Q&A With Jack Sullivan Bridal

Before we even opened Twelve South, we knew that we wanted to stock Jack Sullivan Bridal. It's no secret we're picky when it comes to quality; and the Sullivan's are the best in the business when it comes to beadwork, boning, affordability, and a flattering fit!.

Jack & Mel (his incredible brand manager) are truly wonderful to work with, and our showings together are always filled with gorgeous gowns, bad jokes, great stories, and off-course, bubbly!

Jack's journey into the world of bridal is a little unconventional, and a lot inspiring! We're always blown away by the feminine & whimsical gowns that he's dreamed up; and are privileged to see so many Gippsland brides falling in love with them too!

(See question #10 for our favourite answer ever!).

We love getting to know our creative designers, and learning more about who they are, and what inspires them. Read further for our 10 questions with Jack!

The 'Casey' gown by Jack Sullivan | Captured by Sherise Fleming

1. Tell us about yourself! Your location - your incredible brand, and how it came to be.

I am based in Brisbane, I was born here and spent most of my life here. Growing up, I was raised in a fashion house. My mother is a designer (As was her mother and grand mother ) Her label "Brides Desire" which was originally "Airs and Graces"  is sold throughout Australia. She designed and my dad ran the business side of things. She is an amazing designer and taught me everything I know about design, and my dad taught me so much about business. 

 When I was 21 I was living in Canada as ski instructor and my parents needed a hand with the business. So I moved back, and started work in the bridal industry, and absolutely hated it!  All I was doing was working on spread sheets, unpacking boxes all day and packing boxes. Which is a very important parts to a business, however I am not someone that is good admin, and this clearly showed early days with my business. At one stage I was on hold to our courier and I did a sketch on a desk pad, it sat there for 4 weeks. Eventually my mum walked passed my desk, asked who had done it. She was very gracious and worked with me to create that gown and put it in her collection. 6 months later it was on the cover of magazine and a best seller.  From there, my mum taught me over the next few years about design as did all the girls that worked for the label. I was very lucky that I basically got given a personal design course.

After a few years, it was obvious that my mother and I had different design styles, whilst we had similar theories in regards to structure, quality and balance. So I decided to start my own label as my designs were starting to have their own signature, that didn't match mothers label.

Originally I wasn't going to operate under my own name as I didn't want to just be compared to my mother the whole time. However at the last minute the name I applied for got rejected due to copyright so I had no choice but to use my own name. In 2012 Jack Sullivan Bridal was created.

2. What inspires you most when designing your collections? Do you experience creative block? And if so, how do you handle it?

I have always turned to textiles when designing, "what are the main characteristics of this textile and how can I show that off best". I do get designers block but going to fabric markets generally will help.

3. Are there any artists / designers that have influenced or inspired your life and work? If so who, and why?

Elie Saab is my Favorite designer, I think his gowns are the perfect balance of flashy meets elegant.

4. Of all your creations - which gown is your personal favourite / are you most proud of, and why?

Umm there is a few, I did a gown called  "Hannah" that took a really really long time and it closed my show at fashion week a few years ago, and it was pretty special. I also love a gown called "Charlis" it has the most amazing bead work.

The 'Charlis' gown by Jack Sullivan Bridal

5. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? How do you balance life and business?

This has been a tough one, with the expansion of the business I don't have a lot of time at home. I guess you could say I suck at the work life balance. I guess my main hobby would be a long lunch.

6. What advice would you give to recently engaged girls searching for their dream dress!?

I would say try not to do too much research until you have tried on some gowns. I sometimes see brides that have looked at so many photos before they have even put a gown on and try convince themselves that a particular style is their gown, without ever seeing how it suits them

The 'Remi' gown by Jack Sullivan Bridal

7. What are your hopes for the future of your brand? 

We have been growing in the USA for the last couple years, and we basically doubled our USA business this year. I really do like the states and we have some amazing stockists over there. If we could be stocked in another five or six great stores there, I would be really happy.

8. What trends do you see coming through collections currently? What’s your favourite trend?

We’re having a lot of brides saying that they don’t want any lace or bead work. We’re seeing success with the plainer Mikado gowns, and the trends seem to leaning back towards higher quality, well made and structured wedding gowns. 

9. Has there been any ‘career defining moments’ for you?

There was a collection I did a few years ago. That was my first really successful collection, combined with an amazing photo shoot. That really set things off for the label.

10. And a fun one to finish off, if you had to be any fabric - which would you be and why!?

I would be pure white chiffon because I am so pale and wrinkly! That’s a real easy one!