If this story doesn’t inspire you then I don’t know what will. I had the pleasure of meeting this beauty Ms. Elle Dove at Phat Girl Fresh Mixer at the Bailey Agency in Atlanta, Ga. She is the one that inspired me to OWN my beauty and tallness little does she know.
She was featured in a magazine for making her own wedding dress. Not until recently did she decide to become a dream chaser.
Get Inspired by reading her interview below….
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My Name is Le’Andra but most know me as Elle Dove. I’m 28 and I reside and operate my business in Atlanta, Ga. I have two bachelor degree’s one in fashion design and the other in fashion merchandising. I graduated in 2012 from IADT Orlando. At the tail end of my senior year, I decided to become a plus size fashion designer which led me to venture out into the world of entrepreneurship in the fashion industry.
What inspired you to start your clothing line? And how did you come up with “Lorenza James by Elle Dove”?
Well, the cliche version is “there was a need that no one was meeting, and no cute plus size clothing” yadda yadda…and in some cases that was the truth. Growing up in the south, there was a shortage of stylish plus size clothing in boutiques/stores. Plus size woman and clothing lacked representation in the media. Not until recent years, the growth being a curvy /plus size beauty became a THING….And positivity that has come with being BOLD and Beautiful in our communities.
The only thing I wanted was to be a part of that positivity and dress those fabulous, confident, inspiring women.
When I chose the name for my brand I had lost two grandparents and I wanted to commemorate them both because their names meant so much to me. So, Lorenza was my grandmother and James was my grandfather, hence, Lorenza James and Elle Dove. People ALWAYS pronounced my name incorrectly, Elle was birthed. I couldn’t keep it at that because it is a well-known brand and I had the same thing with Dove lol. (i know that’s a lot) Needless to say, Lorenza James by Elle Dove was born.
Now, this isn’t anything new to you. You have always been a MomBoss and Fempreneur. I say that because you were in the spotlight for designing your own wedding dress years ago; tell us about that story.
Well in college I toyed with the idea that I would be the Vera Wang in the plus size industry…and I still might. So I began designing one of a kind wedding dresses.
Long story short, I realized very quickly that I wanted to do ready to wear clothing lol, but one of the designs stayed with me and that became my wedding dress. After I got engaged, I knew without a shadow of a doubt I was going to create my own wedding dress. It took me 3 months to complete it and it truly became a love project. The top had two and a half yards of handmade petals and the bottom was shredded tulle. I loved that dress and it was perfect for my wedding day. You know what’s sad is that after I took it off I threw it away…a decision I regret. Don’t judge me I was young and stupid and for whatever reason did not value my work, smh…
What were some challenges you faced with starting your clothing line?
Going into this I knew I did not want to go into debt and producing a line will definitely do that with little chance of a profitable return. I looked at the idea of investors, starting a go fund me, loans etc. Nothing peaked my interest so I went with good ole faith, hard work and consistency. I know you’re like how is that going for you so far right? Well, I still work a full-time job, I live with my parents and my husband and I invest most of our own money back into our business. As long as we are this size it is working for us. And we always keep in mind that we are growing so we are prepared for that in the future.
This is a big one for me because I love being cost efficient my initial pricing reflected this. I priced my merchandise like it was being massed produced and it could be purchased anywhere. Then I priced my items in my store way below their value, I didn’t pay myself for the work I was putting into each piece. I was not taking into account that my business needed to truly sustain itself eventually and not continue to take away from me.
From start to finish I am the only one on my team that can create the garment I sketch out. It’s a full-time job and is very taxing. But my team is learning more so each area of production is getting better.
The struggle of feeling accepted. In order for my business to work, it has to be accepted and it was hard for me to understand that everybody is not going to buy in or see my vision. Everybody is not going to support me. This was really hard for me to come to terms with and deal with. I still struggle with it to this day because at the end of the day even with the plus-size industry growing it is still the fashion industry and I promise to goodness that has not changed. People are not nice; they do not go out of their way to help you. Although there are times you sense a feeling of sisterhood, but when cliques form cliques are there, and you have to figure out how to work past that and build your own relationships.
You mentioned fear held you back for awhile, how did you overcome fear to get you to this point of launching “Lorenza James by Elle Dove”?
I had a Nike check moment, where their slogan applied to me “Just Do It”. That’s all I did I just did it and I jumped at an opportunity and hit the ground running and the rest is history. Really, what else is there left to do when God has provided you with all the necessary tools, open up the right doors, and allowed you to meet the right people. What was I waiting for? There was nothing left for me to do but jump and go after my dreams with everything in me.
It all really came down to me having faith in the gifts that God gave me and his ability to carry me through.
What’s next, because this is major? New Items, Fashion show, pop-up shop etc.
We a few events along with the release of Lorenza James by Elle Dove. We are releasing another summer grouping which will be my take on the current trends that you see out already, preparing to release Fall 2017.
A Fashion show in Charlotte North Carolina with Cosmo Linx on July 22, 2017, 7:30 pm to 11 pm. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Cosmo Linx is well known in Charlotte for fashion events. They teach the next generation models, designers, photographers etcetera everything they need to know and how to apply it in the fashion industry.
We have partnered with City Reach Church in College Park, Ga to raise and donate 300 book bags stuffed with school supplies. For school age kids before they go back to school.
I have partnered with the boutique owner of Style Envy in Fayetteville Georgia who carries my current collection of items. I will be announcing dates for Sip & Shop soon.
Girl, your calendar is slammed pack with so many events, releases for the rest of the year. When you take that leap of faith and believe, God sure does show out with his blessings and come through every time.
Make sure you come back so we can chat some more. Especially when you make it to Fashion Week. Whoop Whoop.
For someone looking to start their own clothing brand; what advice would you give them?
It is ALL blood, sweat, and tears that go into it. Don’t give up.
Always remember your WHY.
Why are you doing it? What does it mean to you? What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Then come up with a mantra that you repeat to yourself anytime you feel discouraged and chase your dreams.
I cannot say it enough, chase it knowing that you are going to catch it stand on top of it and Conquer it.
How can our readers connect with you?
Connect with Elle Dove
Instagram – @designer_elledove
Facebook: Lorenza James by Elle Dove
Shop my brand on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LorenzaJamesbyElle?ele=shop_open