Industry spotlight: Lady M Ltd and Paper Occasions
How did you get your start in the bridal industry?
I've been in love with the bridal world-and gowns-since about the eighth grade. I was buying wedding magazines even then! It's a bit strange, I guess, for someone that age. But I just had a passion for it. I went to Ohio State and studied clothing and textiles. After graduation, I immediately moved to New York, and I worked for three different bridal designers over the years. Richard Glasgow was my first. That's where I met Lazaro (Perez). We became like brother and sister, and when he was approached by JLM Couture to start his own line, he asked me to join. So I was his assistant for 12 years. I worked for Reem Acra, too; I was her wedding gown production manager for the U.S. and Europe.
A sudden life change led to your move back home. How did Lady M come to be?
I was looking for a job, and the Paper Occasions company came up for sale. My mom and I stumbled upon it and decided to purchase the business. At first, we focused on wrapping our arms around that part of the business. While I was in New York, my mom started Lady M as a veil and first-communion shop; we decided the two businesses could come together in a unique boutique setting. It's like a one-stop shop.
And then the gowns arrived.
I brought the gowns to Lady M because I had to dabble in my passion. We carry a European designer that creates gowns that are very cost-conscious but beautiful for the price point. We also make custom veils-whether you get your gown here or not.
No matter what the gown budget is--$99 or $30,000-a bride still wants quality. They want value. When I was looking at different collections, my goal was to find dresses that were high quality but less expensive. My collection is small, but there's a lot of range. You'll find the gowns with a sleek, modern feel, as well as the romantic lace gowns and the bohemian-style gowns.
The dress side of the business has really grown through word-of-mouth. Ideally, we'll have the brides come in here first to see gowns, and then the invitations. Because, of course, once brides start shopping for invites, they've typically already purchased their gown.
Let's talk about the invitations.
During the design stage, we sit down with brides for about 90 minutes to discuss their vision. We look at their personalities and the theme of the day … the brides are actually creating the product from the ground up. It's a really unique, fun process.