Q + A with Designer Leila Breton

Photos by Chantal Dominique

Everyone wants a perfect wedding dress for their body, but since most wedding dresses are designed with the thin bodies that dominate the fashion industry in mind, a perfect fit can be hard to find for some people. Leila Breton of Curvy Custom Bride decided to take matters into her own hands and design wedding dresses specifically for the bride– allowing the dresses to be unique and different, but also ensuring that they’re the perfect fit.

Julia Bluhm: How did you get into sewing?
Leila Breton: I started out just wanting to have clothes that fit. The goal was to get things to look better than they would if I just bought them at the store, because nothing would fit me. I just stared tailoring my own clothes, but it grew because people would be like “Oh my god you look so put together!” and it was just because I’d hemmed my pants or taken in the shoulders. I’d done something to make it look like it was actually fit for my body.

And so then I kept getting questions like, “Can you hem my pants?” “Can you tailor my clothes?” This was eleven or twelve years ago. It immediately became a small business. It wasn’t until like five years ago when I really started ramping up the business and doing more custom work and more alterations. Then a year ago I rebranded to “Curvy Custom Bride” and since then it blew up.

Now people know clearly what I do. It’s already in the title.

JB: How did you learn to sew?
LB: I’m self taught. I learned a lot from Youtube videos and friends. I just did a lot and messed up, and did it again. I also was in school for theater, and one class I took was costuming. I did some designing in that class setting, and later on when I worked in a theater company I did do some designing for a show. But my business didn’t really start from that, from a dream of “Oh my god, I really want to do this.” It started because of this problem– I wanted stuff to fit.

JB: How did you learn how to start your own business?
LB: I feel like I’m still learning how to run a business. It’s all about people, and remembering who you’re doing it for. Everything else should fall into place. I would say, get an accountant, get a lawyer– pay people to do stuff, don’t try to do it all yourself!  That’s my approach. I don’t want to do this all by myself. Like, I hired somebody to make my logo because I wanted to work with an artist and somebody who could do something way above and beyond anything I could do. That’s fine, I think that’s smart. You don’t have to do it all yourself.

JB: What sort of collaborations have you done in Indianapolis?
LB: I keep doing photoshoots with photographers and creative minds. Those are really fun. I love collaborating in general, in fact that’s usually how I treat custom work. It’s more of a collaboration. With these artists and photographers, it’s basically the same thing. I did a photoshoot in Detroit, Michigan recently. I sent a dress for them to use, and it just turned out so cool. But in town I’ve done lots of bridal shoots. I did one with Faith Blackwell last December. It’s just fun.

JB: What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
LB: Seeing people’s reactions! It’s about having a dress made, having it be custom, using the most amazing silk and fabric, but it’s really not about that. It doesn’t have to do with any of that. It has to do more with connecting with people. Holding space for people. Because what I do is kind of an anti-fashion fashion– it’s for everyone. The most rewarding part is having somebody text me after their wedding, because either they’re like “The dress fit me so well! I didn’t want to take it off” or they’re like “I can’t believe you made a dress that looks so good on me and actually fits me.” How people feel in what they’re wearing that I’ve either made or tailored makes it all worth it to me.

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