Situated on Bayview Street with a gorgeous view of fishing boats and the Gulf Islands, you will find one of Steveston’s newest businesses, Mia Boutique.
Ella Lau and her husband Philip Ma own the bridal and formal dress shop where you will find Lau assisting customers. Ma primarily works behind the scenes managing the finances.
Although the business only recently opened in Steveston, Lau operated Mia Boutique for 10 years in downtown Richmond.
Who is the namesake behind Mia Boutique? Lau laughs when she explains the name came to her on an airplane when she was seated next to a fellow who showed her a photo of his baby Mia. She loved the name, but what she found poignant was the photo also featured a dog that shared her name, Ella. Later when she discovered the Italian word mia means “my” Lau thought it was a perfect fit for her shop.
Lau and her husband moved to Richmond in 1996 and her son was born the following year. After five years of being a stay at home mother she returned to work at a Richmond Centre clothing store. One day while walking along No. 3 Road she noticed a vacant storefront. With years of experience working in the fashion industry, she decided to quit her job and open her own boutique. Mia Boutique started out selling evening dresses and destination gowns and expanded to include wedding dresses.
When she discovered the No. 3 Road block was slated for demolition it was time to find a new location. It was difficult to find an appropriate storefront in downtown Richmond and nothing caught her eye. Then she heard about a new retail space in Steveston. She viewed the property last spring and immediately loved the sunlight streaming inside. She says, “It was love at sight when I saw this space.” In August 2015 Mia Boutique’s new home opened for business.
At Mia Boutique you will find everything from evening dresses to graduation, bridesmaid, mother of the bride dresses and of course, what the shop is best known for, wedding gowns.
One story that stands out was a telephone call from a gentleman in search of five bridesmaids and three flower girl dresses all in the same colour. The wedding was that day and he needed to purchase them immediately. The last minute nature was due to an emergency and the seamstress had been unable to deliver the dresses. Miraculously, there was something on the rack in the correct sizes for the wedding party members.
Lau is happy to offer advice when choosing a dress although customers often have a clear idea of their favourite styles and fabrics. On the first round brides will often bring their mother to begin the search. Tip: Don’t bring too many people with you when you are first looking, as there will be too many comments and opinions. Lau says, “It is about you. Don’t try to please everyone else. The dress choice should be from your heart.”
With summer weddings on the horizon the shop is busiest during the winter months. Plan ahead. It takes four to six months to order a wedding gown.
What is on-trend for 2016? Expect dresses with a lot of attention to back details. Illusion necklines are very popular. These sheer fabric overlays with embellishments add an extra level of glamour to a gown. Sleeves are also in style; it’s not all about the strapless dress anymore. Elegant higher necklines are very fashionable; imagine the classic elegance of Grace Kelly’s wedding dress.
Although a range of colours are trending ivory remains the most popular. Lau says clients are attracted to ivory lace and vintage champagne blush.
Some of the special lines Mia Boutique carries include Aire Barcelona by Rosa Clara, Stella York and White One Barcelona.
Veils balance the dress and come in classic cathedral length and shorter styles. Alternatively, consider hair accessories such as tiaras, floral and feather hair combs, or crystal pins for a modern look.
Mia Boutique’s bridesmaid dresses are extremely versatile. Sophisticated short dresses work well for cocktail parties or a friend’s wedding. Long dresses are perfect for a cruise, formal night, gala or graduation. When these dresses are ordered in white or ivory they work as a destination wedding dress at a price point under $300.
Lau appreciates every day that she comes to work in her beautiful Steveston shop; it is such a contrast to her former location on busy No. 3 Road. She appreciates the sunsets, the kind people she has met and the constant “dog show” with people out for strolls along the waterfront. She concludes, “I am very blessed in this business.”
120-3531 Bayview Street
Richmond BC V7E 5W3