In a special series, please check out our feature on these wonderful local businesses, non-profits and artists who bring local loveliness to us all! Please enjoy meeting Rebekah Murray, owner of Virginia Dare Dress Co in Leesburg, VA. Note that Rebekah was one of the very first people to work with the Local Loveliness project with us in 2016! We are revisiting her original notes, and have added her recent update about work through the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to her and her team for doing what they have done to pivot.
What has it been like with the Covid19/ Quarantine Scenario and how have you had to pivot your business?
We hear about them constantly. But did you know there are TWO kinds of masks in short supply? And we don’t usually hear about the one that matters most!
I’m nothing of an expert, but here’s a quick overview from what I’ve learned in the last month or two!
Respirator Masks — N95s or KN95s
– They DO block COVID-19
– They can NOT be made by hand
– Once soiled, they have to be thrown away
– They are in short supply worldwide and are being extremely rationed
– They’re normally replaced daily
Washable Fabric Masks
– They DO NOT block COVID-19
– But, medical personnel can layer them ON TOP of an N95/KN95 mask.
– As the fabric layer gets dirty, it’s laundered and replaced, protecting the essential mask underneath!
– So fabric masks EXTEND the use of respirators
That’s why it’s our mission to source and supply both kinds together. All donations and a portion of all purchases are directly funding purchases of respirator masks and supplies for fabric masks.
It’s a privilege to be a part of this movement to help support our healthcare heroes! We’re all in this together. ♡
Fabric masks are being sent out from home production teams all over the country to the brave women and men helping with COVID-19. We’ve created mask kits for our teams to sew from, and are pairing finished masks with doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other places in need.
These kits were made possible by donations and purchases by all of you, and we’ll continue sourcing and sending them as long as we can!
Every purchase gives these masks and respirators to healthcare heroes: https://www.virginiadaredressco.com/coll…/vddco-sending-love
** If you signed up to sew — we have more kits coming! We have HUNDREDS of yards of fabric and thousands of yards of trim that we’re waiting on. Our suppliers have strict restrictions for fulfilling orders, so shipments are taking 2-3 weeks to get here. Can’t wait for them to arrive so we can include so many more of you in these efforts!
It’s a gift to do this together. ♡
Have you always had the entrepreneurial spirit?
Definitely for a while! I started a wedding photography business while in college and eventually stopped school just to focus on building that business. I’ve always enjoyed figuring things out for myself or doing them in my own way.
Do you have a morning routine?
I have good mornings and bad mornings. 🙂 a good morning is I’m up by 5:30-6, have a slow few cups of coffee and spend time doing a bible study and then something creative before I’ve checked email or social media. I make a plan for the day, do a little cleaning, get a little dressed up even though I work at home and dive in. These days are my favorite since I’ll usually be so motivated by all the finished projects that I’ll work through the evening too. (And yes, with a nap in there too sometimes)
Bad mornings are when I accidentally sleep a couple hours past my alarm, rush through my morning routine and don’t get started on work until 10 and feel like the whole day is thrown off and with half the time.
Mornings are so important!
When did you decide that being an entrepreneur was right for you?
Only as I was one long enough to realize not everyone thought the same way as me. I love the social aspect of working in a more traditional job and I’ve enjoyed working other jobs too while I’ve also had my own business, but I couldn’t imagine not having something of my own to focus on. Right now I still work my wedding photography business (10+ years!) and a clothing company I founded, so the longer I’ve been an entrepreneur the more I’ve known it’s right for me.
What made you choose Northern Virginia?
My family chose it by moving here 20 years ago and I’ve stayed for both work and personal reasons. I live in Loudoun county so I’m close to the farms and hikes out west, I’m an easy drive to Dulles which makes travel so convenient, and I do a lot of work around the city so it’s a good mix of everything. I also love the drive people have around here. The biggest reason is my family all being here too and we’re very close.
How do you think your company is different?
