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Lovella Bridal - Loving Lovella

Dubbed “the three pillars of Lovella Bridal”, Angie, Nayri and Kristina manage operations and buy inventory for the store.
Dubbed “the three pillars of Lovella Bridal”, Angie, Nayri and Kristina manage operations and buy inventory for the store.
Plus-size inventory is housed on the second floor.
Plus-size inventory is housed on the second floor.
Bridal inventory is displayed in distinct closets, each featuring a distinct price point, aesthetic or designer.
Bridal inventory is displayed in distinct closets, each featuring a distinct price point, aesthetic or designer.
Elegant touches such as chandeliers and Restoration Hardware furniture add a luxurious feel.
Elegant touches such as chandeliers and Restoration Hardware furniture add a luxurious feel.

 

Given its Los Angeles roots, it shouldn’t be surprising that Lovella Bridal has enjoyed its share of brushes with Hollywood movers and shakers.
    The elegant bridal boutique located about eight miles north of downtown L.A. has been featured on “Mario & Courtney’s Wedding Fiesta” on TLC, “David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding” on the WE Network and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
    But Lovella’s touch extends far beyond those Hollywood connections and pairs plenty of substance with its style. Over nearly 50 years, the Glendale, Calif.-based bridal boutique – known as Jobyna’s Bridal and Tuxedo for its first four decades – has helped thousands of brides find their dream gown and create a “forever memory.”
    “That’s always the goal and what drives us in all that we do,” Lovella Bridal's Nayri Kalayjian confirms.

The making of Lovella Bridal
    First opened in 1970 by Jobyna and Joe Casey, the bridal and prom shop sat in a residential area of Glendale for its first 43 years, gradually building its clientele and emerging a go-to destination for brides up and down the California landscape seeking full-service bridal and evening attire.
    “It was a landmark store,” Kalayjian says of Jobyna’s. “It’s not at all uncommon for us to hear stories from the grandmothers and mothers of today’s brides about how they bought their wedding gown or prom dress from the store.”
    When Kalayjian and her team acquired the business in 1998, they assumed ownership of a boutique that coupled an energized following yet additional runway for growth. In an effort to create a luxury brand, the new leadership updated the interior and partnered with prominent designers, laying the groundwork for the modern-day operation.
    For a decade, the business rolled along, including the opening of a second Jobyna’s in 2009 at The Americana at Brand, an upstart retail center that injected high-end shopping, entertainment and residential space into a formerly blighted part of Glendale. It was then – surrounded by the likes of Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Tiffany & Co. – that Kalayjian and her colleagues began to consider a more daring move to reflect the bridal boutique’s present and future: dropping the Jobyna’s name.
    “The name was difficult for people to say and spell and there was a consensus that we needed a new look,” Kalayjian says.
    Soon after, and with the help of a branding company charged to reflect the boutique’s more luxurious image, the Jobyna’s name gave way to a new moniker, Lovella Bridal, and branding assets that better matched the store’s posh positioning.
    “We were definitely scared to change the name because [Jobyna’s] had an established reputation, but it was a necessary move given the new image we wanted to create and where we saw the future of our store going,” Kalayjian explains.
    But the evolution didn’t stop there.
    Operating two locations, even if they were a modest 15-minute drive from one another, added unnecessary layers of complexity onto a business that prided itself on smooth operations. Yet more, Lovella’s spot at The Americana provided a taste of the random discovery that the flagship Glendale location – the prototypical “destination business” – had never possessed given its location in a largely residential area.
    “It made sense to consolidate everything under one roof and to do so in a store that would give us the visibility we enjoyed at The Americana,” Kalayjian says.
    And fortunately Lovella Bridal didn’t look far for its new home: a two-story space sitting across the street from The Americana. In the early stages of a massive renovation project, the building’s developers planned to divvy up the 6,500-square-foot space between multiple restaurants and offices. Lovella leadership, however, offered to take over the entire building.
    “We had a vision for the space and wanted to bring that to life,” says Kalayjian, who admits her childhood dream was “to have one big store in California.”
    From a raw, gutted space, Kalayjian and her crew pored over every detail of construction to create the comfortable, luxurious home Lovella Bridal now inhabits. With a second floor devoted to Lovella’s plus-size inventory and its in-house alterations department and the ground floor dedicated to remaining bridal inventory and accessories, the two-story space features elegant touches such as chandeliers, Restoration Hardware furniture and seven spacious dressing rooms.
    In an interesting turn, Lovella Bridal hosts its bridal inventory – the store long ago dropped prom amid evaporating consumer interest in the category – in a dozen distinct “closets.” Each closet features gowns representing a specific price point, aesthetic or designer. This way, Kalayjian explains, brides interested in sparkly ball gowns are not distracted by lace long-sleeve dresses while those with a $5,000 budget aren’t pining over a $25,000 couture dress well beyond their means.
    Even with the “closet” set up naturally setting parameters for a bride’s visit, Lovella’s inventory remains closed. The store’s stylists, in fact, shop for the brides, each of whom answers a series of qualifying questions upon her arrival at the boutique to inform the stylists’ selections.
    “Brides know when they come here they’re going to see quality gowns, get quality service and consider things they might have otherwise overlooked,” Kalayjian says, adding that Lovella’s stylists go through months of training before ever directing their first solo appointment.

