When Tracie and Jennifer Mackins decided to find a brick-and-mortar space for their bridal consultation business, they knew they wanted to remain in Charlotte — particularly its Historic West End.
The two sisters, who come from a family of business owners, grew up spending lots of time in the Beatties Ford area. Their family’s business ventures in the West End span long before the two planned for Mackins Bridal Boutique at 2023 Beatties Ford Road.
Mackins Bridal Boutique’s grand opening is set for Friday, Feb. 24. The boutique will offer wedding gowns up to size 30, veil and other accessories, and even custom gown design services.
All in the family
Before the Mackins sisters opened their bridal boutique, their godparents owned a beauty salon, House of Charles, in the same space before the building was renovated. Their parents, Gwen and Larry Mackins own the property where Fast Mart #5 and a car wash are located.
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Their grandfather, Alonzo Mackins was a bail bondsman; he started a business now known as G-L Mackins Bonding Company. Gwen and Larry Mackins still own it. The bond business is 62 years old.
Jennifer Mackins studied at Johnson C. Smith University.
Tracie Mackins said bringing their business to the west end is like coming full circle.
Before opening Mackins’ Bridal Boutique, Jennifer and Tracie Mackins co-owned Elizabeth Ann, a bridal concierge business where they helped to plan weddings for friends, family and clients.
As the only Black-owned bridal shop in the area, Jennifer Mackins said she feels the same pride she imagines her grandfather felt as Charlotte’s first Black bondsman.
‘Black Girl Magic is happening on Beatties Ford Road’
Christopher Dennis, owner of E-Fix Development Corp and the building where Mackins Bridal is located, said the Mackins’ historical ties to the west end made them the right fit for the space.
Dennis’ development company also built the space for Mackins Bridal Boutique and ArchiveCLT, another Black-woman-owned business located at the 2023 Beatties Ford Road building.
Dennis said, “Black girl magic is happening on Beatties Ford Road.”
He went on to describe Jennifer and Tracie Mackins as two “phenomenal women” who are bringing something the area needs.
The “Black girl magic” extends throughout the corridor with women like Erika Troutman, whose office space is home to three Black women entrepreneurs, and Kimberly Wilkinson, who plans to relocate her NoDa Juice Bar to the West End this year.
Though Dennis describes the bridal shop’s opening as “magical,” the operation is a team effort. Running the shop is a full-time job for both Tracie and Jennifer Mackins.
“Because we’re sisters, whatever needs to be done just gets done,” Tracie Mackins said.
The sisters plan to use their wedding planning and fashion design expertiseto best service customers.
Jennifer Mackins has five years of wedding planning experience, and according to their website, it was after she got married that the sisters knew they wanted to open their store. Jennifer Mackins said her wedding experience was “not good.” This inspires her work at Mackins Bridal Boutique.
“I want everybody to have like an amazing experience. If they ask us a question, we’re not going to be like, ‘oh, we don’t know.’ No, if we don’t know it, we’re going to find it out for you,” Jennifer Mackins said.
In addition to dresses and accessories, the Mackins Bridal will also offer design services to customize an existing dress or create an entirely new one.
Tracie Mackins, who studied design at The American University in London, said the process for a bride to get a custom dress can take up to a year.
“This is a wedding dress,” Tracie Mackins said. “You’ll always show pictures to people. You’ll always talk about it. You’ll always talk about your experience, whether good or bad. We want…for you to feel welcome and this to be the best experience you’ve ever had. That’s our goal.”
In addition to being a store, Mackins’ Bridal Boutique will be available to rent for bridal showers and other wedding events.