MAY/JUNE 09 ISSUE 11
Focus on hats
and fascinators Window Dressing
Steps to success
Your essential guide
BRIDAL Best Foot Forward
Stunning bridal shoes
wedding gowns BBEH REVIEW
Wholesalers and importers of tiaras, bridal hair accessories, occasion hats,
7 Industry News
Keep up-to-date with all the latest news
from the bridal industry in our regular
38 Growing your Business
Business Link Adviser, Peter Mulhall,
reveals how to build upon your
existing oﬀering to consumers
33 ‘Devine’ Inspiration
We talk to mother and daughter team,
54 Q&A Special
Joy and Liz Devine-Wright about their
Jane Watson and Steve Kirkham answer
hat and accessory boutique
your retail queries
40 Classic Couture
57 Get Connected
We speak to Jonathan James to ﬁnd out
Abigail Neill discusses the importance
how his inﬂuential bridal brand,
of a good website
launched just three years ago, has ﬁrmly
61 58 Retailer Interview established itself in the market
We speak to Sarah Penrose about her
42 Window Dressing
30 unique vintage bridal studio
Retailers oﬀer their top tips on creating
67 Clear Communication eye-catching window displays
Building good relationships with your
staﬀ, suppliers and customers has never 45 Bridal Trends
been as important as at this moment in Gorgeous ﬁshtail gowns to tempt your
time. Jane Watson reveals why… brides-to-be
74 Up and Coming 53 Insurance Heath Check
Rosie Fox talks to Attire Bridal about Expert advice from industry experts,
her ﬂedgling jewellery company TH March
61 Heart and Sole
Leading bridal footwear suppliers
Features talk trends
20 The Power of Prom 64 UK Bound
We take a look at the phenomenal We speak to Canadian bridal designer,
growth in the prom wear market Lea-ann Belter, to ﬁnd out why her
bridal gowns suit the British market
26 Bright and Beautiful
Focus on fabulous prom fashions Shows
30 Ahead of the Game 16 BBEH Review
Enhance your in-store oﬀering with a We ﬁnd out how visitors and exhibitors
selection of bridal hats fared at this top trade show
Cover image courtesy of
GROUP EDITOR Ronald Joyce
+44 (0)1376 535 609 Industry News Page 7
firstname.lastname@example.org BBEH Review Page 16
Prom Wear Page 20
CONTRIBUTORS Bridal Hats Page 30
Danielle Harvey Welcome to our May/June issue, which is packed
+44 (0)1376 535 611
email@example.com full of features to help you grow your business.
Jennifer Kettle If there’s one market that shows great potential
+44 (0)1376 535 613
firstname.lastname@example.org for growth, it has to be prom. Here in the UK we’ve
SALES MANAGER hosted school leaving dances for years, but it’s
+44 (0)1376 514 000 only recently that we’ve caught onto the glamour
of the equivalent American event. Rather than
heading to their nearest fashion store, girls are now
+44 (0)1376 535 612
seeking gowns more akin to bridal attire, and demanding accessories,
hairstyles and professional make-up applications to match.
Vicky O’Connor We speak to some leading prom suppliers to ﬁnd out about this year’s Circulation: 2,655
+44 (0)1376 535 616
(01/07/08 to 30/09/08)
email@example.com top trends, how they see the market developing and how bridal retailers
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS can beneﬁt by diversifying into the sector.
Sophie Farage Also in this issue, our experts are on hand with their top business tips:
Steve McKea Business Link Adviser, Peter Mulhall, reveals how you can build upon your
+44 (0)1376 535 616
existing offering to consumers, even in the current climate; Jane Watson
Stuart Weatherley demonstrates some effective ways of building good relationships with
+44 (0)1376 535 616
your staff, suppliers and customers; Abigail Neill goes online to show the
Scott Brothwell importance of developing a user-friendly website for your customers.
+44 (0)1376 514 000
One of the easiest ways of attracting new customers into your
Kline Davis Limited showrooms is by regularly updating your window display. We speak to two
Newlands Drive bridal retailers to ﬁnd out their tricks of the trade, and these can easily be
Witham, Essex CM8 2UL
www.attirebridal.com adapted for any window space or location.
