Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Interview with Lauren Leonard of Leona Bridesmaids

Our beloved southern sweetheart, Lauren Leonard of Leona Bridesmaids, has won us over with her modern and impressive bridesmaid collection. Fitting for any bride looking to dress her lovely maids in stylish, flattering and adorable frocks, Leona dresses are just the ticket! Combining her Nashville roots with her knowledge of fashion, which she developed after working in the Big Apple, Lauren’s designs are perfect for the modern gal. Taking a break from the bustling holiday season, Lauren shared some of the inspirations and secrets to her fab collection…

Leona office in Nashville, TN

BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?

LL: Never forgetting the customer. I strive to blend special appeal; versatility and functionality into something the Leona girl will feel striking and comfortable in... no detail is forgotten!

Lauren and her fabulous team!

BB: When designing for women, specifically bridesmaids, what are your inspirations?

LL: I initially try to take the word bridesmaid out of the picture, thinking more of designs that this girl would wear to an elegant party. I take that idea and form it into something that is both appropriate and phenomenal for a wedding party to wear. There are so many factors to consider like photographs, body types, and functionality. If the design meets those criteria and is still stunning and special then we have a winner!

BB: Was there a specific event or person in your life that led you to begin designing bridesmaid dresses?

LL: When I started the Leona ready to wear label, I was immediately approached to do bridesmaid dresses. I have now been designing for weddings for three years. It was time to officially launch the new label and Bella Bridesmaid was the perfect partnership for us because of its focus on luxurious, modern dresses.

Image via Victorian Wedding

BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would it be and how would you style them?

LL: I would love to see modern day makeovers on some of the women from the Victorian era. They looked so uncomfortable. Wouldn't it be fun to see Queen Victoria in a Leona dress?!

BB: What high school trends are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

LL: It was the age of Britney Spears, distressed jeans, and tube tops...not exactly a shining moment in fashion history. I tried a little bit of everything.

BB: If you weren't a designer, what career path would you have chosen?

Serena dress
LL: A photographer! Although I have no current skills in this area, I love being a creative director at our seasonal Leona photo-shoots.

BB: What is your favorite dress in your collection?

LL: The Serena! So versatile, effortless and chic.

BB: Any advice for certain styles for different body shapes?

LL: A V-neck or halter looks nice if you have a larger chest. I love a sweetheart neckline to add definition for more boyish figures. A skirt that is slightly A-line with some added fullness at the hem looks great on all shapes and sizes and a sash is the easiest way to define the waistline!

BB: What are you carrying in your purse?

LL: iphone, Chapstick, business cards, RayBan Cats, bobby pins!

Thanks Lauren!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meet & Greet: Nancy and Meredith, owners of Seattle

Meredith and Nancy

After discovering Bella Bridesmaid while planning her own nuptials, Nacy Storment recognized the need for a bridesmaid boutique in her hometown of Seattle, Washington. Sharing her enthusiasm for this opportunity, friend and now business partner, Meredith Rebhuhn paired with Nancy to open the first Bella Bridesmaid in Washington state! Both lovely ladies have different professional backgrounds, but brought their great skill set and passion for weddings to pursue what they love. Nancy and Meredith shared a little more about their history and how it has been running Bella Bridesmaid Seattle…

Nancy with her husband, Gabe and son, Jameson

BB: What did you both do before owning Bella?

M: I have a degree in Apparel Design and had worked as a seamstress making custom window treatments, bedding and home accessories for a high-end interior design group in Seattle. After having my first daughter she did freelance design.

N: I have a background in marketing and public relations in the entertainment industry, having worked for Disney and launching the Scene It DVD Board Game.

BB: Why did you want to become part of the Bella franchise?

Meredith with her family
N: I discovered Bella Bridesmaid when I was planning my own wedding and couldn’t believe there wasn’t one in Seattle. I approached my friend Meredith with the idea and we jumped at the chance to become a franchise owner…it was a perfect fit!

M: I had been at home for two years with my first daughter and was ready to get back into working. I have always wanted to own a boutique and fell in love with the idea of Bella Bridesmaid.

