Leah Langley-McClean (pictured above) is the founder and CEO of elleNelle Bridal, a premier custom bridal shop in Nashville. Leah is a Chicago native and graduate of Tennessee State University.
How did you enter the wedding gown industry?
I got started shortly after my wedding 5 years ago. As a bride, you put in over a year of your time into wedding planning, and then all of a sudden, it’s over. After spending all of my time planning for my own wedding, I found myself yearning to stay in the industry. I love speaking to other brides about their vendors or providing guidance wherever they needed it. I really enjoyed playing that role. I also made my own wedding dress and found that this was the perfect opportunity for me to stay in the bridal industry. A lot of people run into the same issues that I was having as I shopped for my wedding dress, usually just poor experiences overall of sales representatives not understanding my body type and how to cater to my body type. Now, I get to recreate that experience for other people.
Did you have experience sewing prior to you creating your dress?
I did. I sewed clothes more suited for a night out. I’ve always been passionate about design. I sewed a lot in high school and picked it back up after college. After spending a few years as an accountant, I realized that was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went back to sewing and began to convert thrift store clothes, putting my own creative spin on them. That turned into sewing my own outfits for going out.
Why did you choose to start your business in Nashville?
I am originally from Chicago, and I came to Nashville for college. I went to Tennessee State University, graduated in 2009, and decided to stay here. I met my husband here, and we got married in 2015. We decided to just stay here. I had no desire to go back to Chicago, so that played a major role in our decision. It happened pretty organically that we decided to open our businesses here. However, it’s interesting that a lot of my brides come from out of state, and they drive or fly in to have their dresses made. I’m an advocate for brides who are willing to go the extra mile, so I love being able to connect with those brides. Nashville has a lot of brides who are willing to drive to a different city or state for their dream gown. I always find that a lot of brides don’t know that I’m here, and they don’t have to leave to get a custom dress.
Finally, the big question, what is your favorite local Nashville business?
Yes, I will go across town to grab a cookie from Hi-Fi!
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