GIRL BOSS // Prea of Prea James Bridal
Today we chat with Prea, of Prea James Bridal to talk about her beginnings in the bridal industry and her big plans for the future!
Name: Prea James
Current Title / Company: Founder & Designer at Prea James Bridal
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB OUT OF UNIVERSITY & HOW DID YOU LAND THAT POSITION?
I studied at the Fashion Design Studio - Ultimo TAFE, straight after that I was one half of a fashion label, which unfortunately didn’t work out. I was also working part time at Karen Willis Holmes so went on to work there full time and worked both in the workroom and the office during my time there.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR BUSINESS?
I have always wanted to have my own label, since I was a young girl, creating business ideas on post it notes. Originally, I thought it would be a fashion label, I think since I first found out at school that fashion design could be a career I knew that was what I wanted to do. I ended up really loving my time at Karen Willis Holmes and developed a real appreciation for the skill involved in creating wedding dresses.
It worked out that I had a lot of friends and friends of friends getting married who wanted me to make their dresses and it sort of escalated from there.
TAKE US THROUGH A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR BUSINESS
I have two little ones, so I drop them at daycare/nanny’s house, then coffee + emails, social media… I start my day early, at the office by around 8am and then after kids go to bed I am on the computer until I can’t keep my eyes open.
I guess everyday is different and very busy. I still have a very small business and small team, so there is a lot to do. Making sure customer orders are on track, working on new designs, sourcing fabrics and looking at new marketing ideas. At the moment I have been working on some crown veils with JY Jewels and Lady of Leisure Millinery, which has been something new and fun.
I have started taking some couture brides again too, so I am enjoying being creative with them. If there is a new collection in the works it is just manic!
HAS ANYTHING SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THE JOURNEY TO CREATE YOUR BUSINESS?
A lot of surprises but something that really comes to mind is just how supportive my friends and family are of me - especially as I was a little crazy and started it with two little ones. But everyone around me really believes in me and are so encouraging, so on the harder days I have my little cheer squad to keep me going.
OBVIOUSLY, YOUR BUSINESS HAS GROWN! SO, LET'S TALK MONEY. TELL US ABOUT THE INTIMIDATING PROCESS OF FINDING FUNDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
ANY ADVICE FOR WOMEN WHO NEED TO FIND FUNDING FOR THEIR OWN STARTUP?
The hardest part for sure! I didn’t have any samples starting Couture, I would just create dresses with brides, and then I saved my pennies to buy fabrics for my first collection. I did and still do a lot myself to save on costs, I created my website, design the gowns, source fabrics, pattern make and construct the gowns. Also organise photoshoots (with the help of LFC for the first collection lookbook), all of my marketing, accounts, emailing brides etc, literally everything. It has been nice to have some help lately, can breath a little easier… just a little.
Last year I had a small injection of funds loaned to me mainly to set up my showroom to be able to see brides, but otherwise I just try to stick to what I can afford. My accountant always advises if you do need money, first approach family and friends for loans so that you aren’t paying high interest rates and you can also borrow smaller amounts - I thought that was good advice.
YOUR BUSINESS HAS DEVELOPED QUITE A FOLLOWING. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS? HOW DID YOU SPREAD THE WORD?
In the start it was word of mouth - even now some still is. I have had very supportive brides also, who are determined to get me more business - I love them! Then social media of course is the biggest part, I keep my content on brand, I have a firm direction on where I want to take the brand in and I really try to demonstrate that through social media. Another important factor is our real bride images! All brides to be want to see other real brides, not just models who look amazing in anything! So I love when my brides send through photos - makes my day!
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS?
Hard work!! Learning from mistakes and moving forward not giving up when it gets hard. Also listening to the advice of others who are in the industry or are successful in business but also knowing when to trust my own instincts and ignore the advice if it doesn’t feel right - there is a fine line.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST MILESTONE FOR YOU AND YOUR BRAND?
The Bridal Atelier becoming a stockist was pretty huge for me - such a beautiful and influential bridal boutique. Also my first real bride in a magazine this year - Alex in the Hello May Real Weddings Special was pretty awesome!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BRIDAL TREND AT THE MOMENT?
Modern Romance… that covers a lot but I think sums up an aesthetic of what is current.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION
Halcyon Days continues my relaxed, modern aesthetic for Australian brides. There is a mix of minimalist silk gowns and also some lace pieces, but in the less traditional sense.
YOUR FAVOURITE WEDDING DRESS CURRENTLY INSTORE?
I think Alexa, she is sexy, fun, minimalist with a point of difference.
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?
You can do it, it just depends how hard you are willing to work for it.
I WISH I KNEW HOW TO...
Sing!!! Or even play any kind of instrument - I love music but I am just not musically talented.
WHAT IS YOUR COFFEE ORDER?
Small soy latte
TV SHOW YOU WISHED WAS STILL ON AIR?
Sex and the City! Thursday night re runs is what I look forward to every week!
NEXT TRAVEL DESTINATION?
Anywhere, I haven’t had a holiday in a while. If I had to choose it would be Morocco, India or Japan, 3 places I haven’t been yet and dying to go to.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 23 YEAR OLD SELF?
Believe in your abilities… maybe cliché, but I know I didn’t believe in myself like I do now. What is meant to be will be.
Visit Prea's Studio by making an appointment
Level 1, 137-139 Crown St, Wollongong, NSW 2500
02 4288 4021 // firstname.lastname@example.org