Remember how we said we would keep the designer episodes 'short and sweet'? Let's just say we did our best to keep this to only an hour.
On this week's episode, co-hosts Tash and Kass take you into the world of their designers. This is part one of two--this episode covers designers Tanya Grig from Ukraine, Elizabeth Lee from Texas, and Eliza Jane Howell from London. Learn how these amazing designers became the foundation of our brand Versailles Atelier Bridal.Listen to "Episode2--Introducing Our Designers Part 1" on Spreaker.
Have questions or episode ideas? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry, I'm on new meds.
Happy Tuesday, everybody.
Kass is on new drugs and feeling fabulous. I think it's debatable at times. Yeah, well, but you're alive.
You're not wrong.
That's also questionable at times.
This morning you walked in looking a little zoned out and only got a few hours of sleep.
It's fine. Yeah.
Who doesn't want to stay up until 03:00 a.m.?
Yeah. Even after taking tranquilizers and everything that you can, but nothing works.
But you look beautiful today.
You showed up ready to do shit. So well, we are here to do our episode two, and we thought we'd kind of start introducing our designers. We're going to split it up into two short, sweet episodes just to kind of give you an inside look at who the brand owners are that we have in our stores, what they offer, and kind of a little bit about their design aesthetic. We are eventually going to get it all worked out that we can interview each designer and give them their own little mini episode so you can hear straight from them, their why's, their visions, and kind of how they filled the gaps in the industry to become who.
They are, which bear with us. We do have a handful of them overseas, so time change and everything.
It could take a minute.
It'll be interesting to see. We'll make it happen.
We will make it happen. We'll make it work. So today we're going to start off talking about our designers, like I said. And the first one we want to highlight is our beautiful designer, Tanya Grig, which they are our OG designer.
I love them.
They are the first one that I came into contact with and set a relationship up with them two years before I even opened the doors of the.
Store, which is crazy.
It is. I had to do an assignment for college for my last semester before graduation, and it was a portfolio class. Which side note, I had no idea portfolio class would be so difficult as an entrepreneur mindset, because I legit asked my teacher, hey, since I am planning on opening a business, how can I utilize this class to create something to help in opening? Because the design students had to sketch all of their designs for their portfolio. If they were technical based and doing patterning, they set up their portfolio with some of their pattern specs to show their flat lays and everything. And then there was me who was like, hey, guess what? I'm going to open a bridal shop. How do I use this class? And my teacher honestly looked me in the face and said, I don't know. I've never had a student who doesn't fit within these little lines here of what they're graduating with, not actually sewing. Yeah, but when I asked her, I said, well, I don't know how to use this class to benefit me, and I don't even know what to make for a portfolio because since I'm no longer a design student, I'm a business fashion merchandise major.
How do I use that? Yeah, she's like, I don't know. So anyways, I decided to take a visual concept of my business plan and turn it use that to make my portfolio, because I had done that the semester before, written my business plan. So I decided in there if I was going to a bank. Granted, I know they only care about money and numbers, but I figured on the off chance I meet someone who's visually like, oh, well, numbers. And that makes sense. Show us what this looks like. So I can imagine what this money is going towards.
Which shout out to the bank that gave you that.
We love you, Central Bank. So I decided to use that class, like I said, to do a visual interpretation of it. To kind of talk about who my target audience was. I did some fashion forecasting, which is a big part of what we do. We got to globally know what's happening in all areas of economy and war and all of those logistics to figure out what brides might be buying, which is always.
It's hard, guys. But I used all those tools, which is what led me to Tanya Grig, because I did a fashion forecast in spring of 2018, projected two years, which would have been spring of 2020. I had to come up with what ideas of things people were looking for.
I get the one year prediction, like how we are doing next year, 2023, I would struggle doing well.
It's always 18 months. So every designer who whatever they are currently creating today is for 18 months from now. In theory how it works, because you need so much time to figure out conceptually what you want to then find the material and then produce it, make initial samples, tweak those samples before mass production.
But we did it two years instead of 18 months. So for two years, I'm thinking it's the start of the wedding. Not know a panini was coming, everybody. But it did a panorama, whatever Tik Tok told us it was. But I thought, people are going to have an ode to the 20s again, right? Because it's been a century and why not? But I figured it won't be so like copy and paste. So I tried to find modern art Deco, and wouldn't you know, the first dress that came up on Pinterest when I typed in those keywords was a dress called Diamante by Tanya Grig.
I love diamante. I wish I could fit in.
I know. So it was a curveball, learning their size chart. But now that we know it, it's really easy to figure out the right sizes. But initially it was a little communicating from us to them. Didn't really align, but we figured it out. It's a trial and error.
The picture is so cute to later find out that the model is our rep. And she did not want to do that photo shoot.
Yeah, she was like, Wait, you found what picture? She said, yeah, I found it on Pinterest. So that's how I found you guys. But I fell in love with this dress. It was a cold shoulder long sleeve, which cold shoulder at that time was huge. But the pattern is a very geometric art Deco embroidered material that has sequins on it. And it's the prettiest pink.
