last month i had the opportunity to work with a group of women to feature the stunning wedding dresses of grace and ivory for a pop-up sip and see. Bureau Studio gathered a great group of vendors to host the VIP event and shopping event in October to share Grace and ivory's new line. In addition to Bureau and Grace and Ivory, Relish made some fantastic bites, Darling and Daughters created the most gorgeous arrangements, Woods and Company designed a fun invitation suite and all with Stefanie Kamerman behind the lens snapping the below incredible photos.
I loved assisting Grace and Ivory founder Tina Zysk in coordination and styling of the event for everything from layout, to decor, to the buffet and assisting Stefanie in setting up the shots. I was even able to throw in a "blushing bride" signature cocktail for our preview event on Friday evening!
in addition to having the opportunity to run the show for the weekend, I got to know Tina a bit better and fell in love with her beautifully designed gowns. She is a fun, driven and talented lady boss who created of brand that really emulates her personality and genuine desire to create a more affordable and approachable option to finding the dress of your dreams. I caught up with Tina before she darted back across to China to get some more information on the brand and her inspiration.
ec: How did you decide to start Grace and Ivory?
gi: I decided to start Grace + Ivory based on my own wedding dress shopping experience and a big desire to start my own socially conscious company. While shopping for my own dress, I felt like my options on how I bought my own wedding dress was limited and really wanted to have an attainable option for a made-to- measure wedding dress. I didn’t necessarily want to dress design from scratch, I wanted to choose a dress design that could be personally made to my size and have custom options (like a lot of menswear that is available out there). When I realized this is how I preferred to buy my dress, I realized that it wasn’t really offered in the US.
I first had the idea or general “concept” for Grace + Ivory a couple years ago when we were in DC full-time. However, I didn’t know the supply chain or how I would source a dressmaker to help me make these gorgeous dresses. From the initial idea, I began researching on if I could really make Grace + Ivory a reality. After moving to Beijing for my husband’s job (we live between our home in DC and Beijing now), I met my designer and dressmaker who, after getting to know, shares the same values on providing a quality product and is a reputable source. After realizing that I could turn my concept into reality after finding my dressmaker, it went from “can I do it?” to “I have to do it” or I would be spending the rest of my life wondering “what if”. After that, I dove in headfirst.
ec: Giving back seems to be a priority - why? How does that affect your business?
gi: Giving back is a priority and I think it’s been far too long where a “doing good” entity like a non-profit charity is distinctly separate from a for-profit company in the private sector. Why can’t a company make money in the private sector and also have it be a cornerstone of their business to helping others in need? I think it’s important that companies these days are socially conscious and make a cause or mission – whether it be climate change, children’s education, community building, reducing gun violence, health aid, disaster relief, etc – a part of their business model. The cause/mission isn’t something that simply affects our businesses but affects our everyday lives in our own communities or in communities around the world that may not be as fortunate. If you look at the statistics, foreign government aid and multilaterals are simply not enough when most of the world’s money is in the private sector. I want to ensure that at Grace + Ivory we are making everyday business decisions that are in-line with giving back and these values. Our focus is helping women and girls in need, especially reducing child marriage around the world. It’s fitting since we are providing brides with a new experience for buying a wedding dress. Weddings and marriage affect every society in the world, in some sort of shape, tradition, or other form. It’s usually a joyous and happy time; we want to share in that ideal and promote for women to get married on their terms. Specifically, we’re currently supporting Plan International’s Because I am a Girl (BIAAG) program, which runs programs in countries around the world focusing on reducing child marriage and on girls’ health, education, empowerment, and community involvement. BIAAG’s call to action raises awareness about girls’ rights and the need for justice and equality. Grace + Ivory supports Plan’s belief that gender equality is central to achieving long-term change and the BIAAG call to action to ensure girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.
ec: What is the biggest inspiration behind your designs?
gi: I want young girls today to look up to women who, simply, kickass. When I think about strong women, they take on a variety of faces – independent, self-sufficient, loving, looking out for their communities, educated, taking charge, and changing the world. These women are the inspiration behind our dresses. I look for diversity in our collection just like how we support diversity in our world.
ec: Why wedding dresses and not other apparel?
gi: As I mentioned, this is based on my own wedding dress experience and I think there is a gap that needs to be filled. Of course, I’m not crossing out the possibly of other clothing apparel in the future, as we grow, but that would be a big consideration. Since weddings are a very special time for most women and affect our society in all sorts of ways, Grace + Ivory fills a gap for American women who want a socially conscious, made-to- measure wedding dress experience.
ec: You just launched your new line - which dress if your favorite?
gi: While setting-up for our Sip n’ Shop event in DC, I found myself saying “this dress is one of my favorites” to pretty much every dress I pulled out. I’m not trying to dodge the question here, but I really cannot just pick one favorite dress. I absolutely love aspects of every dress in our collection because I can envision all sorts of strong, glamorous women in all of them. Our Elise dress reminds me of an elegant, “Gatsby” wedding in the middle of the big city, I love the sweet, delicate Spanish lace and the unique triangle shaped train on our Madison dress, the drama in the beaded top and layers of organza and tulle in our Annette dress, the soft cotton lace, hand-beaded details, and stunning keyhole back in our Elle dress…I could really go on about all of the dresses in the collection. If I didn’t love the dresses, then they probably wouldn’t be part of the collection.
Check out Grace and Ivory and the other collaborators! It was a fun weekend and hopefully some brides were able to find THE dress!