Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"LoveLane" by Ivy & Aster

When Ivy & Aster unveiled their new collection “LoveLane” at NYC bridal market last week,  we couldn’t deny our infatuation with these dresses. An exclusive collection to Bella Bridesmaid, Ivy & Aster has created what we think is an absolute knockout! From the silky, smooth charmeuse fabric to the colorific, modern styles... brides and maids alike will swoon over these beauties. To show you just what we're talking about, we decided to share some photos. Look for these chic and well-priced ($190-$230) frocks in select Bella Bridesmaid stores this Winter!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A little peek into our Bridal Market adventure

We are now recovering from a fabulous few days in New York City and cannot wait to tell you all about the ruffles, frills and excitement of Bridal Market! Take a peek at some of the photos we took along the way…

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meet & Greet: Mandi Jackson, owner of Atlanta

Mandi Jackson, owner of Atlanta
Since franchising in 2006, Bella Bridesmaid has grown to have over 40 stores nationwide! One owner in particular, Mandi Jackson, has been with Bella since the very beginning. Mandi began her relationship with Bella as a customer trying to find the perfect bridesmaid dresses for her girls, but not long after became the owner of Bella Bridesmaid Atlanta. We wanted to catch up with our long time friend Mandi and have her share her story about becoming one of the original Bella girls…

BB: What did you do before owning Bella Bridesmaid Atlanta?

M: I was an elementary school teacher. I taught for 8 years, first as a kindergarten teacher then as a second grade teacher. I am often asked if I miss teaching, but now that I have a 5-year-old daughter, I think I have the best of both worlds…enjoying time with my daughter and having my own business.

Mandi with her daughter Ren at
Charleston Fashion week
BB: Why did you want to become part of the Bella franchise?

M: Well, first and foremost I love weddings and being part of such a special day. Before the Atlanta Bella opened in September of 2002, I had gotten my wedding dress at Anne Barge in Atlanta. Bridget Brown, now franchise owner, was coming to Atlanta to host a Bella Bridesmaid trunk show. I was going to be out of town during that time but fortunately Bridget left some samples for me to look through to select my bridesmaid dresses. After several conversations with Bridget, I ended up becoming the manager of Bella Bridesmaid Atlanta. When Bridget decided to franchise in 2006, I knew I wanted to continue to be part of this amazing Bella family, so I bought the Atlanta location and have been the proud owner ever since! I loved my job and this was an opportunity to keep my same position, while also owning my own business. I could not be happier with the way things have turned out.

BB: We heard that you work with Enchanted Closet. Could you tell us more about Enchanted Closet, and your relationship with the organization?

M: One aspect in particular I love about my job is working with Enchanted Closet here in Atlanta. Enchanted Closet is a volunteer-run, private non-profit service organization whose mission is to physically, mentally, and emotionally outfit Metro Atlanta high school girls from low-income families. The organization has created programs that prepare these young girls to reach their social and professional goals. Bella Bridesmaid works directly with the Enchanted Closet to outfit these teens for their prom. This has been so much fun being the retail sponsor for this organization and to know that I send at least 20 girls to prom each year with a fabulous Bella Bridesmaid dress!

Mandi in her shop with some bridesmaids!

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

M: It's too hard to decide on one memorable moment in particular... I think the most memorable part of this whole experience is the amazing relationships I have created since owning Bella. It’s always such a rewarding experience to see friends and family members of brides come back when it is time for their own weddings. I love nothing more than getting a phone call from someone who wants to work with me because of the great relationships I have built with previous brides over the past 9 years.

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

M: I recently had a bride named Lyndsay Cummings, who actually lived down the road from me when I was younger, and I used to babysit! It is has been so much fun watching her grow up and I was so honored to be such a big part of her wedding.

BB: What is your fave celebrity wedding dress?
Image via Wedding Dress

M: That's easy, Kate Middleton! The dress was not only beautiful but also classy…she looked like a true princess on her wedding day.

BB: What is your favorite bridesmaid dress hanging in your personal closet?

M: I’m a big fan of Two Birds! It is so easy to wear… I can either dress it up with some strappy, Nina heels or make it more casual with a cute pair of sandals. And of course, I can change the style of the dress for whatever my mood may be… halter, one shoulder, capped sleeve, etc…

Mandi wearing LulaKate

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

M: I believe the best trend is simply expressing your personal style. I love having girls that come into the shop pick and choose from all the preppy options from LulaKate. Alfred Sung also has some adorable styles under $200. If someone wants chiffon, Amsale is a great choice. All three of these designers give lots of options in the same fabric, so girls can pick their individual styles they want to wear to the wedding. I love when brides send in pictures after their wedding day so I can see how it all came together!

                                                                                                                Thank you Mandi!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our Interview with Joanna of Joanna August

Joanna August

Meet Joanna August, one of our newest designers here at Bella Bridesmaid!

Starting the launch of her line and the beginning of her successful career with Bella Bridesmaid, Joanna has created some stunning gowns for bridesmaids all over. Knowing how to flatter all body types and providing her loyal followers with gorgeous color options, Joanna has made her mark! Despite her busy design schedule and plans for an amazing new collection she took some time to answer a few questions…

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

JA: While I could not have started the line without the support of my family and friends, and my husband in particular, I would say that the launching my line through the Bella Bridesmaid franchise has played a huge role in my success to date. From the moment I launched the collection, I was able to reach brides around the country rather than just locally in Los Angeles, and every bride who chose a Joanna August bridesmaid dress felt confident and comfortable doing so knowing that Bella Bridesmaid stood behind the line. Also, the women of Bella Bridesmaid are so hands-on. It has been invaluable to have their feedback and input as the company continues to grow and expand- they have been a support system of their own for me! Working with the Bella stores was the perfect way to establish myself and my brand and a large part of the reason I have the amazing following I do now, after only 2 years in business.

