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Alumni Spotlight: Ellen (Pieper) McFadden '77
Radiant-Bride-StorefrontThree years ago, Ellen (Pieper) McFadden, Class of 1977, made a leap of faith. After raising four daughters and subsequently planning weddings, Ellen became skilled at finding ‘the dress.' Her daughters bought their wedding gowns from Leonardo’s Bridal Shop in Rocky River. One of the girls mentioned to an employee that her mom’s dream would be to open a wedding dress boutique. Lo and behold, Leonardo’s was for sale and the owner contacted Ellen. After renovations and the addition of Ellen’s special touches, the boutique was reopened under the name Radiant Bride, and Ellen has been living her dream as the shop's proprietor at 19620 Detroit Road in Rocky River ever since.

Radiant Bride has enjoyed much success, most recently being nominated as Cleveland’s Best Wedding Boutique! The boutique has also received a Best of Weddings 2019 nod from well-known wedding publication and website The Knot and it has been distinguished as an ‘Elite Partner’ with dress designers.

When visiting Radiant Bride, it's easy to see why the boutique has had such success. As soon as you open the door, you have the feeling you are in for something special. Maybe it’s because the boutique is in a historic home, or because the dressing and viewing rooms have luxurious decor. It would be a treat for any bride-to-be to browse through the rows of wedding gowns by designers such as Essence of Australia, Allure Bridals, or Enzoani. In the shop, most of the gowns have a price point between $1,500-$2,000; however, the Enzoani line begins in the $3,000 range. For price-conscious buyers, there is also a sample dress sales room. Ellen is able to offer these in-stock dresses at a reduced rate because a minimum quantity of dresses are required to be purchased from new collections. Often, there are dresses remaining in stock when Radiant Bride must make room for new dresses. With such a variety of price points, designers, and styles, there is truly something for everyone at Radiant Bride! Here’s the link to schedule an appointment.  

As business has increased, so has the need for more employees. Although Ellen began the business with two other employees, working alongside her now are her three daughters, Jessi (’06), Chelsea (’08), and Hope (’12). Ellen's daughter Carly ('16) is enrolled in college.  From the start, Ellen wanted part of her business model to be giving back, and she did so by sponsoring two girls through Compassion International, a Christian charity organization which sponsors children living in poverty. Each year, a few more girls have been sponsored as her business has increased. Radiant Bride now sponsors 14 girls through Compassion International!

Ellen credits her success to following the Lord’s plan and waiting on His timing. After graduating from Lutheran West in 1977, Ellen enrolled at The Ohio State University to earn a B.A. in Textiles & Clothing. She arrived back in Cleveland, working for the May Company downtown as the Display & Merchandising manager. Traveling to numerous shop locations supplied Ellen with a rich experience during her six years with The May Company. She then took time off to be a full time mom to her four daughters. As the girls grew older and more independent, Ellen returned to the workforce on a part-time basis. Her most recent employment prior to opening Radiant Bride was working for Timan Custom Window Treatments in Rocky River. Here she honed her computer skills learning an online customer management system that would be invaluable as she started her own business a few short years later. Asked how Lutheran West prepared her, Ellen states that her character and faith were developed during her time at West. The faith-filled community that supported each other gave her a sense of belonging and encouraged her faith. She married a fellow alumnus, Scott McFadden (Class of 1978). Together, Ellen and Scott continued their financial support of Lutheran West by contributing to the Jochum Performing Arts Room (1989) and spearheading alumni outreach to 1970s graduates for the school's Vision Alive! Campaign (2002). Their children, as well as one son-in-law, are also Lutheran West alumni! West football games and cheerleading hold special memories for Ellen.

Ellen has held many different titles in her life so far, including student, wife, mother, and businesswoman. The title of ‘entrepreneur’ became a reality after seeking the Lord’s guidance, hearing confirming answers to her prayers and being patient for His timing. Her advice to future entrepreneurs is to “entrust it all to God.”

Please stop in to Radiant Bride to say hello to Ellen, or visit their website.
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