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Industry Chats // Anya Ostapenko L’ETO BRIDAL

Free-spirited brides might recognise the name Anya Ostapenko – she’s the unrelenting force and face behind contemporary Australian bridal label, L’eto Bridal. Previously focussing on bridal accessories, Anya has delved into the world of gowns and it is safe to say that the bridal world has been permanently moved by her presence.

L’eto Bridal has one central focus when it comes to reshaping the bridal world: to make love cool again. An unwavering factor across Anya’s designs is that she is forever designing with her ideal muse in mind – not in the physical sense, but the metaphysical: a maverick babe, a citizen of the world and an artist of her own path. An esoteric spirit that is Delphic to some, remains centralised in Anya’s vision and wholly executed.

It’s not about trying to get our dresses in every boutique – we want L’eto to feel like a more personal, intimate experience, which is why we have limited collections.”

A discerning simplicity spans all of her ranges with an elegant air of nonchalance. Sleek and clean silhouettes are countered by volumised accents, which always feel weightless and balanced.L’eto brides have been adorning aisles (and catwalks) for more than 3 years now, and even though 2020 has presented some challenges, Anya says L’eto is just getting started.

We sat down for a chat with the self-taught beauty live yesterday with our Wild Hearts Creative Masterclass, to find out more about her plans for the future of L’eto & how she’s forward and staying positive in the face of global disruption. Have a read below as we share Anya’s journey with L’eto Bridal.

Tell us a little about your background & your journey to L’eto Bridal?

I’ve been in industry for almost 10 years, originally focused on my other brand, Bride La Boheme, which is an online store I launched in 2013 offering handcrafted wedding adornments (mainly headpieces and veils). Today I’m almost entirely focused on L’eto.

I launched L’eto around 3 years ago after noticing a gap in the market for contemporary, modern bridal gowns. Before I launched, I took a lot of time to determine the style I wanted L’eto to embody, as I didn’t want to do what had already been done. I knew I wanted to create a brand that was for the stylish, artsy, free-spirited brides – and here we are!

We now have a number of stockists throughout Australia, and we were poised to launch in London this year… although Covid-19 had other plans for us! We’ll work on our international presence when the time is right, but for now we’re focused on the domestic market. It’s not about trying to get our dresses in every boutique – we want L’eto to feel like a more personal, intimate experience, which is why we have limited collections.

We’ve also been working hard to move all of our production from India to Australia, so we’ll soon be able to say we’re 100% Australian made, which is exciting.

You’re self-taught! How did you learn your skills?

I watched every YouTube video and read every online blog. I’ve always had a passion for fashion!

I’d also look to international brands such as Gucci and Valentino to try and understand more about quality and details. When you’re so passionate about something, all those hours spent reading, watching and learning don’t feel like work.

Photography is also a passion of mine. I used to photograph all the collections and content for the website and social media myself, and while I have some help now, I still try to do as much of it myself as possible. So, yes, I’m a very busy person! I enjoy learning and creating.

Where do you source inspiration for your designs?

Our studio is located at Sydney’s beautiful, untamed, and spacious Northern Beaches.

I’m inspired by nature, our local surf culture, and of course, people. I like to surround myself with creative people as I feed off their energy.

I also spend hours online scrolling Pinterest and Instagram… the internet gives us access to some of the most amazing artists across the globe, so I take advantage of this and spend a lot of time online searching for ideas.

I love high fashion brands, but I also try to avoid following anyone too closely as I want to ensure L’eto is truly unique. I look at the quality and feel of brands I admire, but I always try to do my own thing, to maintain my individual style and avoid being influenced too heavily by trends. It’s a fine balance!

What challenges has 2020 brought your way, and how are you handling them?

It’s been an insane six months. We’ve definitely had some disappointments.

Our London show was completely booked out and was going to be amazing, but life doesn’t always go to plan. We were really looking forward to launching L’eto into the UK market and we’re still trying to determine how, when, and where we’ll make our international entrance. Whatever happens, we know we’ll get there eventually, so we’re trying to be really flexible about it.

I’ve learnt to be more dynamic when it comes to decision making, which has been a ‘self-development’ silver lining in many ways. This challenging start to 2020 has taught us some valuable lessons, but there’s excitement in these challenges, too. We can say we’ve survived Covid-19! It’s funny to think we’ll all be speaking about it with our kids and grandkids one day…

What advice would you give to other brands right now?

We’re dealing with a global pandemic, so remember: no one really knows what to say and do!

People across the globe have been hit in different ways, and there are always people worse off than you. We all just need to try and stay healthy and positive.

Bridal, fashion and events brands need to be especially flexible right now. Learn to not get upset when things don’t go your way. We’ve just got to keep moving.

How do you find working in such a female-dominant industry?

I love working in the wedding industry! In previous roles, working with both men and women, I felt I didn’t have enough control. But now, I’m surrounded by women every day and I really enjoy it. We all have different strengths and personalities.

I love watching other women doing similar things to me – it’s both healthy competition and a supportive community.

Women are hardworking, creative and talented beings. We understand the juggle of raising a family and running a business, and I love the collaboration that comes with this understanding. It’s the most amazing atmosphere and environment to be part of.

Quick fire questions:

Coffee or tea?

It used to be tea, but right now I’m needing more coffee…

Any pets?

No pets, two kids (5 and 7) is enough!

What’s in your handbag at all times?

Large old fashioned notebook (for everything), thin wallet (for cards), lipstick (always), tiny grocery bag (always prepared)

Favourite country?

New Zealand! I shot my first collection at Seascape with the Wild Hearts team and I love the rugged South Island landscape… I’m actually considering a gap year in New Zealand sometime soon.

Your last meal on earth – what would it be?

It wouldn’t be food… instead, I’d have a beautiful Japanese gin & a high-quality tonic (with a little bit of lime). Delicious.

Shop L’eto Bridal online here: Follow on Instagram at @letobridal

We are also excited to have L’eto Bridal as part of our Wild Hearts Vendor Collection, see more here.

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