Har­leysville Bri­dal cel­e­brates 25th an­niver­sary

Souderton Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By Jen­nifer Con­nor

Af­ter seven years in New York City and two years in Paris, Colleen Gil­liesPeter­son found her­self back in Main­land, Pa. Her fa­ther had just pur­chased a build­ing on Main Street in Har­leysville and didn’t have a use for it ,so he of­fered it to Colleen say­ing, “Now you can set up your bri­dal shop.”

That’s how Har­leysville Bri­dal was born.

This year, it cel­e­brates its 25th an­niver­sary.

When Gil­lies-Peter­son was 17 years ROG, VKH GHVLJnHG GUHVVHV IRU KHU fiUVW client’s wed­ding. She de­signed and made ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing the bri­dal gown and the dresses for the mother of the bride, mother-in-law and all the brides­maids.

Gil­lies-Peter­son grad­u­ated from Lans­dale Catholic in 1973 then headed to Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity WR VWuGy finH DUWV DnG IDVKLRn GHVLJn.

Then, she moved to New York City and stud­ied at Trapha­gen School of Fash­ion.

“FRU RuU fiUVW DVVLJnPHnW wH KDG WR de­sign dresses out of [bed] sheets,” Gil­lies-Peter­son said. This came easy for Gil­lies-Peter­son, whose mother al­ways PDGH GUHVVHV DnG RuW­fiWV IRU KHU IRuU daugh­ters and two sons.

“She al­ways let us help de­sign our dresses and she would sew them,” Gil­lies-Peter­son said. At age 11, Gil­lies-Peter­son be­gan de­sign­ing and sewing her own cloth­ing.

While at­tend­ing school in New York City, she lived and worked at the Sal­va­tion Army women’s res­i­dence as the door lady in the morn­ings and evenings.

$IWHU finLVKLnJ VFKRRO, GLOOLHV-3Hter­son lived in New York for an­other four years, work­ing at Springs In­dus­tries, a com­pany that makes tow­els and sheets for de­sign­ers. Dur­ing that time she met Princess Grace Kelly nu­mer­ous times be­cause the com­pany pro­duced Kelly’s sheets and tow­els.

A dream come true, Gil­lies-Peter­son was able to trans­fer to Spring In­dus­tries’ French Division, liv­ing and work­ing in Paris for two years.

“YRu’UH Ln­fluHnFHG Ey HYHUyWKLnJ over there,” Gil­lies-Peter­son said. “They wore noth­ing that matched but some­how it all worked — like the teenagers in Amer­ica to­day.”

Then, Gil­lies-Peter­son opened Har­leysville Bri­dal in 1987 and her sis­ter. Maureen Gil­lies-Car­bon­neau, who is three years younger and stud­ied at Bar­bizon School of Fash­ion Mer­chan­dis­ing, joined the busi­ness two years later.

“We never planned to work to­gether, it just sort of worked out,” Gil­liesCar­bon­neau said.

To­day, Har­leysville Bri­dal sells An­jolique Bri­dal Col­lec­tion, Mikaella, Mag­gie Sot­tero, AnaisS on wed­dings, Blue by En­zoani and Ni­cole Miller Bridals.

All dresses are cus­tom­iz­a­ble with EHOWV, EURDFKHV, flRwHUV DnG EHDGLnJ, which the seam­stress team at Har­leysville Bri­dal can add. The store also sells head­pieces and veils, jew­elry, shoes, hand­bags and un­der­dress­ings.

Gil­lies-Peter­son also still de­signs in­di­vid­ual dresses for brides who want their own unique look.

“It’s a fun and re­ward­ing busi­ness, HVSHFLDOOy wKHn yRu finG WKDW JLUO D dress and it just trans­forms her,” Gil­lies-Car­bon­neau said.

Soud­er­ton In­de­pen­dent pho­tos — SU­SAN KEEN

Maureen Gil­lies-Car­bon­neau is co-owner of the Har­leysville Bri­dal and Tuxedo Shop on Main Street with her sis­ter, Colleen Gil­lies-Peter­son.

Kate Ser­ravalle, bri­dal con­sul­tant, sifts through wed­ding dresses at Har­leysville Bri­dal.

The wed­ding dress in the door­way draws many cus­tomers inside the shop on Main Street.

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