Think about this industry and there are very few people who have created a business that is not only viable, but thrives in 10 years, in 15 years, let alone 25. So big congratulations to you. I just think about how the media has changed, how technology has changed, how the world that consumes information has changed, not to mention retail, distribution and sales and all that. Can you talk a little bit about how things have developed for your brand?
Well, in 1996 it was a very different field. After graduating from fashion school at the age of 22, my husband and I got engaged and I started looking for a wedding dress. This search made me decide to enter the business. [My husband] I had a business degree, and I said, “You know what, if we could do this together, we’d go further. I can be creative and you can take the reins of the business country. After designing six wedding dresses, I took a bridal magazine, looked at the ads and said, okay, so these people wear these collections, let’s call [them]. We called every store and said, “Hello. We’re a new designer. I’d like to show you the collection. How would we handle that?” They were like, “Oh, there’s a trade show coming up. You should probably buy a booth there.”
So with this information, we loaded our car in California and drove to Las Vegas, because there was a big bridal convention. After three days we were in ecstasy because we were officially working. We had taken five retail stores. On the drive back, he sank like, oh my god, now we have to make these dresses. When you are young, you are fearless. We were in love and we were like, we can do it. The shops invited us to come every weekend to do luggage shows to show the rest of the collection and meet the brides. And that really was the very beginning of our brand. We had no business plan; we just went with him.
After doing it for three years, I knew something was clicking because people were starting to say my name correctly. I have never changed my aesthetics. I wanted something modern, feminine, romantic, but there was also a sense of tradition. These were all the things I wanted when I was looking for a wedding dress. So, we kept doing that and I was authentic and I think that’s part of the reason it works. But the point is, when you’re on the road, you don’t think that far ahead. You just think day after day. It was so important for us to start building the right team, which I am so proud to say that many of them are still with me almost 25 years later.
We initially started in the bridal space and only in the bridal space. But after working with white and ivory for five years, I needed color in my life, and then the ready-to-wear business started. At the same time, we opened a retail store in Beverly Hills. It was really a great step for me, because then, based in California, stylists come and say that if you can make this dress in color, I would like to put it on my celebrity client. This was the beginning of dressing celebrities for us. One of the first stylists who approached me wanted to wear an Angelina Jolie dress and that was in 2001. That was the beginning of hearing our name on the carpet. Year after year it was just snowing and it was an amazing ride.