Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Meet & Greet: Erin and Kathleen, owners of Chicago and Milwaukee

Kathleen & Erin

Mother-daughter duo, Erin Casey Wolf & Kathleen Casey opened the Chicago store in September 2007, and not long after the Milwaukee store in April of 2008. These two marvelous ladies have fallen in love with everything weddings but certainly have a great passion for dressing brides and maids alike! Working and managing two stores keeps these gals busy, but we wanted to hear a little more of how they came to be Bella owners…

BB: What did you both do before owning Bella?

K: I was a financial consultant and commodities broker at the Board of Trade in Chicago before I paused my career to raise my three girls - Erin, Colleen and Mary Kate. Erin worked in media at Starcom MediaVest Group in Chicago and New York.

Erin, Kathleen and Maureen, Chicago store manager

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

E: My mom gets TOTAL credit! She was stranded in an airport, traveling for my sister's lacrosse tournament. While on her fifth wedding magazine, I got a call - "Have you heard of Bella Bridesmaid?" We were in bridesmaid dress selection mode and I wanted each bridesmaid to wear their own style in varying shades of the same color. Great in theory, but tough in execution without a boutique like Bella Bridesmaid in Chicago.

I, of course, thought she was CRAZY when she mentioned that franchise opportunities were available and that we should consider it, but after visiting San Francisco and meeting Bridget and Nick Brown - we knew that it was the right opportunity at the right time for us. It really was a perfect fit.

BB: What inspired you to open up your sister location in Milwaukee?

Friends & Family Sample Sale "Dress Up"
K&E: We knew there was a tremendous need for this kind of shopping experience in both Chicago and Milwaukee - the Midwest. Milwaukee is only 90 minutes away and we were so excited to bring Bella Bridesmaid inland (at the time, stores were only on the East & West Coasts and in Houston). We've loved building our relationships with Milwaukee wedding vendors and enjoy working with Wisconsin brides planning for different venues and reception sites. It keeps things exciting and interesting.

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

K&E: We had a friends and family sale to raise money for our favorite charities this past summer. Despite having tons of friends and family local, attendance was lower than expected leaving LOTS of champagne for those who did visit. Four words and a photo to summarize the event -


Ivy & Aster "Gemma"

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

K&E: We try to wear Bella dresses every day in the shop and for special occasions, so we have LOTS! New ones on order that we know we will wear to death...

E: Ivy & Aster Gemma in the Monet print and Coren Moore's Alex

K: There is one style in particular that Amsale wore herself on The View. Look out for style G692C in January.

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

Maura's wedding. Image by Robyn Rachel Photography
K&E: We are very lucky to have so many friends and family here in Chicago and there is nothing more special than getting to be at the wedding after seeing the months of hard work and decision-making. Erin's friend, Maura had a wedding that looked so stylish because she varied the Lela Rose colors throughout the bridal party. We also loved working with our cousin Kathleen who looked stunning in her Saja bridal gown. She is an incredibly talented florist too and everything, including the bridesmaids Charcoal Amsale dresses, came together beautifully!

BB: What are your fave celebrity wedding dresses?

Image via She Knows
Image via Simple PrettyWedding
E: Grace Kelly, specifically the cinched waist and shape of the skirt. Obviously the lace is divine too.

K: Jacqueline Kennedy. I love her veil - such a classic piece for that time period.

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

Ladies with Coren Moore at NYC Bridal Market '11

E: Whatever we have in for a trunk show. I LOVE getting new styles in. My latest fave is the Mamie + James collection.

K: Coren Moore is a great line, because of the fabulous styles and color options.

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

K&E: We love the idea of varying the colors through the bridal party - even patterns. We are currently OBSESSED with Molly Sims wedding and dressed our mannequins today in Joanna August's super stylish new CEREMONY line to replicate.

                                                                                                             Thank you Erin & Kathleen!


  1. Erin & Kathleen,
    This is a really great article about you two ladies and the stores! I was so happy to get to see your new Chicago location this fall---very, very nice! I am thrilled that Jenna gets to work with such lovely, creative women!
    Joan Ehret

  2. Oh I love it! The Chicago Bella has the best owners/employees! These ladies really know not only their designers, dresses but their clients as well. I love how one on one they are, from the moment you walk into the shop- it's all about you!
    I couldn't be happier for all their success! Anyone I know who is getting married I send to Bella. Congrats ladies-
    Kristin Weis