USA TODAY US Edition

Bridal fash­ion de­signer adapts amid COVID-19

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An­drea Kra­mar

Adri­enn Braun, early March was a rude awak­en­ing.

“Brides just started call­ing me and said, ‘Hey, we can­celed the wed­ding,’ ” the bridal fash­ion de­signer says. “It was one call, two calls, three calls.”

Her busi­ness, Adri­enn Braun Bridal and Fash­ion Stu­dio, based in Hobo­ken, New Jer­sey, was badly im­pacted. Bal­ances were not paid in full, con­sul­ta­tions got can­celed, and brides be­gan ask­ing for less elab­o­rate dresses for smaller-scale, back­yard wed­dings. Many of her plans to cus­tom-de­sign dresses turned into al­ter­ations – a frac­tion of the price she earns to de­sign from scratch.

There were more than 2 mil­lion wed­dings in 2019; 2020 is ex­pected to see just 1 mil­lion – half that of the year be­fore, ac­cord­ing to The Wed­ding Re­port. Braun went from work­ing on 200 to 250 wed­dings a year to an ex­pected 160 for 2020.

Niki Sira­cusa, one of Braun’s clients, had to post­pone her wed­ding three times due to COVID-19.

“It was very emo­tional. We were all set to go. All the venues, all the venFor

dors were paid,” Sira­cusa says. Sira­cusa now plans to get mar­ried in March 2021 and is work­ing with Braun to cus­tomde­sign a dress.

Wed­ding in­dus­try work­ers like Braun have a choice: Lose rev­enue or pivot.

As the calls from dis­tressed brides came in early March, Braun be­gan get­ting calls from friends work­ing in hos­pi­tals around New York and New Jer­sey who were des­per­ate for masks. Braun be­lieved she could help. She took left­over fab­ric from her store, made of 100% cot­ton, and made and do­nated over 6,000 masks – not just to hos­pi­tals, but also to shel­ters, vol­un­teer am­bu­lance corps and po­lice depart­ments.

“The sil­ver lin­ing of my busi­ness dur­ing COVID-19 was def­i­nitely the op­por­tu­nity to meet other peo­ple that I never thought that I would,” Braun says.

The new work also helped Braun get closer to her hus­band. Be­cause her seam­stresses were work­ing from home dur­ing the pan­demic, Braun had to take on a bigger load her­self. Her hus­band, Emilio Maz­zu­cotelli, who had no ex­pe­ri­ence sew­ing be­fore this year, stepped in and helped her make the masks.

Word of her masks be­gan spread­ing in Hobo­ken. Soon she was not just do­nat­ing masks, she was sell­ing them to the pub­lic. Now she makes more elab­o­rate masks for wed­ding par­ties.

All the at­ten­tion Braun has got­ten brought her new po­ten­tial cus­tomers. Peo­ple who were al­ready mar­ried or who had no plans to wed asked how they could sup­port her. So this sum­mer, Braun be­gan de­sign­ing chil­dren’s cloth­ing and sum­mer dresses.

“Why not? If I can make a wed­ding dress, I can make a sum­mer dress,” she says.

Braun’s ad­vice to other busi­nesses strug­gling dur­ing the pan­demic – ask your­self: “What are (you) good at? What tools do (you) have in your hand to go and take other steps?” And then adapt and be flex­i­ble, she says.

“You will have lit­tle bumps," she says. "Just don’t give up.”

 ?? USA TO­DAY ?? Adri­enn Braun works with her client Niki Sira­cusa, who had to de­lay her wed­ding three times be­cause of COVID-19. Sira­cusa now plans to get mar­ried in March of 2021.
USA TO­DAY Adri­enn Braun works with her client Niki Sira­cusa, who had to de­lay her wed­ding three times be­cause of COVID-19. Sira­cusa now plans to get mar­ried in March of 2021.

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