And she is just so cute. And I just became obsessed with that gown.
And if you head over to our social medias, one of our bride got married in an art museum with it.
She sure did.
She looked incredible. Stunning. And that's kind of what I envisioned for that dress. It was just something that was like vintage inspired. But we modernized her a little bit. And so that was the first picture I found in my fashion forecast. And then I had different ones because that was the year that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married. So it was very quiet and lowkey on what her wedding dresses were going to look like. Side note, I had a bed at school with my friends, and I won really they were all convinced homegirl was going to have some elaborate sparkly ball gown, something for a cathedral. And I said, no, no, she is not to be queen. Her sisterinlaw had the queen esque gown because she is the next in line to help rule that country. In theory, like, once their dad's gone and everything, she essentially someday will be queen.
Which that chart baffles me that if William can't do it, Kate can't do it, then it goes to the kids and then a cousin and then Harry.
And I'm like, how I don't know. I don't understand royal family bloodlines and how things work, but I did win that. She had a simple, sleek dress, which is kind of what I assumed she would go for. It did. She looked incredible. Especially her reception dress. Love that one.
Oh, I have to look that one up.
It's literally a clone of our Rachel dress by Elizabeth Lee. Really? That's what it looked like. That's why I wanted that dress in store, because I'm like, that was Meghan Markle's, like, second dress. That was her party dress.
I love that guy.
Yep. So when we when I found that Tanya Grig picture, I was glad there was a link on Pinterest that I could find their site. I went down a rabbit hole of their gowns and just kept obsessing. There was no retailer in the state of Utah with them. The closest one at the time, I think, was somewhere in, like, Arizona and then California. And so my husband convinced me to send an email to them just to do an initial inquiry, just introducing myself, letting them know that I'm finishing graduating from school. But I plan on opening a business in 2020.
And kind of ask some basic questions on how ordering works, exclusivity options of being the only shop in Utah. Guys, I really didn't think she was going to respond because on the flip side, I'm sure I would see, I would would assume as a brand rep, you probably get emails from all sorts of people all over.
And I could just imagine probably the annoyance of some of those emails.
So I really didn't think I'd get a response. I sent it in, like, early evening, and they're 9 hours ahead, so it was early morning hours there. Well, I woke up the next day with a response as well as line sheets and just them saying, we've added you to our list because we don't have anyone in your area. We're not in a rush to be in that area, and we loved your email, so just keep in touch with us.
Oh, yeah. I was baffled. And then I looked at the line sheets, and I was very impressed with all of what they offered. And that's just kind of what struck up a two year long relationship.
I love it.
And it was just so funny because I did get to do a WhatsApp call with arena, our rep, before we open. And Anna, she had just had Anna, and so I felt bad because she's like, yeah, I'm on maternity leave, but we can talk. And I was like, or I can talk to the other rep kind of a thing, so you can rest. And she's like, I'm the one and only right now.
Oh, my gosh, that woman never sleeps.
I know. So she talked to me on her maternity leave. We talked through logistics of needing modifications, if that was an option, or if we could order material. So we kind of got initial stuff worked out in what modesty coverage meant in our state. Because what people outside of here think is modest is not modest unless it's a very strong, conservative religious country or state that they have even more requirements than our religious brides here do. Yeah, but it was definitely an interesting conversation to have with someone internationally.
And I love how she when you were talking about the religion, she was like, oh, I once saw a documentary saying about Jeff. And we're like, oh, no.
We're like, no, listen, warren Jeff's is a nut job. Oh, yeah. So I love that that was the where it's like well, I mean, in theory, yes, there are things there that they still wear. They still wear religious garments. But what our mainstream brides wear is not the same as theirs. They did not have progressive anything.
And what's so nice is this designer is stunning gowns, but also a very reasonable price.
They are. So for any of our brides who have a certain budget, they want to stay around. Tanya's gowns are the main ones we choose because she does have an array of prices. Her gowns on the low end start at around 800, 900. Keep in mind guys, this is really simple. There's not going to be a lot of detail on these gowns and then they do go up to about 2200, but their bread and butter is usually 1500, maybe 1800 price range. So if you love glitter oh yeah, I mean glitter, you love beads, sequins.
You're not getting rid of that.
No. If you love low backs with little jewelry pieces, detachable, funky bishop, 80s puff type of sleeve, illusion neckline buttons if you want to look like a European queen, they are your girls.
And what is so interesting when it comes to altering a gown and if you were to go to a seamstress, a lot of money. But if you need religious garment purposes and covering, they only charge $100 to do that. Yeah, which is insane.
