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Sisters take their couture business to the next level

Vida en el Valle

(Published Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 09:33AM)

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SACRAMENTO -- When a bride wants a dream wedding, she usually turns to sisters Mimi Martínez and Gaby Owen.

Since 2005, the Latina sisters have been making one-of-a-kind couture table linens and chair covers for the reception party.

"It all started with our parents' bridal shop when we were kids. We noticed women coming in and buying really expensive wedding gowns and before we knew it, we were getting requests for table linens, chair covers and sashes," said Martínez. "That's when we knew we had to create our own line of specially designed linens."

The sisters, now in their mid-30s, began Mimi and Co. as a small shop. Today, they take orders worldwide for couture table linens, chair covers and sashes.

Their clients have included Gov. Jerry Brown, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, journalist Lisa Ling, guitar legend Carlos Santana and basketball superstar Magic Johnson.

"Since we opened, we have had every request imaginable. We have tutu-inspired table linens to peacock-feathered drapes and unique overlays. And best of all, it is all couture," said Owen.

Some brides spend $250 for a single and others can go as high as $3,500, depending on the fabric type and style, the intricacy of the design and the amount of time it would take to create it.

"It's really surprising to us how much money a couple can spend on their wedding day and when a bride is looking for something unique and something that stands out, they know that we can create exactly what they are looking for," said Martínez.

The sisters began to come up with their own creative designs for chair covers and table linens based on the vision of their bridal clients. In college, they studied business administration, finance and risk management. They knew they would become entrepreneurs from the beginning and they were certain that their creations would attract the attention of brides who were looking for something "that no one else in the world has seen," said Owen.

"There wasn't a market for couture linens when we got into this business. And we both thought to ourselves, "if brides are spending this much money on an exquisite wedding dress, wouldn't they want equally exquisite table linens and chair covers to match? Of course they do!" said Owen.

The Tijuana, Baja California, México natives came to the United States with their parents when they were three years old. At their parents' shop, they helped brides pick out wedding gowns and accessories.

Today, they are helping brides live out their wedding fantasies.

"When a bride comes to us, we ask her what kind of wedding she envisions and we take in the information and come up with a design and theme for her special wedding day. We really try our very best to capture the essence of the bride's ideas and turn it into a reality," said Martínez.

From the beginning, the two sisters were determined to create something "no one else has dared to do," said Owen.

Today, their 10,000-square-foot warehouse boasts thousands of table linens -- from rustic to whimsical -- with fabrics imported from Australia and the Middle East.

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