Michelle Tullis is a believer that the harder you work, the luckier you become. Not only has it been a guiding mantra for her work as an artist, but it provides a lead (and tag line) for her line of hand-sewn dresses made in Bend called Lucky Lady. Started in 2013 by Rebecca Charleton of downtown’s Cowgirl Cash, the Lucky Lady line of dresses is based on classic designs made unique by the women that wear them. "The vibrant beauty of Central Oregon women embodies the essence of Central Oregon’s active lifestyle,” says Michelle. “These women deserve the opportunity to express that quality through wardrobe.”
Michelle herself embodies the spirit of Central Oregon. A native Oregonian, she recalls the experience of playing in her great-grandmother’s closet in Astoria. Working as a single woman during the first half of the century, “She had a real force, independence and such style,” says Michelle whose own closet contains some of her great-grandmother’s silk dresses, gloves and accessories. Michelle inherited that sense of style and loves the feeling of a dress as a go-to article of clothing in her closet. She also inherited a Bernina sewing machine and began sewing in the fourth grade which led to projects, including sewing prom dresses for friends in high school. From those early beginnings, she went on to study pattern making and tailoring, then worked as a costume designer in Los Angeles before returning to Oregon and launching one of the first women’s snowboarding apparel brands in Bend, circa 1990. Her creative energy led to a successful wedding photography career spanning close to two decades before circling back to the clothing realm by a chance meeting with Charleton where their personalities as entrepreneurs and creatives were matched. By partnering with Rebecca to continue Lucky Lady, Michelle found a perfect melding for her creativity with her roots as a seamstress and fabricator. And taking the reins as full owner of Lucky Lady in 2020, she is poised to deliver the experience of wearing a custom-fit dress that delivers not only quality of craft, but the energy and power of a collaboration that results in an heirloom piece. "An heirloom dress is not just a custom-fitted piece handmade for your unique body and style, it is a piece you can rely on to bring a feeling of beauty and ease about yourself. The collaborative process in constructing an ‘heirloom’ is also about creating an experience of connection and of reverence,” she says. To create a custom dress starts with the selection of a unique pattern measured to a woman’s figure. The next step is to choose a certified chemical-free, 100% premium cotton fabric for the dress and for the contrasted bodice lining that only the wearer will see, like a signature. The finished piece is delivered in several weeks so the new owner can feel vibrant and assured whether the dress is worn to lunch dates, a dinner out, or a trip to the farmer’s market.
Lucky Lady dresses are also available ready to wear and the line includes the must-have accessory of 2020: a mask. The beauty and comfort of Lucky Lady masks are so popular, some days Michelle is sewing masks and dresses 12 hours a day but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “In this day and age of ‘fast clothes’, everyone has the same things probably made in another country,” Michelle says. “I strive to create something a woman can depend on,” she adds. “There is energy and human connection made with a hand-sewn dress and Lucky Lady dresses are made to enhance this beautiful lifestyle we’re so fortunate to live,” says Michelle, “I’m so lucky!” LuckyLadyDresses.com, CowgirlCash.com