It's insane. But it's something we're appreciative for because we're able to help brides attain and achieve what they're looking for in their price point as well as modifying all of their modification fees. If you want to take a top of one of their gowns and a bottom of another gown and merge it together, there is a fee we add on to do that. If you try on one of their fitted gowns but you'd rather be an aline shape or a ball gown shape, there's a pattern fee for that. But the pattern fees range from like one hundred dollars to three hundred dollars depending on the extreme change to minor tweaks that you need. But we are really grateful for the relationship we have with them because we're able to utilize their amazing seamstresses in their Italy, in Ukraine and create some really beautiful custom dresses. Like I said, even if it's just taking a top of one and a bottom of another, that's a unique dress just for you. And sometimes it's just that little bit that a bride needs in order to find their gal.
So we're really grateful for them. And as I said, since they are in Ukraine, things have gotten better in their production, which we are very grateful for. We know they've had a very I don't even know how to say it right, a really rough year. They've been going through a lot with the Russian invasion. It has changed logistics some, which we have adapted to. And we have not had a bride scam not come in time for the wedding. It might have cut it close initially when all of that happened, like out here a week or two before the wedding, which is a little too close for comfort in theory, but considering we did get it in time for a wedding, we are really grateful for that. And so we're our brides and we very much appreciate all of those girls who adapted with us through all of the war that happened starting in February because it definitely is not an easy thing as a business owner to let brides know that, hey, your address will be here at some point. But production halted because they're in a.
War and it's baffling the love and devotion that their team has to making these girls dreams come true. Even as the war started, they still continued to make these gowns. It did slow down, but they still wanted to make sure that these girls were getting their gowns, which is baffling.
For me because I would have completely understood if they said, we can't work right now because we need to leave. We need to hunker down. We need to be safe, which we know some people obviously did flee. 100% understandable, I get why. But a lot of them stayed because it's their home. They weren't going to be driven out. They also know that them working is going to help stabilize their economy as much as they can in war. So they went to work. I think they stopped for a couple of weeks initially just to adapt to the changes, make sure that they didn't have to fully flee the country and.
Make sure that they have a safe space to continue working.
Because we do know and had heard that other designers in the area because if you guys didn't know, ukraine is actually a really big place for wedding gown production.
Massive. Had no idea until I went down a rabbit hole of looking at designers at Barcelona Fashion Week. And a high majority of them, they were not in Ukraine, they were in surrounding countries of Ukraine.
Well, half of one of our other designers factories is in Ukraine as well.
Yeah, and then they had started doing work in Romania during that time and so they had a different facility for production. So we're really grateful for that relationship we have with Tanya Grig. Like we said, hopefully at a later date. Even with the nine hour time difference, we can get our rep on. Maybe even Tanya, but I know she is a busy woman and allow them to tell their story and their way and who their brides are. Because they have taken care of so many of our brides here in Utah that I can only imagine what they do for their stores globally besides us.
I love it.
So okay, so, yeah, that was our very first designer guy that we brought on and now we're going to move on to our number two designer we brought on, which is the amazing Elizabeth Lee, who is based here in the US. They are in Texas and this husband and wife duo are the dream power couple.
If I could be them, I would.
Shawn and I are aspiring to be Jared and Wendy Scroggins and they are.
I've never met a more sweeter human on the planet.
They are like angels.
They really are. I love them the way that they love not only what they do but love their stores is why they're becoming so successful and so well known, because they are genuine human beings that found a way to make the world a better place. And they're doing it, and it's so funny.
Jared used to be a preacher.
Or a pastor.
Pastor being a pastor. Guys, I'm really bad at religion, so I don't know the difference.
I'm so bad at this.
One of the two, he got up in front of an audience and gave a sermon on the Bible.
But he now designs gowns with Wendy and is so devoted into finding these new fabrics. He travels all over the world checking in on their factory and finding new factories. But it always baffles me because I think my top gowns that I've loved were all made by him.
I think they are.
They're all designed by him.
They are. Jared likes the flamboyant materials, the in your face materials, which is fun. And Wendy likes a lot of the classic styles. I feel like a lot of the laces she uses is a little bit more classic.
Traditional. And Jared is like, let's take it and shake it up and make it sexy.
He likes the test the limits and I love it.
But both he and Wendy worked so well together. And like I said, they are based here in the US. They are in Texas, in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Elizabeth Lee was originally called JW custom Couture. And that's how I found them. Elizabeth Lee is their store shop's name in Texas. And so they thought about keeping the two entities separate, being Elizabeth Lee in their own store, but having their styles called JW Custom Couture. JW for Jared and Wendy. But they decided to integrate the two because they started becoming so recognized on Tik Tok, it made sense to have the brand be their store name and allow that to be trickled down into their retailers to kind of help in the networking of social media.
And how did they come up from because it's Jared and Wendy. Where did Elizabeth Lee come from?
It was a name they had thought of if they had a daughter, and they loved that name. When they had their first pregnancy with their little boy, they knew if it was a son, it was going to be this name. If it was a girl, it was going to be this name. And so they kind of decided to take that name and keep it in the family still. They have two adorable little boys and things. Elizabeth is my daughter's middle name, and Elizabeth is a long family name for me. On my mom's side, I've got a lot of English, Welsh, Irish, like anything UK based. So that is a big name for us.
