Perhaps you recall the bridal shoot featured on the blog recently:Â Simply Stunning Bridal Gowns by Las Vegasâ€™s Own Mina OliveÂ with fabulous photos shot by Ella Gagiano. The gowns in that shoot were created by Las Vegas native Megan Thompson, owner and designer at Mina Olive custom bridal boutique.
One of my favorite blog-related things to do has been going on studio visits to the amazingly creative businesses that exist within the realm of the Las Vegas wedding industry. For example, Mina Olive!Â Since the shop opened in July 2012, word has been steadily spreading of the fantastic, fashion forward custom bridal gowns coming out of it, so I knew I had to see them in person.
On my most recent visit to Las Vegas in June, I was happy when Megan was able to carve out some time for me to drop by for a studio visit. Â Read on for the full post and information on how to win your very own Mina Olive gown!
Located in the stylish entertainment district of Tivoli Village, Megan’s shop is on the second floor of The Market LV. With huge windows letting in natural light that falls on finished and partially finished gowns on dress forms, a fitting room with heavy velvet curtainsÂ reminiscentÂ of a royal dressing room and inspiring images all around I fell in love with the slightly industrial Mina Olive space right away. It felt like it was bursting with creativity and energy!
We sat down at her desk for a chat, next to a cutting table filled with fabrics and sketches, measurements and materials.
Megan (who said the name Mina Olive came from a personal nickname) began working in the custom bridalwear business after her own experiences wedding dress shopping were met with frustration and less than perfect finds. After finally finding a Vera Wang wedding gown that she felt (mostly) suited her style, she later returned to the bridal shop only to see another prospective bride trying the gown on as well.
Hers … but not hers; this experience ultimately inspired her to design her own wedding gown with a local dressmaker, to get what she really wanted – a custom, totally unique dress that no one else would have.
A UNLV graduate with a degree in marketing as well as design experience, Megan found herself designing boutique wear. This career move, combined with her personal wedding gown design experience inspired the idea for Mina Olive.
Instead of making design decisions based on what other business owners wanted for their clothing stores, Megan was now helping an individual bride decide on what she wanted. She encourages her clients to “move past the rack” and wear something truly one of a kind and original on their wedding day.
Although most of her clients are local, many of them have destination weddings outside of Las Vegas, even as far as Thailand. Megan is connecting with these brides who have decidedly discerning tastes and who know what they want.
Her eyes light up as she tells me about her last few clients, and how she helped them shape the elements of their dress wedding gown into reality. Working with her seamstress and pattern maker Yuki and Katerina, an intern, Megan is the conduit between the bride and the gown, digging into and articulating their wants and needs – even ones they may not have known what they wanted!
“The clients are my inspiration,” Megan says when I ask her what drives her creativity. The design journey is comprehensive and the brides are involved from start to finish in what is undeniably an unforgettable experience.
Clients come in a number of times during the process, first to talk about their desires and overall look, with later visits to fit the gown and finally to come pick up the finished piece. Â (A sad moment, Megan admits…)
While some brides have put their faith in Megan’s design vision and style from the start, more often they come in with many pictures and Pinterest boards in tow, the dream dress already taking shape in their minds.
However, a Mina Olive gown design does not strive to replicate other gowns. The inspiration is simply used to narrow down design elements and demonstrate dress design desires. After all, the magic in a custom gown is in its complete individuality.
Megan asks questions about the wedding’s theme, personal style, likes and dislikes. A sketch and design (sometimes a few) are created from this discussion, and then a mock up muslin cotton gown for the first fitting and finally the real deal. I get a sense that Megan thrives on the unusual and unique – she really lives to create a true one-of-a-kind piece of fashion.
Megan documents the steps as she goes, as she believes that the choosing and creation of the gown is as much a part of the wedding day story as any other part, just as full of experience, emotion and nostalgia down the road. It seems the brides understand what she provides as well. Not just a garment, but a memory perfect for such an important life event. You need only look at the brides highlighted on Mina Olive’s Facebook wall to get that.
Mina Olive’s head woman take craftsmanship and quality seriously. Standing up close to the gowns and their detailing, you get a real appreciation for the hours of work and love that go into them. In today’s mass market world, I think it’s easy to forget the love in the details and handmade.Â Megan shows me how later that day she and Katerina will spend some time hand folding and hand sewing textile flowers for the base of a gown.
Because she can be, Megan said she is choosy with source materials. She carefully selects Venetian and French lace, Russian tulles, DupioniÂ silk and other textiles at market twice a year. She lets me touch a few samples – the fabrics are soft, delicate and … sensual. If the dress is in need of a bit of embellishment, high quality crystals and beading are sourced and handsewn.
Custom gowns begin at around $4,500 – a steal considering the handiwork and fit provided and the materials used. Ready to wear gowns that can be altered to a bride’s specifications start a bit lower.
Happy 1st Birthday, Mina Olive! Megan really brings something special, not just to Las Vegas, but the bridal industry, I believe. Cannot wait to see what you have planned forÂ 2014!
Win A Mina Olive Original
Now is your chance to win your very own custom bridal gown by Mina Olive! The studio is running the “Dress Like No Other” Giveaway. Applicants have until August 1 to submit their case via email or video on why they deserve a gown from Mina Olive’s fall collection. So hop to it and read the full contest details and enter here.
Mina Olive |Â www.minaolive.com
Custom Bridal Boutique & Design Studio
Tivoli Village,Â 420 S. Rampart Boulevard
2nd Floor of The Market LV
As Seen In: Desert Companion, Luxury Las Vegas, The Frosted Petticoat, A Low Country WeddingÂ and right here on Little Vegas Wedding
Top photograph byÂ Ella Gagiano, the rest by moi