Focused on the bride
    With hundreds of eyes fixated on a bride during her wedding day, Kalayjian understands how that intense pressure to look one’s idealized best can elevate a woman’s insecurities, spark vulnerabilities and heighten fear around the dress-shopping experience.
    As a result, Lovella Bridal champions education and transparency as two of its core, guiding principles. If the store doesn’t have the ideal dress for a bride, then staff will surely supply that woman with the knowledge and perspective necessary to help her find that dream gown elsewhere.
    “We try to be truly honest with our customers and ourselves,” Kalayjian says. “We’re not here solely to sell an item, but to help that bride find her perfect dress. That’s the goal and we want to be a helpful part of that journey.”
    To that end, Kalayjian penned a book to help brides navigate the gown-shopping experience. Released last spring, I’m Getting Married & Have NOTHING to Wear!: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Perfect Wedding Dress grew from the misinformation Kalayjian found many customers clutching in her store, whether the inaccuracies revolved around styles, delivery dates, designers or any of the other peculiarities that pepper the bridal retail landscape.
    Informed by the most common questions Kalayjian encounters in the store, the 126-page book details the key elements brides need to understand about the gown-shopping process right down to counseling readers that they will inevitably second-guess their purchase.
    “[The book] sets more brides up for success because they have a clear sense of what to expect,” says Kalayjian, who also created an online video series, found at  www.weddingfashionexpert.com, to further arm brides with practical information to guide their wedding-dress search.
    As a result of those efforts, Kalayjian says she now finds herself explaining the process less as brides arrive with accurate, relevant insights to guide the selection of their gown.
    “The bottom line for me is that I want to be a good, accurate source of information, and that’s something I believe I can do well because I’m the one interfacing with customers and designers regularly,” Kalayjian says.
    (As an aside, Kalayjian’s educational efforts extend to her fellow retailers as well. She is creating an online course intended for other bridal retailers that will share the knowledge, mistakes and lessons Lovella Bridal has collected over the last two decades).
    “It’s an effort to help improve [the bridal retail channel] so we can all do better and help brides everywhere enjoy an experience that should be rich and special for them,” Kalayjian says.)
   Whether it’s the book, the YouTube video series or the designer gowns that line Lovella Bridal’s two-story home, Kalayjian assures that Lovella will continue to seek ways to “be ahead of the curve” and pursue its mission of helping “all women feel beautiful and confident in what they’re wearing on their wedding day.” That spirit shines in Lovella staff’s quarterly teambuilding days as well as the store’s extension into plus-sized gowns.
    “Above all else, we’re in business to help women. That’s our guiding purpose, our why,” Kalayjian says. “We want brides to create that forever memory and that means constantly pushing ourselves to do more and be more.”

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Previous Retail Standouts

For over 25 years, VOWS magazine has had the privilege of profiling some of the finest bridal salons in North America. What follows is a sampling of those salons gracing our pages, listed in alpha order:

Anderson’s Bride, Anchorage, Ak. www.andersonsbride.com

Angelique’s Bridal Salon, Blaine, Minn. www.angeliquesbridalsalon.com

Anjolique Bridal & Formal, Huntersville, N.C. anjolique-bridal.com

Arlene’s Bridal Salon, Bloomfield, N.J. www.arlenesbridals.com

Azteca Bridal, Phoenix, Ariz. www.azbride.com

Beautiful Weddings, Missoula, Mon. www.beautifulweddingsbridal.com

Becker’s Bridal, Fowler, Mich www.beckersbridal.com

Bella Sera Bridal & Occasion, Danvers, MA www.bellaserabride.com

Betsy Robinson's Bridal, Pikesville, MD  www.betsyrobinson.com

Brickhouse Bridal, The Woodlands, Texas www.brickhousebridal.com

Bridal and Formal Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio www.bridalandformalinc.com

