The Loved One

When I first met Antonia Akai-Casuccio I thought she was from another time. Effortlessly glamorous, self-possessed and articulate, she simply exudes elegance. Antonia and I worked together at the first Anthropologie store in Canada, which opened in Toronto in 2009, and she continuously surprised me with her creative ideas and engaging spirit. Early last year, Antonia started her own business and I wanted to let you know about it, since I am so proud of her. Now that Spring is officially here and wedding season is blossoming (if not the flowers) I could think of no better time to introduce you to The Loved One.
In its current phase, The Loved One is an online bridal boutique specializing in unique and luxurious accessories for event dressing. Antonia works closely with local and international designers to bring the selection of beautiful, bespoke pieces to a market that might otherwise not have access to such originality. Based here in Toronto, with much of the product photography coming straight from her living room and her husband Scott's digital camera, the business is truly homegrown - an aspect that Antonia relishes, since it gives her time to work closely with her clients. With plans to expand into a showroom and introduce apparel to the brand, Antonia's vision for her business continues to evolve. Below are some examples of the gorgeous products The Loved One proffers, followed by an interview with Antonia about her business. Be sure to visit the website for product information.
Why did you name your new venture "The Loved One?" What's the origin?

There is something so wonderful about the process of planning and prepping for a wedding, and I feel that being 'The Loved One' is the perfect way to describe a bride-to-be. The name comes from the satirical 1948 Evelyn Waugh novel of the same name, but the inspiration comes from the name only, not the subject matter of the book, which is quite dark!

Describe your vision for the business? How did it begin and what is it all about?

I started thinking about the concept for the business about 5 years ago, while shopping for my own wedding. It was frustrating going from store to store, looking through racks of big, frothy dresses and uninspiring, expected accessories. I looked at vintage stores, and the pieces I loved either didn't fit, or were damaged in some way. Slowly, the concept started to take shape and evolve towards what it is now. I love how organic this whole process has been, and how the business continues to grow in unexpected ways. My vision for the business is being instrumental in redefining what bridal and event dressing can be, and taking an uncompromising approach to product selection and customer service.
Describe your clientele.

In a word, exceptional! I've been so lucky to meet such a diverse group of women who are stylish, intelligent, individualistic, and not content to be cookie-cutter brides. Many of my clients have been same-sex couples, and I find it really gratifying to be able to contribute, even in a small way to an issue that is so important to me.

Do you have a favourite product?

My goodness, that's like asking a parent to choose a favourite child! My favourite pieces vary all the time - I own the Gatsby Braided Bracelet, and I love that it looks just as chic with a wedding dress as it does with a pair of jeans and a great pair of heels. I'm particularly enjoying Tanna Paradis' reworked vintage pieces right now, (also fabulous dressed up or down), and I'm obsessing about a piece that milliner David Dunkley is working on for me at the moment - it's inspired by a Russian tiara from the 1800's, and I can't wait for him to finish it. All of the pieces on the website are there because they evoked an emotional response when I saw them. So far, this seems to have been a successful strategy for choosing product!

You mentioned to me once that your dream is to have a store one day. How would that store look and what sorts of services would it offer?

Well right now I'm in the process of looking for a showroom space, which is the next step. In addition to accessories, the product assortment will expand to include apparel (I use that word purposefully, as it will be more than just dresses), and event d├ęcor. As for aesthetics, it's no secret that I've been obsessed with the 1920's for as long as I can remember, so there will definitely be art deco elements. What it won't look like is a traditional bridal salon. I love a mix of glamour and rustic, high and low, and the space will reflect that. I want the space to be unexpected and experiential, from the product offering, to the display, merchandising and fixturing to the unparalleled customer service. One of the services we offer now, and will continue to offer with the showroom is the option to customize many of the items available. I really love liasing with our brides and the designers to create something personalized and one-of-a-kind. The showroom will be by appointment only, which allows us to focus on one client at a time, again, going back to evoking a feeling of truly being 'The Loved One.' Going forward, as the showroom evolves, I'm flirting with the idea of adding in other options like eco-friendly invitations and floral design. And from there, there's really no limits.

1 comment:

Rowaida said...

Lovely interview and beautiful product. I visited the website and everything looks amazing Love
Thank you for sharing Andrew. Have a great weekend