Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meet and Greet: Trinh, owner of Orange County

Trinh Chu
We love nothing more than having a happy Bella customer. But we love even more when they become part of the Bella family! In September 2010, Trinh Chu, a previous Bella customer, decided to open her very own Bella in her hometown of Orange County, CA. After having such a wonderful experience planning her own wedding and discovering her new found love of the wedding industry it seemed only natural that Trinh become a Bella Bridesmaid franchisee! We caught up with Trinh in sunny SoCal and got to ask her a few questions…

BB: What did you do before owning Bella?

T: Prior to opening Bella, I spent ten years working in advertising at a few different agencies in Los Angeles. Most recently, I was an Account Director at Team One overseeing advertising, strategic and branding efforts for Lexus vehicles.

Trinh on her wedding day
BB: Why did you want to become part of the Bella franchise?

T: I had such an amazing time planning my own wedding that I knew I wanted to do something in the wedding industry. I had visited the LA store when I was looking for bridesmaid dresses and from the moment I stepped into the store, I knew the concept was great, one of a kind and the absolute perfect fit for my personality. When I found out Bella was a franchise and there was an opportunity to open one in my hometown, I leapt at the opportunity!

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

T: Without a doubt, it would have to be my first sale, which happened to be my very first appointment! WOW! It's coming up on one year since we opened our doors.

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

T: I'm starting to build my collection, but so far, I'm loving my Coren Moore Skylar, Simple Silhouettes Reed and my Two Birds Long Flutter gown.

Trinh in her fav TwoBirds dress

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

T: One bride that I absolutely adored, came to us pretty distraught and had given up hope finding flattering dresses for her plus size maids. I introduced her to Two Birds and she loved them so much. Not only did her girls don the dresses, she outfitted her mom and soon to be mother-in-law in them too and of course, ordered one for herself for her rehearsal dinner. The best part was through the process we became friends and she ended up inviting me to her wedding!

BB: Fave celebrity wedding dress?

Kate Moss, Image by Film Magic via Brides
T: I absolutely love Kate Moss's wedding dress. It was so delicate and ethereal. The silhouette kind of reminded me of mine (minus the sparkles and the fact that it probably cost 100 times more.......) but otherwise it was very similar. :)

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

T: I like the classic styles from Simple Silhouettes and their Reed dress is probably my go to dress when working. It's the perfect dress for any occasion. You can dress it up with jewelry and heels, but for work, I like pairing it with a cardigan and some flats.

Trinh(center, in Sapphire Joanna August dress) at
 grand opening for OC Bella Bridesmaid

BB: Best wedding trend you've seen recently?

T: I LOVE it when brides let their girls select their own dresses that reflect their personal style and work with their body type. Whether it be different dresses in the same fabric/color or different dresses but in a particular color palette, it's so nice to see girls feel great in their dresses. We just got in dresses for a bride that let her girls select any short purple dress in the store. We're so excited to see how it all comes together!

                                  Thank you Trinh!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our Interview with Yoo Lee of Saja

Yoo Lee
Simplicity and beauty are two words that come to mind when eyeing the gorgeousness that is Saja. The wonderfully talented Yoo Lee founded Saja in the year 2000 and her amazing creations quickly became loved by all... especially by the Bella fam! After wearing a Saja dress you can’t help but wonder what other lovely designs does Yoo have up her sleeve? And how did she become such a genius of pretty? So we decided to ask Yoo to share some of her secrets…

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

Y: Focus and persistency. Also, learning from experiences.

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

Y: I imagine a beautiful person wearing our dress on one of their most significant days. I imagine them to be excited, giddy, COMFORTABLE, but also effortlessly chic and confident. Oh yes, and I imagine them to be good people.

