Before opening its doors, Boone’s newest boutique showcased its bridalwear, along with its goals to encourage sustainability and inclusion in the fashion community.
Lauren Gioscio is the owner and head stylist of Juniper James Bridal, a bridal salon coming to 275 E. King St. this spring.
Gioscio hopes her business will help foster community in Boone’s local business scene.
“I just hope to be able to continue to work with everybody in the community and just be a part of the incredible wedding scene that is (in Boone),” Gioscio said.
Analese Travina, a sophomore healthcare management major, modeled in a collaboration Fashion show Feb. 14 with Juniper James, Shear Shakti and Lucky Penny. All of the models in the show were Gioscio friends who showed interest.
“My mom’s friend’s daughter works with Lauren, and she asked me if I would model dresses for her, and I was like, ‘Of course,’” Travina said.
Travina was modeling the Elie Cape by Daughters of Simone, a designer carried by Juniper James. The sheer floor-length cape tied at the neck and was covered in tiny pearls.
Travina said capes are good for accessorizing simple wedding gowns.
“It dresses it up and sort of takes the place of a veil. It’s a newer thing people are doing with the capes, but it’s gorgeous, and it’s really lightweight and comfortable, and I love it,” Travina said.
Gioscio said one of Juniper James Bridal’s missions is to foster inclusivity. Gioscio’s children, who the store is named after, are biracial and she wanted to create a space that is welcoming to all people regardless of race, gender or sexuality, so that her children could see themselves represented.
“We just really want everyone to feel comfortable coming in. I really want to bring a comfortable and calming celebratory space for anybody, but especially the LGBTQ community because it’s so hard for people in the south who might not be your typical couple,” Gioscio said. “As far as sizing goes, we’ve got sizes that range from an 8 to a 20 right now, but we’re getting ready to pick up a couture plus-size line, so we’ll have up to size 30 to try on in the shop.”
Plus-size fashion doesn’t always compare in style and quality to what’s offered in straight sizes, Gioscio said, but the plus-size line her store will offer is different.
“It won’t be, you know, your typical larger sizes that just aren’t pretty. A lot of the time you just get stuff that (is like), ‘Oh well here, this is just something for someone who is that size can try on.’ This stuff is tailored and beautiful and fitted and handcrafted because everyone should feel gorgeous,” Gioscio said.
Sustainability is another part of Juniper James Bridal’s mission.
“We’re also trying to be as sustainably-minded as possible,” Gioscio said. “We have a vintage collection that I’ve sourced. We’re working with a couple of designers who are sustainably minded. They use recycled metals for their jewelry and they buy (carbon offsets). They’re making the effort, and they’re trying to do the work.”
In striving for sustainability, all shop decor is secondhand. An App State alumna, Gioscio studied interior design and designed the store’s interior herself.
“(The fashion industry) is so wasteful, and there are so many beautiful things that just need a second chance. Every single thing in the shop, as far as chandeliers, rugs, couches, all the things, is second hand and has been thrifted. I didn’t want to bring any excess plastic in because I’m already bringing in so much plastic with the gowns,” Gioscio said.
While bridal salons’ clientele typically consists of brides-to-be, Juniper James will cater to people not getting married, as well.
“A lot of my friends are married or never want to get married or have been married before and don’t want to do it again, but they want to try on beautiful gowns,” Gioscio said.
Once a week, Juniper James will offer an after-hours appointment time for a group of up to four people where guests can try on gowns and be styled by Gioscio without the intention of making a wedding gown purchase. Guests can add on things such as a photographer, a makeup artist, or a hair stylist to their appointment.
“So, it’s just a dress-up night for anybody who wants to come,” Gioscio said.