December 16, 2019
Over the summer I had this idea of bringing content directly to brides and the wedding community where we could learn together the ins and outs of the industry. To get REAL and bring exclusive content where it was needed most. In this day and age all the information is right at your finger tips, but it’s coming at all different directions and biases. What happens when we strip that away and leave you with raw information right from the source so you can make the most informed decisions when it comes to your big day? I had the honor of sitting down with Luz of Luxe Bride to kick off this series and boy is she dishing out good info! Grab a cup of coffee and cozy on up.
Luz thank you so much for kicking off this Coffee and Carats series with us! To dive right in we got to know, what journey led you to opening a bridal boutique?
My whole interest in the fashion industry really started when I was 12 and my mom taught me how to sew. That’s how I got started because I really wanted to learn how to sew my own Halloween costumes. In home ec I learned technical skills and then in my senior year, a rep from the Fashion Institute in San Francisco came and talked to us. I went on to attend that school and got my Associates in Fashion Design and Product Development. The summer after I graduated I began working for a designer in Oakland. My job there was to make the wedding dresses! By the time the designer moved to New York, I had fallen in love with the wedding industry. I then started working for a boutique in Los Gatos, working in her design studio where I began learning how to make jewelry! When I became Manager of Production my duties started spilling over into the bridal shop. Until that point I had never worked one on one with a bride; I had always been behind the scenes. I was like this is super fun! I get to learn all their stories, how they met their fiance, how their planning is going… so that was really cool! Shortly after, I decided I wanted to go back to school for my bachelors degree in business.
In the business program, one of my teachers asked me why I went this route if I already had so much experience. She asked, “Why don’t you start your own business?” The thought scared me at first, like how do I leave a job that has security for something where you don’t know if it’s going to take off and you don’t know if you’re going to get clients? But she responded, “Yeah, but can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone thought that way? No one would start anything!” So after talking to my parents, I knew I had their support. This was all in the beginning of 2018. I decided I can’t look back!
I went and got all my permits to open a business and I just went for it. I had a teacher helping me with all the legalities, another teacher helping me with my website… everyone pitched in once they saw how determined and passionate I was. Towards the summer of 2018, I was emailing designers before I had a space. I even had designers reaching out to ME because I’m the only bridal shop in Morgan Hill. They knew the exclusivity they would get. The designer you really like (BECCAR Couture everybody!), I’m the only one in California that carries them. It’s great because brides can really get a one-of-a-kind experience in that regard too. So then I started looking for spaces. One day I drove past by this very store front and said to my mom how much I just wished this space was available. Literally a week later, we drove by again and it was empty! There was a For Lease sign up front and I freaked out. I called the number and the landlord said “I just put up the sign an hour ago.” I told her “I’m ready to move in like.. tomorrow!” Well it took a few weeks to sign the lease but the next couple months we spent renovating and decorating and we opened in February of 2019!
Wow, thats amazing I just can’t believe it! It sounds like something off of The Secret, where you just put it out into the universe and it delivered it to you. So tell me, who or what inspires you? Whether it’s in this industry or outside of it… where you see their work and you’re inspired by them?
Well I think a lot of my actual brides are what inspire me. They tell me their stories, where they’re from, their careers– some being nurses or special needs teachers, it’s just so inspiring. I have one bride getting her doctorate and planning a wedding at the same time! Their styles are so unique and what’s fascinating is they might buy the same dress but when they put it on they make it unique in their own way. Their personality brings it to life. And when I meet with them, I might only talk to them for an hour at that point but I can already tell their personalities. That’s really cool to me that I can connect with them on that level and find what they’re looking for.
When a bride goes to book her appointment, is it better that they have an idea of what gowns they like or that they come in with a blank slate and open mind?
Either way is fine. A lot of brides choose to do all their bridal gown appointments at various shops in one day so they have their whole “I do crew” with them. So they might start here and I’m their first appointment ever. They sometimes have Pinterest inspiration photos with them and to be honest those brides end up with something completely opposite than what they had in mind coming in because they never tried anything on. I always ask if they’re open to trying more styles on. For the most part they are, but the ones that say no it’s funny because they try on the styles they think they’ll love but towards the end of the appointment their friends and family will ask they try on a certain dress for fun and that’s the one they end up loving! But the brides who have had previous appointments elsewhere and have honed in on what styles they really like, it’s fun because they can take the reins at the appointment and I’ll suggest styles based on that. For the most part, I’ll let them choose styles first and I can make adjustments on what to pull based on their responses to those gowns.
On the topic of Pinterest, would it be similar to let’s say, you’re going to show a hairstylist what pin-spiration you have and you need to choose pins that have hair thats similar to yours in color and texture- should brides be looking to pin gowns that are modeled in similar body shape as theirs?
I would think so but the thing is which is very unfortunate– there isn’t a lot of variety on Pinterest for styles and body shapes. There’s variety in skin tone and hair color, but they’re all super slim, tall models wearing the gowns. We need more diversity in the field. That’s my goal in this industry, to bring more diversity into the bridal industry. I’ll tell you this, designers suggest sizes for us to carry and the sizes they mostly suggest are 8, 10, and 12. But in bridal, an 8 correlates to a 4 in street sizes. It’s a big difference. And it also varies by designer. So one designer might have a size 8 but another designer might say 14. But brides don’t understand that so I spend a lot of time explaining this. Fortunately designers are beginning to make adjustments and being more inclusive now by adding plus size lines and having more average size model walk the runway. But I don’t think thats enough … “plus size” starts at size 12 but I feel like that’s more of an average size. Also, designers will make their plus sizing designs different. That can put brides in an awkward position and does a disservice to them if they love the slimmer styles. Designers try to guess what a bride will want at each size, so they assume brides looking at larger sizes won’t want their back uncovered, for instance. When in fact, some do! This is something we need more of in this industry – equal treatment – especially on Pinterest! More of the average bride. As an industry we need to work on this.