Saja, BP6252

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

Y: I always knew I was going to become a fashion designer since I was 10 and seeing Yves Saint Laurent retrospective collection at the Met. And I knew I wanted to own my company since I wasn't lucky enough to find the company that suited my aesthetic. So I started Saja. I owned Saja for 8 years designing the contemporary collection instead of the bridal collection. Then the economy took a nosedive in 2008 and it was really way for me to survive and keep the brand going by switching over to designing bridal dresses. As it turned out in hindsight, best thing that could have happened to me. I love what I do.

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

Y: Princess Diana on her wedding day: Less puff and more simple to make her young beauty transcend easily and make her the focus instead of the dress.

Princess Diana
Image by PA Archive/Press Association Images
via Daily Mail
BB: What high school trend are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

Y: I lived through '80's in high school. Blue mascara, bang, legwarmers... you name it, I've done it all.

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

Y: A lawyer or a chef. I like clarity and seeing the end result.

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

Y: I don't really have a favorite; they all serve different purposes for me. Also, whenever I do a new season, my liking changes as well.

BB: Any hints to what is in store for this Fall?

Y: I am actually done with all the designs for Fall and in the process of getting the fit right which takes long time to perfect for me. I am using heavier silk to give more form fitting without compromising on comfort. Also, there just might be some sleeves popping up, of course it will be done Saja way so it will still be light and ethereal.

Inside the Saja boutique in NYC

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

Y: Own and know your body: be comfortable in your own skin!  Also, when dress shopping be open-minded.

BB: What's in your purse?

Y: Cell phone, a wallet, keys and a book for the commute. I am a simple being.

                                             Thank you Yoo Lee!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meet & Greet: Allison, owner of Indianapolis

What happens when an analyst for a wine distributor meets Bella Bridesmaid? Well, she becomes a Bella franchisee, of course! Allison Rechter of Indianapolis opened her Bella boutique in January of 2009 and has loved every second of it. Recently engaged, Allison has kept quite busy running the Indianapolis boutique and wedding planning but we were able to get some time with her so she could fill us in on all the excitement…

BB: What did you do before owning Bella?

A: I worked for a wine, liquor and Red Bull distributor as an analyst. I was a Computer Science major in college - not the most popular major for girls. But hey, I can make killer spreadsheets for Bella now!

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

A: I had been in ten weddings and three of them had used Bella Bridesmaid. I saw the need in Indianapolis and had always wanted to open my own store - it was a perfect fit. Plus, I didn't have the nerve to start something on my own, I loved that Bella had a successful business model and 40+ other stores. The last two years have been the most fulfilling years of my life.

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

A: There have been many memorable moments from my first client to helping with a themed wedding but I have to say - one of my most memorable moments was when I accidentally locked my dog Penny in my office during an appointment with my keys and phone. Penny is extremely agile and that's putting it lightly. The girl has major hops. I figured I'd keep my cool, wait for my appointment to leave then attempt to get Penny to open the door or worst case scenario - call a locksmith from the salon downstairs. Not knowing Penny was locked in the office, my appointment asks if they can meet Penny and I had to tell them my dilemma. The Mother of the Bride jumps off the couch and comes over to the glass door and tries to coax Penny to stand up by dangling things in front of the glass with hopes that she'll hit the handle and open the door. Forget about dresses, the goal now was to get Penny out of the office. After about 10 minutes of trying and several promising attempts by Penny - EUREKA - she opened the door!

Allison(Left) wearing her Swoon Barbados dress

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

A: Gosh! That is a hard question. I love my TwoBirds rosette mini – it’s my go to little black dress. My Swoon Barbados dress for more formal events, Amsale G425C for summer events and Senna by Simple Silhouettes in polka dot for work and bridal events!

Brian Marcus/Fred Marcus photography via Style News 

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

A: I recently met with a 13-maid wedding with bridesmaids from all over the globe so we did TwoBirds ballgowns since those dresses don't require measurements. It was an all white wedding with the girls in ivory. The wedding was in Trinidad and I can't wait to see pictures!

BB: What is your fave celebrity wedding dress?

