UNCG Alumna Brings Dress Design Dreams to Life

Posted on February 22, 2024

Cassidy Burel poses in front of UNCG's main campus building.

UNCG alumna’s fashion-forward designs and personal approach help make dreams come true for brides-to-be.

Cassidy Burel ’20 had never threaded a sewing machine before coming to UNC Greensboro in 2016, but she was determined to learn to create glamorous, eye-catching fashion and own her own design studio.

At 27, she’s accomplished that and more, making her mark in North Carolina — and beyond — for her fashion-forward, custom-designed bridal and evening wear. She opened her CassB by Design studio in Kernersville in 2023, and she’s already attracting clients from across the United States.

Burel, who earned a 2020 bachelor’s degree in consumer, apparel, and retail studies in the Bryan School of Business and Economics, credits opportunities at UNCG with helping her get her start in a competitive industry.

The school’s affordable program, she says, allowed her to combine her business sense and her creativity into a successful career. “I definitely give a lot of credit to them. Because of the tools that they gave me, I can do exactly what I always wanted,” she says.

How the dream was born

Burel’s passion for high-end fashion began in someone else’s closet.

“It was at a party when I was in fourth grade. I was playing hide-and-seek, and I found myself in a closet, hiding,” she recalls. “The closet was full of all these heavily embellished gowns and fur coats, and I thought that was incredible.”

The party’s hostess found her in the closet, and instead of being angry, she gave Burel one of her fur coats.

That coat became Burel’s favorite thing.

“I felt like my best self the moment I would put it on,” she says. “I loved how that felt, and I couldn’t stop wanting that feeling.”

After that, she found that just going shopping for clothes made her feel expressive, artistic, and confident. And she decided she wanted to help make others feel the same way.

Pressing toward the goal

To make the dream come true, the Hickory native decided to go to college, but she was determined not to incur debt in doing so. Winning UNCG’s Joan W. Greason Scholarship and the Margaret Ann Wilkes Textile Products Marketing Senior Award helped her achieve that financial goal.

At UNCG, Burel learned the art of fashion design as well as skills in sewing, patternmaking, and draping. Once she made her first wedding dress, she realized she wanted to focus on bridal and evening wear.

Cassidy Burel speaks with her professor at UNCG.

Burel took advantage of the many of the opportunities offered in the consumer, apparel, and retail studies program. For example, she served as president of THREADS, a student-run group, and she took a particularly rewarding creative and technical design course with Assistant Professor Haeun Bang.

“Her senior apparel collection, particularly her three-in-one gown design, exemplifies her remarkable talent and innovative thinking,” Bang says. “Notably, her mastery of design, drawing and sewing techniques was outstanding, a testament to both her abilities and her relentless pursuit of excellence.”

When Burel graduated in spring 2020, she had hoped to put what she’d learn to work under a successful designer. The pandemic got in the way, and job offers in New York City and Boston were rescinded. She turned to mask-making to pay the bills.

As life began to get back to normal, Burel took a job in a Greensboro bridal shop. That role, she says, gave her needed experience working with clients, and it gave her the confidence to begin marketing her own brand.

From Hodgepodge to Haute Couture

In January 2023, Burel formally launched her in-home studio. Many of her clients are brides-to-be, and she takes special care to make their wedding dresses and wedding days all that they imagine.

“I think that very important days and special occasions, especially weddings, can be really stressful — and they don’t have to be,” she says. “I get to be a small part of their big day by taking that stress away and making them feel like the best version of themselves.”

Before those important days, Burel works with clients for a minimum of three months. To start, she meets with clients to find out more about them, their style preferences, and the vision they have for their garments.

The design process varies from person to person, but some clients bring photos of dresses they like, while others tell her to “have at it – design some fun things,” she says. Burel talks to the client about the silhouette she would like, and they toss around ideas for different elements of the piece.

“Then with this hodgepodge, we work together to create something that’s beautiful but still innovative and fresh and new,” she says.

Burel offers to be with the client on her special day, ready to help with anything she might need.

Burel’s most-fun job was working with a client in Boston who “loved to push the envelope on fashion, and so we made her two very nontraditional wedding gowns,” she says. “One was pink, with a large cape, and the other was a big red gown inspired by one of the client’s favorite restaurants.”

The design process meant pushing the boundaries on what it means to be a modern bride. “The newness and the freshness and the adventure that goes along with that – it was an incredible experience,” Burel adds.

Life beyond the dream-come-true

Cassidy Burel poses with model wearing one of her designs.

While Burel once imagined herself working in New York City, her goal now is to continue growing her business right her in the heart of North Carolina, following much the same model for custom design she’s established.

One day, she would like to have a larger studio – perhaps a homestead – to allow her to give the same opportunities she’s had to local seamstresses and design students who share her same dream.

“It will always be very personal,” she says. “Nothing mass production – I don’t want to ever be in a situation where I don’t know who my client is.

“I won’t ever make a million bucks, but I think that you can’t really put a price on happiness. … I want to create happiness and confidence and beauty for individuals that’s real and attainable right here.”

Story by Dee Shore, AMBCopy LLC
Photography by Sean Norona, David Lee Row, University Communications
Videography by David Lee Row, Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications
Editing by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications

Cassidy Burel sews a garment with her sewing machine.

Where Creativity Meets Commerce


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