Staff photographs courtesy of Finally, don’t miss our review of the recent British Bridal Exhibition in
Ian Scott Photography
Tel: 01707 263 844
Harrogate on page 16. Retailers and visitors tell us how they fared at this
top trade show.
Attire Bridal is solely owned,
published and designed by Kline
Davis Limited. Whilst every effort
was made to ensure the information
in this magazine was correct at the
time of going to press, the publishers
cannot accept legal responsibility
for any errors or omissions, nor
can they accept responsibility of
the standing of advertisers nor by
the editorial contributions. The
views expressed do not necessarily
reﬂect those of the publisher. Attire
Bridal is published six times a year.
Subscription rates for overseas
readers are £40 per annum (incl.
p+p), Cheques should be made out
to Kline Davis Limited and sent to
Attire Bridal @ Broseley House,
Newlands Drive, Witham, Essex
News & Events
Read on for the latest information on the bridal industry’s movers and shakers…
New bridal jewellery
from Rob Morris NAME CHANGE FOR
The Love iS silver heart JEWELLERY FIRM
collection by Rob Morris
has been created as a As of April 6th, 2009, Dichrolicious Ltd is oﬃcially
range for bridesmaid gifts changing its name to Vizati Ltd. The company began in
and consists of solid, 2004/5, manufacturing only dichroic glass and the name
beautifully ﬁnished and very reﬂected its product oﬀering. However, over the past
tactile pieces. two years the ﬁrm has diversiﬁed to the point where the
The high quality of product oﬀering now encompasses precious stones, such
workmanship in this as diamonds, emeralds, tanzanites and opals set in very
collection afﬁrms the 20 diﬀerent organic, textured designs, in addition to dichroic
years of designing and
glass and many semi-precious stones. The company name
hand-making jewellery for galleries and retail outlets
throughout UK, often to commission. is the only thing that is changing…the staﬀ, the responsive
For further information visit the website at customer service and the unique products are all the
www.robmorrisjewellerydesign.com same. For further details telephone +44 (0)1323 485 605.
Bright future for G&S Designs
After taking on G&S Designs as sole director at the beginning of this year, Sally Clayton has been busy
transforming the company and has already made many changes. Sally has decided she wants to bring
the company up to date by amending company procedures and improving the day to day running of the
business which has proved to make the company more cost eﬀective and has also improved staﬀ moral.
“The ﬁrst thing Sally did was to have a complete overhaul of the range of products we are now going
to supply,” says Ben Dame. “She has discontinued all the slower lines and we are going to replace them
with a complete new collection in the summer.”
Sally has also slashed the prices by up to 80% on over 200 discontinued lines and has already had a fantastic response from
customers. Sally feels it was the right time in the current economic climate to start the reductions as it has helped so many shops
to raise some much needed funds by having sales with the products that have been reduced as there is a massive proﬁt margin to
Adds Ben: “Sally also has big ideas for the future and says that customers are going to be seeing a lot of changes in the coming
months. Loyalty cards will be available to selected customers, and we also have many more changes so watch this space!”
For further details visit www.gandsdesigns.com
RETAIL TASK FORCE LAUNCHES
Four North West retail experts have joined together to create a task force called
Retail Performance Improvement (RPI) to help retailers survive the current
The task force, made-up of Ian Parsons, Ray Carroll, Graham Hoyle
and Tony Woods, has over 100 years combined retail experience. The group
will oﬀer struggling retailers pragmatic solutions to deliver an immediate
improvement and return on investment. Advice will be oﬀered on product
development, negotiation, buying, retail management, retail operations,
consumer marketing and sales promotion.
Ian Parsons, the chairman of RPI, said: “In 2009 UK retailers are facing
their biggest challenge ever. We can oﬀer retail professionals at all levels the
beneﬁt of our combined retail experience.
“Rather than churning out reports we’re oﬀering hands-on advice and
practical tips. We have real experience in helping companies deliver their
products to consumers, in the right retail arena and with a hands-on,
inclusive management style.”
