First, she made her own wedding dress.
Then seamstress and designer Alicia Ybarra started doing alterations on other people’s wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses and began taking orders for dresses that brides wanted her to create.
Now, the owner of Vanya Designs & Custom Sewing in Derby has her own custom bridal line, Redemption.
“I built it really from word of mouth,” Ybarra says.
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“Up to this line, I’ve been taking my clients’ ideas and building it for them.”
However, a lot of people don’t know what they want, she says.
“I’m hoping to reach that market.”
Ybarra says she tells customers to shop and see what’s out there – knowing they might find their dresses elsewhere.
“You always run that risk.”
She says that’s OK.
“My goal is for them to have their perfect dress on their wedding day.”
She has bigger goals for herself, including selling dresses much farther away than Derby or Wichita.
“I have other dreams of where I’d like to go with it,” Ybarra says.
She travels to Kansas City every six weeks to meet with clients, and she hopes to open a showroom there.
“The five-year goal would be to have a second location up there.”
While Ybarra was shopping at a material store that was closing in Kansas City, she met a bride who convinced her about selling to that market.
After the two chatted, the bride ordered a dress from Ybarra and paid her on the spot.
“That’s when I realized that the market there is a little bit higher price point than it is here,” Ybarra says. “There was a market there I wasn’t tapping that would help me get to the next level.”
Now that she has her own brand, Ybarra has even bigger plans.
“I would like to see that brand a little more recognized on the national level,” she says. “I would like to build this up to the point where I’m seen as a designer like you’re going to run into in New York City or Los Angeles. I don’t see … why location has to determine your profession.”
That means even Rodeo Drive isn’t too far, she says.
“That’s probably, like, the 20-year goal, but maybe sooner. You never know.”
Ybarra chose the name Redemption because she says that “the mission of my dresses … is more than just making pretty dresses.”
She kicked off her line at a fundraiser for ICT SOS, which fights human trafficking.
Ybarra says she’s donating 10 percent of the sales of her bridal line to the organization because she wants to help “women who lost sense of value and worth.”
She says she wants every woman to have the “understanding that she’s worthy of love (and the) understanding of her value as a person.”
Ybarra says it’s something that “I feel like every person, no matter what they’ve been through in life, deserves.”
She admits to having a habit of saying each dress she makes is her favorite.
“And then the next dress comes in, and I send it out the door and same thing.”
Ybarra says she means it each time.
“Something happens when the bride puts her dress on and it’s the perfect one,” she says. “It doesn’t ever get old.”