10 Questions with Bridal Designer Kelly Faetanini
1) What is the look and vision of Kelly Faetanini?
The Kelly Faetanini bridal fashion brand has really evolved over the years as our chic twists on timeless silhouettes deliver delightful designs that speak for themselves. We want every #KFbride — no matter her shape, size or price point—to feel confident on her wedding day. We care deeply about our brides, our creative partners and our wider communities. At the heart of the bridal fashion industry is love and our goal is to spread it.
2) How old were you when you first designed a gown for a real bride?I was 19 years old when I created and sold my first wedding gown to a real bride in Chicago, Ill. The absolute joy and honor I felt from that first dress was so overwhelming, and that feeling has never really left me—which is how I knew I wanted to become a bridal fashion designer.
3) Who did you work for before opening your own business?
In my early days, I was part of the design team that launched Vera Wang for Kohl’s, and I also designed for Adrianna Papell. Shortly after, I was hired at Priscilla of Boston as the head designer of the Jewel by Priscilla of Boston Collection. I was in heaven #dreamjob. At 23 years old I had my own collection under an amazing company and became the youngest wedding gown designer on the runways of New York Bridal Fashion Week. After four amazing years with Priscilla of Boston, I decided to launch my own brand — two weeks before my wedding!
4) What do you love best about owning your business that is different than working for a big corporation?I love having the capacity and ability to use my own business as a platform for supporting other female business owners, especially mothers! I have a 2-year-old daughter, so I’ve simultaneously become a mom-prenuer as my company grows. It’s a ton of work owning your own business, but at the same time it’s so rewarding. I love being able to shape my team and mission while leveraging my influence in the industry to make a difference for not only my brides, but also for causes that I am passionate about, such as Make A Wish, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and the Young Survivor Coalition to name a few.
5) What is your inspiration this upcoming season?
The Spring 2020 collection is taking the form of something magical. I don’t want to give too much away. My team and I have been working to better identify what our brides are looking for and what our stores want to see more of. You’ll continue to see our playful punches of color and memorable ombre designs, but I’m also refreshing for the girl who is polished and fashion-forward.
6) How do you begin your design process?
I start my design process by getting inspired by the world around me. I look at top trends on the runways of Milan and Paris and peruse eye-catching images on Pinterest. I also love to travel, so I use that as inspiration too. Then I start sketching. Sometimes I begin with 200, or more, preliminary ideas. I narrow down to my top 50 favorites and start designing in more detail from there. I love my iPad; it has really changed the way I design! With a solid 25 design sketches in hand, I begin to source fabrics and laces with my design team.
7) Any particular looks selling well right now? Our minimal crepe designs (à la Meghan Markle) are so hot right now! The Tamora, Phoebe and Jade gowns are all made in a heavy crepe that brides are loving. The fabric is smooth, breathable and flattering in all the right ways. Girls are also really into off-the-shoulder sleeves right now and are taking to the color options we’re putting out there.
8) What’s the criteria for selling to a store?
We take great pride in our relationships with retail salons and consider them our partners. We love to work with salon partners that love to collaborate with us. This type of partnership is mutual and always makes the brand successful in the salon because it’s not a “me” perspective but rather a “we,” which leads to a happier and richer relationship. We are flexible with our minimums because we understand the struggles that salon owners face. We want to make sure we’re the right fit for the store and then we work closely with the sales team to provide the right assortment for different markets. We go above and beyond to strategize, support and collaborate with our salon partners to ensure that they are successful with our brand—for them and for us.
9) In what way does your company help reduce the carbon footprint?We were early adopters of running a paperless company and have continued to operate that way. We make conscious choices about our fabrics and manufacturers. We don’t use plastic packaging—we use reusable cloth bags for our gowns. We support local charities. All of our fabric scraps are sent to a textile recycling facility and our gently used samples are often donated to Project Prom, Brides-for-a-Cause and other non-profits. We make sure others know about these choices because they are more than a part of our brand, they are personally important to the people that make up our company.
10) How would you like to see the bridal industry evolve? I want to see the bridal industry evolve into an exciting new world that uses technology to better meet the needs of our retailers and brides. I want the industry to embrace change to make our businesses stronger together. I think short term, I want the industry to evolve to help our salon partners. And long term: I want it to evolve in fun, innovative ways where technology greatly aids in the way brides shop for their wedding gowns.