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Provo company succeeds by doing its white line of clothing up right

PROVO -- Janice Heilner and Hilma Stratford, co-owners of Dressed in White, a mail-order and walk-in business for those who need white apparel for special occasions, have enjoyed serving the public in the three years since they opened their doors.

Operating out of the downstairs of Heilner's house, 959 Windsor Dr., they have an impressive display of white dresses and blessing outfits for infants, as well as accessories.Heilner and Stratford feel that the line of clothing they offer has been well accepted. "It's a nice business, because we don't have to worry about seasons," Heilner said.

Initially they were two good friends from years back who wanted to start a mail-order catalog business but weren't sure how to begin.

They had help, however. Heilner's husband had worked in the merchandising business for several years before they moved to Utah, and as they would go to conventions and meetings together, Janice listened closely. She learned the "jargon" and asked questions. Her husband has been a great support, she says.

Janice had worked for several years in California as a pattern maker and designer, so was able to formulate ideas about a business of her own.

When she and her friend, Hilma, decided to begin their business, she was well versed in the mechanics. Hilma seemed to have a knack for public relations. As they have worked together, they have learned how a business should operate.

In the early months, they listened attentively to learn people's preferences on white apparel, including LDS temple dresses. They checked with temple clothing personnel to see what would be appropriate. They watched what the women were wearing. From this they came to know what would sell.

Some guidelines they adhere to include lightweight and non-allergenic materials; attractive, feminine dresses; easy to care for, plus affordable. The styling and designs must meet certain specifications. They must be white; not sheer; the dresses must have long sleeves and a modest neckline and cover the knee. Some of the dresses have beautiful lace and fancy stitching; some are plain, some fitted, and most are free hanging.

"We try to keep the dresses at a price people can afford," Stratford said, adding they are always looking for something different. They do demand fine quality from their vendors, however.

All the dresses are imported. By buying in quantity they are able to price the garments reasonably. If an order doesn't meet their standards, it is returned.

"We have to send back a whole order when it isn't what we wanted," Stratford said. Sometimes they will design a prototype and send it to a manufacturer to "have something new." It is not their intent to compete with other companies.

They have developed a small catalog, which they send out once a year, to over 20,000 clients they have accumulated over their three years in business. Their catalogs can be seen in all the LDS Beehive Clothing stores. They also sell to bridal shops. Although they have advertised, their business has expanded mostly by word of mouth.

Dressed in White is visible in other places also. Once a year Heilner and Stratford set up shop in the BYU Bookstore in the Wilkinson Center, during LDS Women's Conference, Education Week and, starting this year, they will be available during the Church Education System seminar in August.

For more information about Dressed in White, call Janice Heilner at 221-0032 or Hilma Stratford at 435/657-1111 in Midway.