For most creative entrepreneurs with a fashion focused business, the birth of their brand doesn't come from want, but that of necessity. This was definitely the case for Juli Smith. Ten years into her political communications career, she switched gears to garters! Still working on the Hill, she made it a “hobby” and made custom orders only. In 2008 she left politics to have her first child and she chose her new role in motherhood as her new career and picked up her garter business on the side. Focusing on custom garters was not over saturated in the market yet, so this was her chance to do something that still no one was doing.
Wedding garters are the oldest tradition, so it can be hard to put your own fresh spin on the craft, but Juli was vigilant about her love for garters and sewing. In 2009 she blogged about garters every single weekday. While Juli was researching and writing, brides were asking:
Which leg do I wear it on? How do I wear it? How do I keep it after my wedding? Or, who buys it?
2009 was a much different time. Wedding blogs were just starting to perk up! The only way to get to the top of the search engine was to blog on a daily basis, so she opened up juliannesmith.com & TheGarterGirl.com. Because her name “Smith” was used on Twitter, she had to come up with something new - which slightly has something to do with her fascination with Gossip Girl, so Garter Girl was it! The Garter Girl had the answers and her brand was born! The foundation of her business is more than just creative ideas and design, she has skills and she got them from her mother. A nurse by day, her mother sewed for her own personal use and taught Juli to make her own clothing and creations. If she had a vision for prom or Halloween then she made it happen and most likely she still owns it to this day!
Always crafty, Juli had a brain for business and didn’t know that she could make an actual living in the wedding industry.
As luck would have it, Juli had a friend who owned a bridal dress shop. Fortunately, they didn’t sell garters because they had a difficult time finding any they truly liked. So, Juli showed her what she made and the owner picked up her line and The Garter Girl was in business!
Let’s talk garters
Most brides want something that feels personal. Simple, modern and stylish…
(Custom Garters by The Garter Girl - scroll left and right to see all her amazing custom work. photos courtesy of The Garter Girl)
The Garter Girl advantage is that she really gets to know the bride. Most of her work is custom, so the uniqueness of each garter really comes through with her the bride-to-be, especially since her garters are handmade. Many brides love to personalize their garters with color, initials, or wedding dates.
A couple of years ago trends were were over the top, feathers, beads, charm, etc. but the most important ingredient for The Garter Girl is the high quality materials she uses, as they are the most comfortable to wear on your big day.
Juli designs for a timeless piece. Most popular designs are a more modern aesthetic, so it sets her apart.
Most clients have a more traditional choice in the back of their mind - think lots of lace, or custom with tulle and polka dots. For the fun and fancy bride, she has customized a garter of plum and aqua with lace and pearls. Even maroon, orange and white polka dots have graced her sewing table and she had a few requests for college color themes, but typically brides want matching wedding theme colors. On occasion Juli is sent a piece of a wedding dress, so a lot of the times she ties back in family heirlooms that she can incorporate into the design making her designs that more intimate of a purchase. Besides, even the smallest details from The Garter Girl make the biggest impact on your wedding day!