Bridal Garden, Marlton, N.J. www.bridal-garden.com

Bridal Reflections, Massapequa, N.Y. www.bridalreflections.com

Bridal Superstore by Posie Patch, Indianapolis, Ind. www.posiepatchbridalsuperstores.com

Bridal Trousseau, Branford, Conn. www.bridal-trousseau.net

Bridal Warehouse, Elizabethtown, Ky www.usabridal.com

Bridals by Lori, Atlanta, GA www.bridalsbylori.com

Carlisle’s of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa. www.bridalwear.com

Catan Fashions, Strongsville, Ohio www.catanfashions.com

Champagne & Lace, Abbotsford, B.C. champagneandlace.com

Charlotte’s Weddings & More, Portland, Ore. www.charlottesweddings.com

Chic Parisien, Coral Gables, Fla. www.cpbride.com

d’Anelli Bridal, Lakewood, Colo. www.coloradobridal.com

Deborah’s Bridal, Upland, Calif. www.deborahsbridal.com

Doreen Leaf Designs, Hartville, Ohio www.doreenleafdesigns.com

Elegant Occasions, Wausau, WI www.elegantoccasions.net

Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor, Northville, Mich. www.elizabethsbridal.com

Emmy’s Bridal, Minster, Ohio emmysbridal.com

Fiancée Bridal, Minot, N.D. fianceebridal.com

I Do Bridal, Seattle, Wash. idobridal.com

Imaginations Bridal, Brookhaven, Miss. www.imaginationsbridal.com

J&B Bridal, Chambersburg, Pa. www.jbbridals.com

Jay West, Haddonfield, N.J. www.jaywestbridal.com

Jessica’s Bridal & Formal, Bay, Ark. www.jessicasbridal.net

JJ Kelly Bridal, Oklahoma City, OK www.jjkellybridal.com

Kleinfeld, New York, N.Y. www.kleinfeldbridal.com

Little White Dress, Denver, CO www.lwdbridal.com

Low’s Bridal & Formal, Brinkley, Ark. lowsbridal.com

Mariella Creations, Rocky Hill, Ct. www.mariellacreations.com

Mark Ingram Atelier, New York, N.Y. markingramatelier.com

MB Bride & Special Occasion, Greensburg, Pa. www.mbbride.com

Mestad’s Bridal & Formalwear, Rochester, Minn. www.mestads.com

Mon Amie Bridal Salon, Costa Mesa, Calif. www.monamie.com

Poffie Girls Bridals & Formals, Gastonia, N.C. www.poffiegirls.com

Prevue Bridal & Formal, San Diego, Calif. prevueformalandbridal.com

Rebecca’s Wedding Boutique, Louisville, Ky. www.rebeccasweddings.com

Special Memories, Leadington, Mo. www.specialmemories.com

Terry Costa, North Dallas, Texas www.terrycosta.com

The Bridal Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada www.bridalcentre.com

The Bridal Collection, Centennial, Colo.www.thebridalcollection.com 

The Bridal Path, Jackson, Miss. www.bridalpathinc.com

The Plumed Serpent, Westport, Conn. plumedserpentbridal.com

The Gilded Gown, Knoxville, Tenn. www.thegildedgown.com

The Wedding Tree, La Crosse, Wis. www.theweddingtree.com

TJ Formal Profiled: Joplin, Mo. www.tjformal.com

Uptown Bridal & Boutique Chandler, Ariz. uptownbrides.com

Vera’s House of Bridals   Madison, Wis. www.verasbridals.com

Wedding Belles Stevensville, Mich. www.weddingbellesbridalsalon.com

Wedding Shoppe Inc. St. Paul, Minn. www.weddingshoppeinc.com

Wedding Wonderland Knoxville, Tenn. www.wedding-wonderland.com

Weddings by Debbie Katy, Texas www.weddingsbydebbie.com

Wishing Well Bridal East Providence, R.I. www.wishingwellbridal.com

 

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