For more information visit www.retailperformanceimprovement.co.uk
G&S Designs launches
new online store
Due to a print error in last issue’s bridesmaid
fashion feature, this pretty gown was
incorrectly credited. It is available from
Romantica on +44 (0)8707 701 024.
Alternatively, visit the informative website at
Bridal jewellery from
as a bridal range,
Last month, the brand new online store from G&S Designs TigerLily Trading
launched to a terriﬁc response from customers. The website itself has oﬃcially
has been given a new look and feel and is very user friendly, with launched its ﬁrst
a fully functioning online store to improve customer service. bridal collection.
“One improvement to ordering is the Fascinators,” says Ben Designs range
Dame. “Customers can choose their wire colour, their feather from single ﬂower
colour and also a second ‘two tone’ colour from drop down boxes
choker style necklaces to elaborate works of art and
which enables them to create their own fascinators with ease.”
each piece of jewellery is handmade.
He continues: “We have also added a bestsellers list which is
automatically generated from website sales so when a customer Trade prices start at £6.36 with a typical price
clicks on to a category they can see the bestselling lines in that for a necklace or bracelet at £14.47.
category to help them when choosing samples.” The designs are also available in diﬀerent semi-
Customers who have used the old site will need to make a new precious stones such as rose quartz, green ﬂuorite
account on the new one which is quick and simple to do, they just and citrine so perfect for alternative gowns and
need to enter their contact details and delivery details on a form other members of the bridal party.
then their account must be manually approved by the team in the For more information, please email janna@
ofﬁce before they can view wholesale prices or order. For further
tigerlilytrading.com or visit the website at
details, visit www.gandsdesigns.co.uk
News & Events
Anna Mcdonald bridal Gallery travels back in time
Anna McDonald opened the Bridal Gallery in
Thame in July 2008 selling beautiful wedding dresses
from designers including Justin Alexander, Sophia
Tolli and Alfred Sung. As the latest retailer to open
in Thame it was ﬁtting for Anna to be asked to
open the Bridal Exhibition at the Thame museum
earlier this year. The display shows the history of
bridal gowns with some of Thame’s residents kindly
donating their precious gowns for the four month
exhibition period. The gowns date from the 1920s
through to the late 1980s.
Accompanied by the Deputy Mayor, Jeanette
Matelot, Anna was delighted to be invited to cut
the ribbon on the innovative and rare display.
Commenting on the opening Anna said: “It was a
pleasure to meet some of Thame’s residents who have
helped volunteer their time and eﬀort producing a
display that brings the history of the bridal market
to the public for free.”
Credit is King
Joe Sweeney of the British Bridalwear Association advises retailers on credit.
The British Bridalwear Association (BBA) has programmed another year of operating its own Credit Check System after a
very successful ﬁrst 12 months of collating payments from Bridal Retailers to their BBA Suppliers.
The System logs all payments due from retailers that are more than 90 days old. If just one BBA supplier is involved, then it is
referred to as a Single Hit. However, if more than one BBA supplier is aﬀected then it is called a Multiple Hit. According to the
number of Multiple Hits relating to a single retailer, credit facilities are usually withdrawn and Proforma becomes the only way to
continue trading with BBA Suppliers.
Sometimes there are local circumstances that aﬀect the issue and these are taken into account. For example, a major employer
in the town may have fallen on hard times and therefore cashﬂow in the area becomes a problem. Often weddings are delayed and
suppliers will take this into account if possible. After all, suppliers will wish to continue trading with retail clients as long as they
Suppliers are not bankers and they need good cashﬂow like all companies so they cannot aﬀord to trade beyond their terms and
conditions of sale.
As always, if bridal retailers have a potential problem, they should communicate with their suppliers and normally help can
be given. If it comes as a surprise that a client is taking an extraordinary length of time to pay bills, then it may be too late to
oﬀer any help. It is highly likely that if a client is overdue with bridal suppliers then the same is no doubt true with regard to
preferential creditors such as Customs & Excise, PAYE, Banks, Inland Revenue and sometimes Landlords. Sums outstanding to
such preferentials are usually quite large and they are not known as very ‘forgiving creditors’. They will enforce the position using
the full strength of the Law.
