It was a beautiful spring afternoon last week when I got a chance to sit down with Judy Lee of Ju.Lee Collection. Judy is the owner and designer at Ju.Lee Collection which is a custom wedding dress business in San Jose, CA. I first heard about Judy when I saw a photograph on her instagram feed @juleechic of her designing a beautiful lace bridal top. Being an artist myself, I loved seeing her process and I knew I wanted to include her in my blog series about talented local wedding vendors.
Judy says she has seen a lot of exciting changes in the wedding dress industry since 2006 when she first started her business. At that time it was hard to find any dresses that were not strapless, pure white, A-line ball gowns, but now so many more options are desired which makes designing a lot of fun for her. She says she is seeing more elopements and small weddings, as well as more brides asking for colorful wedding dresses. Some of this she attributes to more brides purchasing their own wedding dresses, and wanting the dress to be an expression of their individuality. Some of her favorite wedding dress trends are applique and 3D effects that create beautiful detail and dimension to dresses, as well as the fit-and-flare silhouette. She finds that this silhouette brings out the best curves and flatters almost everyone. As I look around her cozy showroom, I see elements of everything she has just mentioned in her breathtaking creations.
Judy’s wedding dress designs are driven by her unique customers as well as the latest fashion trends. She says the majority of her customers are independent, a little offbeat, know what they want, and are usually more casual. Judy says she also designs for the same aesthetic in her collections because everything needs to be able to mix and match and consistency has been key to her success. Contrary to most designers, Ju.Lee Collection isn’t driven by seasons. Instead, she adds to collections when she has a very strong inspiration for new pieces. Ju.Lee Collection has four main collections with the most popular being Endless Love, which is bridal separates, and Vintage Muse which are full gowns.
Some of the most unique features of Ju.Lee Collection is their custom approach and her two piece mix-and-match collection. All her designs can be fully customized such as pairing a top from one dress together with a skirt from a different one. Dresses can also be made in different fabrics and colors. In addition there is the option to do a full custom dress. Since Judy is the one that meets with brides while they visit the showroom, she lets them know what’s possible and which silhouettes will look best on them. Even with all the customizations, Ju.Lee Collection dresses are very reasonably priced at under $2000 because customers purchase directly from her so there is no markup. With regard to timelines, Judy recommends brides order dresses 3 ½ to 4 ½ months before their wedding, or 2-3 months ahead of time if they want bridal separates.
With over ten years of experience in her wedding dress business, Judy shared some great advice and recommendations with me for future brides:
Bring along a pair of high heels and wear light-colored undergarments so that you can envision the whole look.
Bring one to two trusted friends or family along to an appointment. More people could be distracting and overwhelming.
Have some idea of what styles or silhouettes you like and also check out the designer’s webpage to make sure you are a good match. It helps to know who you are and what you want.
When making a decision, try to narrow it down to two dresses then ask friends and family for final advice. In Judy’s experience, they will not lead you astray!
Once you find a dress, stop looking! You don’t do that to your fiance, so you shouldn’t do that to your dress. Stick with your gut.
It’s normal to get nervous about things before your wedding. Keep in mind that the most important thing on your wedding day is that you get to marry the love of your life.
Judy can trace her career back to the age of ten when her mother taught her how to sew. She comes from a sewing family, and Ju.Lee Collection is actually a family business. Judy creates the designs and her family are her seamstresses and patternmakers. She loves working with family because she trusts them and knows how skilled they are. Making wedding dresses is a specialized trade and only expert seamstresses can manage the complicated and detailed construction.
Judy earned dual degrees in Business and Apparel Design from UT Austin where she also met her husband. She says doing two degrees was very challenging at times, but that she is thankful for both experiences. After college, she worked in apparel merchandising, but serendipity struck when she enjoyed the experience of designing and sewing her own wedding dress in 2005. Looking back, she was ahead of the times with a fit-and-flare silhouette with a sweetheart neckline and straps. Soon after her own wedding, she started designing wedding dresses. Judy says one of the many things she enjoys about her career is getting to design something that will be so special to someone.
Thank you, Judy, for sharing your story with me and for your advice to brides!
Ju.Lee Collection is located at 1471 W San Carlos St, San Jose CA 95126
Because they are an active design studio, their showroom hours are by appointment only.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org | 408.688.4877
or shop online at http://www.juleechic.com or https://www.etsy.com/shop/JuLeeCollections