I love it.
But that's where the name came from. In the conversation I had with them many moons ago, it was like two and a half years ago. But it feels like a lot longer. So I found JW Custom Couture. As that was their previous name, on the Chicago market roster in going over who was going to be exhibiting there. I was going cross eye trying to find designers because I wanted to go to market that year. But a lot of them, big name designers there are in every shop, like in a five to 20 miles radius of us.
And we strive to make sure that we don't have that.
Exactly. Because not that those designers don't make some beautiful pieces. They absolutely do. But they are so overly saturated that it causes almost hatred between other stores.
It makes everybody competitive in the worst way possible.
Yes. Like, they're pressuring brides and they are discounting, discounting, discounting. When you start doing that, you're not bringing in money.
No. And it cheapens, those brand names, I feel like, to be in so many stores close together, because how can you expect your retailers that are within a stone's throw of each other to actually make money selling the exact same styles that their competitor up the street has?
Yeah. And brides also make it competitive by going store to store, seeing who will sell out the cheapest price.
And that's one unfair to the stores as well as unfair to all the consultants who help you. And most consultants do work on commission based, so they're losing money to help pay bills and things. But it also just makes accounts a little less enticing to me, because if you know that many stores carry it, then you know that many brides are buying it, and you're going to look like every other bride.
Yeah. And we almost all of our designers are able to customize in a certain way, and we rarely order a gown as is.
So most of our brides are getting a one of a kind gown that nobody else in Utah has.
Yeah. Which we love doing. We love trying to find that uniqueness so that a bride feels special and one of a kind on one of the biggest days of her life.
So in the search for that next designer after Tanya, I really went through all of the markets to see who was going to beware how close stores were to me that carried them. My husband, bless his heart, who is so into his spreadsheets, but, I mean, it's what he does for his everyday job.
He love an engineer.
Yup. My engineer husband created a spreadsheet, and we kind of listed every designer coming to market that year, how many stores in the state of Utah carried them. So we had a full spreadsheet. So then when we went, we could be prepared and being like, okay, we can't talk to them because they're in this many stores. This many stores. And in the excitement of being there, the people in the booths I can imagine are going to grab you like the people in kiosks in a mall, right? They know you're there to talk to them. They want to pull you in, get you in for an appointment, get you to place an order. So I wanted to feel prepared on those designers and knowing where they were at so I could at least be able to politely say, your styles are beautiful, but I know you're carried in these stores and I don't want to cause competition between. So after days of looking at stuff and this was end of February, I was going cross eyed trying to find someone that was not here. And I kept thinking, I've got to get gowns on order if I'm opening end of the summer.
And this is when conversation was initially starting in the news about a new virus overseas that was spreading pretty rapidly. We were not convinced that it was going to cause any issues.
I wasn't going to make it back to us.
Side note, we were all wrong. But I literally just got so fed up, I put down my tablet, went and poured myself a glass of wine in the middle of the day because I could.
And I literally looked up at my ceiling and said, you know what, Universe, if I am meant to find a designer at this market who was going to help me take care of my brides, send them my way.
I took about an hour break from the tablet to not get a migraine, did some other stuff, came back with a clear mind and calm nerves from a glass of wine and said, all right, let's do this again. I kid you not, JW Custom Couture showed up and right on the side it said New. And I was like, I swear to God, I went through the J's and there was nothing there.
I did not see this.
And I was like, custom couture. I'm like, that sounds like I can customize, right?
So I clicked on it and there was a link that went to their old website and I was so excited. I was like, this is a brand who says if you can dream it, we can make it. And they said that they offer fully customizable to minor adjustments, depending on what you're looking for. Their standard size chart is like a zero to 30 US sizing, but they can make any pattern size that you need. So I was like, absolutely. You know what, I'm going to set up a meeting with them, emailed their rep, Ellen, and she is the cutest human on the planet. You guys as well.
I wish she was coming this year.
I know she was supposed to come out for the trunk show and she's not. So sad day. We get just Jared again, which is fine. We had so much fun with them last year.
Yeah. I haven't gotten to meet Ellen or Wendy. No, but I love Jared with passion.
We love him but Ellen responded. She got me all set up to be there for a market meeting, see the models in the dresses. But the main reason I knew they were the right one, other than them doing custom stuff, which was a part of my business plan and important to me to be able to offer that to Brides, is they had a dress named Shanna, and that is my oldest name. Her name is Shanna Elizabeth. And then here I am finding out that their flagship store is called Elizabeth Lee. I was like, oh, my God. Shanna Elizabeth. Literally, my child's name is integrated into this business. It is meant to be.
I love it.
So I was all set up to meet them at market. My husband upgraded our room at the hotel so we could see the river, because we were going St. Patrick's Day weekend. So the river was supposed to be green.
