Confessions of Niña Esclava

What did I do?!

“Suck it up cupcake”. –my mother

When I came to work with my mom, I was basically straight out of college and I had also just been corporately brain washed. So showing up to a pen and paper schedule, post it “reminders” literally everywhere and an overall creative work space…. Left me speechless and pretty overwhelmed. So I did what everyone needs to do every once in a while, took a big step back to contemplate my choices: A.) I quit. The bum life wasn’t so bad, and I’ve been to frat parties with worse sanitation than dumpster food. B.) Xanax. I could totally state a case for high anxiety right now. But, I guess druggie was basically going to lead me to the bum life too. C.) Put my big girl panties on and fix it. – (Looking back maybe option A and B weren’t that bad?! Kidding)

big girl panties

Y’all thought I was kidding?! My mom gave me these on my 22nd Birthday…

 

Twerk & WERK

“I’ve always believed that if you put in the twerk, the results will come”. – Michael Jordan (ok, maybe I edited a tad)

After arriving on my first day, I decided to put my overactive and organizationally obnoxious type A personality to use. So after charting everything, assigning everything an excel spreadsheet, and making more to-do list than the entire country on New Year’s Day, I had a start.  I was making head way. I could find everything I needed and I was becoming more efficient every day—and then I hit a wall. As it turns out, my mom didn’t even know how to turn on the computer… *face palm*

boss

I’ve been bossing since diapers. 1995.

For weeks I spent at least half of my day explaining the “modern world” and what things like twerking are to my mom (for this there was a visual aid…with a client. I don’t want to talk about it.) You can see why the internet and this blog all seem very uncertain to her… thanks Miley!

So basically, mom has come to the conclusion that computers are the devil and clearly as her daughter I am in- tune enough with her to read her mind and do it all for her – cool. I’m definitely up for the challenge, but brief note: if ever you thought working for your parents would be AWESOME?!?! You. Are. Wrong. Go back to GO and do not collect $200.

board meeting

                                 My first creative meeting with my staff. It was casual Friday. 1992.

 

We Altar your Dress NOT your body, and other comments that are going to get me fired (aka- the title of my future best selling book)

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” -Bruce Lee

I have said “that’s not my job,” so many times that my mom forced me into making it my New Year’s resolution to stop saying it. But seriously how does taking my little brother to IKEA to buy dorm essentials translate into our business needs?! This, my friends, is why my employees lovingly call me “Niña Esclava.” The Spanish translation is ‘child slave’, and sister friend, until you have balanced your mom’s business financials while simultaneously booking her dentist appointment, AND listen to your sibling make dinner demands—YOU HAVE NO IDEA!

doll

 What?! You and your doll didn’t prance around in matching outfits 24/7?!

So what’s the hardest part of my job? … Keeping control of my thoughts. You know when you get home from work and it’s been a really tough day and all you want to do is vent about how your boss has been a bit…? I can’t finish that sentence on this blog any more than I can at home, living with my boss.

So here I am, with a podium and a sailor’s mouth. Not sure who let me off the leash but I’m about to let the Bit… Dogs out.

Adios,

Niña Esclava

Aka Rylee Calvert

#confessionsofNiñaEsclava

Welcome

Welcome

“When you have a passion for something then you tend not only to be better at it, but you work harder at it too.” – Vera Wang

Welcome to our blog. This is not going to be your average how-to blog. Yes, we will provide helpful information about weddings but, we want this blog to be more about owning a family business and the relationships we build with our clients. This is going to be a very personal project for us because we want to create an extension of the experience that our clients have with us. It is an extraordinary honor to be with you every step of the way during the most important time in your life. We hope you enjoy and have fun with this blog and feel the same way reading it as you would if you were standing in the store with us, preparing for your big day.

Rylee Calvert

Business Partner of Altered for the Altar by Nouvelle Vie Bridal, LLC

 

Not your Grandma’s Tailor

“Every Child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” –Pablo Picasso

Our founder, Ruth Calvert, was born many many moons ago… although she is not yet a senior citizen as her name may lead you to think! Named after her creative grandmother, Ruth was always destined for a creative lifestyle. At the age of 5, Ruth received a gift from her grandmother – her first sewing machine! Needless to say, it was LOVE at first sight and she began sewing anything she could get her hands on.

As the middle child of 5 (and the oldest girl), Ruth developed some serious Alpha tendencies. When she got to high school and wanted a trendy new outfit every day, she resorted to her sewing machine. Being one of five didn’t leave a big wardrobe budget, so rather than heading to the nearest mall, she would shop through her two older brother’s closets for fabric as if it were JoAnn’s. (She was a total Molly Ringwald – Pretty in Pink, circa 1986- long before Molly made it cool!) I’m not sure how she pulled off the whole puffy sleeves in camo or plaid either though?! Ew.

While attending the University of Texas, Ruth met Rodney. Sparks flew, they fell in love, yadda yadda. The explanation of Rodney and his efforts to the business will need more space than this article can endure. Apparently Rodney, my dad, drove a really cool car and had permed hair… so Ruth thought this was reason enough to accept his proposal. A little note to my future husband: permed hair, a cool car and mink coat will NOT sweep me off my feet.

rodney

Rodney. No. Just, NO. 

