A company that handmakes veils and other bridal accessories is moving its manufacturing operations from LoHi to the Ruby Hill neighborhood.
Sara Gabriel, founded in 2000 by Sara Gabriel herself, expects buildout of its new facility at 1325 S. Inca St. to be completed in March.
The space will replace the company’s current facility at 1575 Boulder St. Gabriel said that was a “stopping ground” for two years as the company waited to find this “forever home.”
Gabriel started the company on her living room floor after dropping out of graduate school in 2000. When she was in college, her friends always asked her to make rave and clubbing clothes. But, as they grew up, they wanted wedding veils, gloves and other accessories.
“All I wanted to do was make things that were sparkly and pretty and cool and fun with my hands,” Gabriel said. “I always loved that, and all of a sudden I realized, maybe I could start a business.”
Gabriel now has 10 employees that make a variety of wedding accessories, with veils being the company’s biggest product line. She said she doesn’t ever expect to make wedding dresses themselves, but that her mission is to create accessories that turn a dress into “the dress.”
The company makes 8,000 to 10,000 individual items annually, Gabriel said, selling to about 200 bridal salons and department stores around the world, including Denver’s Anna Be Bridal Boutique and A&bé Bridal Shop.
Employees can create a typical veil in about two hours, although custom orders can take longer.
“Everything is completely old school, very much made in the most archaic possible way, which really puts a lot of love and good energy into those pieces,” Gabriel said.
The company bought the 5,000-square-f00t building on Inca Street for $1.25 million late last year, records show.
The space was formerly a marijuana grow operation, meaning code changes were needed to use the site for manufacturing.
“It doesn’t feel like the city of Denver is trying to foster small business whatsoever – it feels actually impossible unless you happen to be independently wealthy or somehow connected to a large chain with resources,” she said.
Gabriel said she budgeted $500,000 for the permitting process and renovations. Mendel & Co. Construction is completing the rennovations.
Gabriel said she plans to hire four more employees in conjunction with the move. The building is on a double lot, she noted, making future expansion an option.
“I’m so proud of my team,” Gabriel said. “I want the building to reflect that, so when my employees come in every day, I want them to feel super proud to work here.”
Gabriel said e-commerce and the launch of small businesses through sites like Etsy have added a competitive element that didn’t exist when she started 23 years ago, but that she feels confident due to being well-established and tech-savvy. The company has to act quickly on new trends, she said, which nowadays spread on the social media app Tik Tok.
“We definitely want to stay a small Colorado company.” Gabriel said. “That being said, we want to be the biggest small Colorado company that we can be.”