10 Questions with Bridal Designer, Francesca Miranda
1) How did you get started in the bridal business?
Before I entered the bridal business, I was designing ready-to-wear and eveningwear collections for my eponymous stores as well as couture pieces for my private clients and myself. Some of my clients asked me to design their wedding dresses, so I started designing custom wedding dresses for them. I loved all the artistry and craftsmanship involved with creating a gown for such an important occasion. And then a few years back, I decided to launch my first bridal collection in New York. It has been an amazing experience. It’s always an honor and a privilege to realize a bride’s dream wedding dress.
2) What is your signature look?
Each gown I design has its own personality, but they must all possess elegance, femininity and a certain allure. My hope is that every bride who wears a Francesca Miranda wedding dress feels beautiful and empowered when she walks down the aisle.
3) Do you design your own fabrics?
Many of our fabrics are designed in-house. I love working with our artisans to create custom fabrics like hand-embroidered tulle, beaded silks and lace.
4) What do you enjoy most when designing a collection?
The creative process is always enjoyable. Once I start, I never want to stop!
5) What are the biggest challenges in your business?
Having your own business is hard work and challenging, but it is extremely rewarding. I guess the biggest challenge for us is making sure we are always improving and growing.
6) Tell us a little about your eveningwear and ready-to-wear collections.
Like my bridal collection, the Francesca Miranda ready-to-wear and eveningwear collections are very feminine and elegant and incorporate the artisan heritage of Latin America, especially Colombia. Since the start, I have always employed local artisans. It’s a fundamental part of my collections and has been the essence of what I do. I am always surprised by the beauty that comes from our cultures and how we can translate that into fashion. Whether it is the technique, colors or anything else, it has been a never-ending source of inspiration.
7) What inspires you to create a collection?
I’m inspired by the world around me - Colombia’s artistic heritage, my clients, the beaches, the forests, my family. I could go on and on about what inspires me. In the end, what is most inspiring of all is to never stop dreaming about the possibilities, what is to come next.
8) What are Francesca’s charity initiatives in Colombia?
One of my most important charity initiatives is protecting the environment and Colombia’s indigenous animals from extinction. Currently, I am designing handbags made entirely from recycled plastic bags to support the foundation, Proyecto Tití. Proyecto Tití is a Colombian conservation program dedicated to saving the critically endangered cotton-top Tamarin, a small monkey native to the coastal region of Colombia. Additionally, each bag is woven by local artisans supported by Proyecto Tití’s initiative to help communities generate income to help them reduce their dependency on forest resources.
I also support Colombia’s artistic traditions and empowering women.
“I am constantly inspired by Colombia’s culture, beauty, artistic heritage and women, which is why I do my best to promote the arts as well as support women’s organizations in Colombia. This means not just donating to charities that focus on these initiatives but also including them as part of my business. All Francesca Miranda gowns are handmade by female artisans in my Barranquilla, Colombia headquarters. We employ nearly 40 full-time artisans, which allow us to preserve the traditional artistry and craftsmanship of Colombia and empower women in our community. Nearly 90% of the women employed by Francesca Miranda are considered the head of her household or 'madres cabeza de familia.’” says Miranda. "They are the primary or sole income providers for their families. Personally, I believe it’s my responsibility to give back to a country, culture and community that has given me so much. We have to give back, we have to support each other, we have to make each other feel beautiful.”
9) How is the bridal business different in South America verses the US?
Because Francesca Miranda is based in Barranquilla, Colombia, it is easier for our South American customers to visit me at my atelier and have custom gowns made to their specifications. I love getting to know the bride and designing the perfect wedding dress for her. I try to create that same personal relationship with my customers in the U.S. when I am at my showroom in New York or at one of my trunk shows to meet the brides-to-be. It's a great opportunity to learn more about what my customers want and allows me to offer suggestions on how we can customize the dress for her.
10) Tell me a little bit about your life in Barranquilla and Cartagena.
Barranquilla and Cartagena are vibrant port cities on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. There is so much to enjoy and explore in both cities! Barranquilla is where the headquarters for my company is located, so I spend most of my time there with my family. One of the most exciting aspects of living in Barranquilla is the annual Carnival, which is truly a year-round event. The colors, the music, the joy! There are also wonderful museums and art galleries to explore. When I’m in the magical city of Cartagena, I love wandering through the streets of the old city, which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is so much history, beauty and culture to consume!