I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Orla for some time now. We went to high school together and she was one of the all-star shoppers at the retail space I worked at when I was 18 (every time I was working, I knew I was going to see Orla or her mom drop in). I used to look at her as the cool, older chick in school, who was always dressed so effortlessly and had this infectious confidence about her that made you want to be her friend. Not much has changed in the past 10 years, Orla is still as badass as ever and has recently opened the ultimate bridal boutique for the modern babe in Venice Beach. As a bridal industry veteran myself, I can say with confidence that Solstice Bride is an absolute breath of fresh air. If you aren’t drinking the Kool Aide yet, read my interview with Orla below and see for yourself how swoon-worthy her spot is:
When did you first get the idea to open a bridal salon in Venice?
In 2014, I got engaged and moved back to my hometown of Los Angeles from New York. When I was living in NY, I was working in fashion and when I returned to LA and started my dress search, I was disappointed to see that some of the coolest things happening in fashion weren’t happening in Bridal and certainly weren’t being offered in LA. I found that Los Angeles was oversaturated with cold, tired, mainstream bridal salons filled with pushy sales people and saccharine sweet princess dresses and there was nowhere for a stylish, cool chick to try on unique gowns while having a fun experience. I’ve always dreamed of opening a store, and after the wedding my husband encouraged me to combine my experience as a new bride with my background in fashion… So after a bottle of wine one night, I was online shopping and I got the urge to buy small business for dummies and the rest is history.
How did you come up with the name Solstice Bride?
The solstice marks the beginning of a new season and a wedding marks the beginning of a new phase in many people’s lives – certainly a new season for a couple. My slogan ” trust in the magic of new beginnings” ties into that. Plus, I love the connotations summer solstice has, I’m a beach girl at heart and the summer solstice is my favorite day of the year because it’s the longest day of the year and it is the beginning of summer.
Abbot Kinney is a coveted street for retailers at the moment. How did you snag a spot on the block?
Because we are appointment only, I didn’t want to be on the street level so I could give brides a private more intimate experience. I live a couple blocks away – Abbot Kinney was more of a lazy decision because I wanted to be able to walk or ride my bike to wherever I opened. While most people are looking to move onto AK for the foot traffic on the block, I was looking up – at apartments, office buildings and lofts. I wanted to find a place that felt like a secret tucked away from the hustle and bustle below. I am often told by brides it feels like they’re shopping in their friends apartment, which is exactly the vibe I wanted for my space. And of course, AK is a great destination for all my out-of-town or across town brides who can make a full day of visiting the restaurants and shops.
What brands are currently in your store?
For made to order gowns, I’m the exclusive retailer for Stone Fox Bride, Delphine Manivet, Anais Anette, Alexandra Grecco, Marquise Bridal and Donatella Godart. I also carry Odylyne the Ceremony and Elizabeth Dye. I have ready-to-wear pieces for the many bridal occasions a girls gotta attend from Stone Cold Fox, Keepsake The Label, Callahan and Blessed are the Meek and Elliat. We also do really well with our accessories: we carry pieces from Jennifer Behr, Erica Elizabeth, Olivia the Wolf, Heart of Gold, From isla, customizable shoes from Rafa, lingerie from bridal Trousseau and custom beaded clutches. We will also be launching our private label leather jackets and bridal robes this summer – two styles of vegan leather jackets that you can customize with anything you want written on it, like your new last name or a wedding hashtag.
If you could carry any brand, who would it be and why?
I’m currently talking to a few designers from Barcelona and Paris who I can’t reveal just yet, but we get requests for their lines A LOT and I’m really excited about next season. I think there are some really cool designs coming out of France and Spain, especially right now, that have a romantic simplicity that this SoCal girl can relate to. They are effortlessly sexy, yet appropriate and can be worn with messy waves and a flower crown or with heels and a leather jacket.
What sets you apart from other bridal salons?
Since starting, I’ve made a ton of friends in this industry and there is definitely a new wave of modern bridal salons sweeping the market these days here in the states and internationally. I think a lot of us went though this experience ourselves and were so underwhelmed with our personal experiences shopping for gowns that we decided to just do it ourselves. Many of us carry the same designers and Instagram the same images or use the same hashtags, but I think we all have our own unique vibe. I think what sets me apart is the experience brides have in the showroom. It’s super chill and relaxed and often girls say it feels like they’re just shopping with their friends in someones apartment with beer, fun tunes and sometimes a puppy (hey Taco!). If you don’t see anything you like here, I will personally call another store or refer you to another salon that I think has what you’re looking for.
What excites you about the bridal industry?
Maybe this is more about my store and less about the bridal industry specifically, but for me, the interactions with brides and their friends are where I get the most excitement. The people that come through these doors are lawyers, designers, writers, tech execs, doulas, engineers, yoga instructors, producers, inventors, dancers, students, doctors, chefs, entrepreneurs, and the list goes on. I get to meet the coolest brides in here and hearing their stories inspires me and motivates me so much.
As your own #girlboss, do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Oh man, where do I begin. First, get a good accountant. Secondly, if you’re thinking about starting a business, but you haven’t yet: if not now, when?!? Seriously, just fucking do it . I used to think I needed to go to business school, or get a partner, or have more experience and way more money, but really you just figure it out as you go along. I make mistakes every day, but I also learn everyday – and I don’t mean learning for a final, I mean real life shit and I’m having so much fun. Also, I heard of this thing called the entrepreneurial rollercoaster and holy shit it is real! When you have a good day you think “I can run for President! I’m effing amazing and my life couldn’t get better!” But then your roof leaks and damages merchandise or you have to meet with your accountant and walk out confused and crying and you question your existence on this earth. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – there will be assholes who belittle you, try to intimidate you, who bully you and try to pull you down, but at the end of the day REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED. It’s worth it and so rewarding and even if you fail, you gave it a try and you have good stories for your grandkids.
Who is your favorite person(s) to follow on social media?
I’m always rotating between different designers, photogs, and the occasional celeb. At the moment, I find myself hovering over @moonandquartz, @ettoresottsass, @vibes, @overheardLA , @bloomandplume, @shape.something.
Goals for the rest of 2016?
Personally, find a better balance between running this business alone and making time for my personal life (aka pay attention to my husband and get to pilates more). Professionally, pick up a few more designers, expand our private label and grow our brand outreach. I’m pretty busy at the moment with lots of cool things on the horizon that I hope do well. I have a gift box collaboration with a very well known #bosslady I’ve been working on for a while that’s coming out next month and I am launching a bridal wellness initiative this month with one of my brides that I feel very passionate about.