Small business owner and Flores MBA Program student, Grace Chetta, always knew she wanted to be a fashion designer. In 2019, Chetta took her passion one step further and launched her very own handmade and sustainable clothing line, Gretta Garments.
Following in the footsteps of her fashion-savvy grandmother, once Chetta inherited her grandmother’s collection of beautiful vintage fabrics, she was determined to bring them to new life through original designs by Gretta Garments. Her designs are for the “Gretta Woman,” where every look is easy to wear and easy to style. Gretta Garments offers seasonal collections and custom order designs, including her most recent venture into bridal gowns.
We recently sat down with Chetta to learn more about Gretta Garments and her experience with the Flores MBA Program. Upon graduating with her MBA in May, Chetta now feels like she has the confidence to turn her part-time gig into a full-time career as a fashion designer.
“I looked at my business. I knew the thing I was lacking wasn’t creativity, it was business knowledge. So, I started the MBA program and it’s been great. It’s allowed me to network better, use my connections better, know how to communicate better, and have more confidence in how I’m moving forward with my business,” commented Chetta.
How has growing your network in the Flores MBA Program changed your business or added value in to your business?
I think that it’s made me approach people differently. Starting my business and meeting other creatives, it ends up being a really encouraging community. I’ve met so many people in Baton Rouge who are striving for the same things, and you end up in this fun club. The Flores MBA Program has honestly taught me the importance of being nice to others and maintaining relationships in business.
What goes in to making a custom order for a customer?
People come to me on average six months in advance. Usually, brides bring an inspiration board or pictures they’ve seen. Then, I come back with a few sketch ideas and then go through that with them. We settle on one, take measurements, then I make a muslin mock-up, which is a cheap cotton, to get the silhouette and fit correct. Lastly, I’ll pull fabric from my own collection, or I try to shop locally. It usually takes four fittings before I send it off.
What does it mean as a designer when a woman trusts you to make her dress for her wedding day?
I couldn’t believe when it first happened. I had two women reach out to me in the same week, and I was just so flattered they trusted me to do that. The brides I’ve gotten to work with are so special and unique. Creating custom wedding gowns is high pressure for sure, but it’s nice because brides often have an idea of what they want coming into it. It’s rewarding to be able to work with someone, interpret their ideas, and help them navigate to the right look.
What draws you to the sustainable side of fashion?
There’s a lot of fashion waste in the industry. I’ve always enjoyed remaking clothing and thrifting. I’m the youngest of four kids and always had a lot of hand-me-downs that I would spruce up to be my own. It’s broken my heart to see fast fashion and see things get worn once and thrown out. The manufacturing conditions that take place to make that happen are backwards. As a designer, I understand what goes into making a garment, how long that takes, and what a craft it is. I think it should be valued more.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect your small business?
When it came to navigating the pandemic as a small busines owner, I ended up becoming a huge supplier of face masks. With loads of cotton fabric and elastics on deck, I was busy for weeks working to provide hospitals with handmade, patterned masks. I also sold masks on my Etsy shop which made my network boom. People across the country started placing orders for my colorful, floral masks from Gretta Garments.
What does the future of Gretta Garments look like after graduation in May?
Everything is telling me to make Gretta Garments my full-time job, so I’m starting to look into how to make that happen. I need help on the marketing side of things, so it would be ideal to hire someone for that. When I do that, I want to be able to give someone valuable experience. At this point, I’m not sure if that means offering an internship or a full-time position.
I also would love to have a brick-and-mortar store, where the space is almost a studio and retail space simultaneously. I have a lot of ideas for that space, but I want it to be more of an experience where people can come in for fittings and I could host other artists. I think that bridal is going to be the bread and butter of my business, but I would like to always have seasonal collections and continue to promote the sustainability side of fashion.
What are the lessons you learned in the Flores MBA Program that will help Gretta Garments grow?
It’s helped with seeing how it all works together. I can’t just make the dress- I need to do other things too. It also has helped me realize I need a team and the value of being collaborative with other people. We’ve done group projects in almost every single class, which I’ve really enjoyed in the Flores MBA Program. You get to work with people think differently, but , at the same time, everyone is really driven. You learn how to trust people in those group projects and know when to let other people take the reins.
It’s also the leadership side of things. I don’t know if I would’ve been confident potentially having employees before this, but now when I think about having a team, I can realistically think about how I would bring them together, encourage them, and hear their ideas. I’m really excited about that now.
The LSU Flores MBA Program provides you with a flexible path to advance your career. Our nationally ranked program currently administers a traditional, two-year, full-time program, a one-year, full-time program for business majors, a part-time online (no residency requirement) program, and an Executive MBA Flex. For more information, visit mba.lsu.edu.