Monday, September 26, 2022

Grace Loves Lace Founder Megan Ziems: On Covid, Chaos & the Secret to Picking the Perfect Wedding Dress

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Megan and her two sons, Tallow and Luca

If there’s one brand on every Kiwi bride’s wish list, it’s Grace Loves Lace. A huge presence in the bridal world, GLL was formed by Queensland-based Megan Ziems in 2010, when she became annoyed at the lack of choice for Antipodean brides, and the hefty price she was expected to pay. Now, thousands of brides have tied the knot wearing one of Meg’s creations and the business has gone from strength to strength. But, as she tells Capsule, Covid has changed the game for many of her brides, as well as her own way of doing things. Plus, her tips for picking the perfect wedding dress, her wedding day advice and her surprising Kiwi connection.

Grace Loves Lace has turned into something of an international juggernaut in the bridal fashion world! Can you tell us a little about the origins of the brand? 

I had been working in marketing and branding for the previous 12 years, and when I was looking for my own wedding dress I couldn’t believe what the industry was. Like today, most (more than 80%) of the worlds wedding dresses were made in China, there were knock off designs everywhere, a complete lack of quality, authenticity and excessive margins. I couldn’t believe that women had become accustomed to this standardised uniform. I was really determined to build a brand that women wanted to be a part of, with strong values.

You have two young boys – they must keep you busy, let alone the business? Do you have a secret for getting the balance right between work and home you can share?

It’s hard but I think knowing your limits is really important and something I have had to learn to manage better. I have worked incredibly hard and have had to make a lot of sacrifices, but have had a lot of rewards too. I have had to prioritise my kids and work, so to be able to do that I have help with the house. I think working out where your time is best spent is important, and for me cleaning and housekeeping is my last priority so having help with those allows me to spend time with my kids and get all my work done. I also prioritise exercise as it’s my number 1 “me time” thing to do. 
 

What does the average day in the life of Meg look like? 

I wake up really early – sometimes around 3.30-4am and check emails etc. I get into my exercise gear, and my mother-in-law is my youngest one’s nanny, so she arrives at about 7am. I get them fed, dressed and ready for their days.

After the school run I’ll do my exercise – which is often running our dog on the beach and then doing some pilates in the gym at home, make a smoothie and head into the office.

My time in the office at HQ or my home office is generally made up of meetings, marketing or branding workshops, designs meetings, fit sessions, creative content editing, creative planning, general emails with the exec team or sales/marketing teams, WIP meetings about showroom plans, doing moodboards etc. I have an amazing Executive Assistant at work that helps keep me organised!

I always eat lunch at my desk, which is a bad habit! I then head home, make dinner, get the kids bathed and read them a million books to the kids and chat about their days, and watch some TV or read a book. I always burn oils and do some stretching, we live on the beach so dusk is the best time to hang in the backyard and we always chat over the fence to all the neighbours.

I have made a point in the last six to 12 months to reduce my work hours so gone are the days I spend every spare minute at the computer seven days a week. I’m in an adjustment phase at the moment which is exciting for my kids and to allow the business to flourish even more with the amazing team I have.
 

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The Song gown and Henri veil – what Meg would wear herself if she got married tomorrow!

Obviously the wedding industry has been hit hard by Covid, with so many brides having to put off their special days or cancelling them altogether. How has this affected you, and what are you doing to mitigate any potential disruption? 

My executive team have been brilliant in handling it, obviously it’s been complicated. We have more than 150 people on the team and in three different continents and different states and counties. We have focused on the health and safety of brides and our team, our HR team and management team have been tireless in being across all the never ending and inconsistent rules and regulations. [But being Australian made has allowed our manufacturing to be unaffected – and it’s important that the bridal industry and bride-to-be’s start talking about how wedding dresses are made. We have held off on the release of lots of exciting projects but it’s one of those things that you just have to deal with, and everyone has had to deal with it. 
 

Your dresses are incredibly popular with Kiwi brides! Generally speaking, what is a Kiwi GLL bride looking for, and does she differ to others in other countries? 

We love New Zealand – I was actually born there! My parents sailed from Europe and I was on the yacht until I was 3. My parents sailed from Tonga to NZ in the final days before I was born to be close to a hospital. My family and I holiday in the South Island a few times a year and it’s just ridiculously beautiful.

I think Kiwi women are just super down to earth, appreciate and can recognise quality and authenticity and want a dress that is naturally beautiful and comfortable. I think they are comfortable and confident in their own skin so they value a dress that is not going to manipulate their shape with corsetry. I think being Aussie made and designed is appreciated by Kiwis – they understand the difference between mass off shore production and ethical manufacturing and sustainable designs and they value it. A huge thank you to everyone in NZ that supports us and is a part of our community – we love you! 

What’s the secret to absolutely nailing choosing the perfect wedding dress? 

I think a wedding dress should make you feel something. It needs that substance to it – you want it to be something you want to keep and be proud to hand down, how it’s designed, how it’s made, who made it, the quality of the fabric and construction, the skill that went in to making and designing it. It also needs to feel like you, you don’t want to feel like you’re playing dress up. And don’t overthink it. 

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What are you favourite wedding trends at the moment? 

I’m loving the small wedding trend. I was so incredibly nervous on my wedding day, that now I totally celebrate the intimate ceremony. I was most excited about the dress and getting the ceremony done so I think everyone should just do what makes them feel the most comfortable. At the moment I’ve heard so many women say they are focusing on getting the dress of their dreams for the ceremony, investing in the dress and the photographer, and then wearing the dress again and getting a second dress to celebrate an “after party” months later when large gatherings are allowed again. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Music, art, fabric, women in general, my girlfriends – strong female icons from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
 
If you were going to get married tomorrow, can you tell us what dress you’d pick and what the day might look like? 

You know it would probably be in NZ! With a group of our family and friends. Outdoors with loads of beautiful lights, a ceremony at dusk, great live music outdoors, locally sourced food and wine served casually. I would wear Song with the Henri veil, Dosa heels in nude and the Essie earrings. Then I would get changed into the Izabel later on to dance the night away!

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