BB: What are the most memorable moments so far in your boutique?

N: We have had a lot of fun times in the store. It can get quite crazy during the busy season, but when a group of fun girls comes into the store, their energy just radiates and it’s infectious. We love those big groups and have even had a few come back to visit on the actual wedding day to get help with tying their TwoBirds bridesmaid dresses!

M: When I connect with a bride and see her vision it is such a satisfying feeling to help make everything come together. I enjoy when the girls are trying on dresses and having a good time it’s like hanging out with my own girlfriends.

BB: What are your favorite bridesmaid dresses that are hanging in your personal closets?

Meredith tying a favorite TwoBirds dress
M: Since I have just recently lost most of the baby weight from my second daughter, I have a list of dresses I would like to own: Riverside by 57 Grand, The Ball gown by Two Birds and Zoe with the party skirt by Lula Kate. Just 5 more pounds to go!

N: You can’t go wrong with a TwoBirds dress! I also love LulaKate’s Gina and Zoe dresses.

BB: Tell us about a favorite recent bride that has an interesting story/wedding.

M&N: A few months ago we had a large bridal party fly in from Montana to shop for bridesmaid dresses. There were 10 girls in the bridal party and all but two made the trip. They tried on dozens of dresses and ultimately selected one of our favorite Amasale dresses, G425C. They had so much fun in Seattle for the weekend and we were honored to have been a part of their girl’s weekend.

Nancy and Meredith in their Seattle boutique

BB: What's your go to dress for a busy Saturday in the shop?

M&N: LulaKate is our go-to designer. The dresses are so versatile with the skirt and waistband options that you’re virtually guaranteed to find something for everyone in a bridal party.

Image via Creative Wedding

BB: What is your fave celebrity wedding dress?

M: Reese Witherspoon’s pale pink gown by Monique Lhuillier is gorgeous. Its pink, lace and tulle - everything I love.

N: That was my choice too! I love that it’s not the traditional big, puffy, white dress. It was perfect for a second wedding.

BB: Best wedding trend you've seen recently?

M: I am loving the Novelty fabrics! Lula Kate’s Little White Dresses are perfect for the girl who wants something unique.

N: The jacquards are my favorite as well as the stripped organza.

                                                          Thank you Nancy and Meredith!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For a Fabulous New Year's...

3...2...1... Here's our very fave New Year's Eve dress, and yes, it happens to be a reception dress! This Saja beauty could not be more perfect for a fabulous New Year's night. Whether you're strolling around town or at a spectacular party, you will certainly turn heads in this sequined frock. With these added accessories from Nina, you'll be all set for a glamorous evening...

1. Saja BP6252
2. Maeve, Antique Silver earrings by Nina
3. HB Kaitlin handbag, in Silver by Nina
4. Evan high heel pump, in Metal Dust Crystal by Nina 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tis the Season to Reuse your Bridesmaid dress!

It's that time of year again when the holiday parties are in full swing....and the task of finding the perfect outfit from head to toe. But rather then stress about buying a new dress, why don’t you head back to your closet and revisit that “old” bridesmaid dress? With a few simple accessories, you can take that once worn dress and dazzle at the hottest parties of the season...

1) Lincoln Dress in short by Joanna August
2) Starshine Bolero from Anthropologie
3) Zelda pumps by Nina Shoes
4) Frieda clutch by Nina Shoes
5) Trista Chandelier Earrings in Crystal by Kendra Scott

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saja 2012 Wedding Collection

Are you dreaming of the most romantic and whimsical wedding? Well, Saja has the perfect collection of dresses for your special day. These stunning gowns will have you head over heels in love with the beautifully draped chiffon, lovely lace detail, and gorgeous beading. So, feel free to take few minutes to ohhh and ahhh at these dreamy gowns...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our Interview with Tessa Kim

Tessa Kim

While in search of the perfect veil for her own wedding, and not finding much success, Tessa Kim was inspired to create her own. After designing the veil for her big day, Tessa wanted to share her vintage inspired designs with other brides, by offering her one of a kind headpieces on Etsy. Her designs quickly became a hot commodity, sparking the launch of Tessa Kim’s bridal and special occasion line that includes hand crafted veils, flower fascinators, feather hair combs, brooches and so much more! We were curious to know more about Tessa Kim and how this once crafty bride developed such a superb line of accessories…

BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?

