My name is Jillian Fellers, and I’m a bridal gown designer. I work from my home studio in Lincoln, Nebraska, where I live with my husband and our two energetic sons.
I’ve always had a love for fashion. Growing up, the glamor of old Hollywood had a special hold over me; I loved watching old movies and still do to this day. I studied fashion design in college, and after I earned my degree, I opened a small studio to work one-on-one with clients. This led me to design for several brides, which is when I developed my love for bridal. I took time off after having my first son, but I eased back into design when I discovered Etsy. At first, I made bridal accessories with the idea that someday I would get back to designing wedding gowns. Then, when I had my second son two years ago, I took the plunge and launched my first collection of wedding and bridesmaid dresses. I’ve since released a second collection and am currently creating my third, which will debut this March.
My inspiration comes from many sources, but I usually find myself studying the beautiful, iconic designs of the 1920s through the 1950s. I love the silhouettes, fabrics, and attention to detail from that period – every seam and embellishment was placed with intention, and every fabric was chosen to drape perfectly. I try to translate that into my own work.
When I begin a new collection, I visualize a story around the woman who’s going to wear my gowns: I think about where she’s going and what her world looks like. After I decide on the direction for the new collection, I source fabrics and make sketches, though most of my designs come to life directly on the dress form. My main focus is always what will be beautiful and flattering to the bride, while also comfortable to wear. I try to keep a variety of body types in mind when I design; I firmly believe that every bride deserves to have beautiful wedding dresses available to her.
Etsy has been such a wonderful platform for me to build my brand and evolve with my customers. I’ve been on Etsy for five years, and there were times when I kept going just because being a part of the community was important to me; I didn’t want to give that up, so I pushed through the hard parts and kept going. My goals for this year include expanding my wholesale accounts, connecting with more brides, and finding a larger studio space so I can begin building a team to keep my production in-house as my business grows. I’m also in the early stages of planning my fall collection, with the goal of exhibiting at my first bridal market in New York this October. I’m so lucky to be building this career doing what I love and I’m eager to take the next step!
All photographs by Allison Garrett.