I am loving my vendor spotlight posts and learning so much from all the talented, local wedding vendors we are fortunate enough to have in our area. I have known Greta now for about 2 years and have had the opportunity to photograph several of her custom dresses and new menswear line! Every dress I have photographed has been unique and fit to perfection. Below you will find the interview with White Dress by Greta Kay as well as images from weddings and styled shoots I have photographed of Greta's custom bridal and bridemaids' dresses and menswear. Now, you must check out White Dress by Greta Kay's website and Facebook page to see even more of her amazing dresses and more photographs.
Tell me about yourself.
I’m Greta Kay, fashion designer, boy mom, and Oma (grandmother). I love living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and just moved into an historic pre civil war home that my husband and I are looking forward to restoring. Speaking of my husband, Scott, we will celebrate our 29th Anniversary on Valentine’s Day. That should prove that I love a great love story and I love weddings. I take pride in helping couples design their wedding day fashion. I love to be a part of their love story!
Tell me a little bit about White Dress by Greta Kay.
In 2013, I left my corporate job with a leading national sportswear company. I still have designs in their national catalog! I decided that it was now or never to launch my own brand and have my own design voice. In 2014, my capsule collection walked the runway for the first time at Virginia Fashion Week where I was named the Emerging Designer of the Year.
In the spring of 2015, I decided to open my flagship boutique, White Dress by Greta Kay, a showroom housing our existing Greta Kay bridal line, bridesmaids and accessories. Couples can select from our existing collection or take advantage of our custom design services.
How did you get started as a fashion designer?
I have always loved fashion. I recently found a few fashion magazines that I had kept since I was a teenager. My mother was a seamstress and taught me to sew when I was very young. I never bought prom or formal dresses. She and I designed and made them together. We also designed my wedding dress and accessories. I designed and made wedding dresses and formals for people on the side along the way and then got away from it for a while. While working for the sportswear company, I started doing some freelance design. That just ignited my passion and told me that I needed to not waste another year not doing what I love.
How long have you been in business?
The boutique and studio opened to the public in early 2015. We are now just entering our 3rd year.
What gets you excited about what you do?
I love hearing people’s stories and being a part of their story. Every couple has a unique vision for their wedding. I feel honored to be a part of that vision. When I hear someone say they just can’t find exactly what they are looking for, it is exciting to put pencil to paper and help them see their vision come to life in a concept sketch. The best part thought is the reveal, when they see their custom fashion for the first time.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Because of the custom nature of my brand, I wear a lot of hats. That means a lot of hours and often working 7 days a week, even when the boutique is closed. I manage the day to day operations of my brand and meet with clients to work on designs. When I’m not meeting with clients, I am often working late hours in the design studio, draping or patterning and sewing. Because we source often from the Asian textile markets and our factory is located in China, I’m often actually working in the middle of the night because of the 13 hour time difference. It takes a lot to oversee a design from start to finish.
And, believe it or not, I try to be a mom first and foremost. I try to carve out time for my family and have dinner at home as a family. On Saturdays during little league football season, you’ll find me on the sidelines cheering on my little football players as often as possible.
What is your favorite part of your business?
Designing! I have so many ideas and concepts for new wedding fashion and I love sketching fashion croquis and then seeing those ideas walk the runway.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your field that would help others just getting started?
Never put your dream on hold because you think you should be doing something else “more lucrative or productive.” Follow your passion from the beginning and take the necessary steps to learn more, whether that is college classes, research, or working with a mentor in the field. Put what you learn into practice every day, even if it’s just on the side until you can make it your career. Do not be afraid to take a risk or knock on a closed door and if the door you are focused on doesn’t open, that’s ok. Build your own door.
What is your current favorite wedding trend?
Separates! I have had a collection of separates for a while now and it just makes sense in both versatility and comfort. I’m also slightly obsessed with custom modern cut suits for grooms. Anyone can wear a black tux, but to see a groom styled in a perfect fitting suit? Yes, please!
What is a trend you would like to see less of?
I am not a fan of the lingerie or sheer trend. I’m not a prude, I love illusion and playing with cut outs in a fun way, but I also think brides choosing to wear those barely covered, strategic lace placement designs (think Jennifer Lopez or Beyonce) will regret that choice on their wedding day. Do you really want Grandpa or your partner’s Crazy Uncle Joe to see that much of you? It’s definitely a trend still seen at market in 2017, but I’m hoping we will see those sheer dress designers making use of lining fabric again soon.
What tips or advice can you give a couple that has just gotten engaged?
Hire a wedding planner and write out a budget. The budget has to be the blueprint for every decision that you make for your wedding. Be realistic about what you can afford and the max that you plan on paying for each thing on that list. A professional wedding planner will be worth their weight in gold. They will have amazing resources for every wedding vendor you will need and can help you stick close to your budget.
Once your budget is set, book your venue and then make an appointment at White Dress by Greta Kay. Your venue will dictate the aesthetic of your wedding. When we know the venue, it helps us understand the look you want. We are a one stop shopping resource for everything wedding fashion related and can help you make decisions that you will love for your entire wedding party in your price range.
What tips or advice can you give a couple that is ready to start shopping for their wedding attire?
If you have decided your budget, that should be the top of the list. You will then want to create a mood or inspiration board for your colors and style. Look through magazines, Pinterest, etc. to get a feel for what appeals to you. Bring these to your appointment as they can be inspiration for what you ultimately wear. Be prepared to think outside the box too. Your wedding should be a reflection of your style, not an exact copy of your Pinterest board.
Please share a favorite memory or story from a wedding you have done this year.
This is easy. I have many stories that I have loved being a part of, but my favorite was meeting a bride and her mother with the mother’s vintage wedding dress. The bride wanted a modern style, but wanted to use what she could from her mother’s dress. When the bride came for her reveal, she informed me that her mother had passed away. I cried, she cried. Her sister, her father and her aunt were at that appointment. It was just so special that she had that dress that had been created from her late mother’s dress. We also made a handkerchief for the sister so that she could have a piece of the dress at the wedding too.
What are things your past clients have said about you after working with you?
We love when we get reviews and they are out there on Facebook, Wedding Wire, The Knot, etc. Often our clients are amazed that we offer the customized experience that we do in a budget friendly way, for all body types and styles, right here in Virginia. I’ve been called “Greta the Gown Guru,” I loved that!
Here are a couple statements that reflect what people have said about us:
“We got just what we wanted at a great price.”
“I absolutely loved my experience with Greta.”
What business accomplishments are you most proud of?
Every day that I get to come to work and design wedding fashion makes me proud. I consider it an honor when someone selects me to design her dream dress.
It’s also nice to be recognized in the fashion world internationally. Already this year, we have been invited to show at Vancouver (Canada) Fashion Week and The Grand Bahamas Fashion Week.
How can readers find out more about your business?
We are on social media, Facebook and Instragram – White Dress by Greta Kay
You can also visit us on the web at www.whitedressbygretakay.com