Daughters Of Simone
For as long as sisters, and partners to Daughters Of Simone, Ash and Brit Castanos can remember they have been encouraged to find what they love and go after it with everything they’ve got. A typical childhood activity of theirs consisted of throwing on trash bag smocks, setting up a canvas on the backyard lawn, and wildly splattering colorful paint around until an “abstract” masterpiece submerged. Independence, self determination and creativity were very much the cornerstones of their formative years. Children of a carpenter father turned developer and an abstract artist mother meant their upbringing was anything but traditional.
The beginning of Daughters Of Simone began nearly four years ago during a time when Brit began to question her lack of connection to the big wide world of all things weddings. Inadvertently, this notion sparked a desire to bring romance and authenticity back into these celebrations. To get there she began experimenting with vintage pieces she dug up at local thrift stores. As demand began to pick up Brit soon dragged her kid sister, Ashley, into the mix who would host regular bridal fittings out of her S.F. apartment.
Not long after a partnership began to form, and since completing her masters degree last summer Ash has come on (officially!) as full time partner. What started with just a handful of re-constructed vintage gowns has since grown into a brand that offers a curated vintage section and three in-house designed collections. Ash and Brit are inspired by their mothers very own 1970′s shoulder-baring wedding gown, backpacking trips through Indonesia and Australia and from the soul-baring & tenacious women of the world who remind them to keep charging forward.
1. Brittany, what inspired the idea to create Daughters Of Simone in the early years?
Brit: I was really just a woman who found herself doing something she didn’t like to do. I was about a year out of college working in San Francisco doing real estate. While I felt very fortunate to have the job (especially in the wake of the '09 recession), it never felt completely like "me".
Growing up our Mom and Dad always encouraged my sisters and I to do what we loved, but with the current economy and months spent trying to find a job after college... this ideal really became a lost and forgotten dream. At some point I had this epiphany that if I kept going at what I was doing then it would be difficult for me to turn it around and do anything else. And so after a lot of thought I decided to listen to everyone who has ever said “you can do anything you set your mind to.” You should always take your hobbies seriously. If you love it, you should be doing it. For me, my hobby started at the age of four. During “nap time” my sisters and I would sneak out of our room and catch my mom sewing teddy bears that she wanted to surprise us with later. Instead of scolding us and sending us back up to our naps she proceeded to teach us how to cut and layer the fabric and then how hand stitch it all together.
My love for vintage clothing came about a little while later in my high school years. My best friend, Alexa, would come to school in all of these rad outfits and people would always ask her where she got this skirt or that belt… She always responded confidently, “At the thrift.” Soon after Alexa gave me my first introduction, to the interesting experience that is “the thrift”, I was pretty well hooked. Eventually I started to look at the clothing not for what is but what it could be, and then sew it accordingly. At the time I thought of it as making the clothes that I couldn’t find in stores but now realize that I was beginning a future in what I really belonged in. And so after a lot of hard work, vulnerability, sacrifices and the need for more hard work to be done... Daughters Of Simone was born. What started with just a handful of re-constructed vintage gowns has since grown into a brand that offers a curated vintage section and three in-house designed collections.
2. Story of the name:
Brit: The name was inspired by the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, she lived in a time when women weren't free to express who they were as individuals and yet she went against all the conventional constraints set-up for women and did her own thing. I really admire her. Even during a time when I am so much more free than she was ever allowed, I still feel those old traditional pulls. So to see someone like her, in her day, dig in deep and say, "To hell with it, I'm going to be me" is incredibly refreshing. Because of women like Simone, we were inspired to change up the way people saw the "wedding dress", to make it more of a reflection of the woman rather than a reflection of the tradition. We love that all of our gowns are unique, with an original story that our brides breathe new life into. Because we see our girl as an individual, this is not just any other bride getting married and the dress must represent that.
3. What kind of bride do your gowns cater to?
Ash & Brit: A Daughters Of Simone bride knows who she is. She is creative, she is an adventurer, she is always looking to grow and to find something, or someone, to be inspired by. She likes her sequins, she likes her holey jeans... Her wedding is a celebration and honoring their partnership and also who they are as individuals (which is equally as important).
4. Where do you find the gowns in your collection?
Britt: As for our vintage gowns, I scourer the local thrift stores, flea markets and everything in between. For our own made to order collections, they are designed with a vintage inspired mind, in particular to the 1970's bohemian era. Many of our designs are similar reproductions of the vintage gowns we sell. Other pieces in our collections come from gowns worn by style icons we admire from the 60's and 70's, and also some modern ones too. Our most popular dresses are our off-the-shoulder gowns, (Winnie & Lu). These two gowns were inspired by our own mothers wedding gown, and are some of our favorites as well.
5. What kind of music inspires DOS?
Ash: Blues, Folk, Indie and anything with a powerful female voice. To name a few: Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Alabama Shakes, Janis Joplin, Haim, The Growlers...ahh too many. Loud music is a constant at our office, our bridal fittings, and during any bridal event. We may have rattled a few retailers during our first New York Bridal Market by blasting The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clear Water.
6. What's your favorite part about the evolution of DOS? Where do you see it going?
Ash: It feels pretty rad to know that I started slangin' dresses out of my bedroom, literally held bridal fittings from my apartment in SF, to now be working together from an actual showroom in NYC. One memory during the evolution that comes to mind occurred two years ago when we were in New York, we got word that our first stocklist had picked up the line. Considering the store was located in Belgium we thought it only customary to celebrate over Belgian Ales. This was a big moment for us, and still is every time we even get considered for more growth. It's always exciting to be reassured that we are offering a product that quite frankly still isn't really out there. We will continue to create unique bridal gowns and will be launching some accessory lines very soon. Keep your eyes peeled.