Making Brides Beautiful
With Ellie Reyes, Ivory Row Bridal is more than a store
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Ellie Reyes’ life mission is to make brides beautiful.
She’s not particular about size or shape. The dresses could be white, ivory, red or black; petite or plus sized. Reyes just wants brides to be happy with the dresses she designs at Ivory Row Bridal in the Shops at Norterra.
Reyes purchased the store in July 2018 and sells her gowns and those of other collections as well.
“When I create something, it’s for the bride. It’s not for anybody else,” Reyes says. “I custom make the dresses for their bodies. When it’s ready, it’s for them.”
Ivory Row Bridal is by appointment primarily; Reyes does accept some walk-ins.
“On our average day, we see brides every two hours,” Reyes says. “I don’t really sell in the front. I’m dealing with orders and seamstresses. I need to make sure my seamstresses can follow by instructions so I can get that dress ready for fitting and it’s perfect. I make sure the fabrics are right and the accessories are correct.”
Reyes is happy to incorporate heirloom fabric as well, from the bride’s grandmother or mother, for example.
“I love using fabrics from different generations to create something beautiful,” she says.
She stays up on the latest trends by traveling to New York for Fashion Week, reading magazines and attending seminars.
“I am leaving for New York soon to go to Bridal Fashion Week,” she says. “They have speakers who talk about trends. I’m going to Chicago after that. It’s hard to keep up with what’s new, but it’s fun.”
Reyes has seen plenty of boho dresses lately, something she says, reflects a millennial passion.
“The millennials want an outdoor wedding; they want the outdoor experience,” Reyes says. “There aren’t a lot of indoor church weddings any longer. And everybody still likes things that dangle or bling. We have island pearls that we carry in the store. We have all different kinds of jewelry.”
Designing clothes is in her blood. As a 13-year-old girl in Virginia, she had her own summer clothing line.
The biggest challenge with her business is finding seamstresses, a career choice that has faded. She somewhat blames society for not encouraging girls to follow their dreams of fashion design.
“Even when I hire someone who just graduated from fashion school, they can’t produce,” she says. “They don’t know how.”
Reyes, a mother of five, just wants to make sure everything is perfect. Dresses are time consuming, but she loves it.
“A dress is a dress,” she says. “You can only drape a body so many ways. I like to play with the fabrics, but it depends on the bride’s budget.
“Our job is to give them what they want. That’s what we hope. I hope that whatever their budget, they walk in and we find them the dress of their dreams.”
So far, she’s doing well. Reyes is frequently invited to her clients’ weddings and other celebrations.
“I’m very happy about doing so much on very, very little budgets,” she says. “I’m very happy, too, that we’re more than a store. We have some control in how we can help achieve their dreams, just by using what I know and love to do.”