My Main Street-Toujours Bridals
Say Yes to the Dress
Dina Shikhman didn’t think she’d land in the wedding industry, but now that she’s here—and she’s making a name for herself—she’s keen to ensure every bride who walks into her store receives exceptional services and the dress of their dreams.
Owner, Dina Shikhman, storefront
If there’s one piece of advice Dina Shikhman has for any business owner, it’s to speak up. “It’s always worth asking. Hearing ‘no’ is the worst that can happen,” she says. Case in point: Last fall while in New York for Bridal Fashion Week, Shikhman, the owner of Toujours Bridal (a boutique offering affordable couture dresses for modern brides), met with a Ukraine-based designer she had her eye on. “We started talking and I half-jokingly asked about getting exclusivity rights on their gowns. After many conversations and a site visit that proved our brands aligned, we’re now in the process of finalizing the details. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked,” she says.
Shikhman didn’t set out to work in the wedding industry—she once had ambitions of singing opera for a living. But after spending time as a wedding planner and bridal consultant in boutiques, she identified a gap in the market. “There were lots of dresses available in opening price points, but not enough diversity. There wasn’t enough bang for a bride’s buck and there were a lot of cookie-cutter dresses,” she explains. “I wanted to find a happy medium—I wanted to offer dresses that felt couture but don’t cost $10,000 and up, and I wanted to offer exceptional customer service doing it.”
Owner with staff
The boutique, which opened in 2019, gives brides a lavish, pressure-free setting (there’s even a private bridal suite) to find their dream gown—whether it’s modern, classic, elaborate or simply elegant—in a more attainable price range. “Only a small percent of women come in telling me they know the exact dress they want and get it. The majority are surprised by what they choose,” she says. “This is a sacred purchase. It’s not like shopping for a car or a house—this is something you shop for once, and the atmosphere where you find it should be comfortable and welcoming.”
Shikhman grew up in Vaughan and selected it as the city for her business to offer brides couture gowns outside of downtown Toronto. In her four years in the boutique, she’s outfitted nearly 200 women from a variety of diverse cultures. Recently, Shikhman considered expanding into jewellery and accessories to offer clients even more options in the store. “That was when my accountant told me about a funding program through the city,” she says. “The My Main Street program helped me bring in earrings, bracelets and hairpieces, and I even started my own jewellery line. It was a logical extension,” she says, mentioning she had a wonderful experience with the Vaughan Business and Entrepreneurship Centre representatives. (She also participated in the city’s Starter Company Plus program.) She used the grant to purchase branded packaging that better fits her luxury appeal.
“What I do is really satisfying. It’s incredible when brides tell me, ‘You helped me feel amazing on my wedding day,’” she says. “My father used to say there were two industries that would never die: the wedding business and the funeral business. I always say I chose the happy one of the two.”
11 Disera Drive, unit 280, Vaughan