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

JA: The only time I think "bridesmaid" when I am designing is when I feel myself going over the top with details or embellishments- I can't just focus on "do I love this dress?" I have to think, "Will I love 5 of these dresses standing next to each other?" But other than that, when I design, I imagine the client at a party or on an amazing date- I try to design dresses that women are going to get excited to wear for every occasion in their lives, not just walking down the aisle. I am constantly drawing inspiration from the past- I would say reoccurring themes in all of my designs are Old Hollywood Glamour and ethereal 70's inspired silhouettes. I think all of my designs have a Vintage feel- somewhere between Gene Harlow and Farah Fawcett, with just a little Stevie Nicks thrown in for good measure!

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

Joanna's bridesmaids on her wedding day
JA: Yes! I had always been passionate about design but the idea of doing bridal did not occur to me until after a fruitless search for the perfect bridesmaids dresses for my own wedding. I had worked so hard on every other detail of the wedding, I just could not bring myself to send my best friends down the aisle in dresses they didn't love and feel comfortable in, not to mention asking them to spend money on something they would never wear again. I decided to design the dresses myself, choosing colors in line with my desired wedding aesthetic, and designs that would be timeless and wearable for any occasion. I had so much fun doing it and got such a positive response from my bridesmaids and from everyone who saw the dresses, I thought "I know there are other people who are looking for the same thing- beautiful, comfortable, fashionable dresses, but in “customizable colors" And just like that, the line was born!

Image by WireImage via Access Hollywood

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

JA: I would love to give Jennifer Aniston a fashion makeover. She is so beautiful and elegant and has an amazing figure, but even though she always looks put together and in good taste, I wish she would have more fun with her fashion- I don't think she would know what a print was if it jumped off a clothing rack and onto her body! If I could dress Jen, I would turn her into more of a chameleon and help her find different looks to suit different moods rather than all black all the time with the occasional dose of red. I would urge her to experiment more with color and different shapes and silhouettes and not to limit herself to one style. She has access to every top designer and first pick of the runway - take advantage!

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

JA: Well, I have to preface this by saying that I went to high school in Los Angeles, and while it may not have been exactly Beverly Hills 90210, I definitely used clothing to express myself and experimented a lot with my outfits. While my style over the years ranged from trendy to grunge to hippy to chic, you would rarely catch me going to class in jeans and at-shirt (well, maybe during the grunge phase…!). My parents were always supportive of this means of expression and put on a brave face when I decided I HAD to dye my hair blue and took me to the Army Navy surplus store when I was convinced that combat boots were the height of fashion. They were definitely thrilled when I went through my vintage/ second hand store phase and less so when I discovered designer labels, but through it all they never tried to make me conform. So back to the question, while I am not actually embarrassed by any of my style choices (they all made sense at the time, I swear it) looking back, my least favorite trend had to be the preppy, school girl/ tennis looked that ruled my junior high in 1993. Think pleated, plaid mini skirts with teeny tiny cropped round neck t-shirts, knee socks and palladiums. My friends and I always looked like a pack of clones and while this look hit my school while Britney Spears was still in the Mickey Mouse club, we would have done her proud!

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

JA: Before I started my line, I actually worked in movies for 8 years as a film executive at studios like Revolution and Universal so I am fortunate enough to have already explored another exciting career path. Being in the entertainment industry was an amazing job and I had the opportunity to work with a lot of extremely smart, creative and passionate individuals, but at the end of the day, fashion was calling and now there is no looking back!

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

JA (center) wearing her Tori dress at event with friends

JA: This is a hard one, I can't choose! I really love so many of the styles, but the ones I wear most often would have to be the Dara Long Dress, the Tori dress (named for and first worn by Tori Spelling) and a new addition to the collection, the Sarena Short dress. The two long gowns are so glamorous and ethereal- I can dress them up with a ton of costume jewelry, which I love to wear, and heels, OR, I can throw on flats and jean jacket and go on a date with my husband. The Sarena dress is so comfortable and fun and flirty- I wear out to dinner and to parties all the time or during the day with sandals.

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

JA: Expect the same chic, feminine vintage inspired style that you have come to love from JA, but at more affordable prices! I am very excited to offer the most popular styles from my original collection in select colors for greatly reduces prices and also to introduce my new line, Ceremony by Joanna August. Ceremony by JA features 6 new body types available in long and short styles, all in chiffon and all retailing for under $250!

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

JA (left) in her design studio
JA: I like to think that emphasizing your favorite features will automatically detract from any "problem areas" or features you would like to minimize. If you have larger hips, emphasize your waist! If you are busty, choose a tasteful v-neck style that will allow you to wear a supportive bra to highlight your cleavage while still keeping everything in place. Flat chest? Draw attention to your arms and shoulders. I think a halter neck style can also be great for women with broader shoulders. Whatever you got, you've got to flaunt it! I find trying to hide everything under a lot of fabric often backfires.

BB: Last question Joanna! What's in your purse?

JA: Evian Water, Smith's Rose Bud Salve, Nars Matte Red Lipstick in Vesuvio, Black Balenciaga Compagnon Wallet (a 30th birthday gift from all my high school friends!), a tape measure, dog treats to bribe my puppy if he misbehaves and my iPhone.

                                                                                                                  Thank you Joanna!