10 Questions with Nick von Mergl-Grote & Corey Borland, the New Faces of Liancarlo
1) What is the story behind how you two got together with Liancarlo?
Corey and I were living in Alaska and loved escaping the winter weather coming down to Florida to enjoy the sunshine. Every time we flew down to visit we would talk about moving down full time. After several years of talking, we finally took the leap and headed South to warmer weather. We had been searching for an opportunity in Florida for a while and found Carlos and Alan who were looking to take a step back from the day to day operations to focus more on Carlos’ painting, which has become is his passion (…and the paintings are amazing!). All the stars aligned so-to-speak and we became partners in the company.
2) What were your prior experiences?
As a young child, growing up in Australia, my grandmother had her own atelier. I always thought it was interesting to see how she designed and created the dresses. I frequently spent time with her while she was creating the gowns. I never imagined that someday I would be part of designing and manufacturing bridal and evening gowns myself. My background has been in procurement and supply chain management with focus on supplier quality management the last several years prior to Liancarlo. Corey has a background in operations management and human resources.
3) How long has the transition been?
We started this journey in August of last year and shadowed Carlos and Alan, from the planning and design phase of the Spring 2018 Liancarlo collection and made our first public appearance at the NY Bridal market. We continue to work closely with Carlos and Alan as we continue to run the day-to-day operations.
4) Where are you based?
We are based in Miami, Florida where all our production takes place for both the Liancarlo and the Azul by Liancarlo lines.
5) How do you divide up the work?
Both Corey and I run the day-to-day operations of the business however Corey’s focus in on the production and human resource side while I am focused on growing the business, working closely with our sales team, attending trunk shows and marketing.
6) Will you be making any changes/tweaks around where you plan to grow and direct the brand?
One of Corey’s and my observations when joining the Liancarlo team was the need to become more accessible to brides. We were very excited to launch Azul by Liancarlo in August of 2017 which retails from just under $1,700 to $3,300. We are also currently working on modernizing our production processes which will help keep us competitive while maintaining the quality product we are known for, all while still proudly being manufactured in the United States.
7) What has been the reaction from retailers since the transition?
We have had terrific reactions from all our wonderful stores. Many of the store owners have loved the fact that the designs are true to Liancarlo but with a fresh take. They have also been very supportive of Carlos’ transition to painting full time and welcomed us with genuine warmth and excitement.
8) What have been your experiences with brides so far?
It is truly amazing to work with brides to help them select their perfect wedding dress. Their reactions when they have picked their gown is so special, their face lights up, there are usually lots of smiles and sometimes joyful tears. It’s very rewarding to come full circle from concept to creating samples and then seeing a bride stepping out of the dressing room in your gown. While it’s not always the case, I’ve found that usually the dress that the bride pictured herself walking down the aisle in is not the dress she will end up with. The wonderful thing with Liancarlo gowns is a bride can completely customize her own dress and create a look that’s perfect for her, from swapping bodices or adding sleeves to lengthening trains or changing embroideries. During one of my most memorable trunk shows I had a bride combine three dresses to create her perfect gown.
9) What are your thoughts on today's bridal retail climate?
While brick and mortar retail has taken some hits in the past several years, brides are still looking for that special experience that only a bridal salon can offer. This is their time to go dress shopping to find the perfect gown that expresses how they feel and receive the personal attention that helps to complete the whole experience. They want to bring their friends and relatives along on this emotional journey. While the retail and shopping landscape will continually change, I am confident that brides will continue to seek out this coveted experience.
10) What you do for fun when you are away from work?
We love to travel and experience new places, foods and people. Several years ago, we purchased a motor coach to take on weekend trips. Little did we know we would be driving it 6,500 miles from Alaska to Miami in an epic cross-country tour. We still love to travel and experience the country by road as often as we can.