I want to see it so bad.
That was the I think the thing he was most sad about was not seeing the green river.
Sean and I are very similar when it comes to Irish things.
Here I am sad that I couldn't go watch all these runway shows, and he's like, but I upgraded our room to face the river, and I could see a green river. So here it is, the weekend that we're supposed to leave, and, God, it was on a Friday that the world shut down for the pandemic. My mom literally called me that morning, and she's like, are you sure you and Shawn are still leaving tomorrow for market? Are you sure they're not going to shut down the kids school? And I was like, mom, take a deep breath. Everything's fine. It's just a new virus stream. There are viruses that constantly mutate and pop up because God has been around. Exactly. I had COVID younger with all of my bad asthma, lungs. I've had that bronchitis, RSV, rhino, rhino, all the things. So I was like, it'll be fine. Literally. While I'm waiting in line to get my child from kindergarten and the other two from preschool at the next door building, there was an announcement on the radio that domestic flights were being canceled, that all the schools were going into a two week lockdown where we were going to remote learn from home.
And I was like, there is no way this is happening, right, guys? It makes absolutely no sense. I still can't believe all of what we've lived through the last two years. It feels like it's been its own decade, right? But everything started canceling, and fortunately, our flight to Chicago hadn't been canceled. But they canceled the market because they didn't want to get anybody sick, they didn't want to get in trouble, so they stopped it. So, of course, trying to get on the phone with Delta to be like, hey, we're supposed to fly. I'm sure their phones are pinging like crazy. And so I reached out to the different designers I was going to meet when I was there, besides old JW Custom Couture. Now, Elizabeth Lee, my rep, Ellen, said, let me talk to the owners and see how they would feel. If you reroute your ticket to us in Texas, are you comfortable to fly to US and come here for like a quick day and a half things?
And I said, absolutely. The fact that you're willing to do this, I very much appreciate. I said, I really need to get gowns on order from an open a store.
So she talked to them, called me back pretty quickly and she's like, reroute that ticket, come to us.
I love that.
So I went out by myself and all of my true crime murder podcast stuff was going through my head of I am flying to a place I've never been. I'm being picked up by people I've never met. Listen, all of those things that were embedded in me as a child about the dangers of the internet and here I am doing all those things, it's fine. But when I got picked up by them, I instantly fell in love with those two. I love that Wendy and I started bonding over Vera Wang.
They took me to some super fancy restaurant with some of the best seafood I've ever had. Jared and I got intoxicated on drinks called Emerald City. I don't even know what was in them, but it was Jared's favorite drink. At this restaurant, we each had like three or four plus a glass of wine.
I love that. Listen, I think I have dibs on the next trip. Sean and I need to alternate from here on out.
It was so much fun and I got to talk to people who had the same passion I did in just making something special and unique that a bride deserves. Taking the time to, I don't know, just create. Because they opened up a store as a normal bridal store and then they quickly said, you know what, we're going to do it ourselves. And they did. And they are kicking ass.
And we're hopefully going to be able to set up one on one with all of our designers. And when people talk about fast fashion, Wendy is a godsend.
She's an expert because she worked in that world. She was born and raised in China. So getting into fashion, there is a lot of the horror stuff that you hear about here, but you can ignore because it's not happening here.
And a lot of people still continue to buy the clothing, being like, well, it's not affecting me and it's hard. We'll go more in depth on that episode and I can't wait to talk about it because I love what they did.
Yeah. So they have done all of these things to help make the world a better place in loving and caring for their workers as well as their brides. So Elizabeth Lee has a special place in my heart because they let me come out to their store, I got to see their space, they got to tell me about their vision, their why. And it's so aligned with us in the mindset of everybody as a bridal body that we were able to create a mutually beneficial relationship that has helped us both grow and expand. And I'm very grateful for them. So we're hoping while Mr. Jared is here in town for our trunk show in a few weeks, that we can convince him to sit down and answer questions in person and we can bring Wendy on via Skype Call or something, but we want you guys to be able to hear their story from them. We're somewhat okay storytellers, but might as well let the source tell their story true.
They're so used to it that they're better at it.
They are. So that is our second designer, Elizabeth Lee, that we were so fortunate to bring on. And I will always be grateful to them for their love, support, and encouragement. And I think it's a good segue into our last designer for part one, which is the amazing designer called Eliza Jane Howell.
And as we begin this one, we sadly will not be able to do a one on one with the designer herself. The other day, we got some really devastating news that shattered Tash and I, but Miss Gill Harvey, the designer behind Eliza Jane Hall, had passed away after secretly battling cancer. And I know Tash and I were so looking forward to meeting this wonderful woman.
We were. And her designs will live on. She's got an amazing team that's going to keep her uniqueness alive, and the brand that she worked so hard to create the last 10-11 years, she did before that, more formal wear things and then kind of transitioned into Bridal, if I remember correctly. But the amazing Gill Harvey has won so many bridal designer awards in the UK. The best British bridal designer or just best bridal designer? And she creates vintage inspired pieces that literally look like you pulled them out of your grandmother or great-grandmother's cedar chest.
