Hartlepool expat launches successful bridal business in America

A local expat is watching her bridal business boom in the United States after relocating from Hartlepool during the pandemic.
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Laura Llewellyn, a former student at English Martyrs Catholic School and Hartlepool Sixth Form College, left her job in the UK automotive industry at Volkswagen during the pandemic to pursue her passion for the wedding industry in the United States.

Laura, 33, has always been excited about fashion, making bridal garters for friends weddings initially as a hobby before turning her dream into a reality.

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Laura founded Lew Elle Bridal during the pandemic, alongside her nine to five job, specialising in bridal garters and bridal fedora hats.

Laura Llewellyn, founder of  Lew Elle Bridal.Laura Llewellyn, founder of  Lew Elle Bridal.
Laura Llewellyn, founder of Lew Elle Bridal.

She said: “Towards the last year of my corporate career, I started the online business and was struggling to find the time to maintain two jobs.

"Automotive is very demanding. I worked in product launch and also launched bridal accessories.

"It was too much.

"I felt my passion was more towards my business and didn’t think it was fair to be putting 50/50 into each career.

A model shows off one of Lew Elle Bridal's hats during New York Fashion Week 2022.A model shows off one of Lew Elle Bridal's hats during New York Fashion Week 2022.
A model shows off one of Lew Elle Bridal's hats during New York Fashion Week 2022.
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"If I was going to succeed in either I had to be putting 110% into one or the other.”

Laura, who now lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two dogs, has already had her work featured in a number of esteemed publications including British Vogue, Elle Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.

Like most people, she found the pandemic to be a challenging time although it also helped accelerate her business.

She said: “The pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote working and allowed me to work anywhere in the world. This eased the transition.

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"Overall, it was a demanding, tiring long transition but ultimately rewarding and taught me a lot about adaptability as perseverance in uncertain times.”

While Lew Elle Bridal is an online boutique only, Laura was invited to New York Fashion Week in autumn 2022 where she showcased her garters and bridal hats.

She said: “I was watching my life dreams come to life.”

She added: “If it wasn’t for the pandemic I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

"It was the pandemic that helped me to put so much commitment into the business.

"We were all spending our spare time stuck in the house. It was the perfect setting to build a brand.”

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