By Janice Llanes Fabry
It seems like a business made in heaven. Sisters Jessica Ulrich and Haley Visk have partnered and next month are opening an elegant boutique for fashion-inspired brides in downtown Rye. Located at 4 Purchase Street, the former Wine at Five space, Jessica Haley Bridal is the only upscale bridal shop in Westchester.
“We’re offering the quality and fashion level of Manhattan without the hassle,” noted Jessica, who lives in Rye with her husband Dave and their three young children. “Our goal is to create an intimate, boutique shopping experience where the bride and her wedding party won’t have to fight the crowds, traffic or competing brides like they would in Manhattan. We’re hosting individual appointments where the brides get the boutique all to themselves.”
Ulrich and Visk have meticulously chosen an international group of designers who are the best at what they do. Starting at $2,500, the gowns are all hand-crafted, some with exquisite brocades from India or embroidery from Italy, others with detachable trains or sheer illusion bodices. With the exception of Reem Acra, none is sold at Kleinfeld’s, New York City’s largest bridal store. In addition to Acra, the shop will carry Alon Livne, Antonio Riva, Pallas Couture, Lea Ann Belter, Julie Vino, and Caroline Castigliano.
“We chose designers that have a classic esthetic and offer different specialties. Our selection is based on the details and on how flattering the dresses are,” explained Haley. “In addition, each designer makes garments in their own studios and factories, which leaves us with a lot of flexibility on customizations, timing, and level of quality.”
In addition to dresses, Jessica Haley Bridal carries lines of accessories, such as Sara Gabriel veils and headpieces, sashes, belts, and earrings, Girl and Serious Dream bridal robes, French lace lingerie, and intimate apparel.
Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Jessica, the older sister, says she always wanted to come to New York. “I think that ever since I saw Manhattan in ‘Home Alone 2,’ I’ve wanted to come,” she says with a laugh.
After graduating from Notre Dame with a Master’s in Accounting, Jessica moved to New York to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2005. Before long, she became an Associate at Goldman Sachs’ Global Fund Administration Equities Division and then a Comptroller for a global hedge fund.
She might have been a crackerjack with numbers, but she took after her award-winning photographer of a grandfather. “I always loved weddings and I always loved photography. When I studied abroad in Australia, I was behind a camera all the time.”
While working at a “dream job” on Wall Street, she wanted to get into the wedding business. She signed up for wedding photography workshops and found herself reading “Style Me Pretty” and other wedding blogs, she admitted.
Before long, she enrolled at Fashion Institute of Technology and started taking photography courses at night. When pregnant with her first child, she took her lifelong passion to another level and began accepting jobs as a second shooter for wedding photographers.
In 2013, Ulrich launched her business, which includes something borrowed: “I wanted a personal brand and my maiden name was really long, so I borrowed Haley’s name when she was still in high school. ‘Jessica Haley’ sounded great and kept it in the family.”
In the meantime, Haley followed her sister’s lead and went to Notre Dame, where she played on the varsity women’s soccer team, national champions in 2010, and earned a degree in Marketing. Upon graduating, she, too, moved to New York City when she landed a job in Eileen Fisher’s learning partner program. Before going on to become the manufacturer’s Associate Retail Planner for 49 stores, she started making extra money on the weekend as a second shooter for Jessica Haley Photography.
“When I was working on the weddings, my favorite part of the day was seeing the girls get ready and, especially, the moment the bride revealed her wedding dress,” Haley said.
In the last five years, the sisters have photographed 75 brides. Not only have they debunked the old saying about the perils of mixing business with family, they decided on embarking on a new enterprise. When Haley mentioned she’d love owning a bridal store, Jessica accepted the proposal.
With the Jessica Haley brand already a huge success, a photography/retail venture seemed like the perfect union. Jessica Haley Photography will be an integral part of Jessica Haley Bridal with Ulrich offering wedding photography and studio portraiture, in addition to handling marketing. Visk, who lives in New York City with her husband Tom, will be doing the reverse commute. She’s responsible for the retail operation and inventory.
Recalling how the only way their mother would get them to sit still on a long flight was by handing them a thick, glossy wedding magazine, the entrepreneurial sisters were destined to open Jessica Haley Bridal.
<Brides will be seen by appointment. Store hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10-5. For more information, visit jessicahaleybridal.com and check out Instagram @jessicahaleybridal for previews and the latest news.>
Sisters Jessica Ulrich and Haley Visk, owners of the new bridal shop in town
Wedding dresses by Israeli designer Julie Vino