Meet Our Designer

The beauty of blogging, as opposed to journalistic writing, is that rather than suppressing emotion you can actually pour it directly into your posts.  I’m grateful for that, because today I am writing about an extraordinarily talented woman that I’ve had the pleasure of calling my friend for over thirty years. Let me introduce you to the Head Designer for White Elegance, Lisa Raty.

I wanted to share a bit about the woman I know before telling the story of her career and what brought her to White Elegance.  First and foremost, Lisa is a remarkably dedicated mother and friend who remains loyal through thick and thin.  She is passionate about creativity in all of its forms, whether it is sketching a new silhouette on whatever scratch paper she has handy or listening to her children play Rachmaninoff.  She infuses everything she does with a sense of purpose and carries it out with deliberateness…characteristics that definitely show in all of her designs.

She is also a faithful, intelligent, spiritually minded deep thinker.  She relentlessly pursues understanding in her gospel study, as well as in all other aspects of her life.  I often receive texts from her including references to some new and interesting topic she is exploring, and I love having her share her insights with me.

Lisa is one of the most down to earth people I know; firmly grounded and always ready to share her honest opinion.  Like all of us, she has had her share of difficult days, but has remained hopeful, determined and resilient.  In fact, of all the admirable qualities she possesses, it is her underlying strength that I appreciate most. A mutual friend described her as “an extraordinary fusion of ferocity and grace,” a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

As for her career as a designer at White Elegance, that began during a shopping trip around 2009.  Her local temple had announced that they would not have rental clothing available when they opened, so Lisa headed out to find a new temple dress.  While she was at White Elegance, purchasing a few items, the salesperson handed her a comment card on which she wrote, “I’d be happy to help with some new designs if you’re ever interested.”  Co-owner, Tamera Perkins, got in touch with her right away and, knowing a good thing when she saw it, hired Lisa within the month.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Lisa’s experience with and love of design and fashion has spanned a lifetime. I recently sat down with her for a brief interview.

 

Q:  When did you first know that you wanted to pursue a career in design?

A:  My earliest memory of being in church is drawing clothes and shoes on the back of the program. That’s what I remember.  I eventually went to BYU and my mother told me I should be in communications. I went to Communications 101, and it was completely uninspiring to me.  I was talking to my mom on the phone and I’m drawing a dress, and I’m having that moment where I am remembering, “You’ve been doing this …as long as you can remember…sitting around drawing dresses.”  And it just hit me, that’s all I want to do.

 

Q:  How do you define fashion?

A:  I don’t know if I can define it, and I think that’s because every person has a different reason for their clothing choices. Sometimes it’s to project an image, but what I find for most people is that it is more complicated than that.  It’s “how do I feel comfortable?” I have to feel equal parts attractive and comfortable…and it has to be easy to put on.

 

Q:  What is your favorite piece in your personal wardrobe?

A:  I do have a jacket that I absolutely adore.  I love it inside and out.  I love the way it makes me look and feel.  It’s a black jacket with a high collar and it has these cool buttons on it.  The inside is lined in pink, so every seam is covered in hot pink.  I think it is really beautiful.

 

Q: What is your favorite aspect of design?

A:  I think one of the most fun things I do is picking out fabric.  I love every different kind of fabric.  I love how it smells and how it feels when you run it through your fingers, how it feels against your body, how it floats.  I went to the Jordan River temple recently and I was walking up the stairs and I saw a woman in the original Boho dress coming down the staircase and the back of the dress was floating down the stairs behind her and I teared up because it was so beautiful.

If you are asking about the process, it’s drawing fifteen different dresses and finally saying, “That’s it! That ticks all the boxes.”  The fun part is thinking, “This is the customer and I think they are going to be happy with this dress.”  I read all of the customer cards…every one…and look for all the things they wish we had.

 

Q:  If you could collaborate with any one designer, living or dead, who would it be and why?

A:  Alexander McQueen.  He was a pattern making genius, and that’s what I wish I was.  That man could make fabric lay against a body like butter.  That’s what I wish I could do.  I want to collaborate with someone who can teach me something like that.

 

Q: Which is your favorite White Elegance temple dress and why?

A: We are decommissioning the Starburst, but that was my favorite dress.  I think it was because I was given free rein.  They didn’t ask what I was designing, they just let me do it.  I thought it was something my mom would have worn.  I thought, “My mom would be proud of this dress.”  I feel like these dresses are kind of like my children and I worry about them like the toys on the island of misfit toys…are they all going to find a home and be loved and be worn by someone who loves them.

 

Q: How do you want women to feel when they are wearing your designs?

A:  I want them to feel like they don’t have to think about their clothes; they are so comfortable that it’s no longer an issue in the temple.  They feel like themselves.  Nothing is binding or bothering them, they can just focus…their clothes are taken care of.

 

Q:  What is the difference between designing the temple wear line and the new Ava Raquel everyday wear?