What great points because as someone who has their own body image issues, and really who doesn’t, even trying on bathing suits is something that can be disheartening. So if you’re a bride and this is a milestone moment for your big day, I can imagine the last thing you want happening is feeling self conscious while trying on dresses and trying not to shut down.
Yes! I honestly don’t know how it came to this in the industry. Because I think it’d be great if it was vanity sizing.
What’s vanity sizing?
It’s when designers size down but the measurements are still the same. It’s the opposite of bridal, actually. Have you ever walked into a store for jeans and walked out with a size smaller than normal?
Yes! American Eagle, I love them for that. They’re so generous HA
I try to pick designers that run true to size. Mass produced gowns are more likely true to the industry, but independent designers have their own size chart. They are on the same boat as me where they want to have more size inclusive designs. And when it comes to sizing it can depend on the style, too. I tell the brides if they want something more fitted, you’re going to want more room so you can sit down in your gown. It also depends on the fabric, some are more stretchy while others have more structure, so it all depends. But I think a lot of designers are starting to realize that brides are noticing, like “why should I be two to three sizes bigger on the tag just because I’m looking at a wedding dress?”
Are there any day of wedding dress tricks that a bride should know for getting her wedding dress on?
I don’t know if a lot of people know this but if you rub soap on the zipper it’s so easy to pull it up. No matter if it’s your perfect size, the zipper will always get stuck around the waist because that’s where the seam is and where you’re sewing the skirt to the top. That’s where the extra bulk of fabric is. I wouldn’t recommend soap with satin or silky material though, so try wax paper. Do all this day before. Also, I often recommend my brides hang their gown and veil in the bathroom during a shower. This is indirect steam that will let out wrinkles. Whereas, a steamer is a “hard steam.”
What wedding trend are you digging right now? What’s been catching your eye?
For me it’s the trains. Trains are getting more intricate. Here’s what I’m seeing more of with this Instagram and Pinterest era: brides think about their pictures the most when she’s choosing her dress. So when I’m bringing gowns into the shop, that’s what I’m thinking about too. “Will this photograph well?” “Does this have the wow factor they’re looking for?”
What I’ve also noticed from a lot of brides is that they’re looking for a super chic, modern, simple look. No lace, no bling, very Meghan Markle. That timeless elegance. What a bride recently said to me and stuck was, “I don’t want to look back on my pictures and say, “What was I thinking?”” So I try to bring all that into what I pick out for dresses in the shop. I want something timeless and always relevant. I do have some trendy pieces for what’s trending now but for the most part I bring in timeless pieces.
What are your favorite moments of being a bridal gown shop owner?
There’s those rare brides that come in and say “I couldn’t care less about my gown. I just need something to put on my body” and I’m so intrigued. My job could be described as awkward: brides-to-be have to be in a fitting room with a complete stranger. I’m helping them into the dress since wedding gowns are hard to get on. So I’m there helping and breaking the ice, asking questions pertaining to their engagement and wedding planning. I’m such a people person and I love talking to them. I hear heartfelt stories, some happy some sad. I just love all parts of it. So while getting to know the nonchalant bride, finding what makes them them, and pointing them towards the gown, the one— to see that spark in them when they change their whole attitude from not caring to being super excited. It’s rewarding working them and every bride, so fulfilling.
I’m curious, what is the client experience like for brides during their appointment?
When they come in they have the whole store to themselves, it’s a one on one appointment. Most stores offer one hour appointments, even the store I used to work at did. I just felt that was too rushed so we offer 90 min appointments. When the bride comes in there’s an intake form where the bride tells us how wedding planning is going: venue, colors, things of that nature. Then we begin pulling gowns, I start with letting them pull first. I like to know what the bride likes and see why she’s picking what she does. Based on her feedback on those dresses, I’ll make suggestions from there. In the first bridal appointment, brides try on an average of 8 dresses. Sometimes more or less depending on if she’s certain of styles. But some know immediately after just the first one! Then we do also offer second bridal appointments which are an hour long. Those are needed if they already have favorites, which I’ve written down in their file. We’ll pull those first to try on.
Well thank you for meeting with me and allowing this time to chat! I love your mission of size inclusivity. And your store is so beautiful!
It really is a mission because a lot of stores offer plus size ordering but they don’t carry the sample size in store. One bride almost made me cry, she said “I feel like you’re telling me I’m important enough by trying on a dress in my size.” Everyone should feel like that! They are important.
Well there you have it- Luz is leading the industry by putting her money where her mouth is and making brides-to-be feel beautiful by offering inclusive sizing, gorgeous designs by exclusive designers, and all with that one on one attentive appointment. Want to learn more about Luz and Luxe Bride? Be sure to follow her on Instagram @luxebrideboutique
17415 Monterey Rd
Morgan Hill, CA 95037