You can only imagine how excited we were when wedding dress designer, Hayley Paige agreed to be a guest on our podcast. We loved getting the chance to hear more about her story of getting to where she is today, how she finds inspiration and wedding dress trends. Here is a sneak peek at the episode… make sure to listen to the whole thing here!
Bustld: How did you get started, how did you get into designing and everything?
Hayley: This is one of my most asked questions and I feel like I still kind of tell it differently every time. It's just funny because I always was attracted to design and my grandmother taught me to sew and bake at a young age. So, I was exposed to that creative side really early on. But then, through my academics, I was always gravitating towards science and math because it felt very formulaic and, you know, you take the test and you pass the test and you become a doctor. So, I had a really hard time justifying and understanding a viability in being a designer. So, I always saw it as a passion and not so much as an actual career path for me.
And it wasn't until I got to college where I really started to put a lot of the pieces together in terms of understanding merchandising, and sales, and distribution, and manufacturing, and all that kind of stuff and I was lucky because at Cornell, they had a major called Fiber Science and Apparel Design, so it overlapped a lot of my curriculum with science and medicine. And it was kind of the perfect little transition for me in getting the conviction I needed to become a designer. If you would've asked me at any point in my life, I would've always said I wanted to be a wedding dress designer, but I just felt silly saying it.
And I love telling that story because I think a lot of people have those doubts or have those feelings, like, okay, saying I want to be an actress is, okay, I want to be Batman. And I guess I want to give them more confidence in saying: It's okay to have those doubts, just always let your passion remain and let's see where it goes and maybe it will overtake those doubts someday.
Bustld: So, what is your positive reinforcement, what inspires you today to continue to design?
Hayley: Honestly, I think the community itself of the bridal industry and brides all around the world, that's where my focus always comes back to. It's not just about dresses, it's about making the connection and being accessible in a way that inspires you to create for people. And, particularly, right now, I'm so lucky that I have someone in my life that is extremely supportive of my career and has always helped champion and make me feel valued. So that's one thing, right now, that I'm just really grateful for, especially in quarantine. You know, everybody's in a different mindset but it's been really positive for me, it's been a positive experience, so I want to share that with people with the hope that it'll be optimistic for them as well.
Bustld: Tell us a little bit about your design process. How does it work for you?
Hayley: Yeah, the most fun part of my job, I would say, is the development and design process because there's really not a standard formula. Every dress is so different and tells a different story. I think I'm a bit different than other designers because I don't always treat each season like okay, this is the collection and it all has to go together. I like diving into each individual style, like, really expressing different personalities and making sure I have my time with her, with that dress, you know, and I love personifying it. It depends, if I have a dress where I'm thinking, okay, this is all about the novelty fabric, I'll typically start with the fabric and we make all of our textiles from scratch, so everything is hand-drawn and then converted to CAD into a repetitive pattern. We do strike-offs where we test embroidery techniques or layering of sequins or whatever embellishments we're going to be using on the novelty and sometimes it can take up to three years to get a perfect fabric.
Bustld: With COVID-19 going on, has it affected your design process, or how you're selling; how do you think that's going to affect the bridal industry overall?
Hayley: It's going to be major. So far, I think it's been more emotional than anything because so many brides have had to postpone their wedding dates and businesses and shops have been closed and, you know, that's no fun when you can't go in and shop for your wedding dress. It's one of the greatest experiences a girl can have, and I think everybody's just working hard to get back on the wheel and make up for lost time. But, right now, I've, personally not been as concerned about selling dresses as I want to be a resource to brides because I think it's important to reassure them and make them feel supported during this time. You look forward to your wedding, most girls, their whole lives and then, they set this magical date that they're so excited about and to have to change it and right now not even know will guests be coming, are they going to be wearing masks?
Bustld: For brides who do want to wear multiple dresses, what is your advice to them on choosing those gowns and how do they know when to change?
Hayley: Really great question because I think one of the reasons girls don't go for more than one look is because they don't want to have that moment where they have to change and get taken away from the party and everything like that. But I actually think it's kind of unique to see the changing moment as an opportunity to take it in for a second and go away with your new man or wife and have a moment together where you can put on your next look and come out and make another entrance in another dress.
So, I always say a good time to change is between the ceremony and the reception, but a lot of girls want to wear their first big ceremony dress during that first dance. So, my advice is to just make sure that you plan it in. And if, for some reason, you feel like: "Oh, I don't want to do it right now," go easy on yourself and give yourself a little bit of time, dress a little later in the evening, if that makes sense. But I think it's nice to not put too much pressure on yourself no matter what. And then, with deciding, I think that, again, there really aren't any rules to it because it all comes down to personal style, but I like when the dresses don't go together. I like when they're totally different because you get to express a different moment and a different attitude with each dress. So, I always say don't feel pressured to have them coordinate by any means.
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