lifestyler chronicles

A Sit-down With Curvy Bridal Shop Owner, Mesita Partridge

If you don’t already know, my wedding dress is coming from Ivory Bridal, a curvy bridal boutique based in Atlanta right in the middle of historical Grant Park. Together we’ve been designing the perfect dress for my curves. When I first met Mesita, owner of Ivory Bridal, I can honestly say it was a pleasant surprise. Since then, I find myself texting her almost every day like we are old friends.

I think I mentioned this before but, I wasn’t expecting to be greeted by a young, black woman when I first paid Ivory Bridal a visit. A young, black woman, who looked like me and was clearly a girl-boss. I was inspired, immediately! The thought that this young, savvy, woman of color owned her own thriving business(es) stopped me in my tracks and I had to learn more about who she was.

Mesita’s story is like no other, from working in the event planning business, quitting her 9-to-5 to fully focus on opening her boutique and being an entrepreneur. To finding love and the perfect dress and wanting other women with curves to do the same … I think you’d be inspired, too. Check out her story …

Triena: How in the world did you end up in this wedding business?

Mesita: I’ve always been in the hospitality industry.  I did corporate and social events for different venues … and weddings were always my favorite thing! In college, a group of my girlfriends and I all modeled, and together we wanted to host prom fashion shows at the local high schools. It never happened, but the concept always stuck with me. Then after my own wedding, and my horrible experience of trying to find the perfect dress (I wanted something form-fitting, and nothing would go over my hips.) I knew I wanted to open a shop for brides with curves like me. I always wanted to carry larger sample sizes so that no bride ever felt what I felt in the dressing room that day I tried on dresses. Here we are today, Ivory turns 5 on January 3rd!

T: What kind of bride were you?

M: I won’t call myself a bridezilla … but because I was already in the wedding industry, I definitely knew what I wanted and I also knew how to negotiate and get the things that I wanted. So, I didn’t take no for an answer. Some would take that as a bridezilla moment but I like to think that it was just me being assertive in the situation. (Laughs)

 

T: What’s the hardest part about finding the perfect dress?

M: For me personally, it was a long process to get to the perfect dress. I fell in love with my first dress, a beaded gown and my mom didn’t like it. She wanted me to be a princess. I purchased the ball gown that my mom fell in love with but I regretted it. I ended up going shopping by myself, and fell in love with “the dress” and made that decision completely on my own. In total, I bought 3 dresses … and loved one.

I tell my brides all the time, you have to know what YOU want. I strongly dislike when brides come in with an entourage. We ask people to bring four people or less. When you have more than three or four people with you, the focus goes away from the Bride and everyone talks about what ‘they like’. Well, darling, you aren’t going down the aisle. It’s difficult when you rely on too many people, because you lose sight of what you want and depend on their word for what they want for you.

The bride should always be treated like she’s on a pedestal … always!

T: What mistake do you find most brides make in their dress shopping process?

M: The biggest mistake a bride can make is always, listening to other people instead of listening to herself. You’ll have a bride who loves a dress, and we know she loves it before she comes out of the fitting room because it’s written all over her face; but when she comes out, people will pick it apart and say what they don’t like … and then she hates it. It’s so sad to watch the moment go from extremely high and positive, to low and negative.

T: Lace, Bling, or Plain? … And why?

M: I say … I love lace! My wedding dress was lace and I was glad that I went with it. It’s classic, elegant, and timeless. I still love beaded gowns, but I will always go for lace with a pop of bling!

The thing is, every bride is different, and that’s why I love Ivory Bridal because we have it all for every bride in every size.

T: How can a bride find her dream dress in her budget?

M: So, if she’s looking for a deal here at Ivory, I typically do a sample sale twice a year … once in July and once in December. That’s the perfect opportunity to get a gorgeous gown at up-to 75 percent off the original cost. Then, we also always have “Last Chance” gowns, so you can always find a deal around here!

T: The dress is only a fraction of the look … what are other essentials to make your dress really POP?

M: We actually have this convo a lot here in Ivory, and I think the veil completes the look. You have some brides who are surprisingly not interested in a veil; but, I think they absolutely complete your look. I, particularly, love a cathedral veil. It’s just something beautiful about walking down the aisle with the veil flowing behind you. It’s so pretty!

Shoes are important, too! I love when the bride comes for their final fitting and they bring their shoes. This is highly recommended by the way to ensure your dress is long enough. Shoes are a great way to show your personality. Lots of my brides do colorful shoes, or shoes with bling for a fun spin.

