Isabella and Benson
Markovina Vineyard Estate, Auckland, NZ
Isabella is a proud NZ born Sāmoan model and opera singer living in London who…Read More
Initially, we retailed custom-made and ready to wear wedding gowns, bridesmaid, mother of the bride and flower girl dresses, as well as matching accessories. By honing our craft, and business acumen, we were able to launch our JOLI bridesmaid dress collections in 40 shades in 2012.
2013 was a really big deal – we attended our very first bridal show, The NZ Bride and Groom – and what a success! A massive number of attendees registered with us on the spot, resulting in our first bespoke gown over $8,000, which took a month of solid planning and 6 months of work to create. In fact, our bride loved her gown so much she displayed her masterpiece on a mannequin in a dedicated room in her house.
Around this time, we began to experiment with 100% silk organza, handcrafted floral applications, and fully hand stitched ruching. These techniques allowed us to create incredibly unique designs for our clients.
Our star was on the rise, which led to an invitation to show at New Zealand Bridal Fashion Week at the Viaduct in 2014, the most prestigious event of the year for our industry.
2014 was a milestone on the home front as well, when we welcomed our first child, Chloe, into the world on May 14. She, and her sister Chelsea, who joined our family on 12 June 2018, are the cutest human beings I’ve ever seen and the loves of my life.
By 2015, Hera had three employees, we’d held our second showing at NZFW, and created our second masterpiece, a feather wedding dress.
Maybe it was the baby hormones, but that same year I hatched the idea to run a cake competition, where bakers could create a cake for our NZFW finale dress, which featured gold embroidery over silk organza and a large ball gown silhouette.
And FYI – the cake was delicious.
2015 was also the year that we decided to start sharing our success by joining our first charity event to support women with Cancer, and hosting a runway show to auction off the dresses.
For me, 2016 was the year that I really found my voice in the industry.
In 2016 Hera welcomed a baby sister, Daisy by Katie Yeung, our youthful range of off the peg bridal dresses, another appearance at NZFW, a private viewing of our designs at a boutique bridal fair, held at Ponsonby Central, along with showing at a nationwide Bridal Trunk Fair. All of which made for an exhilarating year and a surge in clientele.
It soon became apparent that we needed a bigger space, so 2017 became a blur of landlords, architects, interior designers, builders, contractors and endless takeaway food, all the while running our day-to-day business, which now included stockists in NZ and Australia.
Side note: This is where both I, and my husband Cliff, want to pay a huge debt of gratitude to our parents, who went above and beyond by virtually raising Chloe for us over this time.
2018 was an exciting new chapter in both our business and personal lives. We moved into our stunning, custom-built showroom.
We held our first in-house bridal fashion runway, where we collaborated with a talented team of journalists, PR consultants, model agencies and the hair dressing and makeup schools.
2019 was the year of the Big Apple as we made a push into the US and UK markets, by holding a private event at the Hudson, New York. This paid dividends, which placed an additional squeeze on our space as we ramped up production and increased staff to meet demand, including a full-time marketing team, in-house seamstresses and a stylist, so we leased an office space, conveniently located behind our flagship showroom.
All this expansion hasn’t made me forget that for my brides it’s all about the little things, those all-important finishing touches, so one of our most recent collaborations has been with Lela Jacobs, who’s helping us create our first luxury Merino bridal wrap.
Thank you to everyone who has helped make my fairy tale come true over these past ten years.