The first time I heard Tijana Beca and Melissa Osborne, the founders of Ash + Light, talking about their dresses I was drawn in by how real these two women were. Then, I checked out their collection and fell in love. I believe a lot of our readers are overextended women, some are preparing to attend multiple weddings as both bridesmaids and guests. They're frazzled by wearing a lot of different hats, and a lot of different dresses, most of which they don't feel comfortable in. What I like about bridesmaid dress designers Ash + Light is the sense of relief that their dresses provide. The control top and special bras can come off, but their designs still make women look and feel fantastic. I asked Tijana and Melissa to answer some questions about finding happiness in a bridesmaid dress, and what they told me was pure gold. I hope you enjoy my interview with Ash + Light as much I enjoyed making it for you!
Q: Tell me a little about Ash + Light, and how you came to be.
Melissa: Tijana and I both worked in fashion, and our friends would always come to us as bridesmaids with some drama whether it be they had to wear an ugly color that they didn't like, they didn't know how to style their dress, they felt too fat, or to flat, and we always had to counsel them and style them. So, we decided to take a stab at it because we figured we could probably do it better than what's already out there. We set about trying to design a line that is cool, it's for women, it's easy to wear…
Tijana: It's not for little girls. We're the bridesmaids' company for women that don't want to look like cupcakes.
Melissa: We had like 15 of our friends over and we gave them a ton of champagne and we asked them honestly, "What is it like to be be a bridesmaid? What do you like, and what do you hate?" And bridesmaid shopping was the worst thing all across the board. When we dug into it was because there's the shopping experience, which is awful, and then there's the issue of body image. When you're feeling terrible, uncomfortable, and insecure you can't do the things you're supposed to do like being an awesome, kick ass bridesmaid. We wanted to create a line that checked all of those boxes, so that bridesmaids could be awesome warrior princesses, like we believe that they should be.
Q: With that being said, is it possible for bridesmaid dress shopping to be a positive experience, and if so how?
Tijana: Dress shopping is an alchemy and there are several moving parts that have come together to have a happy experience:
A bride with an open mind, or at least one that is willing to bend a little to help everyone in the group feel comfortable. It’s very difficult if the bride wants everyone to wear the same thing and has a very rigid idea of what she wants; she really needs to be open to the bridesmaids’ wishes.
A group that gets along. It really helps if you have bridesmaids that like each other and that have had a pre-bonding experience before dress shopping because they tend to help each other and make group decisions instead of every woman for herself. A lot of time we're actually able to create this bonding experience in our fitting parties.
A good product. Having access to dresses that are designed with women in mind is essential to a happy dress buying experience.
Q: You mentioned fitting parties in your last answer. Tell me a little bit more about those.
Melissa: Yeah, so we do direct to customer selling parties where we actually go directly to the customer's house or apartment. Before we do the fitting we have the bride appoint or act as a tastemaker for the group, and we send her a questionnaire. Then we go to their house with our line, but we also bring accessories and put together outfits. We put them together, and even show them how they can style the dress to wear after the wedding. Everyone feels great, and gets so excited. It's a two hour process that involves champagne. We've never had a group walk away from us less happy than when they came.
Tijana: Our dresses are really, really fun to wear because they make everyone feel good. They're architectural, not corseted. They're silk and floating; our dresses are universal.
Q: I've found that a lot of bridesmaid secretly struggle with self-doubt and anxiety especially when it comes to how they'll look and feel in their dresses. What advice can you give on making bridesmaid feel truly happy and confident?
Tijana: Give them the gift of choice so that they feel good in their dresses. Our line actually has a couple of selections for each body type, and every dress has a "friend," so that you're bridesmaids can wear different dresses but still look good in pictures together. Boob girl, butt girl, and hip girl all have something they can feel comfortable in.
But, if I could give one bit of advice to brides it's to treat your bridesmaids like people, not props. If your bridesmaids radiate happiness on your day they are going to be better bridesmaids.
I love that advice! Many thanks to Tijana and Melissa for sharing their wisdom with us. You can check out their line of bridesmaid dresses at Ash + Light.