Bridal gown design house celebrates their one-year anniversary

Native Eau Claire business owners rent new space over Stone’s Throw Restaurant and Bar


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Story by Lauren French, Copy Editor

When people think of fashion, they might think of the four fashion capitals of the world: London, Paris, Milan and New York.

But what about Eau Claire, Wis.?

Eau Claire doesn’t claim the likes of Barneys or Bergdorf Goodman, but it is home to Linyage – a bridal and occasion gown design house inspired by community roots and collaboration.

Co-owners Lindsay Ulness and Sarah Hrudka are both Eau Claire natives, but Linyage wasn’t conceived until both women returned to their hometown after college.

Ulness, gown designer, studied textiles at UW-Madison and tried out The Big Apple for a few years before deciding her passions truly lie with one-of-a-kind dresses and local influences.

“I felt like I didn’t have enough time or space to grow in the direction that I wanted to in New York,” Ulness said.

Meanwhile, Hrudka, creative director, returned to Eau Claire after graduating from the Art Institute in Minneapolis with a graphic design degree.  She met up with her longtime friend, Ulness, and the two decided to collaborate.

“We were at this junction in our lives where we had a million things going on, but there was only one thing we wanted to do,” Hrudka said.

Linyage was born from Ulness’s passion for design and Hrudka’s love for photography. Ulness said Linyage focuses on a complete bridal experience, not just the dress – the duo work closely with clients during the design process and offer in-dress photo shoots.

Linyage celebrated their one-year anniversary on May 2 and Ulness said they’ve come a long way. Ulness and Hrudka have worked with about 20 brides since they started, and have more lined up for 2015.

Linyage also opened up their own studio space above Stone’s Throw bar in downtown Eau Claire.

With this success came hard work, though, and Ulness said the most challenging part about starting a company was finding the right balance with the rest of her life.

In addition to Linyage, Ulness works full time during the week and meets with clients on weekends.  However, Ulness said the rewards to starting a business are worth the effort.

“The most rewarding part is getting to see my art on someone’s body,” Ulness said. “…it’s so gratifying to know that we made it from top to bottom.”

Looking forward to the coming year, Ulness said she hopes Linyage sees more collaboration with local artists, whether they be bridal accessory designers or floral arrangers.

Ulness and Hrudka already collaborate with local artists, and Hrudka says Eau Claire’s artistic atmosphere is a big contributor to Linyage’s success.

“We are just so inspired by people who are doing great things,” Hrudka said, “and choose to do them in Eau Claire.”