And they look like they'd be on display in a museum.
Like, some of the gowns I feel like I can't touch.
It's true. And I even worked in a room with old time period piece gowns because I've actually touched dresses from the 18 hundreds into the 20s. That's amazing. And they are the most beautiful things. I mean, I sobbed while I was touching them. I'm sure I'm a weirdo, but I literally cried touching these things.
It's fine. I cried in the Bodies exhibit in Vegas.
We cried. I cried there, too, but I was pregnant when I was there, so seeing those babies on display was a bad idea to me.
I was just like, this is beautiful.
And I was crying like, oh, my God. That's how big you are in me right now. So Ms. Gill Harvey started designing these vintage wedding dresses that are 1920s, 1930s inspired and owed to her grandmother, Eliza Jane Howell, who was a designer in London back in the 1920s. And Gill comes from a line of designers, and she was able to find designers and creatives who can still do those old world couture patterns that people don't take the time to do anymore.
Yeah. And it's hard to find.
It is. Every single one of those gowns is handmade, not homemade. Homemade and handmade are two different things. It is handmade.
And if you look at these gowns, hand beaded, beat by beat, I don't know how they get them done as fast as they do. Yeah.
Like, their turnaround time was like, four months.
It's absolutely insane. So, as we said, she is inspired by the 1920s, 1930s, so very nonconforming gowns. Their majority are sheath style. There is a couple a-line variations, but again, they kind of fit in a sheath way. They just have a little bit more flow on the bottom. Sheath means it is not going to manipulate your body to look a certain way. It's not going to, like, overly accentuate a waist. It's not going to push up your boobs. It's not going to force your body into a shape that it's not naturally in already. And that is one of the reasons I love styles from the because historically, those styles came out because you know what, women were walking around as giant middle fingers and said, hey, men, we're tired of you dictating what we look like in our clothes.
So you know what? We're going to do this shit ourselves.
And these gowns beautifully hang off of a woman's curves. Stunning.
And it looks beautiful on all body types. I am more of a pear shape where I've got a fuller bottom and, like, no boobs. Guys. My assets are all on the bottom half and not the top half. So for me, I like fitted gowns because it allows me to highlight my favorite part of myself, which is my backside. But anytime I put those gowns on, I don't feel like it doesn't emphasize my bust in a nice way. Like, I feel like it naturally shows what I have, and it makes me feel good. Whereas things with really low plunge lines, it's not meant for me, not at all. So from my type of shape to Kass, who's got a beautiful curvy figure, she's got boobs for days.
Somebody take some of it away from me, please.
No, you're donating to me. It's true, our body types vary, and yet these styles look beautiful on both of us. And that's what I love about them, is there in London, when I look at their styles, they are naturally a little more conservative, not like super sheer, showing all the things they might have a little bit. Low neckline in the front or a low back, but they're very rarely together. It's like it'll have a little bit higher illusion front with a full open back, or maybe more showing skin in the front than the back. She's got a few styles, for sure, but you're like, okay, we got sexy front and back. I'm here for it. Especially her dress name, Gill, from her Perfect Ten collection. That's when we can't wait to bring into store.
We're bringing it in a beautiful, stunning vampire red.
Because who doesn't want to look like a delicious vampire on their wedding day? So I fell in love with Eliza Jane How back when Pinterest essentially started, because I'm that old. I started college when Pinterest came out. And I started college guys in my early twenty's. You say that you're.
Old, but I was on Pinterest at first as well. But I was in, like, 6th or 7th grade.
Exactly. But I was an adult. You were a child, a fetus, at my wedding. Okay, but you were raised in Utah. That is a normal thing for a child to do. It's weird.
But you did yeah. I'm sure you had a lot of burlap with lace chevron patterns.
No, I'm a very different human being.
Or the polka dot cakes. Those are big. Were the chevron cakes pick up bottoms and skirts with the sashes that match the bridesmaid dresses, the bolero that snapped onto strapless dresses to make a modest thank you.
So I found the brand Eliza Jane Howell on Pinterest back in 2012, which I'm sure Pinterest started before then, but that's when it was really becoming popular, and it was a tool that I had to use in fashion school. It was a great way to globally get access to visuals for designing and market research and fashion forecasting. So that year, when I was in my first semester fashion school, that was spring of 2013, which was the year I got married, is when the remake of The Great Gatsby came out with Leo DiCaprio, and I can't think of her name that played Daisy Buchanan. I see her face, remember? Anyway, so that movie was coming out. So it had a huge surge of 1920s inspired attire because of that movie. And so I was kind of mixing for my ever first collection at school that I sketched for illustration class. I called it A Night in Chicago, and I wanted it to be 20s inspired, but I wanted to mix in, like, the Chicago musical because that's one of my favorite musicals. So I went down a rabbit hole looking at 20 styles. And when I did Gill Harvey's first Eliza Jane Howell collection came up, and it was being repinned and repinned and attached to everything.
