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A Look into Meghan and Stacey’s Journey from Designer Dream to Runway Reality

After decades of making their brides’ dreams come true, it’s time to finally make their own dreams a reality with their latest project: Jolicoeur

If you haven’t already heard, the Sinders Bridal powerhouse sisters, Meghan and Stacey, have taken the plunge and launched their very own Canadian-inspired custom line of designer wedding gowns.

Immersing themselves in the bridal industry has helped them understand what exactly their brides are looking for and has enabled them to take to the drawing board and come up with masterpieces. With the female body in mind, their gowns are flawlessly designed and backed behind decades of experience in fashion, design, and sewing.

Keep reading for more details about Jolicoeur, what inspired the sisters to start this line, and what they both discovered along the way.

What sparked the idea?

It all started when we were searching for gowns to carry in our shop but were often met with dresses that were just shy of perfect for our standards. Time and time again, we encountered gorgeous pieces, but something was always missing. We knew that if certain characteristics of the gown were altered or a seam was shifted that it would make it a perfect dress that our brides would fall in love with. Over the years we started to realize – we know what our brides are looking for better than the designers we carry, so why not design gowns we know our brides want! And that’s exactly what we set out to do.

What inspired the name and how does it tie into the brand?

The name Jolicoeur is our grandmother’s name. She grew up in the Ottawa area and raised her family there, and though we grew up in the Ottawa valley, this area is our home, and we’re proud to start our own brand here. We wanted a name that represented our heritage so we could bring our family on this journey with us and remain connected to our roots. Plus, while it might not be a perfect translation, we love what the name means in French. How could you not love the sweetness behind falling in love with a Jolie Cœur; a Pretty Heart!

How long has Jolicoeur been in the making?

It feels like yesterday! We finally sat down, planned our strategy, and committed to creating our line in late 2018. We dabbled with the idea of starting our custom line of gowns several years earlier, however, the project didn’t have our full commitment behind it at the time. Though our reasons were the same, and we had many years of wedding industry experience behind us, we didn’t have the backing of a bridal shop that could show our gowns to their greatest potential. Both Sinders Bridal House and Jolicoeur have grown and flourished from the same love of fashion and design. Now both names are ready to work together to make your dreams come true.

What was the inspiration?

Since our infancy, we’ve been in love with fashion and design, so being able to craft works of art for our brides was an extremely attractive endeavour for both of us. 

Having a hand in how the gown would look and feel excited us, especially after spending so many years doing what we love to do and having a background in weddings, design, and sewing. We know what our brides want, and we want nothing more than to deliver that to them through the best styles and designs. It’s not uncommon that our brides tell us that they were looking for something specific but couldn’t find it in Canada as it was a European style, or that they had a vision for their dress but can’t seem to make it come to life. Our goal was to provide our brides with stunning, affordable custom gowns they would see on the runway.

Beyond our struggles with finding beautiful gowns that were missing that “je-ne-sais-quoi,” we also discovered that Canadian design houses were few and far between. Europe had dominated the fashion and bridal world, and we felt that they shouldn’t be the only players in the game. We wanted to bring home some credit for our industry and show the world that Canada has a lot to offer brides.

On a more personal note, Stacey always aspired to become a designer, so Jolicoeur is now a little girl’s dream surfacing into a reality.

What was the process like? Explain the journey.

When we embarked upon this journey, we took inspiration from the female body. With 25 years of experience helping brides find the dress of their dreams, we know which styles flatter which body types, how gowns are supposed to fit on the body, how to customize dresses from head to toe, and what features and adornments add that extra oomph. Lace should flow in the right direction, seams should both enhance and diminish curves, and although this sounds impossible to achieve simultaneously, I assure you it is the basis for a perfect fit when it comes to wedding gowns!

First, we sketch the rough outline of how the gown should fit, then work with high-quality fabrics and choose the best ones for each individual gown. 

Every gown has a bride’s name on it before it’s even created, it’s as though the gown is destined to be hers. This idea is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time because we know she’ll come visit us in our boutique and fall in love with the dress, so it needs to hold up the Sinders quality standards. The design, fabric, shape, style – everything needs to be just right, otherwise, it won’t feel like ‘the one.’

When we go through the process for each gown and make decisions and support each other’s ideas, we know we’re creating something incredible!

We live for the moment our brides look in the mirror and just know, ‘that’s the one.’ We wanted to design gorgeous gowns that were not only expertly crafted, but comfortable to wear and made our brides feel confident, beautiful, and proud.

What surprised you most throughout this experience?

