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By Emily Howald Sefton
By Real Brides-to-Be
By: Stephani Bloomquist | Posted: 03/08/2011
The wedding industry just can’t get enough of handmade products. The Twin Cities is full of small business owners who make their own items and sell them on etsy.com or in local boutiques at a great price. And who doesn’t love receiving something that’s made locally and customized just for them?
A few years ago, Ashley Brooke Adamson—now 23—helped her sister, Danielle, search for the perfect wedding gown. They found a Vera Wang sash that encapsulated the bride-to-be’s personality in a single, elegant accessory.
Danielle was able to invest in the sash, and the vintage undertones and simple elegance of it became a focal point for the theme of the entire wedding.
When she realized how special the sash was to her sister, Adamson brought the concept to Che Bella in St. Paul. As an intern with the boutique, she made a few sashes to be sold in the store. Brides started buying. They liked taking a simple dress and making it their own with a handmade sash.
“[We’re] seeing the sash trend on the high-end runways, but the price point is just outrageous," Adamson says. "Once a bride’s purchased a dress for more than $1,000, to be able to match that just for a sash—it’s just not reasonable for everybody. I thought every bride should be able to have something like this, no matter what budget they have.”
From a young age, Adamson took an interest in fashion, keeping a sketchbook where she often drew evening wear and dresses. Both of her grandmothers taught her to sew. In 2009 she designed Danielle's wedding gown, and The Dress Maker in Edina executed the final product. Designing that gown sparked Adamson's passion for design in the bridal market.
In April 2010, Adamson, Danielle and their mother, Tami, founded a.b. Ellie, which is named after Adamson's late great grandmother, Eleanor Berg.
a.b. Ellie currently offers more than two-dozen sash styles that range from understated glamour (such as one of Adamson’s favorites - The Grace - pictured above) to those bedazzled with rhinestones (such as The Addison - pictured at left). Brides-to-be can have the sash customized with family heirlooms. The sashes are made from silk, velvet, lace, organza, pearls, and crystals. Several sashes even come in multiple colors.
The signature sash—The Ellie—is a satin ribbon covered in ivory flowers. It’s easy to coordinate this look with your bridal party, as a.b. Ellie offers alternative versions to several bridal sashes, such as The Little Ellie. These sashes are perfect for bridesmaids or the flower girl. a.b. Ellie also sells garters (The Ellie garter pictured below) and cuffs (The Nicola cuff pictured below) in the collection.
You can find a.b. Ellie products at two metro boutiques: Raffiné Bridal in Stillwater and Posh Bridal Couture in Minneapolis. The ladies hope to expand to other boutiques in the area.
“Our pieces are sold online, but I would prefer the sale to be in-store where the bride is able to try the piece on with her dress, see the detail, and feel the materials,” Adamson says.
Adamson and a.b. Ellie have had quite the year. Just last week they received a call from Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan. (The boutique hosts Say Yes to the Dress! on TLC). The store will carry five a.b. Ellie sashes soon.
“It’s been an amazing year," Adamson says. "To be able to spend every day working with my mother and sister is an immense blessing. The support that I’ve had from all of my friends and family is unbelievable. I certainly couldn’t have done it without them.”
Emily Howald Sefton is Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s deputy features editor and Mpls.St.Paul Weddings’ editor. See bio
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