Made with Love Interview

After the love of her life proposed to her in early 2013, Carla Jenkins, like so many of the newly engaged, went on a mission to find her ideal wedding dress. After failing to find the perfect dress for herself in her price range, Carla took matters into her own hands and began to research designs to craft her dress herself. As simply and naturally as that, Made with Love was born. The brand- offering flower crowns, homemade head pieces, foot pieces, veils among their services- endeavours to provide brides with beautiful, high- quality, and individualised pieces without the steep price tag that is so often attached to every aspect of the bridal industry. Here, Carla- the owner and designer- discusses her ascent to international popularity along with the ins-and-outs of her business.

Carla with part of her collection.

How important are current fashion trends to you? How do you reconcile your design vision with changing trends?

It’s a tough question to address. Generally speaking, I have a distinct, yet simple and classic taste, which I think is inherent throughout my collection- I think this is probably my defining characteristic as a designer. Whether designing the Hippie Bride, the Classic Bride, the Beachy Bride, the Elegant Bride, The WOW-Factor Bride or Timeless Bride, I want to offer a sleek, effortless dress that the bride can make her own.

But at the same time, I do like to make sure that the collection is reflective of the moment we’re living in, so I’m constantly researching designs on Instagram, Google and Pinterest for inspiration. I like to bring in a new dress every 3-4 months to keep the palate fresh and up-to-date. The next dress we’re planning on bringing in to the collection is a blush pink colour, which seems to be very in at the moment. We’re also constantly asking our followers questions on our designs and styles to get their feedback.

And where do the issues of comfort and body image in your dresses fit into this mix?

I’m also very mindful of our clientele- I’m not interested in making dresses to suit only the tall, slim archetype, but for all body types. In order to do this, I tend to focus on both the design and lighter fabrics, which are easier to work with and more universally flattering.

I also never want the bride to feel constricted on her wedding day. When I wore the ‘Carla’ dress, I was comfortable, I could wear regular, robust undergarments, and I just felt so beautiful. And I understand just how much running around is done on the wedding day, so while it is important to look and feel beautiful, I personally think it’s extremely important to feel comfortable.

If a bride wanted to make any tweaks to her dress, would you be open to that?

One hundred percent. I’ve had a few brides who like the skirt of one dress and top of another, for example, and on every occasion we’ve been more than happy to cater to them. We really try to be very flexible- we say yes if we can physically make it happen, but, by the same token, we won’t make any false promises if we’re not totally sure we can deliver. Our priority is simple: for the bride to love her dress.

The ‘Bella’ dress.

Despite having two boutiques at the moment, do you cater to brides located across the country?

Absolutely! Just this morning I sold a dress to a Finnish lady, and the UK, South Africa and New Zealand is quite popular as well. We try to make it easy for the brides as a company that makes made- to- measure dresses. There are some brides who wouldn’t consider buying a dress online, but there is a growing trend towards scouring the internet for all purchases- including your wedding dress- particularly for the younger generations of brides.

What’s the general process that you follow when a bride comes to see you?

 We discuss the bride’s wedding and her taste. We then dress her in our dresses (we have a sample of each dress in-store for the bride to try on and play around with), whilst accessorizing her with our head pieces, veils or flower pieces. We take photos of our brides and email them so they can see what they looked like. Once a bride orders with us, we send her a measurement chart so we can tailor the dress exactly to her measurements. We keep our brides in the loop of the whole process so they feel comfortable and confident when purchasing with Made with Love. When their dress is finished, we wrap it beautifully with a letter and gift and post it sending the tracking number to their email.

So more specifically, what’s the process for ordering a dress online?
Firstly, we encourage brides to get in contact with us around 6 months before their wedding. Once they’ve chosen their dress, we send out a measurement chart that shows you exactly where to measure on your body in the form of a diagram. Then we start the procedure. We order in the material, we construct the dress, we wrap it beautifully, and we post it off. We send it to them at least two months before the wedding, in case they’re in need of any alterations further down the line- in this instance, we simply recommend they take them to their local dressmaker, seamstress or tailor. Additionally, all of our dresses either have some stretch, or are flowy in design and so not figure-hugging, which means that the fit is one less thing to stress about.

The ‘Zahara’ dress.

In your experience, what’s the most important factor to brides in terms of their wedding dress?

Aside from wanting to look your best, I’ve noticed brides taking their comfort over the months leading up to their wedding day, as well as the wedding day itself, into consideration. And this applies to both their physical and mental comfort. For example, I’ve had plenty of brides get really excited over the fact that the gown’s flowy material means that it’s more forgiving, and that they don’t have to start dieting in preparation! A lot of brides put a lot of pressure on themselves to look their absolute best, which I feel is a bit silly, because your fiancé wants to see you walking down the aisle. Similarly, I encourage brides to keep to their quintessential ‘look’ on their wedding day so that their personality still shines through- if you normally wear your hair up, keep it up for your wedding day, and if you’re most comfortable sporting a casual look, don’t opt for a high maintenance, glam look that will leave you feeling self-conscious for the entire day.

Apart from brides prioritising their comfort level, most brides tend to want to look and feel ultra- feminine, pretty, and, as much as this term gets a bad rap (whispers), princessy.

How do you plan on expanding the company in the next few years?

We have recently opened a bridal home boutique in Sydney where brides can make appointments to try on our sample dresses. We will soon start a ‘Bridal Boot Camp’ with the best trainers in Australia for our Gold Coast Brides to add to our list of products and services.

For the moment, we’re working hard on simply growing the strong brand identity we’ve developed so far- focusing on bridal dresses and accessories- before we veer off into new territory. Ideally, we want to create a series of boutiques across Australia. Wherever the brand takes us, and we want to ensure the same level of service and commitment we’ve been delivering so far- so expect a very personal journey when you buy our dresses- consider it our complimentary ‘package deal’!