A: Ivanka Trump. Her dress is one of my faves because of its' modern elegance. The slit in the back of the lace makes it less stuffy but maintains the timeless Grace Kelly look. Plus, you will never look at her wedding picture and be able to tell what year it was. Classic. I love it.

BB: We know you recently got engaged, could you tell us your story of the engagement?

A: In June, Dan and our friends led me to believe that we were going on a houseboat trip but at the last minute it was "cancelled due to boat problems." So with a Saturday out of the store already planned, Dan suggested we take our two dogs to his family’s farm to romp and swim. 

When we got to the farm we were walking the property when all of sudden the clouds opened up and it started to DOWNPOUR. We were soaked! Despite the rain, we continued our walk, dripping wet. By the time we reached the big meadow (Dan's favorite place) the sun had come out so we took a short break. This part is where it becomes a real blur. From what I do remember - Dan gave me a hug and I realized his heart was racing and then he said some really thoughtful things about us and his feelings for me and got down on one knee and proposed. I think the first thing I said was "Are you serious?" followed by "Is this happening?" True words of a girl in total shock, right?! After lots of tears, hugs and a YES we started our walk back.

Allison and Dan(center) with friends and family

On our way back, bows started to line the path so I knew someone was there. As if I wasn’t in shock enough, when we got to the top of the hill my entire family, Dan's entire family and two of my closest friends were waiting for us. From New York to California, family and friends had flown in to celebrate our engagement. It was so incredibly surprising and special to share this moment with each of them. Oh! And Dan hired a photographer to capture the entire day!

BB: Any idea of what gown and bridesmaid dresses you would love to use for your wedding?

A: My girls are going to wear long Amsale black chiffons of their choice to the wedding then at the reception they are changing into LulaKate party dresses in shades of silver/gold for dancing.

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

A: I absolutely love my seersucker dresses from LulaKate that are comfy and casual - fantastic for summer. Plus, they have a great color selection in seersucker.

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

A: I love when girls pick different shades of a color. I recently had a 6 bridesmaid wedding where the bride picked shades of purple from varying designers in long chiffons. Gorgeous! The array of colors spanned from Violet to Aubergine. It is going to be stunning!

                                                                                                           Thank you Allison and congrats!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Interview with Jessica Brown of Ivy & Aster

When we daydream of fairytale weddings and maids outfitted in only the most romantic of dresses it makes us think of our beloved Ivy & Aster. In 2010 Jessica Brown, the owner and designer of Ivy & Aster, began her beautiful creations. The fanciful draping, chiffon flowers and gorgeous color palette makes us want to wear these beauties every day! We wanted to hear more about Jessica’s beginnings and inspirations for these sweet dresses…

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

J: I'm really proud that we've been so successful from the start of the business. I think we really understand our customer and what she wants as well as how to market to that customer. I am also thankful for the great stores that picked up the line the first season including many of the Bella stores!

Jessica in her design space

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

J: As we all know women and bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes, so we try to offer styles that will be flattering on a variety of girls. Our look is youthful and fun and our dresses are made so you could wear them to other social events, they don't scream bridesmaid when you first see them.

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

J: I've been in bridal for a while and really wanted to try to branch into maids just for a change of pace and color! It is similar to ready to wear in a bridal environment so I thought it would be fun. Also I was hearing there was a need for an under $300 silk look so that is where we landed.

BB: Could you tell us a little more about your bridal background?

J: I started working in a bridal store in Atlanta when I was in high school. I just fell in love with the whole experience. Bridal gowns are the closest thing to couture that most people will ever wear as they are usually made to order. I went on to study fashion design and also worked for Saks bridal in college. Upon graduation I was hired by Anne Barge and was there for almost 11 years where I also got to work with Badgley Mischka on their bridal collection.

Olivia Thirlby
 Image by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images via Style Bistro
BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would it be and how would you style them?

J: That's a hard one! I'd love to dress an up and coming actress like Olivia Thirlby or Elle Fanning that could really take our dresses and make them their own. I'd love to see how they would style them! That is what I think is great about I&A is that you can really let your own personality show!

