Teresa's Story: Our Head Designer's Love Of Love

Teresa's Story: Our Head Designer's Love Of Love. Mobile Image

Aug 12, 2020

I have often been asked how I started in bridal design. Well, I guess, like anything it was a process. I have always dreamed of being a fashion designer. I can remember designing dresses for my paper dolls in 1st grade. I have always loved it. I learned to sew when I was 12. Having no income, because I was only 12, I made my own patterns and used whatever fabric (old curtains, sheets or existing clothing) I could find. My first projects were not great, but they were wearable. My mom likes to remind me of the time I was in high school and wanted a new bathing suit, so I took a pair of undies and bra and traced around them and made a bathing suit that I actually wore. People will ask me how I know to do something like that, and the honest answer is, I just do. It’s something that has always come
natural to me.

My sophomore year of college, I was studying retailing. My very wise sister said to me, “You are too creative to be doing this. You need to be in design school.” The next year I was enrolled in University of Cincinnati fashion design school, one of the top 3 in the country at the time. It was the first time in my life I loved school. While in school I made my best friend’s wedding dress, the pattern for my childhood neighbors wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses for friends and family. It seems that from the beginning I was drawn into bridal.

 

After graduating I worked for a local company, then did some freelance work and in 1988 started an evening wear rental company with my sister. The concept was quite new (Rent the Runway would not start for another 20 years) and to help pay the bills I began making custom bridal gowns and evening wear. Even though the store closed after 3 years, I continued making bridal and evening gowns. 

 

My husband Steve and I were married in 1990. That year I had 15 weddings that included the bridal gowns, bridesmaids and mother of the bride/groom. Plus, my own wedding gown, bridesmaids and flower girls.  I had a wedding that included the bride and six bridesmaids the week before mine and another wedding of the bride and four bridesmaids two weeks after mine. I don’t remember exactly how many dresses I made all told that year, but my guess is over 75. I did all the work myself but found I needed some help getting my own wedding finished up. At that time, I was introduced to a woman named Jennifer who was able to help. She turned out to be one of the most talented seamstresses I have ever met. Jennifer is my head seamstress today, 30 years latter we’re still working together.

 

Steve and I started a family but the infatuation with bridal and making of wedding gowns never stopped. In fact, it was during that time that I began to have a deeper understanding of the spirituality of marriage. At church I began hearing about a small book in the bible called The Song of Solomon. It’s a book about love; Gods love for people and the natural love between husband and wife. Learning about what the book of Ephesians in the bible 5:32 calls “the mystery of marriage” continued to fuel my passion for making beautiful dresses. 

When our youngest was in Jr High I realized it was time to begin thinking about what I wanted to do once all the kids were gone.  I began to dream about where life would go next. My dream was, and still is, to create  dresses that make a woman feel as beautiful as she truly is; Dresses that fit with comfort and portray a brides dream;  When a bride puts on one of our bridal gowns she sees and feels the fantastic dream of love and being married to the love of her life. Because of the care we put into making our dresses she feels loved, beautiful and full of hope. She feels she is clothed with strength and dignity and that she can laugh at the days to come. 

 

It’s so great when dreams come true.  When I began to dream of all of this 10 years ago I wanted to have a building that was half design and sampling center and the other half  a retail store. In May 2018 I opened my Atelier (French for design studio) and started designing and hiring a full staff including design assistant, pattern maker, sample maker, production manager, etc. In June of 2020 we opened our flagship store in the front of our atelier in a restored house in Cincinnati Ohio. I chose the name Renee Grace in honor of love.  It is the middle names of our two daughters, and it means “favor reborn”.  And isn’t that what marriage is, a rebirth of love and favor and dreams.

My dream of being a fashion designer started when I was just 7 years old.  A little over 40 years later I am truly living the dream. I get to come to work every day and play with beautiful fabrics and work with a very talented team of people. Dreams really do come true!