A: Color!  There is so much more involved with the new line…things that I haven’t had to think about [with the temple dresses] like hem length and sleeve length.  Again, decisions are always driven by the customer, just like in our temple line.  But picking out colored buttons was really fun!

 

Q: What was your inspiration for the new line?

A:  My inspiration is always the customer.  It’s getting to know them, their needs.  It’s almost always how to help them hide what they want to hide and show what they want to show and make them look and feel beautiful.

 

So, there you have it.  As a White Elegance customer, you are a part of the process from inception to completion.  You are at the forefront of every design.  And behind that design you will find the immensely talented, Lisa Raty.

Mother’s Day Giveaway!

“No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.” ~ Jeffrey R. Holland

While celebrating motherhood can be traced all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman festivals, the modern celebration of Mother’s Day found it’s roots in the early Christian event called “Mothering Sunday.”

Mothering Sunday took place during lent and was a time when faithful Christians would return to the churches in their communities for a special service.  Over the years we have seen Mother’s Day shift to include more secular customs where children present their mother’s with flowers and other tokens of appreciation.  In 1914, the American version of Mother’s Day, created by Anna Jarvis, became an official part of the holiday calendar.

This year, White Elegance would love to help you provide your mother with a token of appreciation…a $100 gift card to use in store or online!  Visit our Facebook page or Instagram for details and opportunities to enter.

Helping Young Women to Prepare for the Temple

“ThYoung-Womens-LDS-Temple-Prep-Classese purpose of the Young Women organization is to help each young woman…to make and keep sacred covenants and receive the ordinances of the temple.” [Lds.org] Each week, Young Women leaders help guide their girls toward this goal by helping them to strengthen their faith, build their testimonies, and understand their identities as daughters of God.

Sometimes our Young Women see the temple as a place where they will be married “someday”; sealed to their companion for time and all eternity.  But the temple is so much more than that!  It is a place where we establish and develop our personal relationship with God through covenants and ordinances. Accomplishing our goal of “making it to the temple” is just the beginning!

This realization is why White Elegance offers a variety of Young Women classes each week at their stores.  Finding a way to help Young Women to cultivate a desire to make the temple a part of their lives is an important part of our mission.  One participant recently gave our temple prep class this rave review: “It helps me envision more [of] what going into the temple entails, what you have to wear, and how you have to prepare. It’s really cool!”

Classes are held at all four of our Utah locations and are offered each Tuesday and Wednesday evening at 7:30pm.  Our Temple Bound class is for all Young Women and focuses on different temples around the world, including histories and uplifting stories.  Our Temple Preparation class is for Laurels and will concentrate on things they can incorporate into their lives that will prepare thLDS-Young-Womens-Classesem for temple attendance.

In addition, if you are interested in learning about amazing pioneer women who embodied the traits of faith, strength and courage, try our Pioneer Women class.  This class is available for all Young Women age groups.

To sign up for any of the above classes, visit https://whiteelegance.com/young-womens-classes and submit your information.  Once your submission has been received, a White Elegance representative will contact you with confirmation and details.

Pondering on the Prairie: Adventures in Pioneer Trekking

Pioneer Trek season is upon us!  Are you wondering what you have gotten yourself into?  Here is a first person account from a Ma with experience.


 

Photo courtesy of M. FosterIn August of 1842 Joseph Smith prophesied, “The Saints will continue to suffer much affliction and will be driven to the Rocky Mountains.  Many will apostatize, others will be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some [will live to] build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, 1976, 255). Four years later, the pioneer exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois began.

My pioneer trek lasted a mere three days and left me sunburned, sore, and a bit more wise. I’d like to share my top two faith promoting experiences: pondering on the prairie, and the woman’s pull. 

PONDERING ON THE PRAIRIE

From the day we began our trek, as I pondered the experience I was having, two questions kept coming into my mind.  First, why did the pioneers have to suffer so terribly and face such tremendous obstacles?  Why couldn’t the storms have been calmed and the elements tempered to spare them from such agony?  And second, why, when the Willie and Martin companies discussed their late start did they decide to push on instead of wait?

James E. Faust answered my first question by stating, “These excruciating experiences developed in these pioneers an unshakable faith in God. I believe their lives were consecrated to a higher purpose through their suffering. Their love for the Savior was burned deep in their souls and into the souls of their children and their children’s children.”

President Hinckley added, “Our Father in Heaven allowed the handcart pioneers to suffer that we today might more clearly see our responsibilities.  A life that will inspire future generations is our responsibility.  As great things were expected of the early saints, so are they of us.”

Even those who passed through these trials understood the impact they would have on future generations.  Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson of the Martin Company wrote, “I have a desire to leave a record of those scenes and events thru which I have passed that my children may read what [we] were willing to suffer, and did suffer, patiently for the gospel’s sake.  I also desire them to know that it was in obedience to the commandments of the true and living God.   I hope, too, that it will inspire my posterity with fortitude to stand firm and faithful to the truth, and be willing to suffer and sacrifice all things they may be required to pass thru for the Kingdom of God’s sake.”

