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Wedding startup Laine London nabs investment as industry looks to rebound

Wedding dresses hang on mannequins in a showroom.

Photo: Courtesy Laine London

Wedding retailers may have been left at the altar in 2023, but that doesn't mean startups like Laine London aren't expanding and raising money.

Why it matters: The bridal industry is expected to pick up next year following what jewelry retailer Signet CEO Virginia Drosos has called a post-pandemic lull.

What's happening: Laine London, a Black-owned bridal rental business based in Atlanta, snagged a $700,000 loan from Momentus Capital, co-founder Lundyn Carter tells Axios exclusively.

  • Although Laine London was no longer pre-seed, it also knew it wasn't ready to raise a Series A, Carter explains of the loan.
  • Proceeds will be invested heavily into a digital marketing strategy, she says.
  • She was introduced to the firm by Macy's, and the retailer will also collaborate with the startup and provide access to additional equity, she says.

What's next: The company plans to raise a Series A next year of at least $3 million, Carter says.

  • The rental service also plans to incorporate AI or machine learning to better figure out what its customers are looking for, she says.

Catch up fast: Laine London previously raised $1 million from VC firm Collab Capital, which invests in Black-owned businesses.

Zoom in: The bridal industry is at an interesting inflection point as it emerges from its post-pandemic downturn, Carter says.

  • On the one hand, couples still want the experience, but they don't want to pay the hefty price, she says.
  • So brides are beginning to shift to the sharing economy, where rental makes a lot of sense, Carter adds.

What they're saying: "Lundyn and [co-founder] Miriam [Williams] have disrupted the wedding-gown shopping experience by making it more inclusive, more accessible and more sustainable," says Elisabeth Chasia, investments director at Momentus.

  • Momentus seeks to close the racial wealth gap and help entrepreneurs who come from, and work with, disinvested communities.
  • "We want to support the company and help them reach diverse customers nationwide, as they've already shown was possible in the Atlanta area," she tells Axios.
  • "People of color like myself have difficult raising money," Carter says.

Between the lines: About 2.8 million couples get engaged every year, per CNN.

  • But that number dropped to 2.5 million last year and will fall further to between 2.1 and 2.2 million this year, Drosos said.
  • Next year Signet expects wedding engagements to increase to between 2.4 million and 2.5 million, she said.
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