“I have learnt more with the downs because that is how we train ourselves to be better and devise methods to get those things sorted”
Barbie dolls are any girl child’s favourite. As kids, they like to play with dolls, make them wear the different costumes that come with the package, comb their hair and accessorise them. However, Little Althea Dcouto’s love for gown-clad Barbie dolls was not just a passing fancy of a kid, so much so that as the years went by, her penchant towards bridal gowns increased, persuading her to start Althea Bridals and Bespoke, which designs unique gowns for women who aspire to look and feel as the most beautiful woman in the world on their big day.
Elaborating about the same, Althea says, “It all started when I was very young, perhaps in fourth or fifth grade. I used to love the gown-clad Barbie dolls. Back then, I used to go to the stores to buy waste fabrics, with the little pocket money that I had. My happy thing to do was to stitch these gowns by hand. Fast forward a few years, and I was working in the banking field. There was a friend of mine who had a bridal store in the UK. I loved how they decked up the brides and the pure feel of transforming a bride. It inspired me a lot and I wanted to do the same when I was back in my hometown. I started my business in 2009. There was this wave of change happening in the wedding arena and people had started preferring gowns. Until then, a wedding attire was only confined to a saree. I wanted to bring in that change which wedding gowns could add to the wedding. I am happy I am succeeding in what I dreamt of doing.”
Hailing from Fort Kochi, Althea says that despite starting a business in Ernakulam, a place familiar to her, she has had her fair share of ups and downs. “I have learnt more with the shortcomings because that is how we train ourselves to be better and devise smarter ways out of it.” she says, adding that being in the business for all these years has been a learning curve for her. “ It is not scary anymore, because shortfalls are challenging and one learns better while encountering them,” she adds.
Althea admits that one of the most crucial things that is essential in her business line is having good knowledge about fabrics. She cites it as one of the biggest learning experiences that she has received. “Fabric is like maths. Like how maths is used everywhere, depending on the issue that needs to be sorted, the amount of fabric used in a costume should be precise. Or else it can spoil the entire look of the costume. After starting Althea, I have dealt with different types of fabric so much that now I understand a fabric and its feel when put to use. Even now, if I go to a store, I like to go around touching and feeling the fabric, an attempt to understand it and imagining how to use it”, she says.
All these years of being in the business has also taught her patience and the importance of concentrating on one thing at a time, which according to her is one aspect that she would like to tell her younger self who would like to take baby steps into the field. Althea explains, “Do not try to mix up everything. Fabrics, clothes and fashion is a vast area. Be specific about what you want to do.”