Adorable vintage typewriter in TK's studio
TK: I believe my self-motivation is very important factor in the success of my business, as well as making connections with other designers. I feel like to start a business you really need to know what you want and be willing to work hard for it. It’s definitely not easy, but if you want something enough you can make anything happen. Also, I have found working with others is very important, I really cannot stress that enough. I feel like without all of the talented people I have worked with, I could not have been as successful as I am today.

BB: When designing your gorgeous veils, what are your inspirations?

TK: My inspiration really comes from vintage photography and film… I absolutely love black and white film. I used to spend hours in high school rummaging through an antique store in my hometown of San Juan Capistrano looking for old photographs, accessories and random tidbits. I think that has really carried through to my work today. In my free time I love going to millinery stores and finding bits and pieces to add to my headpieces and accessories.

BB: Was there a specific event or person in your life that led you to begin designing?

TK: Yes, I actually started designing because of my own August 2009 wedding to my wonderful husband Choon. When I went to the bridal salon for my dress, I tried on a few birdcage veils there. None of them really clicked with me so I decided I could design my own. From there I decided to make a few veils and flowers …the ones I did not use I decided to sell on Etsy. After a day they sold out and I just kept making more and started adding new styles. A couple months later I was able to quit my day job and pursue my company full time.

Image via Second City Style

BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would she be and how would you style her?

TK: As much as I love her, I think I would give Jenna Fischer a fashion makeover. She is young and talented but I feel like she sometimes she dresses a little too matronly. I would love to dress her in something very feminine and youthful yet still be presentable on the red carpet.

BB: What high school trend are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

TK: Where to start? I would have to say my "scenester" phase (which might have lasted past high school). I had every hair color known to man red, blue, green, black, pink, orange, yellow, cotton candy pink, white, black and white, black and green the list goes on. I also had many piercings…lip piercing, nose piercing, ear piercings! Although I really don't regret it, at the time I loved it and it was definitely a way to express myself, and when is a better time to do it then when you are young?

"Grace" floral headpiece

BB: If you weren't a designer, what career path would you have chosen?

TK: I attended beauty school right after high school (hence the hair colors mentioned earlier) and worked in a salon for a few years until I decided to go back to school for graphic design. As much as I enjoyed both of those careers, I would still never go back. I absolutely love what I do now and could not ask for anything better. Although, if anything I use these skills to my advantage and they have been very useful throughout this whole experience.

BB: What's your favorite accessory in your collection?

TK: That is tough, I have so many! My favorite flower headpiece would be my "Grace" floral headpiece. It has hand painted, hand cut and hand shaped cotton voile flowers, vintage millinery flowers and leaves and is just gorgeous! I love the blush pink color it comes in and could even be worn as an everyday headpiece if you are feeling bold!

BB: Any hints to what in store for your new collection?

TK: I actually just launched my 2012 Spring/Summer collection. For this collection I really wanted to incorporate texture and movement. A lot of the headpieces have unique shapes and a wrap effect to them, which I really adore. Plus they photograph beautifully at all angles! I also incorporated a lot more color, as well as very feminine fabrics.

Left to Right: Flower Halo "Fern", Black Peacock Mini Cocktail Hat, Golden Blush Pink feather headband "Aurelia"

BB: Do you have any accessory rules to live by?

TK: Simplicity is key. I always like to have one statement piece, either an accessory or clothing item, then keep the rest simple. I want to wear my outfit, not for it to wear me!

BB: What's in your purse?

TK: Everything. I have my wallet, hello kitty Sephora compact mirror, doggy bags (to clean up after our dog, Mr. Harley), my passport, my camera, cell phone, my Betsy Johnson leopard sunglasses, about 3 pairs of spare earrings, my yu-be lotion and my Smashbox 0-glow lip gloss.