It is important for retailers to remember that if they are not trading as a Limited Company then their personal assets are at
stake including domestic homes etc. In the case of Limited Companies the Directors home addresses are on ﬁle at Companies
House so there is no escape.
The moral is that in case of diﬃculty retailers should communicate with all their Suppliers before it gets to the stage of such
things as County Court Judgments which can destroy Credit reputation.
Credit these days is so important. Treat it well and it will help but treat it badly and it will bite hard.
pink and purple
ﬂower girl dress
Stephanie Staub, a renowned
French designer for couture
ﬂower girl dresses and
bespoke page boy outﬁts, has
recently released her new UK DISTRIBUTOR
exclusive Isobel ﬂower girl
dress to retailers.
Answering her clients’ wish SOPHIE SPOSA JEWELS
to have sophisticated ﬂower
girl dresses in purple and pink Sophie Sposa
tones, the designer searched jewels are
the world for a unique ivory speciﬁcally
taﬀeta embroidered with designed to
purple and pink ﬂowers. provide the ultimate
“With this fabric, I wanted bridal accessory,
to design a dress that would and are now to
be very feminine and light, be distributed
with ruﬄed sleeves. It gives a in the UK by
note of fantasy to the garment Paradox London.
and yet the dress remains Each exquisite piece is designed by Italian
very stylish. And as adult craftsmen and made in several studios
bridesmaids often wear pink or across the world. Every season the team
purple dresses, this little dress follows current trends offering the most up-
can perfectly compliment the to-date composition of styles, materials and
adult’s one.” The Isobel ﬂower colours. Products are hand made from the
girl dress is made-to-measure highest quality materials, including Swarovski
and starts from £220 in an crystals and fresh water pearls. Furthermore,
embroidered silk taﬀeta. each item is presented in a unique and
For details visit the website at exceptional box in order to provide that
www.littleeglantine.com distinctive difference to brides.
Name change for Eva Jordan
Following the sale of Eva Jordan and Samantha Jane
Bridesmaids to Clare Wilson, the two labels are to be promoted
under new names. With immediate eﬀect, Eva Jordan will
be changing its name to Anellà Couture, while Samantha
Jane Bridesmaids and Proms will be changing to Honour
“We decided to change the name of the company as the new
designs are very fresh and up to date and we feel, in order for
the company to move forward and grow, we really need a
fresh approach with both design and the presentation of the
company,” says Clare. “We have now taken on an agent who is
working very closely with us, not only in the relaunch, but also
to ensure all our existing customers, and new ones as they come
along, get exactly what is expected from a supplier.
Clare also sheds some light on the origin of the name for the new bridal collection: “It was created
from my daughters’ names, Megan and Ella and, as funny as it may sound, it has always been a
naughty fairy in our house when the girls were younger; we are now hoping it will be a magical
fairy!” For further details, call +44 (0)1954 263 030.
RETURNS TO WELLS
Jo Christoforides, the West Country based fashion designer
has returned to Wells, the city where she ﬁrst established
her couture bridal gown label over 20 years ago. The new
shop, dramatic in style, is Jo’s sixth move since the launch
of her business in 1987 and can rightly be viewed as a true
homecoming! It opened at 74 High Street on the 9th April just
in time for Easter. To ﬁnd out more, visit the website at
CLASSIC NEW CUFFLINKS
Fresh from Balagan are these stunning cuﬄinks, fashioned from
stainless steel or sterling silver. All jewellery comes packaged in
the signature chunky black boxes with a care card that shows
how best to care for the jewellery. For wholesale orders, visit
IJL PRESENTS SPECIAL PRIZE AT
GOLDSMITHS’ CRAFTSMANSHIP &
Craftsmanship & Design
The power of online
Awards entered its
second century with
London (IJL) presenting
a special award in Fine
Jewellery. In her ﬁrst
year as a member of the
Reaching your target market and creating a feeling
Goldsmith’ Craft and Design Council, Syreeta Tranﬁeld, Event
of conﬁdence and desire, are two crucial aspects of all
Manager of IJL, presented the award.
successful marketing campaigns. Information hungry bridal
The Gold & IJL Special Award winner, David McCaul of
couples spend hours online searching for information,
the London Metropolitan University, produced three stunning
inspiration and the perfect suppliers. Companies choosing
and innovative 18ct gold and diamond rings. The rings were
to overlook the power of online marketing may simply
beautifully crafted, unique in style and shape and represented
not be found by the consumer. It can be diﬃcult to stand
the high standard of entries this year, reﬂecting the timeless
out from the crowd, when you are one of many companies
fashion this category is designed to commend. The Gold & GIA
oﬀering a similar product or service. Until now....
