Here’s a familiar story: Two besties from Syracuse collaborated to launch a line together in NYC! Sounds like us, right? But that’s where the twinning stops. Post graduation, Marteal Boniello and LaTimberly “Timmy” Johnson got Garment Industry jobs in bridal and fashion/lingerie respectively. On the side, the duo began making custom wedding dresses for friends and family, but that quickly developed into a full-fledged business. Now, from their Greenpoint studio, they create gowns and lingerie full-time, selling their creations all over the country. We talked to them about ‘Cuse, weddings and creating heirlooms:
We met at Syracuse too! Describe a typical day in the ‘Cuse together or your favorite college past time. I think ours was eating. We used to order pizza with pineapple (with Ranch dressing to dip), make Stovetop stuffing in the shared microwave in our dorm (just add hot water!), or go the Olive Garden, we were super fancy -- true story.
Haha yay 'Cuse friends!! Our typical day at 'Cuse: We would work all day in the Warehouse (the design building at Syracuse) on our collections or whatever projects we had. Fashion design was a small major, all girls, and being in studio was the best. (Our current brand was basically based on the dream to recreate our days in the studio). Then, we'd go home, change into our "going out clothes," and text each other "meet you at the corner in 10." We lived a block away from each other, and we would meet up and walk to our favorite bar Chucks, where we would get dinner (Thai chili wings) and a $3 pitcher of Honey Brown each. No cups. Straight from the pitcher. Cue "King of the Road," (the 2am bar closing song), and then we'd probably go get a sandwich at Jimmy Johns or pizza, and stumble home. Rinse and repeat. Yay education! We'd say it was tuition money well spent.
What is your favorite bridal trend right now and how have you incorporated it into your collection?
Our favorite trend is that more and more brides are open to incorporating color into their dress. It is a fun design challenge to infuse color in a way that is approachable and understandable for brides, and not too much of a departure from tradition. And
Do you try to have similar design elements carry through both the lingerie and the bridal gowns?
Yes! We design together and always bounce ideas off of each other! We always discuss our fabrics and ideas so the collections coincide and work together, but also allow each other to be the creative behind our own brands. We work together closely on our bridal separates, so our bridal skirts work with our lingerie bodysuits, tops and cover-ups. It is important to us to design garments that work well beyond the wedding day.
What movie or TV show has your favorite wedding in it? What makes it iconic to you?
M: Is Sex and the City too obvious? Because I would pick Miranda's wedding to Steve. Effortless, colorful, intimate, and totally New York.
T: My Best Friend's Wedding is hand's down my favorite wedding movie. Not sure if it's my favorite wedding because TBH its a little messed up. But best music, true friendship and the bridesmaid dresses are unforgettable.
If Loulette Bride had a signature drink what would it be (maybe a morning drink) ? What about Loulette Lingerie?
M: Loulette Bride is totally an Old Fashioned. Timeless, fun, with equal parts sweetness and strength.
T: Loulette Lingerie is definitely a dirty martini extra olives. Classic, clean, dangerous and delicious.
Tell us what sustainable fashion means to Loulette?
The sustainable element that is possible in the bridal industry, as opposed to the fashion industry, is what drew us to bridal in the first place. One of the major environmental issues in the fashion industry is overproduction, and since our gowns are made to order, there is literally no overproduction. Our lingerie is also made in small quantities at our factories and in our studio. It is also inherently a niche market that values quality over quantity, which is an idea I believe in wholeheartedly when it comes to clothing. Our gowns are patterned to eliminate waste as much as possible, and any waste we do create is recycled with Fab Scrap. And all scraps from our lingerie are utilized to create additional styles and accessories. We also only manufacture our gowns and lingerie locally in NYC, which allows for fair labor prices, the highest level of quality control, and the guarantee that our garments are created in an environment we are proud of, and by seamstresses we know and love and pay well. So all in all, I would say sustainable for us translates to complete transparency in our process, because we are proud of the way our garments are made, and want our brides and consumers to know about it!
Have either of you ever witnessed a true bridal fashion emergency on the big day?
The very first Loulette dress down the aisle was for my very first friend at Syracuse, Liz, who told me Freshman year that I would make her dress one day. 10 years later, I did! The Friday before her wedding, I had her try on her dress one more time. Because she lived in Colorado, I couldn't meet with her to do the final dress fitting, so I had to do it AT the wedding. So, Friday, she tried it on, and she was tripping on it because it was a little long. Because it was an all lace dress with a scallop hem, you cant just cut the bottom of the dress, you have to cut into the lace along the motif and move it up. I literally said Liz close your eyes because what I am about to do will make you panic. I chopped like, halfway into the dress and completely restitched the hem the day before the wedding. It really wasn't an emergency because thankfully we are two cool cucumbers, but I would say for most, it would be a very scary site to see your gown chopped in half the day before your wedding.
Where did the name Loulette come from?
We made it up! We weren't into the idea of naming anything after ourselves. We googled it first to make sure it didn't mean anything dirty.
What can we look forward to for Loulette in 2019?
More of the same- a concerted effort to continue to be transparent in our process, and continue to listen to our brides and retailers on what works for them. And in terms of lingerie we are hoping to make a conscious effort in use more sustainable fabrics. We got a few other new ideas up our sleeves as well :)
LIGHTNING ROUND - What's in your Bag?
Lipstick or chapstick?
T: whelp this is eye opening. I have 3 chap sticks and 2 lipsticks
Loose change or change purse?
M: Change purse
T: Change purse that i never use because I get flustered and just throw all of my change in my bag.
Cookie crumbs or keep it clean?
M: Clean, thanks to my dog Mable.
Car keys or metro card?
T: Metro Card. I don't have a license!
Book or tablet?
T: iPhone for movies!
Essential oils or Advil?
Sunglasses or reading glasses?
T: Reading glasses
FILL IN THE BLANK!
The Salt the strap that is so me is...
M: the Bowie strap
T: the BOWIE!
The dream bag I would pair it with is...
M: Kempton & Co. Cheetah Devon Holdall
T: Natalie & Alanna Bag in black
The most essential thing in my bag is...
M: keys? I travel light.
T: chapstick, zinc & deodorant (not the cutest trio lol)
The most embarrassing thing in my bag is...
M: currently Nasal Spray. Damn winter colds.
T: Marteal's phone number written on a piece of paper in case I lose my phone and can't function.
The most random thing in my bag is...
M: two unclaimed Lotto ticket winners from my Grandma from Christmas.
T: A mini hot sauce bottle that was put to use a while ago.
I always carry _______ in case of emergencies.
M: Micron Pens
T: Micron Pens
Describe the inside of your bag in 5 words or less.
M: Pack light, always be prepared!
T: Cute but did a bomb go off inside? (I know this is more than 5 but its accurate).
The Source for Marteal and Timmy's Edit:
Loulette Bride, Loulette Lingerie, the BOWIE strap, Natalie and Alanna bag, Devon Holdall Bag, Micron Pens, Old Fashioned recipe, Dirty Martini recipe
Meet Elsa Marie Collins, social impact strategist and co-founder of impactful US/Mexico border organization, This Is About Humanity. She also works to bolster causes like Latina empowerment through She Se Puede and voter registration with I am a Voter and the movement for Black lives with Harness, among others.
We chatted with this busy working mother about her experience growing up at the border, and how we can help make this world a better place for our children.