Every woman should feel special on her big day.
At Evanston’s Avail & Company, a bride can work with co-owner and lead designer Rachel Alvia to create the custom gown of her dreams.
“Every client that comes in the door is unique and beautiful, and I like just getting to know people and designing something that fits who they are, no matter what that is,” Rachel says. “Whatever they’re into, I welcome them for who they are and design something that they’re going to love. It’s really all about them.”
Rachel first made custom dresses for friends in high school. After attending the Illinois Institute of Art, her husband, Ted, helped Rachel grow her hobby into a business. The couple worked out of their basement in Rockford before opening their retail store on Davis Street.
While it’s important to Rachel to give brides their dream gown, it’s also important to give back to the community. Since moving to Evanston, Rachel and Ted have worked with Chicago’s Tellin’ Tales Theatre, a company that brings together kids and adults with and without disabilities, by donating their time to the company’s Fashion Forward fundraiser.
“I do a gown with one of the girls who has a disability,” Rachel says. “We do a gown she’s able to move in and able to have a good time [in].”
This year, Rachel worked with a high school student named Alexis to create her dream prom dress. Alexis visited Avail & Company to design the dress and pick fabric before Rachel turned her vision into a reality. Alexis wore the dress to both Fashion Forward and to her prom. Last year, Rachel designed a wedding dress for the fundraiser.
During their time in Rockford, Rachel and Ted also worked with Heartland Community Church’s “A Night to Remember,” a prom for students with special needs.
“The students got their tuxedos donated, or their dresses donated,” Ted says. “There were limo services that would take the students and drive them around the city, and then they’d get back to a red carpet where the students got out of the limo and all the volunteers, the family and friends, would line the red carpet, cheering students on, taking pictures, so they really felt honored and special.”
The idea started with local students, and Ted says it was “cool seeing high school students giving of themselves.” Both Rachel and Ted hope a similar event will begin here on the North Shore.
“We believe the North Shore area would be a tremendous place to host a similar event,” Ted says. “With student volunteers from ETHS, Northwestern University and others, this can be something that can be a wonderful experience.”
Photo by Eternal Reflections Photography, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. All photos courtesy of Rachel Alvia.