Winner in the IJL Special Award category was Ornella Iannuzzi,
Fairytale Wedding Company has launched an easy to
who is self-employed and created a silver, iron pyrites and gold
use and attractive website, oﬀering a wide range of online
leaf ‘Cubic Crystallization’ ring.
wedding services. The many facilities include: an extensive
The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council was founded
directory of suppliers, wedding websites, interactive
in 1908 and still carries forward its original remit to
planning and budgeting tools, social networking, advice
encourage, stimulate and promote the pursuit of excellence
and tips and the latest fashions and trends. Extensive
in craftsmanship and design amongst all those engaged in
research and being driven by the needs of the bridal
silversmithing, goldsmithing, jewellery and allied crafts in the UK.
couple, has inspired them to create a unique concept
Guests at this year’s ceremony included well known designers
in online marketing. The versatility and individuality
and industry ﬁgures such as Stephen Webster, who is also a
of the Showcases makes them perfectly suited to meet
the needs of any wedding industry trade. Vicky Lord,
Syreeta Tranﬁeld, of IJL, commented; “I am extremely honoured
the co-founder of www.fairytaleweddingcompany.co.uk
to have been appointed as a member of the prestigious
oﬀers the following advice: “Capturing the hearts and
Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council and we were delighted
imaginations of prospective bridal couples, is absolutely
at the exceptional standard of entries this year. British design
vital when appealing to their emotional buying behaviour.
is going from strength to strength and it is excellent to see
Our Unique Fairytale Showcases inject personality and
designers creating such innovative and stylish ﬁne jewellery. We
inspiration into your marketing, by bringing your company
very much look forward to unveiling the winning pieces at IJL
to life on the internet”. For further details please visit the
2009 this September.”
website at www.fairytaleweddingcompany.co.uk or email
For more information about International Jewellery London
We take a look back at the recent British Bridal Exhibition in
Harrogate (BBEH) to ﬁnd out how visitors and exhibitors fared…
The latest BBEH took place from March 8th-10th a strict schedule to follow and the pre-planning
2009, attracting bridal retailers from all over the paid off as we managed to cram in quite a
UK to network, place orders and to view new lot. From my existing designers I brought a
additions to existing collections. As ever, stands few ‘gap ﬁllers’ and we particularly loved the
were distributed through the main exhibition new season’s Alfred Angelo collection. We
halls and surrounding hotels, including The considered four new labels with a view to taking
Majestic, St George, Old Swan and White Hart. on just one and the decision was made easy
In addition, bridal fashion shows took place as Divina Sposa by The Group completely stole
two or three times a day to showcase the latest the show for us; their dresses are absolutely
bridalwear, formalwear and accessories. gorgeous, their stand and hospitality was
Award-winning retailer and Attire Bridal second to none and we are really excited about
columnist, Abigail Neill, regularly attends the their stunning gowns.”
British Bridal Exhibition to ﬁnd new ways of Another retailer attending the exhibition was
enhancing her bridalwear offering, and to take Ellie Sanderson, who runs a successful bridal
advantage of the networking opportunities the boutique in Buckinghamshire. Speaking about
show affords: “I visited BBEH for two days with the trade show, she says: “We had a great time
two of my sales girls to enjoy a little buying and at Harrogate. Although it felt a little quieter than
dancing at the BIS disco,” she says. “We had last March, it was not short on the ‘X’ Factor.
The fashion show, as ever, was fabulous; Lusan
Mandongus stole the show for me with some
beautifully styled and cut gowns.”
