As a teenager I dreamed of designing my own range of wedding dresses. My mum is a seamstress, she used to work for Laura Ashley, back in the day the factories were in the UK. By the time I came along she wasn’t working in a factory any more, but my childhood is filled with memories of our living room floor being her cutting table and our dining room being her work station. From a young age I understood the challenges of finding modest wedding dresses as my mums friends, my aunties and various other friends of friends would come to her asking her to make them modest dresses. Long after we went to bed, I would often hear the whirr of the sewing machine as she worked on these dresses. As a teenager I went to her myself asking for dresses and I loved flicking through her many many patterns to find the perfect dress for her to make. Some of my favourite memories involve taking a trip to the fabric shop to buy new dress patterns when I just couldn’t find what I was looking for. I watched her create these beautiful dresses and wanted to be just like her. I wanted to make women feel like princess with dresses that I made.
I went to college and studied Fashion and Textiles (they are 2 different subjects even though it sounds like 1!) Still dreaming that I would be a designer and have my own range of dresses. I planned to go to uni and study fashion or some similar subject that would set me up to do just that…but life happened. I’m not sure I can begin to explain what happened or why. Recently I introduced my husband to the Gilmore Girls. He’s never seen it before, but its one of my favourites, so after 2 years of marriage, I figured it was time! There’s a bit where Rory, the younger Gilmore Girl, dropped out of Yale, and whilst I’m not going to go into the specifics of why I dropped out of college or what spiralling path that sent me on, watching these scenes as a 35 year old I really resonated with the story line. I was lost and life had caught up with me, so I dropped out of college, made some questionable choices and tried to make the best of it for a very long time. However, somewhere around 2008-2010 I considered opening an at home bridal store for modest wedding dresses. I even went as far as contacting some designers and discussing their terms, but it wasn’t the right time or place. So the dream all but died.
To try and explain how I got from there to being on the brink of opening my very own wedding dress shop would be far too complicated. To be 100% honest, I’m not entirely sure I could explain it all. My plans for life, going back to uni and studying to be a mental health nurse started falling apart. The job that I was doing this time last year also fell apart. Then The Bridal Store started putting itself in my path, slowly at first, then like an avalanche hurtling towards me. I knew it was both the right time and I was in the right place.
After securing funding and getting designers to allow me to sell ranges that up until this point have been exclusive to customers in the USA, the shop was the last puzzle piece to fall into place. I looked at a number of units before I found the old podiatrist clinic. All of the units I looked at I could have made work, but walking into the old podiatrist clinic, I could see how it was all going to work. There was a room filled with light, perfect for a shop floor. Another smaller room just the right size to turn into a changing room. A third that can be used as a workshop and store room for dresses that need repairing and a fourth that’s perfect for a children’s room (more on what this is later!) This space was everything I needed and so much more. Unfortunately securing the unit has been tricker than it should have been, but with estate agents and solicitors involved, it was never going to be smooth sailing! In the mean time wedding dresses, dress makers dummies, plinths and shop floor rails have started filling my living room. My ever loving children know not to touch and they are by far my biggest supporters telling their teachers about our new shop and the wedding dresses that are going to fill it. My 5 year old even sleeps with a Monica Loretti brochure, she tells me those dresses are her favourite.
The dream I had when I was a teenager of opening my own wedding shop is no longer a dream, I can hardly believe it.