In attempts to maintain a young (and very newly married) budget, my dad told my mom she could not buy any new clothes, but as long as she made the clothes, she could buy as much fabric as she wanted – what a sucker! After seeing the fabric store bills add up, he quickly rescinded his offer. Nonetheless, my mom continued sewing on. It’s just a shame she didn’t cut up the heinous mink coat to save fabric costs – sorry dad.

 rodney & ruth engagement

 Mom and Dad the night they got engaged.

 

The Golden Needle

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle” –Abraham Lincoln

So after discovering that working in a bank meant having to stare at white walls and bore yourself to tears (and yes, she did cry EVERY day) my mom decided pushing paper wasn’t the career for her. Perhaps it was the bank or the idea of not being able to see the most perfect child in the entire world (me) every day, but Ruth decided something had to change. So she decided to fall back on what had formerly been just a hobby, and something she truly loved—SEWING!

rylee sleeping

Just watching mom sew, again. Crucial learning stage of the business.

  She began small, sewing for others in the neighborhood and people in the church, then word got around… this woman was really talented! It may have been the endless brigade of 90’s hair bows I marketed atop my balding head or the gorgeous gowns that her clients were more than happy to show off, either way it was very evident that my mom had the Golden Needle.

promo1

What happens when you don’t have social media for free marketing?! You solicit your kids as advertising.

promo2

Ohhh girl, I was working that bow!

Fast forward 30 years. Her list of accomplishments now include working in partnership with The Rose of Sharon, A Perfect Wedding, A Bridal Circle, Bridal Portfolio, and Princess Bridal. She worked as the primary seamstress for each of these bridal boutiques until their last day in business. I really think this really speaks volumes of who my mom, Ruth, is and why she was able to become so successful. Her loyalty to each client and her dedication to each bridal salons she’s worked in is unparalleled. The last store that approached my mom was Stardust Celebrations. In 2003 they were looking for someone to help with the alterations of one of their sister stores Lulu’s Bridal Boutique. Over the years, the loyalty of my mother resulted in Altered for the Altar now operating the alterations department of all four of the Stardust Celebration locations: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique, A Curvy Bride, A Bridal Closet and Stardust’s main offices. She is, in my opinion, the most certified and seasoned seamstress/designer/tailor/#GIRLBOSS in the DFW area, if not the WORLD!

playroom

This is my brothers and I taking over the sewing room. Because even though we had a playroom, we just insisted on being with our mom.

Ruth has never waited for an opportunity to appear. She makes them happen. Passion, talent and hard work have turned an idea into a thriving business that no one saw coming, even my mom, long ago when she was just sewing in a playroom as a means to stay be with her kids and still make ends meet.

 

“Mom, I need a job”

“I’ve been lucky. Opportunities don’t often some along. So, When they do, you have to grab them.” -Audrey Hepburn

How did I get here, you ask? After my mom sewed enough gowns to get me a Business Degree from Texas Tech (shout out GUN’s UP!), I returned to Dallas. Originally I took a management position at a super retailer, insisting that I had to work for the man. As it turns out, apple didn’t fall to far from the tree. It only took 6 months before my creativity had me running and screaming for the door. After putting my foot in my mouth for years and turning down multiple opportunities to work for Altered for the Altar, there I was — standing at my mom’s mercy begging for a job. Luckily my timing couldn’t have been better! The company was expanding from one store to a four store empire and transitioning from a one man show to a full staff of employees. *Cue heroic entrance with cape and the wind blowing through my hair*

rylee and mom1

This is my… ‘I was totally the BEST idea you’ve ever had’ face.

As fate would have it, teaming with my mom has been the BEST decision I have ever made (if the heroic entrance didn’t just get me fired.) I have LOVED getting the opportunity to be creative and build a company with my very best friend. While we don’t always see eye to eye, we are able to be each other’s most honest critics. (Which it turns out is insanely helpful when you’re building a business). We can discuss everything from business practices and procedures to simply explaining that the top one of us is wearing makes the other look like a giant marshmallow – (99% of the time I am the recipient of these “helpful” comments— GIRL PLEASE, afro freeze or whatever 80’s gel she used to use was WAYYY worse.) Anything goes in this relationship, especially if it’s honest and constructive!

 rylee and mom 2

Totally over posed custom matching outfit pics and I think someone just said CHERRY PIE!

Altered for the Altar

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  Steve Jobs

And now, HERE WE ARE! We’re both armed for adventure with very different ammunition but with one goal in mind: to deliver the absolute BEST service and experience for every bride we meet. The most important thing to us is our clients. YOU have built this business and made all of this possible, making you our most valuable online critics and personal cheerleaders.

So welcome! We’re so happy you’re here and hope that you continue to follow us on this crazy beautiful adventure. We are so thrilled for the opportunity to live this next chapter with you!

(I promise this is the longest blog I ever write… PINKY PROMISE. Although, I can’t promise there will never be a book…)

 

Adios,

Niña Esclava

Aka Rylee Calvert

#confessionsofNiñaEsclava

^^^ If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, keep reading the next blog, for the explanation of this.

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