How did you decide to start Elizabeth Andrés in Dubai?
The first invitation I designed was 11 years ago, before I moved to Dubai, and throughout the years I did quite a few for friends and family. I studied fine arts, but was always very crafty and interested in graphic design as well. You couldn’t keep a paintbrush out of my hands long enough! I moved to Dubai for work five years ago (I did business set-up and admin for new investing banking companies – don’t ask, that’s another story), but in the midst of the economic crisis, the company I was working for went under and I was without a job. I had a lot of free time on my hands and headed back into art, design, and paper crafts again to relieve all my stress. After doing a couple wedding invitations for friends in 2009, they encouraged me to do something with it. After doing a lot of research, I realized there was a big gap in the market here for wedding stationery. People spend more on their weddings in this region than anywhere else, yet the invitations I saw were just awful, low quality, old-fashioned and very uninspiring. So I had one of those Oprah “Ah-ha” moments one night and I’ve been designing wedding invitations ever since. I couldn’t be happier and life is lot less stressful now!
Where did the name Elizabeth Andrés come from?
Elizabeth and Andrés are names from the two people who made me who I am today. My parents. It’s hard living so far away from them and I am honored to have been blessed with such incredible parents in my life, so I wanted to honor them in this endeavor.
Since you are in expat, as most of us are, will Elizabeth Andrés be around for while?
Yes, I am in Dubai for the long term. My husband is Lebanese and owns a couple businesses here, so we plan on staying here quite awhile. As a inter-cultural couple, Dubai is a place that offers a good balance for both of us. He is close to his family and I have some of my modern comforts here! J Dubai is still full of opportunity if you have an entrepreneurial spirit!
What makes Elizabeth Andrés special?
I pride myself on keeping my business personal. I’ve been approached with opportunities to open up a full retail shop, but I think that is the wrong avenue to take. Many of my customers have told me they appreciate the one-on-one experience and personal attention I give them, rather than just being a name or number at a big stationery shop. I treat each invitation project with the same importance as if it were for my own wedding!
Where do you get your inspiration from for your designs?
I draw inspiration from fashion trends, interior design styles, and from my clients own stories. If you take a look at the wedding industry, you’ll see that wedding themes and, of course, invitations always follow what’s in fashion! Retro fashions, vintage glamour, Cottage chic….these ideas all came from the runways and interior design. I’ve even seen photos of neon weddings recently. But more importantly I take the time get to know my clients on a personal level. I take the time to find out what makes them unique. What inspires them? What is their personal style? What do they love? I normally ask the bride to bring with her to the first consultation items that reflect who she really is (like a fashion accessory, a favorite pair of shoes, a souvenir from a dream vacation) or photos of things that she loves (a favorite place, objects, flowers, dresses, etc.). Does she have a flair for the flamboyant? Does she have a quirky retro style? Or is she very classic and want to blend in? This information all helps me to design the perfect unique wedding invitation for that bride.
If you could give honest advice to brides about their wedding stationery, what would you tell them?
The first thing I would tell them is to be creative! Be unique! Make it personal! Nine out of ten brides call me up and tell me that their wedding theme is white or white & gold. The world was created with so many beautiful colors to express yourself with! Though white & gold is very elegant, I don’t believe that everyone has a white & gold personality. Colors will make for much more interesting photos too!
The second thing I would tell brides is to plan their wedding stationery EARLY! Just yesterday I had a call from someone whose wedding was in 4 weeks and they wanted 500 custom designed silk wedding invitations. I joked with the caller that invitations should have been sent out last week. You would be amazed at how frequently I get calls like this. I am actually really confused by this tendency and don’t understand what it is that makes so many leave invitations until the last minute or even later. Unfortunately I cannot help these callers in most cases or they are stuck ordering a pre-designed paper invitation, which also takes at least 2 weeks to finalize and print. Invitations should be ordered 4 to 6 months before the wedding so they can be sent out a proper 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. People have very busy lives and traveling guests need time to make their travel arrangements and request time off work. It’s also pretty expensive to attend a wedding these days, with having to purchase a new dress, hair, make-up and travel. We should respect that if we’re expecting them to show up and give us a gift! LOL.
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Thanks for sharing Natalie, and as always looking forward to working with you. ♥
*All photos by Elizabeth Andres*