And she had beautiful red dresses and stuff. Like I saved these. I never clicked on a link. I didn't realize there were links attached to a background. I thought it was just a picture, and I think it was initially.
I think most people do that.
And so I was just saving these pictures for inspiration for class, and I was like, My God, these gowns are insane.
Never took the time to figure out exactly where they were until a couple of years later when I saw other new styles. And I'm like, oh, that kind of reminds me of that one person. And so I didn't use Pinterest that much. So it was easy to go down my rabbit hole of Pin Save, and I realized it had the same designer name. And I'm like, oh, who's this designer? So I pulled it up and found that they are based in London. And I loved all of her stuff. And I was like, man, how cool would it be to have dresses from London in my future bridal shop someday?
So I took that into the back of my mind. Didn't really think about it for a long time because I kept having kids. And I only have three guys, but I had them real fast in three years. And I was in school full time. My husband was working and in school and deployment and all these things that it was an insane time. I don't even really remember a lot of that time, to be honest. I was so sleep deprived. But once I hit a certain point in school is when I went back into a list I made in a notepad of possible designers I would want for my future bridal shop. And I thought it might be a good time to kind of revisit some of these designers. So I went down Rabbit Holes, because I got a lot of names from the various say yes to the dress, especially like, say yes to the dress in England. I wanted to see who they carried excuse me. That wasn't here. Maybe in the US. But a lot of our US designers are over there kind of a thing. But I made notes. And Eliza Jane.
Howell was one of them? And so I went back down to Rabbit Hole to re look at current styles. Then in like, 2017, still really like stuff. So I was like, Well, I'll keep them in mind for my future store. And in that portfolio class I had mentioned at the beginning of the episode, I decided to use a letter I had made in there. I created a letter for the portfolio that I could fill in easily, so at least gave me, like, a good breakdown timeline of what the purpose of reaching out to them was. And I kind of would describe hi, my name is Natasha Boyle. I'm the future owner of Versailles Atelier Bridal, which is slated to open fall 2020 in South Jordan, Utah. I love your designs, and I feel they'd make a great fit in my store. Specifically, your collection or collections and I'd name some and I'd say what a relationship with them would mean to me. And so I kind of use that to kind of help with the nerves of reaching out, because I was stepping into a role that I had never done. And I didn't really have the confidence at that time, not that I wasn't confident in myself, but the confidence to have those conversations because I'd never been a business owner.
Right. And so this kind of gave me tools to make me feel stronger and more confident because I took the time ahead of time to write it out, but now I can update it. So it's personable for each designer. But I had a template to guide me.
I love it.
And so I wrote this letter during essentially the COVID lockdown, because I was like, can't go to market. Plus they never went to Chicago market. They would go to Harrogate in London, sometimes Paris, which they are going next year. I just saw them post about it today or in a few weeks. Excuse me, not next year. And I'm really sad because I wish I could go.
You were so close to going.
I know. So I sent them a letter essentially saying why I felt the Eliza Jane Howell brand would match our brides here in Utah, how the uniqueness of who they are could serve brides here, who can't find that level of couture gowns anywhere in the state.
So, again, every time I send an email out, guys, I kept having that imposter syndrome fear of who's going to believe anything I say? I'm a nobody. Are they going to respond? Because it was exciting, exhilarating and terrifying.
And sure enough, their cute little rep, Andrea responded and said how delighted they would be to be a partner of our store.
I love Andrea.
I know she seems like literally everyone we work with are the cutest humans on the planet.
And me and an older consultant were buying some stuff that we're on sale at their store, their flagship store. And when we called her, she was the sweetest thing. And she was like, hello, darling, can I call you tomorrow? I'm getting on the train. And we're like, oh, my gosh, how cute are you?
She is the absolute cutest. And literally, I know our accents don't sound that cool to them. We probably just sound like garbage. So when they responded, I was jumping for joy. And in back and forth conversation, one of the things they said that stood out to me, and I will never forget is they did tell me we get a lot of inquiry globally from stores all the time. And again, they have a similar mindset to Elizabeth Lee, to Tanya Grig. We don't want to be in every store. We want to be in the right stores for us. And they said, you would not believe how many people will reach out and just say, oh, you know, I've never been in Bridal, but now I'm opening a store because I was inspired by when I was dress shopping and how things were lacking in this area, that area. So now I'm going to do it and cater to people who couldn't find what they were looking for, like myself.
But, yeah, pick up the designers that are already in you.
Yeah. So I understand that mindset, because people get inspiration from anywhere to do something, and if that's their inspiration and their why, that's amazing. It's really hard to jump into Bridal if you have zero expertise in it, because there's a lot of logistics that can go wrong. If you can't take a proper measurement, dresses aren't going to fit. And guys, that is anxiety to the max.
