Lea-Ann Belter – Tailored success
Twenty-one years ago, Lea-Ann Belter designed her first wedding gown—a favour for her brother’s fiance. The same year, she pulled up to her first shop on Yorkville Avenue with her sewing machine, a dress form and a $7,500 New Ventures loan from the government.
Today, more than 20,000 brides worldwide have chosen Lea-Ann Belter to create the most important garment they will ever wear. Each gown is handmade at Lea-Ann’s Toronto atelier using the highest quality materials like Dupioni silk and French Alençon lace, and she personally oversees the creation of every single dress.
Lea-Ann recently introduced 10 new gowns for her spring 2012 collection at her flagship boutique on Queen St. E., a line that will be available in stores throughout Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. this fall.
Lea-Ann is known for her sophisticated and understated approach to design, and for designing Rachel McAdams’ strapless gown in The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Asked which came first, her passion for bridal or business, the answer was bridal, although it was revealed that because her family is filled with small business owners, Belter comes by the business side honestly.
Belter’s business made a huge leap when she started to focus on a wholesale division, which is now 80 per cent of her business. Nevertheless, each and every gown is made in her atelier—designed like an art gallery—which will soon be moving to the building Belter purchased to house the demand.
“I always wanted to own the building that my business is in. This will be the perfect place to keep working on expanding into the United Kingdom,” Belter said.
Belter is ever conscious of real estate, and would advise burgeoning entrepreneurs to “never pay too much for rent.”
Home and location is a running theme to Belter’s business. Integral to her design is the theme of home.
“It is part of who I am and doing all the photoshoots in Ontario I think it’s the most gorgeous place in the world and I wanted to showcase that.”
All of the collections are named after Ontario locales, and dresses after names indigenous to the area. The effect is a simple but elegant gown that encapsulates the beauty of Ontario’s lakes, forests and starlit skies.