She adds: “We also found some great new
jewellery designers: SWOON of London has
a real vintage look and feel to their pieces
and, as ever, MALLIS HENDERSON, Atlantic
Bridal group had some terriﬁc, stylish and
funky pieces. I totally loved their ﬁfties-inspired
birdcage hair combs, which will look wonderful
with our 1950s styled gowns.”
“Divina Sposa by The Group
completely stole the show for
us; their dresses are absolutely
gorgeous, their stand and
hospitality was second to none
and we are really excited about
their stunning gowns.”
One of the main reasons retailers attend
the BBEH is to keep track of the latest bridal rest. Ellie Sanderson says: “The one that stole
trends. Commenting on her ﬁndings at the the show for me was Lusan Mandongus; their “Offering a consultancy service
spring event, Ellie says: “March 2009 saw all collection has lots of soft chiffon skirts, some for the industry, I was more
designers offering more gowns with straps, amazing full skirted gowns with ﬁtted bodices than pleased with visitors to my
thank the lord; we have so very many requests and the most incredible double lace ﬁsh tail stand. There were ample visitors
for straps and halter necks at the moment gowns, the under lace being beaded and the thinking about setting up a bridal
with girls fed up with the straight across look. outer lace being plain. It adds a real feeling of business as well as those wanting
It also saw some key trends like really ﬁtted texture and movement on the catwalk. They to re-evaluate their business.”
bodices with ﬁshtail and slinky silhouettes and had plenty of straps and their gowns also have
a continued look of romance with soft lace and beautiful internal corsets, deﬁnitely one to before? Jane Watson had this to say: “Offering
some really full skirts.” watch – I’m totally loving them.” a consultancy service for the industry, I was
Among the many bridalwear exhibitors, there As for the exhibitors, how did they fare more than pleased with visitors to my stand.
are always some that stand out above the given visitor numbers were down on the year There were ample visitors thinking about
setting up a bridal business as well as those
wanting to re-evaluate their business.” She
continues: “Those retailers visiting the BBEH
were quality customers and, considering we
are in a recession, spirits were high. I always
think that retailers attending the March and
September exhibitions are really passionate
about their business.”
First time exhibitor, Rosie Fox, Managing
Director of Fox Jewellery Ltd and Rosie Fox,
was also thrilled with the response from
retailers: “It was fabulous to exhibit for the ﬁrst
time at the British Bridal Exhibition in Harrogate.
Seeing the new direction for bridal gowns and
being able to compliment the dresses with the
new Rosie Fox jewellery collection was truly
The next British Bridal Exhibition in
Harrogate will take place from 13th-15th
September 2009. To ﬁnd out more, visit the
website at www.bbeh.co.uk
DESIGNER OF THE YEAR 2004/2005/2006/2007
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE INDUSTRY 2008
ianstuart-bride. c 7
The power of
We speak to some leading
suppliers about the phenomenal
growth in the prom wear market
Carl Monk and ﬁt. The fabrics used are also of great quality.
FROXY PROM BY ROMANCE BRIDAL
What would you say the typical spend is for someone
When did you ﬁrst introduce a prom line? seeking a prom dress?
We ﬁrst introduced a prom line in September 2007 The typical spend for a prom gown would be
at the Harrogate bridal fair. around the £225 to £250 retail price.
How has demand for prom wear changed over the What tips would you give to retailers keen to
past couple of years? introduce a prom line? 13000
We have seen demand for prom wear over the past Tips for retailers would be to look into their area’s
couple of years grow bigger and bigger, year on year. marketplace ﬁrst for the type of prom wear selling.
Then look at all suppliers of prom wear on what
How much further growth do you feel there is in the they oﬀer by quality, fabrics, the ﬁt, size range,
prom market? delivery times and whether they carry stock.
We feel the further growth in the prom wear
market is massive for us as a new label in the What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
marketplace, and see 100% growth over the next for the next prom season?
couple of years. Key colours for next season are orange, purple,
lime, cerise and silver in taﬀeta or organza/satin.
When would you say the prom season runs from Key styles are A-line asymmetric draped fronts
and to? with bead detail and lace up backs. Also big ball
The prom season, for us, runs from January to gown puﬀ skirt with pull-ups.
