As the owner of Annette Ellen Designs in Hyde Park Square, Annette Wallander specializes in both special-occasion and day wear.
One of her biggest sellers is mother-of-the-bride or groom gowns.
“Mothers love us,” she says. “They don’t want the typical, mother-of-the-bride gown. They want to look special, sophisticated and elegant.”
Many of her special-occasion clients seek her services because the items available in the stores usually look “too young or way too old” for them, she says. Having something custom-made is the solution.
Day wear pieces that Wallander creates include business suits, special outfits for luncheons and even pants and blouses.
“A lot of times, ladies will want a special blouse to go with a suit,” she says. Dresses are also a sought-after item. “Dresses that fit well are really hard for ladies to find in stores.”
The process of getting something custom-made can involve multiple steps. First, you have to pick out what you want. Then there are the fabrics to select. More than 20 measurements are taken and a software program is used to make a custom pattern.
“That’s what our customers really love, it’s one less step for them to come in because the pattern is custom-graded to their specific measurements,” Wallander says.
Design and creative work is something that has been a lifelong passion for Wallander. “I started sewing when I was 10. Design is a hobby that has always come very naturally to me.”
With a retail and wholesale background with Macy’s, Dillard’s and Liz Claiborne, Wallander has been careful about having a strong business plan to back up her creative endeavor. “We’re set up more as a business that has processes and procedures that can be duplicated,” she explains. “I set up that way on purpose so we could expand someday.”
By Linnea Eschenlohr
Cincinnati Enquirer contributor
Thursday, October 9, 2003