It’s almost summer, you know what that means? Wedding season of course! I got the chance to visit entrepreneur Grace Lee-Lim in her studio at Macy’s Chicago Fashion Incubator. Grace started her bridal line nearly a year ago, and has already been featured in multiple bridal publications like The Knot and Style Me Pretty.
Grace Lee-Lim studied fashion design at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has designed womenswear and menswear in New York under CFDA award-winning designer 3.1 Phillip Lim and Robert Geller, among others. As she gained experience in the different facets of the industry, she discovered that her design sensibility was geared towards bridal design. Upon the completion of her first bridal endeavor, her own wedding gown, Grace started her eponymous bridal line in the city of Chicago.
Lee-Lim is for the confident, forward-thinking bride rooted in romance and integrity. Lee-Lim bridal is designed for the hopeless romantic. Balancing the delicate with the intricate, Lee-Lim enhances the female silhouette while remaining authentic to what makes a woman uniquely individual.
Want to know more about Grace? Check out the interview below and behind the scenes images!
-Where do you get your inspiration?
I draw inspiration mostly from movement – be it from nature (like when seasons transition or how water moves in the ocean), or the movement and rhythm in music, to films and the overall progression of a story. I’m also very attracted to history and the colorful background to a person, place, culture, and identity.
-What made you decide to go into fashion design?
I discovered Comme des Garcons when I was a first year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and saw a completely different side of fashion than what I had initially imagined. It opened my eyes to an array of possibilities and the thought that fashion could be much more of an art form in line with being an object that is worn to cover the body. This realization really catapulted me to finding passion in designing clothing.
-What advice would you give to someone who is starting his or her own business?
To enjoy the journey as much as the end result. It’s something that everyone says, but a saying that I try and make myself reflect on every single day. The journey of starting your own business is beautiful but can be very chaotic and overwhelming. It’s incredibly important to have foresight and keep the end goal in mind, but remembering each step taken is equally significant, in my opinion.
-What’s the biggest obstacle you have overcome since owning your own business?
Trusting yourself even regardless of whether you’re sure or not of the outcome. When you work for someone else, there are set parameters that you are to work within and you know not to color outside of the lines, so to speak. There isn’t very much risk involved, especially if you’re not working at an executive-level position. However, when owning your own business, every single decision you make is some type of risk, and it’s crucial to trust yourself to make these decisions to push forward and grow.
-What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Besides designing a collection and seeing it grow in front of your eyes, I’d say delivering a gown to a client. It’s a magical moment where two visions come to life in a single form, and you get the unique experience of seeing how ecstatic the bride is to have the final gown in her hands.
-What is the best advice you would give to an aspiring design student?
Be open to every possibility in your career. I have many friends and acquaintances who went to design schools not only here but in NY, Europe, and Asia, and many ended up getting extraordinary jobs because they were willing to go out of their comfort zone and try a job that wasn’t necessarily part of their “plan”. It’s definitely necessary to have a plan, but it’s so unbelievably important to be able to maneuver around it and adjust to what works in the right time as well. If you only stick to what you think is right, you may miss an opportunity that may have much better results in the long run. Sometimes the very thing you’re passionate about now shifts to something else that you might not have imagined in the past. I know many people who studied womenswear and ended up doing shoe design, handbag design, and even I myself started with menswear design and landed on bridal!
-What was the best part about planning your wedding?
Seeing all of the little parts that were orchestrated in their own phases come together and brought to life. It’s similar to the process of making a collection where many moving parts have to work together harmoniously to make a single event work fluidly, which is not easy but so rewarding when you see it happening.
-What is your favorite photo from your wedding?
One of my favorite photos is of my entire family with my husband’s entire family (including extended relatives on both sides). It’s still so surreal and amazing to see the many different generations that are in the picture, including grandmothers and babies, not to mention that each member of the family came together to show their immense love and support for us.
-What is your most memorable moment with a client?
I generally love the moment when a client gives me her full trust in making design decisions for her gown. It’s such an awesome moment when you see the client’s face lighting up because they see that you understand their vision, plus adding to it with unexpected details and other elements.