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Meet Connie Tao of Connie Tao Designs in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Connie Tao.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Connie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have been deeply into the arts since I was little. I took after school and summer art classes and doodled up stories whenever I had the free time. My parents were always very encouraging to my interest in drawing. It was due largely in part to my mother’s family whom were involved in different aspects of fashion, design, and art. So it was a no-brainer when I decided to pursue art in college. I received my bachelor’s degree from Otis College of Art and Design. I originally went there to enter into the fine arts program. But inevitably, I chose to take the fashion design major after my freshmen year. My grandmother was a seamstress, my aunt is a pattern maker, and my mother is pattern maker/fashion designer. Growing up watching these impactful women in my life, working in fashion and design affected my career designs more than I knew.

Otis was an incredibly nurturing and educational school that helped me grow as an artist and as a designer. Many industry professionals served as educators there, teaching us how to become amazing designers. From there, I was able to graduate and immediately get a position in a big leading fashion company, BCBGMAXAZRIA. The bustling environment there taught me the hands on ins and outs of the fashion industry. It helped me apply real workplace knowledge to my art/design education. After five years there, I decided that it was time to pursue a more personal passion.

During my time at BCBG, I worked with a couple close friends on their wedding dresses. Those experiences taught me that I wanted to work one on one with the people that wore my designs. I wanted to be able to custom design a gown that fit a bride inside and out. From there grew an idea to have a bridal shop that custom made gowns. Not just putting out my designs, but having consultations with brides to create something uniquely fit to them. So with the amazing support of my family and friends, I embarked on this adventure. Many months went into finding the perfect location and creating the atmosphere within that allowed brides to come in, chat and collaborate with me on their special dress. My parents have been the most integral part of creating this dream. They have been a wealth of information on the business end and creative ends of things, as they were also small business owners when I was growing up.

Today, we are about 2 and half years in, still growing, still learning, and still improving our operation every single day.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As with any dream, many challenges and obstacles arise all throughout the journey. As someone more experienced in the creative end of things, starting a small business was no easy feat. There were many hours invested in trying to learn the business end of things. I had a lot of sit-downs with other small business owners to make sure I covered all of my start up bases. There was also the learning curve of the whole process. I tried to do a lot of the setup work myself, including creating websites, logos, in store construction, etc. But eventually learning that you should stick to what you know and contact other professionals for what they know. That was an invaluable lesson. These days, my obstacles mostly deal with problem-solving creative end issues. But I am still learning everyday. And I suspect more challenges and obstacles will continue to arise and I will have to learn from them.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Connie Tao Designs – what should we know?
Connie Tao Designs specializes in custom bridal and evening wear. That means that we carry dresses all of our own designs. We have already created designs that are available for purchase and also custom designed dresses that can be created new. We offer brides/customers a special service, where they can collaborate with the designer to create their dream dress. We can pull their ideas, likes, and dislikes together and create a one-of-a-kind gown. A unique aspect of our company is that we do everything in-house, designing, pattern work, sewing, embellishing, etc. That cuts down on any send out time or dependence on outside vendors, meaning we’ve started work with brides a year before their wedding date and even two weeks before their wedding date. And because we are working with brides every step of the way, there is no worry about needing alterations. We have multiple fittings to ensure the dress fits exactly right on the big day. Every bride is measured meticulously and dresses are custom made to their precise measurements.

I think the most special aspect of our boutique is the environment. We want brides to feel comfortable when they come in for their fitting or consultation. We always sit and chat about their wedding and get to know them so the dress process can be as stress-free as possible. There is no push for the sale or rushing brides into a decision. And all design work prior to a final sketch being chosen is complimentary. Every design we create is special and unique and we want it to be the perfect fit.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The people that deserve the most credit for my success are definitely my parents. My mom has been an invaluable wealth of information. She helped take all that I learned from school and from work even further. She is an amazing pattern maker and designer. I have been able to consult with her on a multitude of design problems, both creative and technical. She has taught me so much about dressmaking and continues to do so. She has over 50 years of experience and has an answer for any question that I have concerning fabric, design, pattern, sewing, etc. My dad has been my rock, my support, and my biggest cheerleader throughout this entire process. He is constantly reassuring me when I worry about my next steps. He supports me completely and makes me believe that I can be anything and do anything. They have raised me to believe that there is no limit to what I can do with hard work and perseverance. Together, they are my biggest inspirations and strongest supporters.

Besides them, of course, my additional family and friends have been so supportable with this venture. They help cheer me on and spread the word about our business.

Lastly, my clients have been an amazing plus to the business. I have met some truly wonderful people and have been really lucky to get to know them and be a part of their wedding planning and happiness for a while. They make every headache, every worry worth it and make me continue to strive for success.

Pricing:

  • Custom wedding gowns start at $1000 and go up from there depending on design, material, embellishment, etc.
  • Custom evening gowns start at $700 and go up from there depending on design, material, embellishment, etc. e
  • Custom bridesmaid dresses start at $200 and go up from there depending on number of bridesmaids, design, material, embellishment, etc.
  • All other custom work can be discussed and worked out according to design, material, embellishment, etc.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Studio Del Mar / Shyla Marie Photography
Kiet Do Photography

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