June 11, 2006 – Four days before her wedding to Ernest Gilbert, Janice Mathurin went to the only place where she was certain she would find bridal attire to fit both her and her budget.
The fact that Mathurin waited until just 96 hours before her nuptials had nothing to do with procrastination. Instead, she has plenty of trust in "fashion consultant" Jane Felix, owner of Jane's Bridal and Gifts Inc., which will celebrate its first anniversary in July.
"I decided on Jane's because when I want elegant stuff I come here," Mathurin said recently as Felix assisted her in choosing an off-the-shoulder eggshell-colored gown with a beaded bodice and yards of chiffon. Felix said the gown is part of the collection that she calls "informals" – wedding gowns without the excessive train or beading.
When asked why she waited only a few days before her important day to find the desired outfit to glide down the aisle in, a beaming and satisfied Mathurin said, "I knew I would find something to fit me nicely and the price would be reasonable."
The informal, Felix said, runs from $169 and up.
Felix said her store caters to all. "We have a price range for everybody," she said. "If they are on a budget, we work with everybody."
Jane's Bridal can outfit the entire wedding party and specializes in sales, as well as rentals for the groom and groomsmen. The store can not only outfit the bride but the bridesmaids, flower girl, ring bearer, and even the parents of the bride and groom.
The store also features a special package for flower girls that include the dress, basket, headpiece, as well as the flower petals, Felix said.
Sizes start from two up to 30, and Felix said that she can special order sizes or merchandise that are not on the floor "if the person has a few weeks time."
Felix isn't new to the fashion business or the sales business for that matter. When she moved to St. Croix from St. Lucia nearly 40 years ago, she managed a family grocery store in Frederiksted. She recalled that while behind the counter at the grocery store, she would dream of having her own store one day.
There was no doubt in her mind that it would be a boutique because, like most women, she said she had a "passion for fashion."
She started out humbly enough – selling clothes from her home and from her car – going house-to-house at times to make deliveries.
"There was a demand, and that was always my dream to move on," Felix said.
So in 1992, after nearly 25 years of managing her family's grocery store, she opened Jane's Variety Boutique in the same complex as the bridal store in Mount Pleasant.
That store now carries mostly casual ensemble for both men and women in linen and silk, along with the occasional accessories, such as handbags and jewelry crafted from exotic stones. It also carries lingerie, as well as luggage and briefcases.
Felix said that evening wear, bridal wear and tuxedos were also a staple "but the store was too small to hold everything," so the idea of a full-scale bridal store was born.
Construction workers began erecting what, to Felix, will always be a tireless labor of love. She planned the store's every aspect – picking out handcrafted mahogany chairs and other antique pieces for the store's décor. Gleaming chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and brides and grooms have spacious fitting rooms with sliding mirrored doors, rimmed with brass accents, for viewing themselves.
Felix even added a round, wooded "stage," where customers can stand and see themselves from head to toe.
The store doesn't just feature bridal attire, but also evening gowns in chiffon and silk, some with beads and sequins and others without. And even plain, all are glamorous or luxurious because the creations come in strapless, off-the-shoulder, halter top and spaghetti strap designs and feature flirty or asymmetrical hems in rich colors and paisley prints.
Evening purses, gloves, rhinestone jewelry and crowns or hair accessories are available to complement the women's outfits; while shoes, handkerchiefs, ties and pocket squares round off the assortment of men's merchandise carried at the store.
The store is also known for its fashion shows – so residents get a firsthand look at what is available.
Felix said that the shows are held every Thanksgiving outside of the spacious compound. The parking area just outside the store is decorated, and chairs are lined up neatly for customers to sit and enjoy the models – men, women and children – who sashay about in their attire.
"We have one-of-a-kind pieces," Felix said of what makes her year-old store the only place to head to when a social engagement is around the corner.
Felix said that for the first-year anniversary July 30, Jane's Bridal will hold a storewide sale with 30 to 50 percent off merchandise.
"It will be an all-day thing with modeling and door prizes," she said. The store will open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day and Felix has plans to serve food like burgers and hot dogs.
Felix said she has never regretted opening her new store even though business is slow at times.
"We were very busy for prom season, and we get busy during the summer with the bridal stuff, but other than that it's quiet," she said. "But that's St. Croix, the economy needs to rebound."
And knowing that, she said, she still decided to forge ahead with the opening of her new store because it was time.
"The demand was there, and I wanted something elaborate," she said. "The store is classier, more spacious; and the bottom line is I gave it my best shot. Anything you do you give your best effort, and I am satisfied just knowing that – no matter what the future brings."
Jane's Bridal accepts checks, cash and all major credit cards. The store also has a layaway plan with 30 percent down. While senior citizens get a 10-percent discount, everyone who comes into the store can be assured that they will walk away with a good deal, Felix said.
Jane's Bridal is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays. To reach the store, call 719-8574.
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