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AN HONOR FOR OUR OWNER

AWGS Logo

Members of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists (AWGS) met February 28-March 3 in Nashville, Tennessee, to discuss marketing strategies with wedding industry experts, tour the plant of Oakwood the Greener Cleaners owned by AWGS members Alan and Rhonda Wernick, and elect officers.

A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the ninth annual Jack Barth Memorial Award of Excellence.  Initiated by Linda Stokes-Barth in remembrance of her late husband and his achievements in the dry cleaning industry, the award recognizes a member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists for advancement, promotion, and development of industry standards for wedding gown care and for outstanding contributions and service to the Association and its members.

Accepting the Barth Award
Accepting the Barth Award

This year’s honoree, Rhonda Wernick, is co-owner of Oakwood the Greener Cleaners in Nashville, Tennessee.  As AWGS president Kermit Engh noted when he presented the award, “I first met our winner a number of years ago and have developed a friendship and deep respect for her business and her contribution to our association.”

Oakwood, already a member of AWGS, Leading Cleaners International, and Methods for Management when Rhonda Wernick and her husband Alan took over in 2011, benefits from both Alan’s expertise in business finance and software development and Rhonda’s creative art profession.  Rhonda’s special talent as a professional artist is evident everywhere at Oakwood and walking into either of the two Oakwood locations is like walking into a living room complete with comfy chairs, her own beautiful artwork and a friendly, family-like atmosphere.  Overall the Wernick’s have not only maintained Oakwood’s reputation for excellence but also taken it to an even higher level of couture cleaning and customer service.

Immediately drawn to the bridal side of the business, Rhonda has attended every AWGS meeting since 2011, served on the Board of Directors 2014-2017, and is quick to welcome new members via the AWGS discussion forum.  On the forum she often shares inspiring photos of special projects such as turning a vintage wedding gown into a unique christening gown.  She also shares ways to enhance the bride’s experience at the counter.  “We like to make a bride feel like she is the only one in the store,” says Rhonda, and each bride also receives a special keepsake when she takes her gown home–Rhonda’s hand-painted sketch of the gown.

In addition to managing Oakwood’s bridal business, Rhonda operates both DancingArt.com and BuyArtByRhonda.com.  She also gives back to her community with 9 years of service on the board of trustees of the Nashville Gordon Jewish Community Center and in many other ways including chairing and originating art events such as Nashville Temple Arts Festival and Art on the West Side.  In 2017 she was the featured artist at Art on the West Side.

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A Framed Memory

The minute she put it on, Stacy knew that this gown was going to be treasured forever. Her exquisite Justin Alexander beaded gown was just what she had dreamed of and now what she will use as a piece of art. 

Framed gown in Stacy’s home

“I must say that the cleaning & framing of my dress turned out just as I had hoped, so the long wait was well worth it!”

We asked Stacy a few questions that led to the framing of her gown. 

How did you choose Oakwood Cleaners to clean your gown?

I used the knot and just google results. I then read a lot of reviews because I was a bit weary with handing my dress over to just anyone. I chose you all based on your reputation, cleaning process, and great customer service when I called with questions. I don’t recall whom I spoke to but I felt assured that my dress would be safe and not be around harmful chemicals.

Why did you choose to frame your wedding gown?

I chose to frame my gown because I have been dreaming of it since I was a little girl. My mother is Korean and was married in a traditional Korean dress (hanbok) rather than a “beautiful white American dress”, as she would say. Though she looked stunning I think she always wanted an American wedding dress, so growing up she would always tell me how important the dress is, what it symbolizes, and since it is worn on the most important day of our lives we should always keep it and take care of it. Originally I was just going to preserve it in a small box, but one day at my parents home I walked past hanbok from my first birthday, which is a big deal in Korea, and thought to myself…. how awesome would it be if I had my dress framed?? Though the size of the framing and investment would be quite a bit more than it was for my tiny baby dress, my former fiancée / now husband thought it would not only be a great way to preserve the memory of our special day, but show my mother that I don’t take for granted the fact I got a beautiful American wedding dress & that I would take care of it forever… The fact it is a beautiful piece of art in my home is an added bonus 🙂

When I look at it I think of my wedding day and how magical it was, but I also think about all of those times my mom would wander into the wedding section of a dress shop to fantasize which she would choose. It as always a lot of fun and one of those mother daughter memories I will always remember.  The touching part of this story is when I went to get my wedding dress I had them pick out a dress for her to try on. She was nearly in tears … kind of funny that a dress can mean so much/ hold such symbolic meaning. 

A Kiss

This is Stacy’s gown as she brought it to us for cleaning.

Stacy’s gown before cleaning

We always suggest using our neighbors The Beveled Edge for projects such as this. They also frame needle point, printed fabric, you name it! Here is the process direct from The Beveled Edge in Nashville, TN.

Laying the dress in place
Ready for delivery

 

A precious moment for Stacy

“Thank you again for the excellent quality in service and helping me preserve a little piece of my special day.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you need pressing before your wedding, cleaning and or preservation after your wedding or something special like framing, Oakwood Cleaners is here for you!

Your Memories Preserved

I so enjoyed my interview with Geny’s Flower & Bridal about our Wedding Gown Preservation process. Here it is:

http://blog.genysflowersandbridal.com/wedding-dress-preservation-right-here-in-nashville?utm_campaign=Wedding+Dresses&utm_content=58870406&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

Are you ready for Fall?

Fall and cooler temps are arriving sooner than you think. Here is some advice on getting your closest ready for the new season.

Take some quality time with your clothes and accessories. Open your closest, be honest with yourself and before you go shopping follow the steps below to make room for your fall wardrobe purchases.

What do I do?
What do I do?

