New bridal shop opens in DeKalb

By Erin Kolb

Store owners Dawn and Marissa Caltagerone are taking advantage of DeKalb by starting a new business in the heart of downtown.

The mother-daughter team opened Alexis Kay Designs, Inc., a bridal and formal wear boutique at 128 E. Lincoln Highway, about two weeks ago. According to the businesses’s website, Alexis Kay Designs is the first bridal boutique in DeKalb in more than 20 years. Marissa, who is Dawn’s daughter, said downtown DeKalb is a visually appealing location, and now is a good time to open a business like this.

“There’s so much on TV now that wasn’t there years ago,” Marissa said. “You turn on TLC and you’re just bombarded by bride and bridesmaid shows. So now girls are thinking when it comes time to buy a dress, you have to have a good location to shop.”

Marissa said she and her mother are from the DeKalb area, and she noticed a lack of bridal shops in the area. She said the closest bridal shops are a long drive away, and Alexis Kay Designs tries to create a unique shopping experience.

“I feel like so much of the bride stores around, you’re just kind of rushed through the whole experience,” said Marissa. “It’s all about the sale with that type of store; it has no personality whatsoever. We wanted to bring it back to that old sort of feel of getting your dress, where it was more of a moment than a sale.”

Dawn said along with a unique experience, girls will also find unique dresses, from prom dresses to wedding dresses to bridesmaid dresses. She hopes to help girls who have trouble finding dresses.

“We have special dresses for people who can’t fit into what’s in stores right now,” she said. “People may have different shape aspects of their body that keep a normal dress from fitting quite right, so we’re doing a lot of custom work for people. Another aspect that we’re doing is if someone can’t find exactly what they want, they see part of one dress, part of another, so I’ll put that together for them.”

Recently wed Sycamore resident Meagan Wehling said she experienced difficulty finding a dress, and wishes Alexis Kay Designs had been open when she was shopping.

“I’d keep finding all these dresses that I liked, except for one small detail,” she said. “I wish I could have had someone with me to help me put bits and pieces of multiple dresses together.”

Dawn said she has been designing dresses for about 30 years, and has an upcoming vintage line that will be available in the store. Her inspiration for this line was also her inspiration for getting into the dress design business: a late aunt with whom she would watch vintage movies.

“I’ve had a love of the old Hollywood vintage dresses for probably 40 years or more from watching old movies and seeing the beautiful gowns that everybody used to wear and that you can’t find anywhere anymore,” she said. “I wanted to start doing that style of dresses and have them available for anybody that should have an interest in them.”

Dawn said the upcoming line is in remembrance of her aunt, who mentored her and got her interested in the business. She said the family takes pride in the business, and enjoyed making it look appealing.

“Marissa and I both put a lot of our own elbow grease into it,” Dawn said. “We had a contractor come and put up some additional walls for us and do a beautiful job of that, but as far as all the painting, the trim work, the decorating, [that] came directly from Marissa and I and our ideas of what we wanted to see in the store and how we wanted it to be viewed by the customer who comes in. We wanted to make sure that it looked upscale but not to the point where people were intimidated to come in.”