Meet the Designer: Kelly Faetanini
Kelly’s Childhood & Inspiration
Wedding dress designer Kelly Faetanini’s love for creating beauty and crafting beautiful items with a needle and thread has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Kelly speaks fondly of time with her grandmother, who she describes as a “jack of all trades who could make anything.”
Her grandmother’s home featured an always-in-use and somewhat magical room with cabinets overflowing with fabric and everything needed to sew the next masterpiece. Kelly warmly recalls retreating to that inspiring room to sketch, dream, cut and create while her grandmother made her dresses and taught her how to stitch seams. Sewing runs in the family — Kelly’s mother also made many of her clothes so entering a career in the fashion industry was a natural fit for her.
High School and College Years
Growing up in the small town of Sandusky, Ohio, Kelly attended a high school with a robust arts program. Creatively scheduling her other core classes, Kelly was able to include classes like fashion design/illustration, sewing, painting and pottery fueling her passion for an artistic career. From there, she attended the International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago, obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design in only three years and graduating with the highest honors.
Kelly recalls during her entire first year of study, that every time she would sketch something, it was always a dress. With full understanding that to be a well-rounded designer she needed to work on all kinds of garments (and knowing full well her coursework demanded it) she still always came back to the dress. As her education progressed, her interest in the wedding industry grew. Her apartment was piled high with wedding magazines, and she was constantly sketching ideas, following trends and seeking fresh inspiration. At the same time, she worked at a bridal boutique that sold off-the-rack dresses and she also began selling her dresses as well. Living the dream, Kelly was getting paid to work in an industry she loved and she began to plan for her next steps in the industry.
Start of Her Career
Following college, Kelly moved to New York and worked at a bridal store where she gained experience as a pattern maker and worked on the sales floor navigating the challenges associated with wedding gown ordering and the intricacies of the entire sales process. She gained valuable experience, in both pitfalls to avoid and best practices, that she carries with her as she runs the successful Kelly Faetanini brand.
Ready to further her career in the bridal industry, Kelly began searching for an internship. In an extremely competitive environment, Kelly went door to door with her portfolio in hand, relentlessly pursuing every avenue possible. Finally, her persistence paid off with an opportunity to intern (unpaid) with the famed Priscilla of Boston. Grateful for the chance to learn and hone her skills, Kelly was later retained as a designer for the company where she launched the Jewel by Priscilla of Boston Collection and was responsible for designs, concepts, technical production packages, technical fittings and market trend research. She was also chosen to collaboratively design Priscilla of Boston Bridesmaids, The White Dress program and veils for several seasons.
The Kelly Faetanini Brand is Born
Kelly worked for four years at Priscilla of Boston, and then the company closed its doors in 2012. And with that, Kelly launched her own business. At the age of 23, Kelly was the youngest wedding gown designer on the runway at New York Bridal Fashion Week. She had experienced a lot of red tape, bridal industry quirks and politics, and saw first-hand the tenuous relationship between retail and wholesale. Throughout all of her experiences, Kelly was taking notes. She knew she wanted her business to accomplish things differently, with a customer-centric focus and attention on morals, ethics and values. As a result, her passion for creating beautiful dresses and her emphatic concentration on customer service have become the hallmark of the wedding dress designer Kelly Faetanini brand.
“I was ready to start my own brand. It all started with the customer service element,” she explained. “Partnership is one of the biggest components to me. We are not just selling gowns. We are partnering with brides and salons. In a partnership, we do things together that are mutually beneficial. It’s not a one-way road. When we really started talking about partnership and collaboration, I started asking hard questions. What does that mean? What does it look like? What really matters? We want our partner salons to be successful. We want to offer beautiful gowns that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s not about us. It’s about them. No one else talks about that. No one else does that. This is what makes us different.”
The Customer Service Promise
Even when the Kelly Faetanini team is not working directly with brides, the way the company works with retailers affects the service that brides receive. The company strives to implement and continually improve processes that make ordering, sales and customizations simple for brides and salons alike. Whether it’s the use of technology that allows a bride to see what a custom dress looks like digitally prior to ordering or the numerous team members available within a moment’s notice to service bridal salon partners, Kelly’s team is attentive and focused.
“Every process, every detail, everything we do in our business is focused on creating a better experience for our brides and as well as our stockists,” said Kelly. “We want to ensure that each bride is completely satisfied with her dress. We want her to know we are there for her every step of the way. Our relationship doesn’t end once the sale is complete. Our brides are family, and we are honored to play a part in their big day.”
About Kelly Faetanini Designs
Kelly Faetanini designs have been described as feminine, romantic and the perfect combination of classic and modern. Most of Kelly’s gowns can be made to order with customizable beading, detachable necklines, and special corset technology for the perfect fit. Available in a wide range of sizes, the attention to detail is evident in everything from the fit, the fabric, the seam finishes to the final embellishments.
And after so many years of designing simply stunning, sometimes edgy, often classic and always beautiful gowns, is Kelly afraid she will run out of design ideas? She said there is always fresh inspiration. Kelly recently fell in love with the idea of using black in her designs and explored a moody Shakespearean concept in some of her sketches. Not all of her ideas become reality or make it to the runway or retail, but she said she finds inspiration daily, sometimes in the most unusual places.
Kelly’s Driving Force
Wedding dress designer Kelly Faetanini has come a long way since her initial exposure to the wedding industry at the age of 18. But following what she knows is her true calling in life, she believes that being a wedding dress designer is about more than creating beautiful gowns, it is a way to impact the lives of women around the world. Each time a bride choses one of her designs, Kelly is overwhelmed with gratitude and pride and those feelings continue to motivate and empower her each day.
Kelly Faetanini lives in NYC with her husband Clint, their 4-year old daughter and their 15-month old twin boys. A wedding dress designer for brides looking for a modern spin on classic designs, Kelly Faetanini’s bridal collections offer an elegant, fresh approach on timeless styles with a twist of old world charm while presenting brides with customization options on a variety of gowns.