Calla Bridal – Yachi Liang
561 N.E. Ravenna Blvd. Seattle, WA 98115 | (206) 465-7729 | www.callabridal.com
Yachi Liang and her husband, Justin Baird, opened Calla Bridal in October of 2008 in the Greenlake neighborhood. Liang is from Michigan but lived in Japan before she moved to Seattle in 2003.
Liang chose to name her boutique after a favorite flower often used in wedding bouquets, the Calla Lilly, and whose elegant beauty is appropriate for the store’s atmosphere.
The wedding dress business runs in her family. Her great aunt in Taiwan owns a boutique and often sends dresses to Liang for Calla.
Liang says that her shop is a fun place to go to work everyday. Part of what interests Liang is making each bride look unique by adorning her with different accessories to complement a special dress. She also offers locally hand-made accessories such as ring pillows from a designer in Spokane. She calls the dresses that she carries, “simple designs with great cuts.” Some of the designers that she represents are Matthew Christopher, Martina Liana and a few other favorites.
Liang says that her store doesn’t cater to any specific bride but the majority of her clients are young professionals whose ages range from 27 to 35. Her dresses are typically white or off-white. There are also bridesmaid dresses to choose from in her warmly-decorated boutique.
Some clients find out about her store while jogging through Greenlake and recommending Calla to friends. And while she said her shop is a “weird blessing in disguise,” Liang feels lucky as a first-time business owner. When the shop first opened, Liang said they carried under two dozen dresses and now they’re at approximately 35 gowns with consistent business from patrons.
Flower Girl Boutique – Jennifer Truong
Inspired by her father who is a small-business owner, Jennifer Truong started her own niche wedding venture.
Truong, who married her husband, Thuy, last August, developed a business idea when planning her own wedding. Truong, a lawyer by trade, said she always had a creative side and began by drawing dresses for little girls, inspiring the online business. She also realized how expensive wedding apparel could be and lamented that sizes were all even numbers forcing customers to pay extra for alterations.
Truong says her business is unique because it’s local and simply-operated. So far, dress sales have been exclusively over the web and through word-of-mouth, but Truong is excited for opportunities ahead.
Truong, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a law degree from Seattle University, struggled initially growing up. She felt culturally different because she spoke only Cantonese as a child and was placed in the ESL program until the 3rd grade.
Although Truong does not have a formal background in fashion design, her cousins who are in that line of work, do the “heavy lifting.” The actual dresses are made in Shanghai. Currently, she has eight basic dress designs, two of which a local bridal boutique agreed to carry in their store.
She said she could not have accomplished her goals without the help of the Chinese community in Seattle. Mentors and peers encouraged Truong to pursue her dreams and she’s still appreciative of that. Her husband, Thuy, has also been influential and supportive in this latest venture to establish the Flower Girl Boutique.
“I’ve been really blessed to have the support that I have now,” she said of her new endeavor.
Modern Seattle Wedding – Liana Woo & Wilhemina Delostrinos-Supnet
Modern Seattle Weddings is a venture that best friends and business partners, Liana Woo and Wilhemina Delostrinos-Supnet started in 2006.
Coincidentally, Woo said the partners fell into the wedding business during a time when many of their friends were getting married. Not to mention, “Our personalities matched the wedding planning business,” she said.
However, their former careers didn’t belie an interest in the wedding industry. Woo worked full-time for the city of Seattle and Delostrinos-Supnet had a background in healthcare quality improvement administration—but a natural talent propelled their business.
Woo explained they target the Asian American market because of the importance of being able to relate to having traditional Asian weddings.
Woo, a Chinese American, and Delostrinos-Supnet, a Filipino American, approach weddings in a culturally competent way. For example, they are familiar with Asian wedding rituals and this is important for clients’ parents to feel connected to the experience.
“What I like about the wedding business is getting to know the couples and their families and their culture and traditions,” Delostrinos-Supnet said.
She also loves the challenge of taking what they know about the couples and their traditions to personalize a wedding to reflect them.
For Woo, the best part of the wedding business is being a part of the most memorable day in someone’s life.
“I also love being able to use both sides of my brain – the creative side where we assist couples with décor, flowers, etc., and the organizational side where we serve as the event coordinator on the day of the wedding,” she added.
“What sets us apart as ‘Modern Seattle Weddings’, is that we are always thinking outside of the box; bringing the couples’ personalities and uniqueness into every element of the wedding. A wedding is a personal celebration, and should not be “cookie cutter” by any means. Everything from the vows to the food, the music to the last dance, is a personal reflection of a relationship and love, and should not be the same as everyone else’s,” Woo said.
PearlStudio – Quynh-Dao Tran and Nhat Tran
From Olympia to Mukilteo, the Trans have successfully “catered” to weddings since 2002.
Quynh-Dao Tran is the mastermind behind her family-owned wedding business, PearlStudio. Her brother, Nhat, is the business manager for the company.
Nhat calls themselves “wedding decorators” who stretch into multiple wedding services for clients. PearlStudio provides impressive flower arrangements and memorable balloon designs for all occasions, sophisticated and breath-taking bridal bouquets, ornate wedding cakes, luxurious and elegant backdrops and many other services.
He calls PearlStudio a “one-stop shopping environment” for people’s wedding necessities. They also cater to people’s needs and limited budgets to make sure the bride and groom get everything they want in an ideal wedding. They can basically provide all of the services that encompass a wedding, explains Nhat.
The business idea came to life in 2002 after Quynh-Dao, PearlStudio’s lead consultant, helped another brother plan his wedding.
Quynh-Dao is an interior designer by trade and has always been the “artsy” type. When she realized that her brother’s wedding was missing some sparkle, she decided to add touches to the background to make it more beautiful. Many guests gave positive feedback about her decorations and the idea to develop a business sprouted from there. A year later, wedding decorating become a full-time business for the Trans.
Business has skyrocketed since PearlStudio opened its doors. Nhat said it grew in the last few years from helping one to two weddings per month to five per weekend.
Nhat said their clients are 80 percent Asian American but are open to clients of all ethnic backgrounds. He believes their services are appealing to Asian Americans because they are able to cater to specific budgets and cultural needs.
Despite being busy every weekend with multiple weddings, the Trans have been able to find a way to provide each couple with unique designs for their dream wedding.
The best part about working in the wedding industry for Nhat is the “sigh of relief” that he sees from clients’ faces. Planning a wedding is a stressful event for the bride but after a free consultation, he said their “eyes light up” relieved to know they’re in good hands and the wedding will be remarkable.
“We’ve never been faced with a challenging theme that we couldn’t do,” Nhat said.
One of the most memorable weddings that the Trans worked on was held at the Bellevue Hyatt. The couple had extravagant needs and even called in automatic lifts and ladders to set everything up on the walls. But when the couple saw everything completed on the wedding day, “their jaws fell to the ground and they hugged my sister,” Nhat said.
“There were lots of challenges for that wedding but was really worth it and ended up being a great moment for PearlStudio,” he said.