Internationally successful for over 25 years wholesaling to fine bridal shops, Ivana Dykas chose to open the first MS Moda retail establishment in Barrington.
We caught up with Ivana to learn more about her family company that specializes in beautiful wedding gowns and the inspiration for her Barrington-based shop.
How long have you lived in this area?
I moved to the Barrington area in 2000.
When did you open your store?
February 14th, this year, which was Valentine's Day.
MS Moda took part in the Barrington July 4th Parade winning 'Spirit of Barrington' award.
Is this your first location?
For retail, yes. Three years ago I started off with wholesale and we would sell our dresses to other retailers, mostly bridal salons, but only our wedding dresses. Wedding dresses are in my family as well as manufacturing in Poland. So we would sell the dresses to stores throughout the United States, and by the demand of our clients, we had to be open to the public.
Once we opened this store we wanted other items to compliment the wedding dresses so we added special occasion dresses, flower girl dresses, and accessories.
How did you decide to finally open your own store?
A client of mine was visiting the Chicagoland area from Lebanon, and he said that he would love to come see my showroom. Because we were wholesale at that time, I obviously did not have a showroom, I only had a warehouse where we stored all the dresses. That is what prompted me to open this store.
How do you find and choose each dress that is in your store?
For wedding gowns, I only carry my own brand, my family in Poland manufactures the dresses and I buy whole collections from them.
Every year we come out with about 60 to 80 new dresses so I just buy them and get them in my store.
Are there MS Moda stores in Poland as well?
The collections are also sold in Europe and MS Moda is very well known there.
In Poland, we are the biggest manufacturers of wedding dresses. We dress Ms. Polania, we are in magazines, and we have stores all over Poland, but also everywhere in Europe. We are only new to the United States.
My uncle who's the owner of MS Moda had asked me to start distribution here but I haven't had the time. So when both my kids went to college I was able to open this store because I had more time, and so we are just starting to promote the company here, which is why the wholesale portion was so important for me because it is becoming nation wide which is what I would ultimately like. We do it for the brides, but that is not our strength. Our strength is the wholesale side of it.”
Are you planning on expanding and distributing more in the United States in the future?
Yes, eventually I would like to get out of retail, retail is only for now because we want to promote the name and we want the audience to know about the company and what it’s all about and every single bride that comes in here is being educated on what we do and how we do it and how we are different from any other company.
Many other manufacturers of wedding gowns are made in China and our dresses are made in Europe with European fabrics. We have very good quality for a very good price, we sell couture styles for under $2000. You will find salons or boutiques in the United States where they $5000-$6000 for a similar dress.
How exactly does your business differ from all the other wedding gown retailers?
: We carry only our brand and no other brands because we present to manufacturing directly. That is why I am able to offer the very competitive cost, and there is no middle man.
If I sell to any other boutique, I am the middle man and the prices have to go up because I have to make money and the retailer does as well. Here I am able to price the dresses low because I am working directly with the manufacturer, not to mention that it is my family so they give me a special price on top of it. Also the fact that the dresses are made by hand and made in Poland where we only buy fabrics from Italy and France, so there is a huge difference in the way the dresses are made.
Another reason we are different from our competitors is that we are customizable for each and every bride. Instead of the brides trying to fit into a size 6 or 8 and then taking the dress in and getting it tailored, we measure the bride and send her measurements directly to manufacturing where they are able to make a dress that fits the bride exactly. Also, if they want more embroidering or they want to make a dress that has straps, strapless, it is no problem.
Who are your target customers at this time?
I mainly get brides from this area because I advertise in Barrington and connect with the businesses here. People see ads and shows that I do in the area. I want to expand in the area first and then build on that because I really do think that people do not want to travel the distance. I do not really want to target people from the city because the city has its own salons and that is where brides are going to go first.
When did you start getting into the line of clothing/wedding dresses?
It has always been my dream to have some kind of clothing store, I never thought it would be wedding dresses but I have always wanted to dress women and make them feel beautiful.
Since I was little, I was helping my aunt sell clothing at her store and I have always loved fashion. I have always followed it very closely because it is in my family. It led me to open a wedding salon, otherwise, I probably would have had a very fashionable clothing salon. I have been asked by my uncle for so many years to do this, I couldn't say no, and he wants to keep it in the family. Every representative for MS Moda throughout Europe and now the United States are family members.
I thought about it and I realized, 'what is more prestige than the wedding industry', there is nothing more, it is the top of the top.
MS Moda took part in the annual Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce 'Spotlight on the Stars'
I am very happy, I just didn't think in the beginning that retail would be so time-consuming. I want to be here all the time when the brides come in, and we have been very lucky so far because we have not had one bad experience yet.
I have had great experiences with the brides that have come in, and that is what I want. I want quality over quantity.
Do you remember the moment when you first knew that you wanted to start selling wedding dresses?
I do, I remember the exact moment.
In 2015 when my husband died from cancer, I needed something positive. I needed something to challenge me and I needed something different. Way before that though, I knew I wanted to start when I visited my uncle at MS Moda manufacturing, but I couldn’t do it then because I was still busy managing my kids, I could not put my whole self into it, I would not be able to stay the late hours and couldn't afford the time consumption being a single mom.
We have been talking about it for about 10 years, but with the passing of my husband, it led me to a now-or-never decision. It was the right time, I had to get into positive things and get into a happy life and this business did that for me.
Tell us about your relationship with Barrington Bank & Trust
I have been banking with Barrington Bank & Trust for 7 or 8 years with my personal account and banking for about 20 years for my business. Since 2014 I have been banking with Barrington Bank & Trust for this business and they are amazing. I would like to eventually switch all my other accounts to here but it is hard to do that because of personal relationships, checks and etc. but once I get the time I think I will do the switch because I love the customer service and the personal connections, they know me, I know them. It is very easy, I can call and make a transfer to Poland and they already know the process. I just go in give them the money and they wire it to Poland right away.
They are amazing, everyone there is just great and I could not be happier.
MS Moda is located at 209 South Cook Street in downtown Barrington
They are open:
- Monday Tuesday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- They are closed on Sunday
Connect with MS Moda on Facebook here
See the 2017 MS Moda line online here