From Russia with Love! Meet Olia Zavozina, the woman behind her eponymous wedding brand. Born in Russia, Olia moved to America at the age of 18, already educated in design and tailoring. She launched her wedding collection while in school for her MBA. Her brand is one of the top selling collections at Nordstrom and is sold in more than 30 luxury boutiques across the country. Known for her hands-on approach, customizing gowns for brides to ensure they have the dress of their dreams, she is a rising star in the bridal industry. Today, she is our FACE of the South.
Olia, how did you end up in Nashville, TN, from Russia?
In the summer of 2003, I came to visit America under a work exchange program with the intent to learn English. I had one day off while working odd jobs in Bowling Green, KY, and came to Nashville with a friend. During my visit, I met a family who I told about my dreams of moving to America, and they suggested I enroll in Free Will Baptist Bible College (now Welch College) in Nashville, so I did and the rest is history.
How many years have you been designing wedding gowns?
In 2008, when I was getting married, I realized that there were not that many options out there, so that was the start of my line.
Who was an early mentor to you?
My mother has always been a mentor to me. She owned her own business and inspired me to start my own.
At what age did you know that you wanted to be a fashion designer, and, at that point, did you think it would be wedding dresses?
The first wedding gown I ever designed was for a Barbie doll when I was a little girl. I always liked love stories and fairy tales.
What are some of the surprising ways you find inspiration?
I find inspiration all over — my brides are a big part of it. When we do a custom gown, typically that will be used in the next collection, named after the bride and maybe tweaked a little. I also love to travel and pull a lot from that.
If you had to choose a different career, what would it be?
I think I would be an architect. I like to work on custom projects, and I think it would be fun to design custom homes.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given or a quote that you find helps guide you?
I am a perfectionist, so the best piece of advice for me is to just finish! I could go on forever working on a project until it’s perfect, but I need to learn to just finish the project instead of overanalyzing it.
How do you stay balanced in the midst of a booming career?
There is no such thing as a balanced lifestyle!
We understand you travel a lot for your trunk shows. What are your travel essentials?
Eye cream for puffy eyes, protein shakes — I travel with a bag of the powder because you never know when you’re going to get the chance to eat — and dry shampoo. No one wants greasy hair.
What is your favorite way to relax and unwind?
I love to watch crime dramas. I really get into the investigation.
What was the last great meal you had out?
My husband is an amazing cook, so it’s hard for me to go out and eat when he cooks the best food at home.
What books are on your bedside table?
A book I keep trying to read but never seem to finish is Small Business, Big Life!
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding God, family and friends?
Travel, the beach and lace!
Thank you, Olia! And special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for the fabulous photographs showcased here today!
For the entire month of February, our Wednesdays are devoted to weddings, Wedding Wednesdays. To read about the big days, and the love stories behind each one, check out our weddings here.