                                                                                                     Thank you Tessa!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Meet & Greet: Sheri and Kristin, owners of Scottsdale

Kristin and Sheri in their Scottsdale boutique
Bella Bridesmaid ladies are like family, and for some, actually are family! Sheri and Kristin Cartwright, are the fabulous mother/daughter duo who opened the Scottsdale boutique in January of 2011. The recent college graduate and the savvy business woman sought to bring modern and wearable designer lines to brides and bridesmaids alike in the Scottsdale area. With the encouragement from fellow Bella owners and old friends, Kathleen and Erin of Chicago, Sheri and Kristin have had great success! The duo sat down with us to share a little more of how they came to be Bella gals...

BB: What did both of you do before owning Bella?

S: We lived in Chicago for the past 12 years. I was a real estate agent for four years before my husband and I purchased an existing business CartwrightDownes, where we do background verification services.

K: Before opening the shop I was a college student. I graduated from Northwestern University in 2009. In between graduation and opening day, I waitressed and catered at our family restaurant.

Opening day in Scottsdale
BB: Why did you want to become part of the Bella franchise?

S&K: The idea started after talking with good family friends of ours, Kathleen Casey and her daughter Erin, owners of the Chicago boutique. Through the years we have heard about her and Erin's exciting experiences running the Chicago store. The more we learned about the franchise the more interested we became in being a part of the Bella family. We were both fascinated with the wedding industry and eager to be a part of a crucial calling for brides.

BB: What is the most memorable moment so far in your boutique?

K: Our first sale, which actually happened before we even opened our doors. About two months before the store was complete, a bride contacted us looking for Saja wedding gowns. Luckily, Saja was one of the first designers to have sent their dresses to our home. Not wanting to make the bride wait an extra two months, we packed up the dresses and brought Saja's beautiful line to her. We were able to set up a mini showroom in her living room where she found the dress of her dreams!

S: For me it was seeing the end product of our shop and having our first appointment come in. The interior of our shop turned out looking better than we could have ever imagined and it was fantastic to have someone finally experience it. I will probably always remember that first bridal group that came in. They ended up choosing multiple styles from LulaKate that looked fabulous on the girls.

Sherri pictured with her daughter in law,
 wearing the "Reade" 

BB: What are your favorite bridesmaid dresses that are hanging in your personal closets?

S: 57 Grand's “Reade”. This is actually the dress that I wore to my son's wedding in September.

K: My choice for favorite changes periodically. As of right now, my favorite Bella dress is Joanna August “Dara”. I love all of Joanna August's dresses, but this one in particular is the ultimate flattering, chic, and comfortable dress.

BB: Tell us about a favorite recent bride that has an interesting story.

S&K: We have had so many wonderful brides come into our store with incredible backgrounds and stories. Our favorite recent bride's story is our daughter in law/sister in law's, Syreeta Burnett. Being from Illinois, she was able to make a trip to Scottsdale where she made a visit to the shop. It was a magical time to be able to help her in creating her perfect wedding.

Image de Manio Photography
via Style News
Image via People

BB: What is your fave celebrity wedding dress?

S: I love Chelsea Clinton's Vera Wang wedding gown. It is a true fairy tale wedding dress without being over the top. The crystal waistband she wore made the dress even more glamorous.

K: Carrie Underwood's wedding gown AND wedding reception dress! Both so unique and so stunning!

BB: So what are dress/s are Arizona's brides flocking to?

S&K: Our Arizona brides love Amsale's crinkle chiffon dresses. Light and airy enough to keep them cool during a hot Arizona day or evening and stylish enough to evoke elegance.

BB: What is the best wedding trend you've seen recently?

S&K: We know you're hearing this a lot, but we love brides giving their maids options! Designers such as LulaKate, Lynn Lugo, Two Birds and Amsale make it so easy for bridal parties to pick multiple dress styles that both unify the wedding party and compliment each unique bridesmaid's body type. We also have some brides who are choosing a variety of bolder, brighter colors. They are choosing colors that help express their particular personalities. We love that!

