Motivation Monday: How Rejection Fueled Wedding Gown Designer Heidi Elnora’s Future

Birmingham-based wedding gown designer Heidi Elnora Baker helps a bride on TLC's "Bride By Design,'' which premiered in July 2014. (Image from TLC)

Birmingham-based wedding gown designer Heidi Elnora Baker helps a bride on her new TLC reality show “Bride By Design,” which premiered in July 2014. (TLC image credit: DCL)

By Chanda Temple 

What a difference a year makes.

In 2005, Alabama designer Heidi Elnora Baker was the second designer eliminated on Season 2 of “Project Runway.” But she refused to stay stuck in her present. She used the rejection to fuel her future.

In 2006, she started her wedding gown design company, heidi elnora. Today, her designs are in 25 stores worldwide; she’s preparing to show at Fashion Week in New York in October; and she’s on Hollywood’s radar.

In July 2014, TLC premiered her wedding gown reality show “Bride by Design,” which follows Heidi as she helps brides build their wedding gown dream. There are no dressing room battles with brides or snide remarks from bridesmaids. The only tears shed are those of joy when the bride has found the perfect wedding gown.

Heidi will learn in a week or so if the show has been picked up as a series. Until then, she’ll continue to build her brand and be a witness to people of what positive TV can be. “It’s OK to be happy,’’ says Heidi, 34, of her desire to put something good on television that her family and followers can enjoy.

For Heidi, staying positive has always been a way to get ahead in life and in business. She offers three tips on how she’s done it.

1. Have a lot of faith

Believe in yourself, your goals and your passion. Have faith that God will provide. Heidi wanted to have a show four years ago, but it was not meant to be. Today’s timing is much better. She says that God told her, “This is your next step.’’ She credits Him for making things possible. Her office is currently based in a loft at Birmingham’s Pepper Place, where brides may choose from more than 60 trims and five fabrications to build a custom wedding dress. “We will continue to grow the business. Who knows what will happen next,’’ she says.

2. Never give up.

Heidi has a lot of passion in what she does. She’s the mastermind behind Birmingham Fashion Week, which started in 2011. She’s also married and the mother to 4-year-old and 19-month-old sons.  “I don’t know anyone who works harder than I do,’’ Heidi said. “My husband says it all the time, ‘You are a machine.’ ‘’

3. Be smart about your decisions.

Think and pray about all of your decisions. “I think things to death,’’ Heidi said. “My brain is so sick of me. When I make my decision, I make my decision. When I pull the trigger, it usually turns into a successful venture.’’ (Showcased on the show and a hit with viewers via social media, has been Heidi’s build-a-bride concept. She said started the concept in 2008 after noticing a need with clients.)

WANT TO SEE HEIDI SPEAK IN BIRMINGHAM?: Heidi will be the guest speaker during the Birmingham American Marketing Association’s luncheon on Wednesday, Aug. 20 at the Harbert Center, 2019 Fourth Ave. North, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission, if registered by 12 p.m. on Aug. 15, is: students $10, members $20 and guests $30. Registration at the door, space permitting, is: students $15, Members $30 and guests $40.
Follow Heidi Elnora on Twitter.

Chanda Temple worked as a reporter for 20 years before becoming a public relations professional. She blogs about being better in business and more at Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple. Contact her at



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