If your getting married in New Zealand, you have probably heard of Trish Peng, or unknowingly seen one of her gowns. Nestled just a few minutes away from the Saben Ponsonby store is Trish Peng's design studio and sister brand Yours Truly whose bridal boutique now stocks our 'To have and To Hold' ceremonial collection. The last three months have been incredibly tough for the event industry, including weddings. We say down with Trish to chat about finding the dream dress, and how she survived another lockdown.
To start, can you share a little bit about yourself, your background, and what led you to become the woman you are today.
I was born and raised in Auckland. I knew when I was 7 that I wanted to be a designer. I would dress up in my Mum’s wardrobe any chance I could. My Mum purchased a little sewing machine and I taught myself the basics of how to sew. I started creating custom dresses for clients when I was studying at Whitecliffe College. After a gap year in LA & New York, I came back in 2014 and officially launched my business and never looked back.
How did your love of weddings and all things matrimonial first come about?
I believe it started when I was watching movies like The Wedding Planner, Bride Wars etc it sparked a love for weddings and all things beautiful.
Also when I was at university I designed a couple of my friends wedding dresses and fell in love with the whole process from start to finish of creating a custom dress.
Trish Peng is THE name in luxury bridal wear, what inspired you to start your business?
Aw thank you! I think growing up with my parents who started their own business inspired me so much to start my own.
I’ve always had big dreams and I think when I was little I learnt about Vera Wang I was so inspired to have my own brand.
What does a regular day look like for you?
Everyday is quite different for me which keeps things interesting! When we are out of lockdown it will consist of meetings with the team, consultations with brides and custom fittings.
What do you enjoy most about designing with your brides?
I love bringing a bride’s vision to life, starting from pen and paper to a mock up in calico, to their final design. The glow and happy tears that come from a bride / entourage when they’ve found the dress is just such an incredible feeling.
The dresses you create are PERFECTION. How long do you work with a bride? What’s the process from that first consultation to the final fitting?
Thank you! For most brides we recommend them starting the dress search around 8 – 12 months before their wedding. With a custom bride we start their first fitting around 6 months before their wedding and see them around 3 to 5 fittings to make sure it is perfect and hand over the dress around a week or two before the big day.
If a bride needs a dress urgently they can also go to our sister brand Yours Truly, where we sell new, sample, pre-loved dresses from any brand. These dresses are ready to go and at a more accessible price point.
How are those ‘wow’ moments when you see your brides in their dress?
Every dress looks different on every bride and it is true that the brides do get that moment of ‘this is the dress!”. It really is such a special moment and it reminds me why I do what I do.
I’ve been quite lucky to be invited to a lot of my brides weddings, so seeing the finished creation walking down the aisle is even more incredible to witness.
What advice do you have for brides who are searching for THE dress?
I would say to start the dress search at least 8 months before the wedding to avoid rush fees. When you go to your appointment, take those friends and family members who’s opinion you value. Too many guests can leave you to be a bit confused as everyone can have a different opinion. Also be open minded to trying on different styles to what you are after, as a lot of the time brides choose a dress completely different to how they envisioned.
The last 18 months have thrown us some curveballs, especially those in the wedding and event world – is there anything you’ve learned about yourself and/or the way you do business?
I really feel for the brides who have had to postpone, some of them more than once. I’ve learnt that you can’t control what happens around us and I’ve realised that I do have a wee bit of patience and can handle high levels of stress now. Having your business closed for 3 months isn’t something anyone can plan for. We’ve had to alter the way we do business, in terms of virtual consulations and fittings, which is not ideal as brides need to try on dresses and have the full experience.
Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than our wins – what’s one of your most significant learning curves running a business?
Do one thing well rather than multiple things at once. If you’re good at designing and not at numbers, let someone else do the books for you (Referring to myself haha)
What’s changed since you launched in 2014?
In 2014 when I launched, I was so excited that I designed everything from ready to wear, evening and bridal gowns. It wasn’t until my mentor suggested I focus on what thing and do it well. So I immediately dropped my ready to wear line even though I had just finished sampling the new collection. I think it was the best decision as I could focus on luxury bridal and how we can deliver the best experience and service to our brides.
Are there any highlights from your career? Moments where you feel so incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved.
I like to think out of the box when it comes to marketing so for fashion week we always come up with a show stopper gown or collection. I’m so honoured to have a couple of world firsts including the longest train to ever appear on a catwalk and the world’s first reversible bridal collection.
What about in your life? Are there any women who have inspired you most throughout your life and career?
Trelise Cooper was a big influence for me. I interned and worked for her for 4 years throughout university. Having experience at her head office and retail, taught me a lot on how to run a business and how to manage the retail aspect.
You have two very adorable pooches, Stella & Ollie, are they helping you stay sane during lockdown?
They are the best! Those two little rascals keep me entertained and fit by going on walks with them. I think everyone needs a little pooch in their life.
Are there any mantras or words of wisdom you live by during strange times like these?
Better together. With social distancing in place, it can start to feel lonely. However, one of the best mantras is knowing that you are not alone and that everyone else is experience the same uncertainty and challenges. Make sure you take the time to breath some fresh air and do a bit of exercise, even if its just a walk around the block.
What are your goals and ambitions for 2022 and beyond?
Our goals for the business is to expand the Trish Peng brand to more international stockist's. Where bridal boutiques around the world can stock our collection. The end goal – to be the next Vera Wang.
We’re very excited about our To Have & To Hold collection sitting alongside your collection this season. What was it about the collection that you love?
I love that the pieces are classic with gold trims. The baby blue is perfect for our brides to have ‘something blue’ for their big day.
Which pieces do you think your brides will swoon over?
I think our brides will absolutely love the new Gigi Alabaster! Every bride actually needs a handbag on the day to put essentials etc your phone, lippy, mints, plasters etc. Usually the bag will be managed by the bridesmaids and taken to the ceremony / reception for touch ups.
Visit Trish Peng's Showroom by appointment to see our Bridal collection in person, or shop the 'To Have and To Hold' online collection here.