Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.
I grew up in a family of craftspeople in rural south Missouri, and was always making things, creating, exploring nature. I’d spend hours by the creek, with the plants and animals, and developed a relationship with nature that is a wellspring of joy and curiosity to me. I started a handmade clothing line right out of high school, selling to boutiques, and kept getting asked to make wedding dresses. I thought brides would be crazy to work with, and I resisted at first.
I made my first wedding dress (a pale blue one) and set of bridesmaids dresses at age 19, after taking on a more custom orders launched a small eco bridal collection.
I am a self-taught maker, I went to school for fashion but everything or real importance I learned by experimenting… I love taking old dresses apart, and we still re-create many heirloom vintage wedding gowns for brides.
My super power is intuitive design, working closely with a bride to design her dream dress. I love walking a bride through every fitting, putting the final details together and that moment where every element is in agreement and clicks and makes the bride shine!
What is the importance of ethical/sustainable fashion to you?
It would be too easy to design a line of dresses with trendy elements and have it unethically manufactured, but my conscious wouldn’t let me do business in this way. Besides, I like a a good challenge 🙂
We only use three main fabrics in our gowns, sumptuous eco sources Silk/Hemp blend, and two weights of Organic Cotton that’s grown and milled in the USA. These fabrics are so amazing and each different texture work together to create so many diverse styles.
What is Janay A Eco Bridal?
Custom Weddings gowns for Awesome Eco-Goddess. Based in Kansas City, working nationwide soon with a mobile service and we can also design over skype and mail finished dresses to brides anywhere!
What makes Janay A Eco Bridal unique?
We focus on creating each gown specifically to the brides desires, much different than buying a gown style from a store that many hundreds of brides also would be wearing. The custom process is a unique alchemy, taking the most luxurious natural materials and waving a magic wand (meaning much hrd work by my small and talented team of pattern makers and sewers!) to craft the most special dresses for our lovely eco-goddess brides.
The designs we create are as varied as each unique awesome lady we get to design in collaboration with. Things that I really love are clean lines with a bit of flowey whimsey, comfort, functionality and subtle design surprises. Dashes of vintages laces and textures are so fun to play with, and I often add pockets or hidden colourful linings or tulle under a skirt.
Many gowns I design are made to transition from full length formal ceremony gown to a short fun party frock for the reception and beyond, as easy as the removal of a part of the bottom of the dress.
What is the greatest challenge in founding a business?
Adhering to the mainstream business model didn’t work for me- things like big bridal shows, industry bridal trade shows, selling to stores weren’t congruent with how my bride shops or set up to deliver the personal attention that brides deserve.
After I let go of trying to do these things my custom business blossomed, now I’m able to empower more local women who are the artisans that create the dresses and accessories.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
My next big project is so exciting- I’m rebranding a mobile version of Janay A as “High Vibe Bride,” which will be a functioning custom shop and design studio in a remodeled biodiesel bus.
I’ll be able to go on tours to other cities and bring eco-custom designed wedding gowns to brides, made on location rather than having to mail a gown out to be fitted to perfection, and without having to go through bridal shops.
What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?
This work is the most fulfilling! I love being able to facilitate making brides dreams come true and doing it in a way that is ethical and in right relation with the earth and all beings. That truly is the magic sparkles on my days, plus I also get to empower local women who are my awesome seamstresses and accessory designers. Icing on the cake!
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them now?
There is a power in this collective movement for slow fashion, where quirky eco businesses like mine can thrive. We’re all in this together, and by lifting everyone up through the creation process I feel good about contributing to a vibrant healthy planet.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
Thank you for including my business in this awesome website, honoured to be among such a talented conscious collective!
Thank you for your time, Janay.