North Fulton resident brings personal style to fashion designs
By Michelle Martin
Long before launching Wylee fashion designs in 2006, Leighanne Littrell had a love for fashion at an early age — often playing "Fashion Show" with her older sister, Suzanne, when they were little girls. "We would dress up in our mother's skirts, put a belt around them, and wear them as dresses. We looked so great and grown up!" Leighanne says. "Even then, I guess we had a knack for taking something we already had and making it into something new, even better, with a simple twist of our own." As the sisters grew older, they parlayed their at-home "Fashion Show" talents into modeling professionally for local department stores.
Leighanne's flair for fashion, creativity and ingenuity emerged again when she custom designed her own baby bag for her infant son, Baylee, now 12. With a busy travel schedule supporting her husband's career in the entertainment industry (Brian Littrell, with the Backstreet Boys), Leighanne often found herself dissatisfied with the baby bags available on the market at the time. "Diaper bags weren't as stylish then as they are now. Almost everything for boys had some type of character on it," she says. "I couldn't find anything in a stylish design, durable fabric, and with the function that I needed, especially when flying or traveling with my son — something large enough to carry and protect his Boppy pillow for nursing, diapers, bottles, blankets, toys, and my own personal items. Finally, I decided to make my own bag with all the features that I needed."
With no sewing experience of any kind, Leighanne started by buying a basic sewing machine, a simple pattern, and some fabric. "I took Shop Class in high school, not Home Economics. I didn't even know how to thread a needle!" she says. "But, our grandmother was a great seamstress who made beautiful clothes and draperies. Maybe there's a little bit of her in me." After tweaking different patterns and trying different fabrics, Leighanne had custom designed several backpacks and cross-body bags that she and her husband used while traveling and at home. "It was important for me that the bags not only look good but also be versatile and made of quality, durable fabric that would last for years," she says, adding that family and friends soon requested their own bags.
A clothing designer in Los Angeles also took notice of Leighanne's custom bags and encouraged her to sell them to the public. "I always had that idea in the back of my mind, but I didn't know how I could do it as a busy mom and wife. So, I started with a small production of different bags and sold them through my website, Wylee.com. Everything just grew from there."
Wylee by Leighanne Littrell has expanded to include a variety of bags and totes in versatile styles suited for women and men, along with clothing and accessories for kids, teens and misses. A new line, Wylee B&G, offers unisex-style pants, T-shirts, and turtlenecks that feature classic lines and fabrics that complement both women and men. "I'm very hands-on in every part of the business," Leighanne says. "I wear and carry every piece before it goes into production to make sure the style and fabric will work for consumers. If I don't like something about it, chances are consumers won't either. So, I might cut something out here or add something there — whatever it takes to make the piece better."
Style, fit, function and value always have been at the heart of every Wylee by Leighanne Littrell design. "I try to keep the price points realistic. There's something for every budget — from a $15 scarf to a $1,000 leather-embossed backpack, and lots of great items in between," she says. "It's also important that the items be versatile and durable. I try to choose wearable fabrics that won't wrinkle or require costly dry cleaning. I also like to design pieces that can be worn several different ways and can transition from day to night, casual to dressy, so that consumers get three or four items out of a single piece." Clothing is available in sizes XS-XL, as well as some larger custom orders. In addition, every Wylee by Leighanne Littrell piece is made in the United States.
One of the most popular and best-selling items is Wylee's Faux Wrap Dress, available in a variety of solid colors and patterns. While she loves the classic wrap dress, Leighanne says she wanted to put her own twist on it and make it even better. "The classic wrap dress is prone to fly open with a strong wind and the tie can come loose, so it's not always a practical choice. Our Faux Wrap Dress offers the same look in a more wearable style that women literally can just throw on and go. It's a great dress that looks good on different body types; the different patterns are very flattering and forgiving." Other Wylee favorites include the Maja La Playa Dress, which is named for a loyal, longtime customer and features a tank-style top and a flowy skirt; Fabby Pants, which look similar to dressy yoga pants and come in funky retro patterns; sequined shorts; hachi T-shirts; and Wylee's signature backpacks, just to name a few.
New fall fashions include a three-quarter-inch-sleeve dress with a cow neck, available in black and three other patterns; a turtleneck dress; and the Shirley Ann Blouse, which features sheer, flowy sleeves and can be worn over a tank top, dress, shorts, or leggings. Leighanne is also excited about the new Wylee B&G line. "We tested the pieces out on women and men to make sure the styles would work for both," Leighanne says. "For example, we took special care in designing the pants pockets so that they won't look 'hippy' on women. Men can wear the longer Wylee B&G shirts with pants or jeans, while women can wear them over leggings or with a belt for a great look."
All of Wylee by Leighanne Littrell designs are available on Wylee.com, as well as through the Wylee mobile store — a Wylee-wrapped Airstream trailer filled with fabulous Wylee fashions, which usually can be found wherever Leighanne's husband is performing. "We've had great success through our online and mobile stores, and our customers have been instrumental in promoting Wylee just by word of mouth," Leighanne says. "But, now we're ready to take Wylee to the next level."
Leighanne's sister, Suzanne Grover, recently joined the Wylee team to market the brand to new opportunities. "I am so proud of what Leighanne has done with Wylee," she says. "I am excited to be a part of Wylee and to help it to expand into new areas. Growing up, we always said that Leighanne is the spark and I am the flame. Now it's time for Wylee to blow up!" Suzanne says she hopes to bring Wylee into retailers, boutiques, and area pop-up stores for the holiday season. "It's easy to sell something when you believe in it. I've been wearing Wylee designs for years."
Suzanne, Leighanne, and their families live in the North Fulton area and support a number of charitable organizations, so naturally their expansion efforts include promoting the Wylee brand locally. "It would be fantastic to make Wylee more known throughout our own community and to see more people wearing Wylee," says Leighanne. "We are incredibly blessed and find so much inspiration from everyone around us. It is important for us to try to be an inspiration to others as well and to give back."
Wylee by Leighanne Littrell
12460 Crabapple Road,
Suite 202-365, Alpharetta
404-368-1222 | 404-368-3746
*U.S. and international shipping available
Cross Body Bags
Collars & Hoods
Hold-Its & Wristlets
Dresses & Skirts
Jumpers & Rompers
WYLEE B&G (unisex)