Undergarments are just as important. We sell a long-line plunge bra here at Ivory, and we are sure it’s the perfect bra for nearly every wedding dress we have in stock. It gives you a great lift, and synchs In your waist. 

T: Let’s talk shape! Lots of ladies feel like because they are plus size the shape of their dress is limited. Share your insight on silhouettes and how it caters to each body type.  

M: I don’t believe that if you’re a certain shape you have to wear a certain silhouette. It really just depends on the dress. So, I encourage my brides to always try it on. We have a beautiful trumpet gown with ruching that looks incredible on everyone. Even if you have a little tummy, the ruching in the corset synchs your waist and camouflages whatever your concerns may be.

You must trust your wedding dress stylist, and try on different things. You’d be surprised by what works!

T: If you could be a bride again, what would you do differently?

M: I would probably have a little more fun with my dress! When I got married I didn’t own Ivory Bridal yet, so I want something different this time around. My husband and I are approaching our 10-year anniversary and plan to do a vow renewal. I might play on the trend of having a second look, or being able to take something off of the dress to make it look different.

I also wouldn’t stress about the small stuff because … everything comes together in the end.

T: What’s next for Ivory Bridal and Mrs. Mesita?

M: We have expanded into wedding planning via Events by Mesita. I’m also creating my own line of wedding gowns just for curvy brides and … we are considering expanding to another state! So there’s a lot in store for Ivory Bridal, and we’re so excited to keep all of our supporters updated!

Told you ladies Mesita is girl-boss goals. You can find her in Atlanta, at Ivory Bridal. Plus Size Brides, if you are in need of the perfect gown, stop by Ivory Bridal and tell them Triena sent you! 465 Boulevard SE #102A, Atlanta, GA 30312

*Images c/o Made You Look Photo

Lifestyler Chronicles: Melissa Butler Of The Lip Bar

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 11.09.30 PMLifestyler (N.) – One who styles Life; A person in search of self-fulfillment and happiness.

It’s one thing to have an excellent paying job on Wall Street, and to be satisfied with corporate America; but it’s a major power move to defy the norm of society, and despite any paycheck and stability, step out on faith and quit your day job to build your own company from the ground up.

Meet Melissa Butler, founder of The Lip Bar. The Lip Bar is a cosmetic company that is uniquely different from any other beauty brand out there. It’s a custom lipstick experience that uses nature’s best ingredients for an all-natural potion that delivers the brightest and most pigmented shades there are!

I was privileged to sit down for a one-on-one chat with Melissa, and I must say, I truly admire the passion and drive she has. Her courage to believe in herself despite the craziness of Corporate America is what set her a part from the majority. Melissa gave Circa 88 and its Lifestyler’s a window to look into her game-changing career; so take a look … here’s what I found out.

blowing kiss melissa-2Melissa Butler, Founder of The Lip Bar

C88: Melissa! So glad you were able to sit down with us for a moment, let’s get right to it. If you could, tell us a little about yourself. 

MB: I’m from Detroit, I’m 28 officially but next year I’m going to turn 24 (laughs)! I went to school in Tallahassee, Florida… FAM U! Going to that university changed my life for the better… I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit growing up around cousins who own their own businesses; I’ve truly always been around go-getters. I ultimately knew I wanted to do my own thing, but it didn’t come into the works until after I graduated from college.

C88: Tell us about your company, The Lip Bar.

MB: The Lip Bar is a premiere cosmetic experience, I call it an experience because we put so much thought into everything from the packaging, formula, colors, to the experience you actually get when you receive the product at your front door. The reason for it even existing is to break down beauty walls! It’s entirely to tell women there’s no standard of beauty. We’re here to challenge every woman’s thought process.

We grow up with these ideas of what we need to be, especially in the black community. Like, “I need to be this complexion, this weight or my hair should be this texture.” Even with in the natural hair movement (which is awesome) people still want other people’s curls! That mentality fueled The Lip Bar. We exist to empower women to not conform to societies idea of what’s beautiful.

Another face of The Lip Bar is that we believe in responsibly made products. There are a ton of unnecessary chemicals in products today. Not only is it unhealthy for you but it’s also pointless. All of our products have organic Shea butter, organic castor oil, organic avocado oil and more. We try to be as natural as possible without compromising the boldness of the hue. We are truly guilt-free and good looks!

C88: A lot of people aren’t familiar with the method behind your madness; tell us a little about your story, Melissa.

