Jaye Applewaite: From Civil Engineer to Wedding Dress Designer
It’s hard to believe that Jaye Applewaite only started designing about two years ago. I first saw and photographed her work back in December 2014 at Pomp Wknd and I don’t think it occurred to me just how new she was to the scene.
At that time, her focus was on floral headpieces and accessories but some bridal pieces crept in under her then social media alias Jazz Applewhite.
Since then her dresses have been featured in Living Barbados, brideLIFE and Caribbean Zing, LIAT’s in-flight magazine. She had also shown at the Pompasette Brunch Party.
Jaye and I recently had a chat via email and as it turns out, she was working in an unrelated field when she started making dresses.
Here’s the first part of her journey in her own words.
I was working full time as a Civil Engineer, and the local engineering industry wasn’t doing well. I realised I needed another source of income. Also, generally I was beginning to feel quite unhappy about my career, there was no passion, nor motivation. I was feeling very unfulfilled, and my future in engineering looked quite bleak and boring. I’m a very creative person and, I love working with my hands, and I love all things weddings and lifestyle. After much thought, I decided I would love to create a wedding and lifestyle empire, starting with custom-designed wedding dresses.
It was quite a risk, since I had no formal training in sewing nor fashion before, I had never sewn anything before for myself furthermore for anyone. But I was confident that I could get it done. So, I created a small collection of dresses, dusted off my camera and took some beautiful photos with a model. I posted the photos on social media and within a month I had booked my first bride!
Jaye loves working with high-quality lace and adding intricate beadwork using pearls, crystals and rhinestones. She takes great care in applying each piece of lace by hand to create unique, gorgeous designs.
She also makes sure each dress is a perfect fit for her brides.
“When I design for a bride I am inspired by her emotion and overall vision for her wedding day. During consultations with my brides, I find out what they like, their personal style and their vision for their wedding day, and then I take everything that they have told me and create a design that is perfect for them and their big day! The lace is also very inspiring, as each piece is applied by hand the dress design process evolves as the lace is applied. The unique designs created by the lace is always different. Each dress is custom made for the bride, and as such I don’t make the same design twice since each bride is unique and each wedding is unique,” she says.
It is obvious that Jaye enjoys the dressmaking process, from consultation through to the final fitting.
“Couture dress design is an evolving process, each gown takes hours of hand-work applying lace appliques and beadwork. My dresses are handmade works of art, and it’s always exciting for the bride and me to see what the dress evolves into! And then there is dress collection! Dress collection is always exciting, the look on some of their faces, priceless!! It truly is an amazing process and definitely the best part of my business!” she says.
Not just dresses
Jaye doesn’t only offer dresses; veils, garters, and jewellery are also available. The veils range from bird-cage veils to long breath-taking cathedral veils and the jewellery is made of 18K gold- filled chain and components as well as semi-precious gems and freshwater pearls.
She also provides styling and dressing services.
“The dressing service is very popular. So far all my brides have requested that I be there when they are getting ready to help them dress,” she tells InMyWardrobe.
I asked Jaye about some the trends in bridal wear in Barbados and she revealed that many women travel to North America to buy their dresses. A-line and mermaid silhouettes are all the rage and most blushing brides still prefer traditional white.
If you want something different, Jaye’s your girl.
“My style is not very traditional, nor do I follow the popular trends here. I like a variety of styles, and I find inspiration in many things, and that’s reflected in my designs. My designs are sexy, romantic, dramatic, and whimsical. I like for the dresses to have an effortless feel, much like light and air.”
The young designer has lots more in store for her wedding and lifestyle brand.
“I have only developed the custom-designed wedding dress product; this is a small aspect of the overall brand vision that I have. Other bridal products I will be creating are ready-to wear wedding dresses, getting ready clothing, and bridal accessories. I also have to start the lifestyle aspect of the brand that will include resort style clothing, accessories and jewellery. Not to mention the marketing and promotion aspect of the brand that still has to be developed. It’s an exciting journey ahead and I am looking forward to expanding and building my brand,” she says.
We can’t wait to see what’s next!