s part of a new feature on The Bride's Diary Blog, we will be introducing you to individuals who work in the wedding industry... giving you an insight into who they are and why they love weddings!
This week we have been chatting with Pina Fiorenza, owner and designer for Fiorenza Bridal. Pina spoke to us about her inspiration, her love of her family - who are also involved in the business, and the exciting new formal and evening wear range she is planning!
• Tell us a little about your business…
I have been in bridal retail and wholesale for 20 years. Fiorenza is stocked in 40 boutiques across Australia and I still spend many weekends each year in stores, fitting brides in my ‘designer days’ in each state.
I’ve always believed that my ethos and my business is one, it is an approach I take from my Sicilian upbringing – life is work and work is life in Italy, so your passion and integrity is part of the business itself.
My aim is to continue innovating, challenging and driving the Fiorenza label. High quality is something I am fiercely passionate about – as is my belief that all brides should be able to afford the gown of their dreams on their wedding day.
• What is your role in the business and why are you passionate about it?
I am head designer and director; some days it seems very fluid and easy, and other days it can be quite intense. My passion for bridal design has never tired during the past two decades, and I think that gives me the strength to step up during the high-pressure periods that come in the fashion industry. I can loose myself in bridal design for days and yet I don't even notice that I am working. My role is more a lifestyle than a job!
• How long have you been working in the industry?
Fashion is literally in my blood; my mother was tailoress with an obsession with perfection and my father’s sister owned a dressmaking school in Sicily. All of my family worked in the industry and my mother wanted me to ‘do something different’, but I couldn’t help it – I just wanted to dress brides right from the start. I opened the first Fiorenza store in Brisbane 20 years ago, and our 20 year commemorative collection will be launched in stores from November this year.
• What are some of your past business experiences?
I have worked in bridal fashion right from the start, so while designing might have come naturally, I had to really learn how to be a businesswoman as well. The experiences I have had over the years has taught me that if you surround yourself with good people, everything else seems a lot easier.
• What is one of your favourite recollections from your business?
Weddings are such incredibly powerful, emotional experiences, and the dress really symoblises all the bride’s hopes and dreams, so I’ve had lots of very moving experiences over the years. One of the most memorable bride was from a family who I have done three weddings for over the years. The mother called me from hospital to ‘hand over’ her daughter’s wedding day to me. She had cancer and - having not long to go - wanted to tell me how much it meant for her to know that her girl was happy. In those moments, you realise how important the process of selecting a gown can be for women – and not just the bride, but her family and friends.
• Tell us a bit about your family and home life…
I always say I’ve been blessed with the world’s best son and daughter by mistake, and I did not give them back! My daughter is a psychologist and mum to the love of my life, my grandson Oliver. She met her husband in one of our bridal stores while he was helping a friend who wanted his opinion on her bridal dress. My son in law is a beautiful person, and now also consults to Fiorenza, making some wonderful business decisions for the label. My son is my bragbook; he is 28 and has four different degrees – he now works in cancer research and most importantly, is a wonderful person. My husband Tony and I have been together for 36 years and he has always supported, encouraged and celebrated the highs and lows with me.
• How do you enjoy spending your spare time?
I spend my spare time with my family, particularly my gorgeous Oliver. I wash up, change nappies give and gets lot of hugs – and I love every minute of it. I love getting away for a quick holiday with Tony or my sister in Melbourne, who also works in the bridal industry.
• What is your most memorable life experience?
My daughter’s wedding was one my most memorable days of my life. She decided to design her own gown, and when we made up the pattern and had first fitting she just hated it! She turned to me and said "mum why don't you do what you do with the other brides, consoling and give them direction!” I had held back, not wanting to be a mum-zilla, but as soon as she said that I stepped in and told her what I thought she should wear. She looked beautiful, and one of the biggest highlights was one of my past brides, international opera singer Susan Dunn, who offered to sing at the wedding. It was an amazingly moving day.
• What are your plans for the future?
I love the saying ‘the future is happing every day’; Fiorenza is about to launch its debut evening wear range, that has received a fabulous response and I have a great team working with me, including Linda Fairweather from Platinum Agency and Liz Sharp from Sharp PR. The collection will be in stores around Australia early next year. For a long time Fiorenza brides have come back to me around their anniversaries and commented that it would be nice to have something from the same label that made their wedding dress to wear to their anniversary dinner, so it will be fun to finally have a range of beautiful cocktail and formal designs available to them. We are currently calling for interest from boutiques to stock the range.
Personally, I would love to take sometime off and go back to Sicily for 6months, just to be, and have some reflections from my own roots, but this may not happen for some time!