So when they said, we love that you have worked in the industry, that you've had this as a lifelong dream, and now you're finally going for it, even in a pandemic, we would absolutely love to work with you because we can tell that this is something that you genuinely love rather than a oh, this sounds like fun. So I was really grateful to them, and obviously, I could not travel out anywhere near them to see any of their gowns, so I had to order it all site unseen. So with their knowledge and expertise, I kind of explain what our brides could possibly need in modesty coverage to maybe just wanting something that wasn't super type, fitted and uncomfortable. And it kind of helped guide me on what styles in their new collection was popular, what classic styles from previous collections are still going strong. So obviously, one of the first dresses I had to get was Carlotta. So if you guys have not seen Carlotta by Eliza Jane Howell, please do a Google search. But she is a true 1920s dress with fringe for days.
And when we say fringe, the fringe is beads.
It is that come off this dress. And the underlay is beaded in this beautiful pattern. And then there's these layers of fringe on top. So I got that classic style. Sibella is another classic style of theirs that's been around for years, but it is still going strong. And they have made a lot of these dresses in colors like gold, silver, navy, red, black, all of these colors. They do a lot of customization there in London for a lot of celebrities. She's become huge. I know Sharon Stone has worn a lot of her stuff, which I love.
There's even a cute judge on, like, Strictly Dancing or something that is constantly wearing Eliza Jane's beautiful jumpsuits.
Yes. And people on some of the game shows and things. So we're really grateful that we have that relationship. And as Kass mentioned at the beginning of introducing this brand, that the amazing creative designer of Eliza Jane Howell, Gill Harvey, did pass away last week. So it was the very beginning of September from her secret battle with cancer for the last year. And like Kass said, it very much devastated us. I only talked to Gill once on the phone, and I was a little bit star struck when she answered her own phone at her shop. I was like, oh, my God, it's her. So I mainly work with the rest of her team, which is really normal in a designer company structure. You very rarely talk to a designer directly, especially if they are more globally known. And in all the conversations I've ever had with their team, they have meant so much to me, and it's really hard knowing that I was building a relationship. And I unfortunately, won't get to meet her. But I am excited in the future to meet her team and see how they're carrying on her memory in these incredible gowns.
And I'm excited to see what the future holds for them. As I know right now, they're in a mourning process. So hopefully, after they lay Gill to rest and they kind of start picking up, I'm excited to see what they do to honor her, because the team she has behind her is incredible, and I love that. In her Perfect Ten collection, all of those dresses were either recreations of her most popular styles from the last ten years, or they're literally named after everybody who has or currently does work for her. So each person there, Andrea, has a gown, Noreen has a gown. Gilly has a gown. Like I said, Gill had one for herself. So all of these people that means so much to her, she was able to create a gown that reflected them and their personalities and all of what they've done to support her.
Yeah, she never had kids, and so her team is her family, and that was just the best way to represent that love.
And from what we could tell from this side of the pond, that team was a close knit family, and they all very much loved each other, and.
They are doing everything they can to carry on that legend for her.
So we'll see what the future holds. But in essence, those are the first three designers that I brought on here at Versailles Atelier Bridal, and every single one has been a building block and a stepping stone to us building up our brand and servicing our brides and giving them all of what they deserve. So, guys, that will be the end here of part one. Part two, we're going to go over our other three designers and kind of talk about our relationships with them, how we came about. So if you have any questions, feel free to DM us on Instagram, shoot us an email at our info@VA-bridal.com. Any suggestions any of you guys have on episodes of information you'd love to learn before wedding dress shopping or planning a wedding, we have been sending emails out to local vendors. We're going to start getting those set up as well because we'd love to promote all of the amazing vendors here in Utah who help bring our brides visions to life after they leave our shop. Because they're just as important as we are in making this one day fully come together.
Absolutely. And all of these vendors really have a passion for what they are doing. And when we get to talk to them, you will get to hear that and see and feel that passion from them. So it's so fun to have connections with amazing people like that that we can give and share to the world, because it's always so fun and enjoying and I can't even find the word. When you get to support local artists.
Yes. The support we can give each other will make all of us succeed. And that's one of the most important things to us, is not only loving and supporting ourselves, but loving and supporting others who want to do what they do the rest of their lives. Because if you love what you do, you don't work a day in your life.
But that's also a lie, because we definitely work every day of our life. We enjoy it. We do.
Now, I'm working Mondays because before that, it was Tuesday through Saturdays. And when I'm leaving on Mondays, my mom's like, Where are you going? And I was like, peace out. Going to work.
Bye bye. And then we come here and we bullshit doing this stuff.
Just wait till they actually hear us bullshit when we do 23 trends. All right, you guys. Well, thanks for listening. And just a reminder that everybody is a Bridal Body. Talk to you soon. Bye.
ALL ARE WELCOME, CELEBRATED + ACCEPTED.