Af­ter the hon­ey­moon

What hap­pens when a wed­dings in­flu­encer gets di­vorced?

Orlando Sentinel - - EXTRA FAMILY & LIFE - By Al­lie Jones

A woman who bought her wed­ding dress at Stone Fox Bride was prob­a­bly go­ing to wear a flower crown along with it. She most likely idol­ized the Olsen twins and had an ac­tive In­sta­gram pres­ence. Her wed­ding was not go­ing to be re­li­gious, but it was go­ing to be spir­i­tual, and her vows might even in­clude curse words. She was go­ing to buck tra­di­tion, and she was go­ing to do it in a sun­set-pink robe dress with silk chif­fon bell sleeves that cost $6,800.

“Cool wed­ding cul­ture — I’m proud to say, I think I was the pi­o­neer of that space,” said Molly Rosen Guy, the writer and de­signer who founded Stone Fox Bride in 2012. The high-priced bo­hemian wed­ding brand was born out of Guy’s frus­tra­tion when she planned her own wed­ding and didn’t see re­tail­ers and me­dia brands that re­flected her vi­sion for her spe­cial day.

“I couldn’t find any­thing that looked or felt like how I looked or how I felt,” Guy said. “I felt like I was en­ter­ing this rad­i­cal union with this re­ally rad­i­cal per­son, and I wanted to cel­e­brate it and ex­plore it. But all I could find was like, ar­ti­cles on bouf­fants and Bergdorf Good­man, where my sis­ter got her wed­ding dress.”

Once she got into the busi­ness, Guy started post­ing “cool wed­ding” con­tent on Pin­ter­est and In­sta­gram, which were be­gin­ning to take off. Shar­ing pho­tos of her clients, her­self, her fam­ily and glam­orous wed­dings past, she amassed over 100,000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram. She also started a web­site and an email news­let­ter, landed a book deal and be­came the ex­ec­u­tive wed­dings ed­i­tor at Domino mag­a­zine.

From the out­side, it all looked pic­ture-per­fect. But like so many on­line per­sonas, Guy’s masked the more com­pli­cated as­pects of her per­sonal life. In 2017, she sep­a­rated from her hus­band, but she did not tell her fol­low­ers or clients for fear of los­ing au­thor­ity as an ex­pert on wed­dings and all things hap­pily ever af­ter.

“I did start to feel like, I have to be the per­fectly im­per­fect bo­hemian mom, be­cause that was the brand,” she said. “You know, be­cause I was sell­ing $10,000 dresses or $5,000 dresses.”

Even as her own mar­riage was fall­ing apart, Guy con­tin­ued to post about flower crowns and heir­loom emer­alds. That is, un­til 2018, when she came clean to her fol­low­ers and re­named her brand. What hap­pens to a wed­dings in­flu­encer when the hon­ey­moon is over?

“First of all, the plan was never to be the pub­lic face of wed­dings,” Guy said. “The plan was just to be a writer. To be the next Great Amer­i­can Novelist. I’m just kid­ding.”

Sort of kid­ding. From the time she was young, Guy was ob­sessed with writ­ers, celebri­ties and writ­ers who be­came celebri­ties. She grew up in the Lin­coln Park neigh­bor­hood of Chicago. She at­tended college at Brown and spent a sum­mer in Los An­ge­les try­ing to be­come an ac­tress and a model, and go­ing to clubs with Leonardo DiCaprio.

When Hol­ly­wood didn’t pan out, she grad­u­ated and moved to New York to pur­sue a ca­reer in fash­ion me­dia, land­ing writ­ing jobs at Ny­lon and the now­shut­tered teen bible YM.

In 2005, she took a break from the work­force to get an MFA in creative writ­ing. She ended up sell­ing a novel to Grove At­lantic, but “it sort of turned into a dis­as­ter,” she said. She re­turned the ad­vance and the book was never pub­lished. Then the re­ces­sion hit, and Guy found her­self boxed out of me­dia, work­ing in­stead as a copy­writer for a large beauty con­glom­er­ate. Af­ter her wed­ding in 2011, she landed on the idea for Stone Fox Bride.

Guy se­cured $250,000 in in­vest­ment from her brother-in-law, Peter Shapiro, the owner of Brook­lyn Bowl. She rented a re­tail and stu­dio space and started cold-call­ing de­sign­ers to make sam­ples for the store. Many of them, in­clud­ing Ohne Ti­tel and Ryan Roche, said yes.

When she in­tro­duced her own col­lec­tion in 2013, her friends Pamela Love, a jew­elry de­signer, and Jemima Kirke, an ac­tress, mod­eled the dresses for the photograph­er Cass Bird. One of the pho­tos, fea­tur­ing Kirke and Love kiss­ing, made head­lines. “That’s when we started to blow up,” Guy said.

In­sta­gram be­came her jour­nal­is­tic out­let. It also be­came a place where Guy would share pho­tos of her daugh­ters and her hus­band.

“In hind­sight, I wouldn’t have done any of that,” she said.

By 2016, her mar­riage was com­ing to an end, and sell­ing wed­ding dresses, in per­son and on­line, stopped be­ing so fun. Guy closed her stu­dio “the day Trump got elected,” she said, and started sell­ing her in­ven­tory out of her apart­ment, while her es­tranged hus­band lived in an Airstream around the cor­ner.

“I was do­ing some wed­ding-dress fit­tings at my apart­ment with some very high-pro­file clients, and I would, like, pray to the gods that they wouldn’t see him as they were walk­ing in,” she said. “I didn’t want any­one to know that we were split.”

“There was a lot of men­tal and emo­tional gym­nas­tics that I was do­ing to sort of keep the brand afloat,” she added.

At the end of 2017, Guy pub­lished her first book: a wed­ding plan­ning guide “for the wild at heart.” She was ad­vised, she said, to keep her sep­a­ra­tion and even­tual di­vorce a se­cret un­til the book was re­leased. But shortly af­ter, her fa­ther died, and she de­cided she did not want to keep up the “patina that I had things un­der con­trol.”

On Mother’s Day in 2018, she an­nounced her di­vorce to her fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram. To her sur­prise, they were sup­port­ive. In fact, the post got more “likes” than any wed­ding pho­tos she’d shared be­fore.

With her wed­ding-dress busi­ness all but shut­tered, Guy won­dered how she might con­nect with these clients again. She still had her In­sta­gram fol­low­ing, which in­cluded a new set of women drawn to her long, con­fes­sional cap­tions. And so last year, she asked them if they would be in­ter­ested in tak­ing a writ­ing class about “love and loss.”

Twenty-seven of her fol­low­ers signed up for her first class. Now, teach­ing writ­ing is Guy’s main pro­fes­sion; she calls her new busi­ness the Brook­lyn Writ­ers Col­lec­tive. Some of her for­mer bri­dal clients are her stu­dents.

In a syl­labus from this past sum­mer, she de­scribed the course as a “crash course writ­ing work­shop” for “foxes in flux.” She shares some of her stu­dents’ best work on, yes, In­sta­gram.

Guy said she cre­ated the class as a way for women to tell sto­ries that are not eas­ily rep­re­sented with a di­a­mond ring or a white dress. But she may find a way to do that in the fu­ture too: Women have started to ap­proach her to make rings and dresses fit for a stylish and spir­i­tual di­vorce.

BRITTAINY NEW­MAN/NEW YORK TIMES

Molly Rosen Guy, the writer and de­signer who founded Stone Fox Bride, now teaches a writ­ing class on “love and loss,” in Brook­lyn, New York.

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