MB: I went to school for business with a concentration in finance. My first thought was I have to work on Wall Street. I worked on Wall Street for about 4 years, but around the 1 ½ year mark I was like, “WHAT!? This is terrible! This is not what I have all these student loans for, to be pushing buttons to make sure that someone else’s business flows.” It wasn’t fulfilling, it wasn’t fun and after a while you’re not even thinking anymore, Corporate America is just a matter of –you learned how to do your task, and you’re risk free with a steady paycheck.

I was bored out of my mind, I wasn’t happy with the state of my life so I changed it. I had to ask myself what was the difference between my friends and I, and the difference was I spent more on quality products like soap! My friends bought packs of Dove soap for less that $5, while I spent $5 on one bar of soap. So I thought, if the soap I buy is so natural and hand crafted, then I can make it myself. As crazy as it sounds, that was the beginning stage of The Lip Bar.

I started making soap as a hobby, and then I decided soap would be my business. I would call it The Soap Bar, with cocktail inspired soaps! This means The Lip Bar is completely stolen from my first idea. So one day after making my soaps I called my supplier for pigments and she asked, “ Are you looking for soap pigments or lipstick pigments?” And it was like a light bulb moment went off in my head! From that moment I did my homework and researched everything I needed to know about this business. For nearly 9 months I made lipsticks in my kitchen … and at the end of February 2012 I launched The Lip Bar.

I’ve never been a makeup junkie, before The Lip Bar I had a ton of lipsticks because I’ve always loved lipstick. I didn’t start The Lip Bar because I was passionate about makeup, I started it because I’m passionate about empowering women, and the beauty industry gave me that platform. I want a woman to feel bold and empowered in my lipsticks.

C88: If you had a chance to start your career again, what would you do differently?

MB: I would have gotten experience from the beauty industry. I would have taken free internships, job opportunities, or studied under beauty mavens.  I would have gotten a little more real life experience. It would have helped me capture an audience quicker as well as focus on my brand more. The Lip Bar(L To R) Purple Rain, Bourbon Blues, and Cosmo from www.thelipbar.com

C88: Your collections for The Lip Bar are so detailed and creative. What inspired you? 

MB: My business background benefited me in this area. The reality is, this is a very saturated market, which means lipsticks are everywhere. What really made my product stand out is by telling a story and selling an experience. Like TOMS (shoe company), you don’t buy shoes from TOMS because they are cute; they’re ugly as hell! But it’s the story, and emotion that comes along with the product; you believe you’re impacting someone else’s life that’s less fortunate than you.

Same thing with Whole Foods, you don’t go in Whole Foods because it’s a cute grocery store, you shop there because it makes you feel like you’re making healthier choices the minute you walk in the door.

With The Lip Bar I decided to base it off of cocktails because coming from the work force, happy hour was the time of the day we all looked forward to. We couldn’t wait to get off of work and let our guard down over a nice cocktail. It was everyone’s escape to those old college days. Naming the lipstick collections after cocktails and punching them with bright colors brings that experience to life within the beauty industry. I wanted people to feel that same happy hour energy in their lipstick.

C88: Being an entrepreneur can be intimidating, how do you manage fear?

MB: Truthfully, everyday is scary but that can be a powerful moment if you allow it to be, especially if tap into your inner peace and pursue your dreams despite your fear. In addition to that you have to find your inner hustle. Just keep doing it, don’t stop. When it doesn’t work, try something different. You have to believe in your brand and even if it doesn’t work, it just means you’re not presenting it right. You can’t get wrapped up in your failures or your successes because both will make you stagnant. Just remember to keep going.

C88: If you could give one word of advice to our Lifestylers, what would it be?

MB: I have two, trust and focus! You really have to trust yourself. Ultimately you have to be passionate about what you are doing and trust your vision or else you’ll begin to follow what everyone else wants for you, then you’ll stop listening to yourself.

And that goes hand-in-hand with Focus. You can’t chase two rabbits at once. You have to pick one thing, be good at it, master it and then move on to your next idea.

C88: What makes you a Lifestyler?

MB: What makes me a Lifestyler is the fact that I don’t get hung up on validation from other people. I constantly strive to find my own inner peace and happiness. That’s my biggest thing in terms of being a Lifestyler.

To stay connected with Melissa Butler and her phenomenal company, The Lip Bar, visit: www.thelipbar.com 

Follow The Lip Bar on Instagram: @TheLipBar

Follow Melissa on Instagram: @MelissaRButler

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