Rebecca Schoneveld, of Rebecca Schoneveld Bridal, has established a thriving business in Irvington that fosters an inclusive, uplifting environment for all women.
In 2020, Schoneveld opened her shop on the Irvington riverfront. After building a client base in Brooklyn, once the pandemic hit, she was burned out. Now, with a healthy work-life balance in the suburbs, Schoneveld has re-connected with what initially drove her into the industry.
Schoneveld’s interest in fashion was fostered at a young age. Growing up, her family couldn’t afford to buy clothes off the rack, so Schoneveld’s mother handmade most of her children’s wardrobe.
“My mom is super creative, and very crafty, and so she was always sewing. … she always had this philosophy that if I liked something in a store, that she could figure out how to make it,” she said.
Schoneveld adopted this same mentality. At four years old, she began to sew. By assisting her mother by the machine, she cultivated her own passion for design. Throughout her childhood, Schoneveld would spend her free time at Goodwill, thrifting for fabric in order to build her own custom closet.
“For prom, I remember … wanting something one of a kind. I don’t want to wear something that looks like everything else that everyone’s wearing. I made my senior prom dress from a 1950s Vogue pattern,” she said.
Going into the wedding dress business, Schoneveld was brought back to her most authentic self.
“The thing that I love most – that I’ve always loved – I loved making dresses. I love feeling pretty, making other people feel pretty,” she said.
One way in which Schoneveld strives to achieve this is by actively working to redefine beauty standards and advocating for greater representation within the garment business.
“I do feel like the fashion industry has been traditionally very emotionally and mentally unhealthy for us. … They create this image of thin, white richness that most of us don’t fit into,” she said.
At Rebecca Schoneveld Bridal, they take several steps to oppose this idealized image of a bride, one being her commitment to offering inclusive sizing.
“I always want all the women who come to me to feel cared for and legit beautiful. … so the practical way of doing that is making dresses that fit all body sizes,” Schoneveld stated.
In addition to promoting body positivity, Schoneveld has taken measures to make her dresses more accessible. In the spring of 2022, the shop launched a lower-priced line, ranging from $1,700 to $2,400. Their signature collection retails for $2,800 to $4,000. Additionally, no matter the dress size, Schoneveld doesn’t charge extra for more fabric.
Addressing these two barriers is crucial to making her clients feeling supported, celebrated and most importantly, beautiful.
The moment brides enter the store they are met with encouragement. During a bride’s hour-and-a-half appointment, they can try on as many dresses as they would like. The space is lined with samples, and a stylist will help select gowns based on the bride’s taste. Moreover, most of the dresses are customizable; if a bride likes the bust of one dress and the skirt of another, they can mix-and-match her creativity. For all pieces, Schoneveld recommends orders get in at least six months before the wedding, giving her team two months for alterations.
“It’s the best feeling in the world when you see someone trying something on and she’s like ‘I’m so anxious about this whole process. I’m not going to look good in anything…’And then she’s trying more on and she starts crying [because] she’s like ‘I look beautiful’,” Schoneveld stated.
Schoneveld uses what she does to “cultivate an exchange of love.” Empowering women is what she cherishes most about her work, and her passion from upholding this value is sewn into her thrifted, Vogue patterned inner fabric.
“[We are] a business of women and our whole purpose is to empower and celebrate other women. … We’re making something really special that you could pass down. … Something that lasts,” Schoneveld stated.