Thank you Sheri & Kristin!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Interview with Saukok & Carmen of 57 Grand

Carmen & Saukok
Saukok Tiampo and Carmen Ho, two modern NYC gals, have built 57 Grand, which has become a staple in the wedding industry. Exemplifying the Big Apple and all its fashion savvy women, Saukok and Carmen have created a bridesmaid and bridal line that are wearable and polished. Inspired by stylish woman and their own wedding experiences, their dresses can take you from the altar to the office! Saukok and Carmen took a break from their busy schedules to talk with us all about 57 Grand and their exciting new collection…

BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?

S: Not being afraid to be different. Weddings and the wedding industry can be quite traditional. We set out to do things differently.

C: Being in NY - the essence of our brand, inspiration from the women of New York, being close to our factories, and being close to bridal editors and bloggers, there’s no beating the Big Apple.

BB: When designing for women, specifically bridesmaids, what are your inspirations?

S&C: New York City. NYC women are confident, stylish, practical, and global. We draw from everything from the art to the architecture of New York, and the spirit of the New York woman. That means our designs are clean and confident, and very wearable.

 BB: Was there a specific event or person in your lives that led you to begin designing bridesmaid dresses?

 S: My wedding! I had 8 bridesmaids. Because my wedding was a destination event in the Caribbean, I gifted them the dresses, so I was choosing and buying…

C: For me, it's more an evolution from shoes to clothes. The concept is the same…how to create something that is timeless and wearable for multiple occasions.

Image by Rubia Morua via Career Fashion Weblog

BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would she be and how would you style them?

S&C: Hillary Clinton. We’d put her in our Reade cowl neck, sleeveless dress, in a bright color like Iris or Cobalt, and a good metallic pewter T-strap heel.

BB: What high school trends are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

S: I loved my stonewashed jeans with the zippered tapered leg! Nothing to be embarrassed about though… I have a strict no regrets policy.

C: Speaking of jeans, I had a pair of bright neon yellow jeans in high school. When I try to think back to why I loved them, I can’t figure it out for the life of me!

57 Grand color swatches
BB: If you both weren't designers, what career path would you have chosen?

S: I was a Wall Street banker - I still read the Wall Street Journal every day. I also love the design world - creating beautiful products for women at a great price...I brew up new ideas for companies every few months.

C: I could see myself being an architect. I like the idea of sculpting a space and creating an experience. And if that doesn't work, I can be a very good professional balloon animal maker!

BB: What are your favorite dresses in your collection?

S: I love the Waverly for its polished versatility. In our bridal collection, the Trinity’s removable tulle skirt makes the dress dramatic and romantic, and yet is light and airy.

C: I like the Beekman… simple and elegant. The Carmine is really fun and cute also.

The Bedford dress

BB: We are thrilled to be getting your new collection in the Bella stores! Can you tell us what our customers can expect from the new line?

 S&C: We have a few fun new short dresses which can be worn strapless, halter, etc.. Our Bedford, a sweetheart grosgrain dress with a full skirt, can be worn three ways. Our Sutton chiffon and charmeuse dress can be worn strapless or with double diagonal straps. It’s going to be fun!

Wedding in Bali with maids wearing the Madison dress

BB: Any advice for certain styles for different body shapes?

S&C: Our Mulberry, Riverside, Vestry, and Orchard dresses are best for very curvy women, or plus sized girls. The Grove, Madison, York, and our new Bedford style is perfect for those with real hips.

BB: What are you both carrying in your purses?

S: Blackberry, ginger candy, and my passport for unexpected jet setting trips!

C: Blackberry, credit card, keys, lip balm, only the essentials.

                                                                                          Thank you both!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jenny Yoo Spring 2012 Collection

Jenny Yoo is bringing us an amazing new Spring 2012 collection. Her latest innovative styles include a convertible dress in which your maids can happily choose from several fabulous options…halter, one-shoulder, strapless, the works! Not only did Jenny’s bridesmaid dresses wow us, but her new bridal collection brought about fresh details of lace and layers of tulle, we adore...

And a few of the gorgeous bridal gowns...