Meet Stacie A. Sanders Martin, bridal & couture dress designer of Sparkle and Sass by Stacie. Currently celebrating her new showroom and Atelier, this Atlanta-based designer has brought her childhood dream to life after years of working in corporate America and being laid off at 36 weeks pregnant; choosing to see the silver lining, she went full speed ahead.
When did you first discover your passion for fashion, designing dresses specifically?
I love this question! I discovered my love of fashion from a very early age as a young child. I was obsessed with watching pageants and wanted to be Miss America. I loved the evening gown portion the most and would walk around the house in my mom’s dresses and heels pretending to be a pageant queen. But the most inspiration for designing and just an overall love of gowns I would have to attribute to Princess Diana. I loved her and her style. I remember reading every book and looking at all of the pictures of her wearing just stunning dresses and wanting to wear and create looks like hers. There’s one dress in particular, with a fully pearl beaded dress with a high neck jacket also with pearl beading that was my absolute favorite. The look is so timeless and iconic it could still be worn today. I leverage her timeless style as inspiration for each piece I create giving them a modern look with classic elegance.
Was there a particular incident or an Oprah ‘a-ha’ moment for you that prompted you to start your business?
I don’t think there really was an “ah-ha” moment per se, but more of unfortunate circumstances that led me to bet on myself and start the business. When I was 36 weeks pregnant with my son, the company I worked for was sold and my division closed. At the time, I was having a lot of difficulties with the pregnancy so I was in some ways relieved to not have to work anymore but knew it would be a long while before I found another job. I ended up having major complications giving birth and needed a lot of extra time to recover. While recovering, my husband was laid off from his job as a result of a company reorganization. It was then, I decided to follow my dreams, and partner with a good friend to start renting evening gowns. We converted the in-law suite in my basement into a showroom and dressing room and started taking appointments. We did this for a year, then I bought out my friend (we are still close to this day), rebranded, and started retailing evening and bridal gowns, still out of my home. During my first year, I realized that almost every single client wanted to customize some part of her dress. They loved the top of one and the bottom of another, wanted more beading here or there or to change the shape. I would literally end up customizing dresses daily so I thought to myself, why not just offer custom designs. I studied and taught myself to sketch on paper, found factories to mass-produce and it took off! Because I was out of my home, most of the large brands wouldn’t sell to me so I found designers overseas who then gave me exclusive dresses in the state of Georgia, and those same designers opened up their factories to me to produce my collections. Now, about 75% of my business is custom-designed dresses and I feel that I’m living my calling and betting on myself in everything that I do.