July. We also see some of the prom gowns being
used for bridesmaid gowns and also for Christmas Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
balls/parties. collection? If so, what is it and why?
My favourite prom gown from the collection is
What sets your prom range apart from others on 13001 as the organza asymmetric detail with hand
the market? ﬁnish bead and lace up back will ﬂatter all types of
The feedback we are getting from the customers is girls. Also, 13005 the two-tone taﬀeta, looks great
the gowns are well designed and a superior make and the cut of the gown gives great shape.
Christine Wilke, Designer,
LOU LOU PROM
When did you ﬁrst introduce a prom line?
We ﬁrst introduced a prom line in March 2007.
How has demand for prom wear changed over the
past couple of years?
Demand has deﬁnitely increased over the past two
years. More schools are having proms, some 5th
form, some 6th form, but also sweet 16 parties. It
seems most schools are now arranging proms for
all leavers, even at 11-years-old before they go to
How much further growth do you feel there is in the
There is some room for growth but with the
current climate we think the growth will be slow
until the economy picks up again. There has been
such an increase in prom retailers recently (before
the credit crunch), the growth had to slow down What tips would you give to retailers keen to
naturally anyway. introduce a prom line?
Buy stock as girls do not want to order, and buy
When would you say the prom season runs from a variety of designs as every girl wants to wear
and to? a diﬀerent dress to her friends. Target all local
The prom season runs between February and June. schools and have prom nights.
What sets your prom range apart from other What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
collections on the market? for the next prom season?
As it is British designed it is more contemporary Rich vibrant colours are still popular. We mix
and less “American” looking. We wanted to do colours and textures together to tone down very
something brash colours. Short styles sell for us - if money is
diﬀerent from the sparkle and big skirts by creating tight girls do not want a big dress and will opt for
modern dresses with combinations of funky colours something more fashionable and edgy.
and fashionable shapes.
Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
What would you say the typical spend is for someone collection? If so, what is it and why?
seeking a prom dress? Style lp243 is a dream dress. Fun, funky and yet
I would say the average spend is somewhere still feminine. With its ﬁtted ruched bodice it is
between £150 and £200. really ﬂattering.
Laraine Jones, a dress that really stands out.
DESIGNER, ALEXIA DESIGNS
What would you say the typical spend is for someone
When did you ﬁrst introduce a prom line? seeking a prom dress?
We ﬁrst introduced a prom line last September. There’s no set price – it could be anywhere from
£50 to £500.
How has demand for prom wear changed over the
past couple of years? What tips would you give to retailers keen to
It has grown enormously. introduce a prom line?
If you have a good dress, order it in all the
How much further growth do you feel there is in available colours so that if you have a policy not to
the prom market? let two girls have the same, you don’t lose out on
I don’t think it has come anywhere near to sales if they are in diﬀerent colours.
reaching its peak.
What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
When would you say the prom season runs from for the next prom season?
and to? The big tulle skirted dresses will continue to be
The girls start buying from December right up to popular, and we have done brilliantly with our
a week before the prom date. glitter tulles.
What sets your prom range apart from others on Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
the market? collection? If so, what is it and why?
We think the dresses should be fun, funky and Yes, we call it the Minnie Mouse dress because it
fabulous. Each girl wants to outdo the other with is so dotty and cute.
to book an appointment with our
Sales Executive to preview the new
2009 Spring Collection contact:
designed and handmade in England
OL I V I A MA E
FOR EVERY OCCASION
A stunning collection of stylish brides-
maids, prom and eveningwear.
Dresses in sizes 6-30 wholesale at
£75 to £95, with flowergirls for ages
2-11 from £50.
For a sales appointment contact:
Stuart Turner, 8157 8101
MORI LEE UK SALES MANAGER
When did you ﬁrst introduce a prom line?
Mori Lee Prom has been sold in the UK and Eire
for over ﬁve years.
How has demand for prom wear changed over the
past couple of years?
The demand for prom wear has changed
signiﬁcantly with a massive increase in volume.
Mori Lee Prom will continue to present a
stunning collection of prom dresses in fresh
colours, new materials and inspired shapes that
will make any girl feel fabulous on her special
How much further growth do you feel there is in
the prom market?