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

J: I'm actually not too embarrassed by my style in high school- I guess I found my style then. Middle school is another story- I guess the "multiples" trend with socks in matching colors was pretty dreadful! Also the way-high bangs were pretty bad.

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

J: I would be a painter/artist if I thought I could survive off doing it for a living- I still love to paint in my free time

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

J: I love our new prints- they are so fun and flirty! I'm dying for a bridal party to use them or at least one for the maid of honor.

BB: Any hints to what is in store for this Fall?

J: We are introducing some great new colors that our 'fans' have requested along with some different necklines and sleeve options, which are also in demand. We are also continuing with our prints to further the idea that our dresses can be for other social occasions.

Ivy & Aster, Coming Up Roses

BB: Advice for certain styles for different body shapes?

J: We've sold all shapes and sizes- I think interest or draping/rouching on the bodice can both enhance and minimize depending on what is needed. Our gently gathered skirts are fun and forgiving on the hips! An empire waist is always good on a larger size or if you have an expectant attendant. Most girls look good in strapless since it shows off the shoulders.

BB: What's in your purse?

J: It is a little scary right now- I have the usual wallet, lots of receipts from travel and purchases, my favorite Laura Mercier lip gloss, a Jo Malone cologne, my Banana Republic sunglasses, a Clif bar and a diaper- I have a 16 month old and don't always like to carry a diaper bag!

Thank you Jessica!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ask Bridget... Bridesmaid Gifts

Us Bella's are often asked by our brides for advice and tips on the perfect bridesmaid gift. The gals (and guys) who are standing with you on your wedding day are usually your most important support team... and you rely on them heavily during the wedding planning process. From addressing envelopes at 1am and endless email's with photos of wedding dresses attached with the subject line 'Thoughts?',  they have signed up for whatever comes along with the title of "bridesmaid". Which let's be honest, sometimes involves a bit of abuse on the shoulder-to cry-on front. So, how to honor these patient and tongue-biting souls? Here's my list of a few useful, not-so-useful but fun, and thoughtful gifts.

1) Ok, I've said it before... but the number one comment we hear from bridesmaids when the bride's not in earshot is "I wish she'd contribute towards the cost of the dress instead of giving me a (insert here: sterling silver key chain, crystal picture frame, etc). ". So consider chipping in for the dress, especially because you chose a modern, chic, totally and completely re-wearable bridesmaid dress... right? I especially love this idea from Martha Stewart Weddings for a "bridesmaid fashion card" that contains everything they need to know about their attire and all-over look for the day of the wedding. Not only is it informative AND thoughtful, but you could also include a note that thanks them for being in the wedding and that you have contributed $__ to the cost of the fab dress. Cute, no?

2) Purchase the accessories that you'd like them to wear as their gift. Ok, maybe this is a bit self-serving, but's the look and feel you had in mind for your wedding, and as long as you're footing the bill, they'll be happy to oblige in wearing the tulle and feather headdress.

A few of our favorite accessories:

The "Elize" shoe by Nina

"Just Bowtiful" clutch from Nelle

The "Gwen" earring from Kendra Scott

What gal wouldn't be thrilled to add any of these lovelies to her wardrobe?

3) Contribute to her favorite charity.
(Maybe not as fun as a pair of shoes, but meaningful and charitable.)

4) Host a bridesmaid luncheon, cocktail party, dinner, etc and take the time to say a few words about each bridesmaid and why they are important in your life and why you have asked them to be in your wedding. I find that a lot of times, especially in a large wedding party, it's not always the case that everyone knows each other and your history with them. This is a nice way to recognize those relationships.

and lastly....

5) Pay for their hair and makeup on the day of the wedding. Yes, it's an added expense, but everyone loves the pampering and it's a fun way to relax on the wedding day. And if they look and feel great, this will reflect in their overall demeanor and attitude. Happy Bridesmaids = Happy Bride!