A Rye wedding dress designer says she has the solution for prospective brides who dream of custom-designing gowns at moderate prices.
By Jon Craig
A Rye wedding dress designer says she has the solution for prospective brides who dream of custom-designing gowns at moderate prices. Better yet, Angela Broyles Curanaj eliminates the seemingly endless store searches by displaying her Winifred Bean collection on an Internet site. From the comfort of the bride’s computer, she (and her friends, fiancé, and family) can match tops with favorite bottoms and “strike the perfect balance between elegant and edgy.”
Curanaj started the Winifred Bean line from her Purchase Street apartment last year, after struggling to find her own wedding dress. “I wanted to find a classic but cool dress, nothing fussy or too bridal, and felt there was very little out there,” Curanaj said. “I also found that I wanted to infuse a bit of my own creativity into my wedding dress and in most cases wanted to take a top from one dress and put it on the bottom of another.”
“I created a line of stylish gowns that are all interchangeable. You can take a top from any dress and mix it with the bottom,” she said.
Curanaj named the line after her stylish and inspirational grandmother, Sally Winifred Bean. Bean studied art and fashion design in Chicago in the 1920s and earned her college degree before settling in her hometown of Lubbock, Texas, to raise four daughters. Her Scottish roots kept her frugal, but she always remained impeccably dressed, even during the Great Depression.
Clients are free to customize. Curanaj typically recommends they buy a dress one size larger and then go to a seamstress. She’s already sold dozens of dresses, mostly by word of mouth. Her ultimate goal is to have a showroom.
Angela Curanaj has joined a growing trend of seeking outside financial support via the Internet and set a fund-raising goal for her startup business at www.kickstarter.com/projects/589823880/winifred-bean-wedding-dresses-for-creative-brides
Stylistically the gowns have a vintage touch. “Being from Texas I like for things to be classic and sophisticated. But I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for ten years and wanted to infuse the vintage cool of my second home into the line as well,’’ Curanaj explained. “Texas charm meets Brooklyn cool, I guess you could say.”
The granddaughter thinks her Winifred Bean designs will appeal to the creative individuality of brides. All dresses are handmade in New York’s Garment District and her goal is to always have the dresses made in the United States. She currently sells the dresses via Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/winifredbean) and invites private appointments in Rye.
In addition to selling dresses, she enjoys blogging about the wedding community on her website, www.winifredbean.com.
Twelve years ago, Curanaj followered in her grandmother’s footsteps and moved to New York to work in the fashion industry. She worked in merchandising and product development for companies such as DKNY and Rebecca Taylor. She also worked for Victoria’s Secret, and a small business called Brooklyn Industries.
She has joined a growing trend of entrepreneurs seeking outside financial support via the Internet. Using the social funding site www.kickstarter.com, Curanaj hopes to raise enough money to take her Winifred Bean line to the International Bridal Market in New York City this October. She also hopes to produce another set of samples for marketing and trunk shows. “The more people learn about the campaign, the more successful it hopefully will be, which in turn will help me grow my business,” said Curanaj.
She and her husband, Tony, moved to Rye from Brooklyn last summer and soon after welcomed a daughter to their family. (Julianne is now 11 months old. Her father is a Harrison High School graduate.) The couple settled on Rye “because it seemed to be such a great community. “So far, we have been really happy here,” she said. They also love the five-minute walk into town. In fact, they are enjoying Westchester so much that Tony, an artist, relocated his studio from Tribeca to Port Chester this month.
Her dresses sell for up to $2,000, and she offers a return policy of up to 50 percent back if a customer is not ultimately satisfied, to cover costs.