The fashion bug bit Ashley Lemoine Morra hard during her time at LSU. The Louisiana native had a part-time job at a Baton Rouge boutique where she assisted customers, and, after graduation, she stuck around as a buyer, putting her minor in merchandising to use. Then she was off to the big leagues, joining the ranks – and racks – at Nordstrom in Dallas. For a few years, she learned everything she could from the shopping mecca and started her own jewelry line on the side. Then two acquaintances of her dad came calling. They needed help with merchandising across town at their high-end wedding store, Stardust Celebrations. “I thought they were crazy because I had it made at Nordstrom,” she says. “I accepted their offer, and it changed my life.” As a bridal consultant, she quickly became versed in tulle and taffeta, excelling at getting brides to say yes to the dress.
It was after years of feeling restless in the Lone Star State that she moved to the Triangle. She was itching to start her own endeavor but landed a part-time job at Alexia’s Bridal Boutique in Raleigh. “In the back of my head, I always knew that I wanted to do something,” she says. “I just had to sit on it and wait and figure out what it was.” Meanwhile, she explored property management and earned an entrepreneur certification so she’d be ready when her idea struck.
One day she figured it out – she’d buy and refurbish an Airstream to be a photogenic backdrop for whatever clients wanted: It could be a photographer’s setting for an engagement shoot, a place for brides to try on bridal boutique gowns after hours or a dressing room for venues that don’t have one.
In a bit of serendipity, she bought the trailer from a man trying to finance his honeymoon. “It was just meant to be,” she says. Ashley, who grew up vacationing in her family’s Airstream, helped plan the design details down to the crystal sconces. It took a long time and a lot of elbow grease to get the now-turquoise trailer – also known as Ida Lou Weddings – looking good. But thanks to a number of Pittsboro and Chapel Hill repairmen, it’s got a changing room in the back, two gown racks and a vintage awning.
Ashley’s Argosy Airstream trailer may be from 1976, but the interior is all 1950s. Her mom painted a flower mural on the pale pink walls, and a college pal drew framed fashion illustrations. Soft polka dot curtains hang above a teal banquette and a gleaming refurbished radio. It’s a perfectly pretty setting for brides, debutantes or prom-goers to try on gowns Ashley’s picked up from local stores like Alexia’s. The trailer is even armed with a steamer and an iron, so Ashley can smooth out any dress-related wrinkles on the day of a big event.
SKETCHING HER FUTURE
Though she’s only recently begun driving around her trailer, Ashley is still dreaming up other offerings. In keeping with her fashion roots, she’s been sketching dress patterns – modernizing 1940s and ‘50s silhouettes – that shoppers can have custom made by a seamstress. Ashley also has made silk flower bouquets and designed garment bags to keep clothes looking their best. It’s all part of her plan to help out clients in every way she can by fusing her passions. “I love bridal appointments and consulting. I love helping girls with gowns and working with bridal stores,” she says. “This business is allowing me to do all of that and spread my wings in my own way.”