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Meet Gretchen Anderson and Lourdes Castaneda of Edith Élan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gretchen Anderson, Lourdes Castaneda.

Gretchen, Lourdes, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started Edith Élan in October of 2014. But that’s not really where the story began. We met our Junior year of college at Philadelphia University (now Jefferson University) where we both studied Fashion Design. As students, we came to rely on each other for support and advice, which we still do to this day in running Edith Élan.

It was during our Senior year that we talked about one day starting our own company. After graduation, we went our separate ways, but we still kept in touch. In the years before launching Edith Élan, we each held various positions in the fashion industry including some bridal retail. Those invaluable experiences and education along with our unique design aesthetics were the foundations for the brand.

In 2014, we both found ourselves at a point in our lives that we were ready to start a business. It was a “right place and right time” kind of thing. As Gretchen likes to say, “I wanted to do women’s ready-to-wear and Lourdes said ‘No.’” So after some back and forth, we settled on bridal. The decision was made to focus the business on the wholesale side of wedding gowns.

All Edith Élan designs are made-to-order in the United States. They are available for sale at select stockists across the country – including at Dame Couture in Addison, IL.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it hasn’t been an easy road! There are big and small struggles, but we luckily have each other for support. Like most of the small businesses, one of the struggles we have faced is the big M, word “money”. While some startups choose to take out a business loan, we fund everything ourselves.

The money we get from sales is then reinvested into Edith Élan. This means that we have to budget ourselves really well. (I.e. we choose how many bridal markets shows to take part in per year, how many pieces go into a collection, what fabrics we choose, etc.) One of the other struggles is the distance.

Lourdes is a Navy wife and is are currently stationed down South, while Gretchen is here in Chicago. We communicate often, sometimes even many times a day. Technology is great in that sense for things like video conferencing or sending each other quick pictures about a design we have a question on.

But, there are times when it would be much easier to have the other person next you to get that immediate feedback. Even with all these bumps in the road, we have learned so much about running a business. And we still learn something new each day!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Edith Élan – what should we know?
We are a wholesale bridal designer. So, while we do not interact directly with the brides-to-be, we do interact with the bridal boutiques and their buyers. Our designs are known for the perfect balance of our personal aesthetics: Gretchen’s vintage charm and Lourdes’s modern sophistication.

We also pay close attention to those extra details when designing a dress. We want to create dresses that will stop a bride in her tracks because the details have caught her eye. For example, the skirt of our Amaryllis gown or the beaded hip detail of our Heathe gown. It’s best summed up that Edith Élan gowns are effortlessly feminine, charming, and sophisticated.

We are most proud of how far we’ve come in the three years since we started! We have stockists in several states, and we’ve even had the opportunity to take our collections overseas. (We debuted them at the London White Gallery show last year.) What sets us apart from other bridal brands is the direct communication a boutique has with us.

If a bride has a customization request or a question, the boutique emails, texts, or calls us. There’s no middleman to deal with, and we will do everything in our power to make that request a reality.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Honestly, without the other person, there would be no Edith Élan. We are each other’s “Yin and Yang.” Our design aesthetics balance each other as do our personalities. On top of that, we are each other’s support system and #1 cheerleader.

When one of us feels down, we have someone we can vent our frustrations and worries to. We’ve said many times to each other, “I don’t know how we would do this by ourselves.”

Pricing:

  • Our retail pricing is a range from $2,000 – $5,500.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Malibu Wedding California Heathe, Magnolia + Ember, Heathe, Izme, Faven, Ed & Aileen Photography, Lourdes, the Iman, The Click Chick Photography, Aurora, Ava Moore Photography, Amaryllis, the Taj gown

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