The answer to the second question I was pondering, why the Martin and Willie handcart companies decided to push on instead of wait, came during the solo experience at the close of our second day.  We were given the opportunity for some alone time, so I grabbed my journal and staked out the most comfortable piece of prairie I could find.

As I was writing about my day I kept feeling the strongest impressions regarding the concepts of Zion and gathering.  I came to understand that the motivation for all that the pioneers did came from a true conversion in the center of their souls.

They didn’t wait because they couldn’t wait. They were determined to gather to Zion at any cost. They were unwavering in their resolve to begin the actual physical gathering of covenant Israel to a location, designated by God, where they would build a temple and establish Zion.  They left comfortable homes, waded streams, crossed mountains and pulled through heavy sand to be where they would hear a prophet’s voice and live with the Saints of Zion. They came across the plains to live the gospel teachings and to build the kingdom of God.  The journey served to sharpen their religious focus. Their accomplishments were possible because they knew that our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, restored the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith and they could not WAIT to be a part of it!

My trek experience helped me to truly appreciate not just the pioneer legacy of faith and courage but to understand their legacy of conviction.

THE WOMAN’S PULLPhoto courtesy of M. Foster

Finally, is the experience of the woman’s pull.  This part of the trek is meant to represent the historical fact that men were often not part of a family’s trek west.  Some were taken away when the Mormon Battalion was formed, while others pulled handcarts up until the moment of their death, leaving their wives and daughters and sisters to carry on.  It was the women’s resourcefulness, efficiency, and steadfastness under inhumane conditions that pulled many families through.

There were many lessons learned on the woman’s pull, but I want to share the one that had the most impact on me.

My trek daughters and I were the second handcart to start up the hill.  After the inspiring message we received from our leaders my girls and I were repeating the mantra, “we can do this”.  I put my head down, focused on my feet, and stepped forward.

I thought about the quote by Russel M Nelson, “Truly the Lord encourages us to walk in faith to the edge of the light and beyond—into the unknown. After the trial of our faith, He once again shines the light ahead of us, and our journey of faith in every footstep continues.”

It wasn’t until I reached the base of the hill that I realized that the men and boys were reverently lining both sides of the trail.  A few steps later the girl on my right asked, “Why do they all have their hats off?”  My head had been down, so I hadn’t noticed…but she had.  I answered her question, “They have their hats off out of respect for you”.

I will never forget that moment as I looked up and saw all of those young men looking respectfully on.  In that instant I recognized the fact that the priesthood of God sustains me in every way, in every aspect of my life, every day of my life.  My faith and my testimony of the priesthood grew three sizes that day.

For me, the trail was a schoolhouse of faith and learning.  As a second-generation Mormon I don’t have a pioneer heritage, per se, but the lives of these amazing pioneers touched my heart and rekindled my passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For this, and for them, I will be eternally grateful.

 

Every Piece of Jewelry Tells a Story

While WhiteHard at work Elegance partners with several different charitable projects, this is one of our very favorites.  All of our baptismal and blessing jewelry is produced in the Philippines by a group of resourceful and amazing Young Women.

They meet twice a week, either at the meetinghouse or their instructor’s home, to practice the different jewelry designs. “I am enjoying my time with these girls and I am inspired to help them reach their goals,” said their advisor, Chandra.

Making a Difference

Most of the Young Women have taken on this project in order to help contribute to their family income.  When asked about what she will use her earnings for, Kyle (14) said, “I will spend [mine] for my schooling and I will not ask money anymore from my parents.”  Herlyn (12) said, “I will save for the temple trip, missionary fund, clothes and family needs.”

According to Chandra, most of the girls have only one or two outfits at home, so paying for their own clothes gives them a real sense of independence and accomplishment. Many of them will use some of their funds to help pay for school fees and projects.  Each of them enjoys the satisfaction of contributing to help support their families.

Jackie (age 21) was serving as the First Counselor in the Young Women’s program when she joined in the jewelry making.  Chandra welcomed her to the group after Jackie received her mission call.  “I’ll save my earnings for my mission…and give some to my mother for our daily expenses,” she said.Learning a new pattern

Why We Do It

Every time you purchase a baptism necklace or a blessing bracelet you directly impact the lives of these Young Women and their families. This is why White Elegance created this charitable partnership.  The Young Women are blessed by their efforts, and we, in turn, are blessed by them.

 

Behind The Scenes At White Elegance

Founders, Anna Barbieri and Tamera Perkins, were recently dragged from behind their tape measures, bolts of fabrics and computer screen to tell their story of starting White Elegance twenty five years ago.  Their persistence, grit and love of what they do created a gem in the apparel industry.  We think you’ll enjoy taking a look behind the scenes of what goes into creating clothing masterpieces and a successful business.  Share this inspirational story with your friends because at the end of the video you’ll see that White Elegance isn’t just a clothing company.