Executive Director, Association of Wedding Gown Specialists 
(AWGS), 800.501.5005, info@weddinggownspecialists.com.
President, Orange Restoration Labs, Orange, Conn., 
800.950.6482, info@gownrestoration.com.

Employees: 3 full-time, AWGS; 10 full-time, Orange Restoration Labs 
Revenue breakdown: 54% preservation, 25% cleaning, 21% restoration

Social media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Wedding Aces

Family: Between us, my husband and I have five children, ages 46, 43, 42, 40, and 33, as well as two grandchildren, 4 and 5 months.
Education: I have a B.A. from Wellesley College (1960), an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Bryn Mawr College (1982, 1987) and conservation studies at Yale University, Smithsonian Institution, and Winterthur.

Status: I wanted to be the first, and I was (in 2002).  A “third-party” validation is always important because it reassures the bride that her choice is a good one. And when the validation comes from the ABC, the preeminent organization dedicated to wedding professionals worldwide, what could be better!

On the ABC and networking: I joined in 1994 because consultants are a natural market, but networking has turned out to be even more helpful.  Eileen and Jerry Monaghan introduced me to many important figures in the industry such as Peter Grimes of Vows Magazine: The Bridal & Wedding Business Journal and Cele Goldsmith Lalli, at that time the editor of Modern Bride.  Cele in turn introduced me to the owner of Priscilla of Boston, and my own company did all their work for many years. These days, I find the state, regional, and national meetings are a wonderful source of speakers, partnerships, and program ideas.

Other Memberships: Textile Society of America, American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Objects, and International Drycleaners Congress.

On the AWGS: It’s a Canadian not-for-profit trade association represented in more than 500 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, and South Africa. The members specialize in cleaning gowns of all kinds, and the association’s goal is to provide women, especially brides, with not only trusted local service but also an international guarantee.  We hold our members to very high standards, and we educate brides about the importance of gown care via our website, blogs, and other media.

Orange Restoration Labs: We have a 4,000 sq. ft. facility where we clean and preserve contemporary gowns. I restore vintage items by hand and particularly enjoy helping brides with suggestions for updating their vintage gowns and veils. Our goal is to serve as a resource that brides, bridal consultants, bridal salons, and seamstresses can count on for whatever help they need with gowns and veils, new or old.

Mentors: In 1990, when my husband and I bought a business together, I was an academic from a very different world. I knew nothing about business, and in this industry, my husband is my mentor.  His background in banking and corporate enterprise has been crucial to our success.

Inspiration: The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists sponsors

Couture: New York Bridal Fashion Week. Attending the markets in Chicago and New York keeps me up-to-date with wedding fashion and gives me lots of ideas for display and for adapting vintage gowns.

Marketing strategy: We focus almost exclusively on the Internet but supplement with other media and networking.  
On Staying Fresh: We try to take a couple of days before or after major professional commitments in other cities, but every few years, we take a longer trip—most recently to Australia.

Ideal client: For new gowns, the woman who cares enough about her gown to give it the proper care. For vintage gowns and veils, the woman whose family means everything to her.

Recent Reads: David Baldacci in hard copy and tons of free books on my Kindle.

Hobbies: Reading, gardening, my two black cats, fishing with my husband.

Words of Wisdom: Never say “no” if the challenge is interesting.  Always say “yes” and then figure out later how to make it work.

On Giving Back: I have to hope that many, many years of community service in an earlier life carry forward because there simply is 
no time for volunteer work.  Both AWGS and my own company contribute services and/or gowns to charities, and we have also sponsored breast cancer events and other such charitable programs.

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