formation, Something New outgrew two locations before Linscombe decided to build her own 18,000-square-foot building in north Colorado Springs. She spoke with the Colorado Springs Business Journal via phone from her new location at 11590 Ridgeline Drive.
What was it like getting to design and build your own space to your own specifications?
It was like birthing a child. We were in the building next door, and there was this vacant lot next to us. We were renting next door and looking for a space. We knew we needed more dressing rooms, and we were at capacity. So for the last few years prior to building, we were looking aggressively for buildings up north, to not leave this part of town, just because we have a lot of Denver brides coming down to Colorado Springs.
We wanted to stay close to the interstate. While we were looking, there was really nothing for sale. We were looking to buy something at first, because that would be more financially attainable. Once we realized that was not going to be possible because there was nothing for sale up here, we decided, ‘OK, let’s try to acquire the land and build a building and then we can design it to our needs.’
When we looked at this land, it was really suited for a two-story building, so I thought, ‘Why not put the bridal shop up top because it’s got tons of mountain views?’ I mean it’s stunning. Usually when customers are here they’re here for a couple hours, so it’s easy to come in and just get swept away into the beauty of it all.
It’s really special to own a business, own a retail center that has a lot of relational equity all around. We worked with a local architect, YOW Architects, a local bank, and the construction company, Elder Construction, was local. Everybody was a local, family-owned business.
How did you get into actually designing the dresses in your Brooklyn Grace line?
My sewing skills are very basic. I fell into design. For the first five years I was open I did alterations in-house, and I did every fitting with every bride. I learned a lot from my brides. They taught me what they liked, how it fit, when they didn’t like how it fit. We were constantly making adjustments and changes, and ‘Oh Mindi, can you do this to the back?’ or ‘I don’t like how it’s hitting my tummy,’ or all the things girls notice. While I was doing this for five years I was like, ‘Man, if I could just design this from scratch to be all of the things they want it to be, it would be so much better.’ I still carry a lot of designer labels, because brides want to find those labels, but I like having my own line because I’ve taken all of the things my brides have taught me over those first five years working with them and how it fits their body and said, ‘How can I make a line that is going to be what they want from the beginning?’
It’s a combination of designing and curating, but it is something unique to our store, so it’s not going to be in other places in Colorado, which is really special. It’s unique for the bride, she doesn’t feel like she’s showing up at the wedding with the same dress everybody else wore this year.
Something New also donates to The Exodus Road. How did you get involved with that organization?
We have a really big philanthropic heart for our community. My favorite cause that we give back to is The Exodus Road, which is a human trafficking rescue organization, so they’re not preventative or aftercare. They’re actually participating in the rescue.
Years ago, when I started my line — I’m really into staff culture — I sat down with my team and I said, ‘This is my dream. I want to have my own line of dresses and give back to a cause we’re all passionate about.’ I let it be an open table discussion with my leadership on my team, and consensus as a whole was human trafficking. I started looking for organizations and a friend of mine recommended The Exodus Road. I got to meet the founder and CEO before we decided to partner because they’re actually based in Colorado Springs. Their work is all over the world, which is crazy, but their headquarters is in Colorado Springs. I had lunch with the founder and what I really appreciated was to learn that many organizations are preventative and many organizations are aftercare, but very few are doing the work with local governments to actually go in, undercover, and actually rescue people from the brothels and things like that. They are doing the dirty and unfavorable work, but they’re getting people out on a regular basis. We get very accurate and up-to-date reporting on a consistent basis, and I also love that they can come and speak to my team and tell them how our support, $35,000 since 2018, was able to help.
How was your prom business affected by the shutdowns last spring?
For prom, we were selling a lot of prom dresses in January and February, and then about mid-March it was like a dead stop. Our prom business stopped, and we do a pretty big prom business, so it was not easy to face that reality that I have hundreds of dresses sitting in my showroom that are not used at the moment. What we decided to do, because my whole thing is that the more you give back to your community and to the world, the more is given to you, so I was like, ‘We’re going to throw a prom for these girls who bought dresses from us,’ because like most businesses we can’t do a return. I can’t return those dresses to the designer myself either. I said, ‘Why don’t we invest in these girls and throw them a prom.’ In July, we threw a prom here on our property, and it was all COVID guidelines, where we worked with a local caterer and handed out meals for them and their dates to take home. We had a professional photographer and had a whole booth set up for them to get prom pictures, and then we did a virtual dance party with some DJs I’ve worked with here in town, so they could go back to their houses almost like an afterparty, and have a prom. Everything that’s not good we try to turn it into something good. We really are the company that still cares. I’m really hoping our special events department can pick up in 2021, because we do a lot of military balls and pageant dresses and anything you’d ever dress up for a special event for, we have gowns for.
How were you able to weather COVID-19?
During COVID, we had to close for six weeks, which most retail did as well. That was devastating. That’s when I lost some of my staff because I didn’t know how long we were going to have the shutdown and I couldn’t carry everyone for six weeks with no sales. We kept our core group of people. Half of them I kept, and half I had to let go, with the understanding that I don’t know if I’ll be able to take you back in 2020. That was hard. During those six weeks we got so creative. We started doing virtual appointments where we would ship or drop off a box on your doorstep of gowns based on our Facetime talk with you, and what we think you would like or not like. We would ship boxes to you and do a Facetime appointment with you while you tried on gowns and answer questions about what colors it could come in or whatever. During COVID, we had brides say “yes” to the dress from Washington, Wyoming, West Virginia, D.C., Texas, Utah and Colorado. It was crazy. That was our solution to ‘how do we keep going?’ We’re back to normal experiences in the store again.