MinkMaids: Modern Wedding Gowns Hand-made in Milwaukee
April 4, 2016
Shopping for a wedding gown? Shop local! Milwaukee-based designer Amanda Ergen-Jennings founded MinkMaids in 2009, specializing handmade, custom gowns for today’s fashion-forward brides and bridesmaids. We recently sat down with Amanda to chat about her sewing and design roots, her gowns, and what it’s like to be a female business-owner in Milwaukee.
You are launching your first collection via trunk show at Zita Bridal. How excited are you and what can brides expect at this event?I am overwhelmed with excitement! Launching a collection and putting myself out there is scary, but Cynthia and her team at Zita Bridal Salon have been so wonderful and supportive. I have to thank Jackie Barutha of Jaxie for introducing me to Cynthia – these women have done amazing things for Milwaukee’s bridal industry. I admire them immensely and appreciate the support of fellow female business owners. At the MinkMaids Trunk Show, brides will be able to make an appointment to work with me and try on my full collection of gowns. During their appointment we will discuss customization details (colors, sizing, ect). Any MinkMaids orders placed during the trunk show will be 10% off and the bride will receive a limited edition MinkMaids clutch in either gold or silver.
How did you get started designing wedding and occasion gowns?My grandma taught me how to sew when I was a child. I turned my love for building beautiful things into a career after studying apparel design in college. For a few years I featured collections of contemporary knit dresses at fashion shows around Milwaukee under the label “Mink”. My friends started getting married and asked me to make gowns for them and their bridesmaids. Word spread to friends of friends and my custom bridal business took off. That’s when I changed my label to “MinkMaids”. I’ve been exclusively designing bridal and special occasion gowns since 2009.
Please tell us a little about your collection and what or whom inspired it?My inaugural collection features 8 pieces inspired by some of my favorite past brides and are available in an array of colors – samples will be in shades of gold, blue, and ivory. These silhouettes reflect my own design aesthetic and the style of bride I really mesh well with. I love to design for the woman who doesn’t see herself in the usual white wedding gown. A woman who wants to show her personality on her wedding day and is ok with stepping out of the box with color and pattern, rather than just wearing what everyone expects from a bride. I specialize in modern, clean silhouettes with design elements that set the pieces apart – color, pattern, shine, fabrication, and draping techniques.
What can a bride expect when she orders a MinkMaids gown?When a bride places an order for one of my Collection gowns she can expect the same level of service and care that I put into my Bespoke gowns. I build each of my gowns from scratch, specifically for each bride. Collection gowns are made-to-measure, so detailed measurements will be taken during her appointment to get the best possible fit. Minor alterations may still be necessary upon delivery, but the need for excessive alterations that are typical when ordering from a size chart is greatly reduced. Delivery time for Collection pieces is about 4 months.
What is the difference between “Bespoke” & “Collection”Collection gowns are purchased from the line and made to measure. The bride has the option to customize color and fabrication and make minor changes (adding or removing straps, adding a train, ect). Bespoke designs are truly custom pieces – the word literally means “made to fit a particular person”. The bride and I discuss different design elements she wants to see in her dress and I create a one of a kind gown for her. I meet with the bride for a series of fittings as I build the gown to fit her perfectly.
What is your favorite aspect of designing gowns?2 things that are totally different – 1) I love the challenge of building a gown – coming up with the design and then figuring out how to actually make it work. The “building” part, creating something with my own hands, has always been my favorite part of design. 2) On a personal level, I love building relationships with my brides and their friends and families as I create something beautiful for such a special day. Being there to see these women see themselves as a bride for the first time always gets me! Most of my past brides have become dear friends because of how closely we work together. Let’s be real – as exciting as it is to plan a wedding, it can also be super stressful! It’s important to me to give my brides a fun, loving experience – something they can be thrilled about when RSVPs and seating charts get to be too much.
Is there anything you would like to add…There has been a recent trend in weddings for couples to personalize every aspect of their celebration and to support local vendors and small businesses throughout the planning process. I’m so excited for the opportunity to show brides their gowns can be a part of that as well! Whether Bespoke or Collection, there are options to show your sense of style and customize your wedding day look. And if color and sparkle just aren’t your thing, there are many other talented designers in Wisconsin. The beautiful part is we all have different aesthetics, so we have every kind of bride covered!
Dying to try on one of Amanda’s custom creations? Visit Zita Bridal Salon on Friday, April 8th or Saturday, April 9th for a MinkMaids Trunk Show! You’ll have access to Amanda’s full made-to-measure bridal collection, plus you can chat with the designer herself! Appointments are required, so get in touch with Zita Bridal Salon today. Happy shopping!