Virginia Dare Dress Co. is taking a different approach to “fashion” in that I’m set on not reinventing fashion but instead designing dresses that are comfortable and flattering and even a bit elegant but in a fresh and simple way. It’s like for the modern girl with an old soul, so there’s a lot of romanticism in the brand as well. The company is a very personal thing and I think also reflective of myself in the style (for good, bad or otherwise!) so it’s also unique in being focused on the experiences my customers have living in their dresses.
So, personal, detail-oriented, pieces designed for what they want based on hundreds of women giving feedback.
What problem are you solving?
The need we all have to feel put-together and confident in a comfortable, practical, and feminine way. We want to look our best and feel like ourselves and comfortable, flattering dresses are an easy solution to all of this. I also solve the problems of conservative style that isn’t too old-fashioned – the dresses have sleeves and a bit longer lengths, so they’re versatile for that much more.
Where is your favorite place to go in NoVa for a secret escape?
I love Bluemont. There’s a beautiful overlook called Bears Den (a lesser known entrance gets you almost to the top without hiking too long) and there are farms and wineries there with beautiful views. I just love it for the drive too!
Meadowlark Gardens is also a beautiful getaway, and for meeting friends or doing a bit of shopping, my default is Reston Town Center.
Is there something you want people to know about your business that no one knows?
I’ve put more thought and work into this than anyone could ever imagine. I wasn’t formally educated in fashion (or anything, really!) so I gave myself a crash course in self-education for fashion design, manufacturing, management, retail, international import/export, crowdfunding, cash flow and business analysis, community building, graphic design, modeling and videography. It was almost three years of that before the company launched so I can promise that it was a steep and long learning curve!
Tell us a secret about your company.
I have biiiiig dreams. Right now I have my core collection of dresses that I think every girl needs and over time I’ll add new styles to that, but if all my dreams came true I’d someday have a bridal line, a pre-teen line, a home/office/gifting collection of products, dress events all over the country, entrepreneurship coaching/incubator and a flagship store with a bakery/tea house, where customers could meet a friend for British-inspired cakes on mismatched china, go shopping together, and leave with flowers and a new dress all wrapped up with string.
What word best describes your company?
If you weren’t running your business what would you be doing?
Going for walks or a bike ride outside a cottage in Scotland or England, preferably with my family there too and a newfound ability to paint.
Or, if I wasn’t independently wealthy, then I might still be full time wedding photographer, but that’s so hard to imagine!
Make friends and make life beautiful
When you started your company, did you have an idea about what would go into the day to day?
What song is playing right now in your playlist?
Nothing you’d recognize, but on my podcast playlist there’s How I Built This, Seth’s Startup School and the Glossy podcast for miles
Do you have a favorite Instagram account?
Jo_rodgers! She’s American but moved to England and she’s a beautiful writer and shares a very witty and beautiful life.
Do you have a favorite hike and bike trail?
Bears Den in Bluemont, Great Falls is also beautiful if you go past the overlooks and tourists
What fitness regimen do you follow?
A very inconsistent one. When I do, it’s the Kinobody one for women. Focuses on strength training and I do enjoy lifting.
What trends do you think we should be looking at now?
The negative effects of social media. It’s a lousy topic and feels so negative but attention span and real personal connections (the kinds that are messy and wonderful) are difficult things to gain back if at all lost.
On a more positive note, midi length dresses. They’re just so flattering. We owe a debt of gratitude for Kate Middleton making a classic style look right for us again.
What is your style?
Ah, so difficult! I like a long lean look so more fitted tops/tunics with skinny pants. It’s pretty simple and I’ve had a hard time feeling like I *have* a style, by lots of dresses, dark blues, interesting accessories picked up from travels and a good brown leather boot or bag usually in the mix.
What is your favorite food? Do you have a favorite local hotspot?
I love Thai but don’t have a favorite spot for it. My most visited is Cava by a long shot and Ted’s Bulletin a close second. Pop tarts for the win