Meghan: I was surprised at how seamlessly everything just falls into place when a gown is designed with a purpose. The fabric sits perfectly, the lines glide down beautifully along the body, and the whole thing suddenly comes together almost effortlessly. When our sample design was completed, and we finally got the gown on our model for the first time, it was an absolutely magical moment I will cherish forever.

Stacey: More humbling than surprising, but the level of support we received from our friends, family, and Sinders team of experts! From the moment we committed to designing this line of gowns to finally receiving them, we’ve received so much positivity and support from everyone, and we couldn’t be happier to have them by our side throughout this experience.

What is something that you discovered about yourself?

Meghan: I learned that it takes a village to achieve what seems like the impossible. When every person contributes their strengths, a powerhouse team is created. Even though we both had this dream and planned to bring our dream to fruition, it takes every person in our shop to keep us on the journey moving forward until that dream becomes a reality.

Stacey: I learned that it has taken 25 years of ups, downs, and massive challenges to get me to this point. The designs and ideas are from working with hundreds of brides and really listening to their wants and needs, and educating myself on women’s bodies to know what looks good on certain shapes and sizes. That allows me to create gowns for all women – gowns that are designed to make you feel like you are realizing the dream you’ve always desired.

What is the most significant life-lesson you both learned?

The most significant life lesson we learned both individually and separately was that for us to truly achieve our goals–professional and personal–it all starts with believing in ourselves and harnessing that confidence to make things happen. From running a business to designing our custom line, staying connected to one another, taking care of our families, and trying to juggle all the challenges life throws at us, having faith in ourselves and each other separates the thoughts of ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can.’ Some days we are overwhelmed by daunting tasks and trying to keep all the pieces in the air moving together, but it pushes us outside of our comfort zone, and in the end, we are incredibly proud and blessed to have each other and our incredibly supportive family behind us. And our amazing Sinders family has been by our side every step of the way, which we are eternally grateful for.

Sinders Bridal House and the Miss Universe Canada Competition

How did Sinders get involved?

We were approached by an incredible woman with whom we’d worked with for several years in bridal shows in the Ottawa area. We had no idea she had been a Miss Canada contestant and even beyond that, a winner in the Miss Grand Canada competition. When Grace modelled for us each year, we got along so well, and she loved the fit and style of the gowns we chose for her. She was a natural on the runway – graceful and elegant – and she looked stunning in everything we put on her. It was hard to choose just one or two gowns!

What was the process like?

We were just starting the creation process for one of our very first Joliceour designs, Sophia, when Grace approached us about sponsoring her path through Miss Universe Canada. She has such a presence and a confidence about her, we knew she would be a perfect fit for such a one-of-a-kind gown. We designed Sophia to be a statement piece, one you need to be able to pull off, or it will overpower you. When we had our sample ready for Grace to try on, it was like witnessing magic. The fit was perfect, she was jaw-dropping, and we knew she’d excel in the competition.

Which designers did you use, and how many gowns were in the mix?

Miss Universe Canada has several phases and requires a gown for each phase. Along with our Joliceour gown, Grace also chose several of our pieces from Eva Lendel and WONÀ Concept (formally known as Crystal Design). Based in Ukraine, WONÀ is one of our favourite designers. We were fortunate enough to have met the designer/owner and established a great relationship with their team. Every one of their gowns is made from start to finish by one person. It’s such a rare thing these days in the fashion industry where everything has been commercialized. We really admire their creativity, and we were so grateful to have them partner with us in dressing Grace.

Throughout the competition, Grace needed one evening gown, six cocktail gowns, and one formal piece for the interview portion for which she chose an incredible ivory pantsuit we carry from Eva Lendel. It’s a showstopper, and she absolutely rocked it! She knew what looks she wanted to embody and was confident about how to portray herself in the garment. We felt so privileged to be able to provide Grace with every one of the pieces she needed, with the help of our amazing designers Crystal and Eva.

What was the most significant thing you’ve taken away from this experience?

The best part of working with Grace for Miss Universe Canada was that she taught us so much about her work in sociology and the competition itself. It’s no surprise that these types of competitions get a bad reputation. We even heard comments like ‘…ew, those things still happen?’. But what’s amazing is that every woman involved in these competitions has a voice and is finding her platform to use it to help others. Grace stands for many tough subjects like police brutality, violence against women, and racial profiling, to name a few. Every woman there is trying to grow personally, philanthropically, and in their career in order to help others. So, why should society look down on that? A portion of these competitions might be based on fashion and aesthetics, but we ourselves are guilty of taking our love of fashion to the extremes sometimes!

What if we were to use our love of fashion to help educate and bring light to certain subjects, isn’t that worth it? We stood behind a woman who stood for confidence and empowering other women, and we are very proud of that.

“Empowering each other in life is something we think everyone should do more of these days.”

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