Preparing your closest for the new season

Label six bags as follow: Toss, Donate, Consign, Store, Repair and Clean

These bags are ready!
These bags are ready!

Toss anything with holes that cannot be repaired or have permanent stains.
If it doesn’t fit or flatter and you have stopped wearing them, donate. Please do not donate items that should be tossed.
Garments that are still great but you haven’t worn in over a year can go to a consignment shop.

You can use your earnings to fill in with new pieces!

Now start trying on what is left. Be honest, if it makes you look and feel great, keep it, if not, donate or consign.

It is always fun to invite a friend to help with this.
Place items that you just cannot part with, because of sentimental reasons, in boxes designed for long-term storage and always keep at room temperature, not the attic or garage.

Store your sentimental items.
Store your sentimental items.

Organize
Put like pieces together, separate items that need cleaning, have missing buttons or loose hems.
Cleaning and repairing your garments will help them look fresh for fall.
The experts at Oakwood Cleaners can repair and clean your items to achieve a “look like new” outcome.

Go Shopping! 
Make a list of the items you need to fill in the missing pieces in your closet. Have fun, hit your favorite stores or try out a new one.

TALE OF A NAVY PEA COAT

Nancy brought in her father’s vintage navy pea coat hoping that we could restore it for her son Alex to wear. Below are some pictures of how it looked when we first received it.

Torn up inside lining before restoration
Torn up inside lining before restoration

Front and Back before restoration

Front and Back before restoration

As you can see it had definately seen better days.

George A. Love
George A. Love

George A. Love served in the Seabees in World War II and in the Navy in the Korean War.

In WWII, he was assigned to the Seabee Construction Battalion Maintenance
Unit No. 623 as a Machinist Mate Second class (MM2C).

Construction Battalion Maintence Unit 623
Construction Battalion
Maintence Unit 623

They were sent to Guiuan, Samar in the Leyte Gulf (Philippines) to build an airstrip and infrastructure.

They arrived on December 23, 1944 on a Dutch cargo ship, the M.S. Sommelsdikj.

The H.M.S. Sommelsdijk
The H.M.S. Sommelsdijk

On December 25, Tokyo Rose, a radio broadcaster of Japanese propaganda, promised the Navy boys a Christmas present.  On the morning of December 26, a Japanese plane appeared and dropped two torpedoes.  The plane then crashed into the sea when its wing tip caught the water.  One torpedo hit the ship in Hold #1 starting a fire which quickly spread to Hold #2 where most of the men were staying.  Since the ship was in a bay, the ship was purposely run aground and the men either swam to shore or were able to evacuate to another ship.  The unit was allowed to stay in the Church of the Immaculate Conception until a camp site could be built.  Many were wounded but only six men lost their lives in this attack.

Map

George safely returned from this war and went back to high school where he met
and married Nancy’s mother, Martha E. Cathey.
He was re-drafted to the Korean War and claimed this was a sightseeing tour compared to WWII.

George and Martha Love
George and Martha Love

When he returned home, he and my mother had three daughters.
He never spoke of his service to our country.

I don’t know why – possibly he thought his “girls” would not want to hear about it.

When Desert Storm began in 1990, he and I were watching it on TV and he started talking about his service.  I became fascinated and wanted to hear all about it to preserve his story.

His pea coat was passed down to 2 sisters, but passed Nancy. Nancy’s sister Cathey, found the pea coat in her closet and passed it on to Alex the younger of Nancy’s two sons. Alex is a history buff especially about World War II and Classic Rock (but that’s another story…).  By now the coat was beginning to show wear and tear.  The lining was deteriorating, the buttons kept falling off and it was dirty and musty.

I wondered if it could be restored.  I posted the question on social media and Oakwood Cleaners came highly recommended as being very good at restoring vintage wedding gowns.  I gave them a call, met with Rhonda and her seamstress and I am very happy to say the pea coat looks brand new.

Front and Back after restoration
Front and Back after restoration
Inside after restoration
Inside after restoration

Alex is beyond Proud to continue to wear his grandfather’s Navy Pea Coat in honor of not only his grandfather but of our military and the sacrifices made for our country

Alex wearing George's  Navy Pea Coat
Alex wearing George’s
Navy Pea Coat

Life at Oakwood Post 8

Do you have a vintage wedding gown?

One of the best things about life at Oakwood is definitely our family of customers and hearing their special stories. We see all kinds of vintage clothing including wedding gowns. Rita came in months ago and told me about her gown which was over 40 years old. I had been waiting for her to bring it in which she did just recently.

A vintage preservation
What’s in the metal chest?

Rita walked in on a chilly November day with the metal chest pictured above in hand. Of course I was curious as to what this was. Well, this was the chest that her mother had her wedding gown preserved in. It was wrapped in a sheet and placed in the chest. Have you ever seen anything like this before? I had not.

Vintage Metal Preservation Chest
Vintage Metal Preservation Chest

This was a special gown hand-made by her mother down to hand sewing every bead and pearl and piece of lace!

40 year old gown detail
Handmade Wedding Gown Detail
40 year old wedding gown
Handmade Wedding Gown Front
40 year old wedding gown
Handmade Wedding Gown Back View

Rita was so proud of her wedding gown and could not say enough about the time and effort her mother spent creating this spectacular gown. She described how she took several different patterns and then added her own ideas while doing fittings with Rita for a perfect fit. Every pearl and piece of lace were sewn on by hand with love and care.

Due to the age, the delicacy of the tulle and the strength of the lace and pearls, the tulle layer has begun to deteriorate. We cannot restore the gown as is, but we talked about cleaning the lining, which was in great shape and the lace applique’s so they would be available for future use.

We at Oakwood Cleaners are so privileged to hear your stories and be able to see your vintage items. Thank you Rita for sharing this with us.