It is nearing capacity; what has happened is the
market has become more reﬁned into price/
quality brackets and styles such as slinky, full
When would you say the prom season runs from
This depends on the area and event; for example,
in Eire they are termed ‘Debs’ and take place late
summer as opposed to the UK which is mainly
May and June. However, the girls will start
are very price aware but the typical spend can be Short dresses inspired by High School Musical
looking for their prom gown as early as December
anything between £100 and £400. will be more in demand next season. Brighter
the previous year!
colours will be the norm next year with some ‘in’
What tips would you give to retailers keen to colours making an appearance – lime is a good
What sets your prom range apart from others on
introduce a prom line? bet and of course that added sparkle!
Stock as many prom dresses as you can aﬀord
The quality and depth of range, from traditional
and sell oﬀ the rail. If you can top up later by Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
US high school tulle to slinky sexy styles with a
consumers’ requests or by the success of sell collection? If so, what is it and why?
modern fashion twist.
through, all well and good. It’s diﬃcult to pick one but 8101 in Pink
What would you say the typical spend is for Lemonade is a favourite – it is typical Mori Lee
What colours and styles do you feel will be popular with a new twist, we also make a shorter version
someone seeking a prom dress?
for the next prom season? which is also very popular.
It is very diﬃcult to say as some girls/mothers
Katia Charalambou, Our customers tell us the prom season starts from
HOUSE OF NICHOLAS January and goes through to July.
When did you ﬁrst introduce a prom line? What sets your prom range apart from other
We ﬁrst introduced a prom line in 2006. collections on the market?
Our prom range is great value for money, and we
How has demand for prom wear changed over the place great emphasis on good customer service.
past couple of years?
Girls in the UK are now looking for more What tips would you give to retailers keen to
traditional “American Style” prom dresses, although introduce a prom line?
we still sell a great deal of simpler dresses which I would advise retailers to look at their own
can be worn again. particular market to ensure, as far as possible, that
they have the correct styling for their area. It is
How much further growth do you feel there is in the vital to have a good range of sizes and colours as
prom market? there is such a small window for the season, and for
We believe the market for prom dresses is growing reordering.
year by year.
What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
When would you say the prom season runs from for the next prom season?
and to? In our experience, the vibrant colours always sell
Lyn Musselle, Sales and concept and introduce a prom season. Demand
will be driven by fashion conscious teens, eager to
Marketing Director, impress and out-do each other. You only have to
MAGGIE SOTTERO look to our friends across the pond, where prom
is an enormous business, commanding stores who
When did you ﬁrst introduce a prom line? cater to the marketplace year round.
Flirt prom by Maggie Sottero was introduced into
the marketplace in 2006. When would you say the prom season runs from
How has demand for prom wear changed over the May to July, seems to be the most popular months
past couple of years? in the UK at the moment, but it wouldn’t come as a
UK retailers were very tentative when buying prom big surprise, if in the future we see proms organised
for the ﬁrst time in 2006; however, the demand throughout the calendar year.
to stock, and the numbers of prom bought, has
increased dramatically since, with twice the amount P1344
of stock bought for the 2008-09 season compared
to the previous season.
What sets your prom range apart from others on
How much further growth do you feel there is in the
The choice of fabrics, styles and ﬁt, which is the
Expect to see a huge growth in this market, as
trademark signature of Maggie Sottero.
more and more schools become familiar with the
What would you say the typical spend is for someone
seeking a prom dress?
Most girls will have a budget in mind when setting
out to buy their prom gown; however, I think the
budget becomes a secondary consideration if a
girl ﬁnds her dress and it is slightly more than
she anticipated. £200 - £250 seems to be a fairly
typical sum that girls are prepared to spend.
What tips would you give to retailers keen to
introduce a prom line?
Research the subject and ﬁnd out if schools in
your area are already holding proms. If not, now’s
the time to suggest it, you could even ask if it
would be possible to survey the pupils. If you have
any teenagers that you can discuss the subject
with, then do, they will provide an insight into
everything from ‘what’s trendy to what’s not’.
What colours and styles do you feel will be popular
for the next prom season?
Big tulle ball-gowns seem to have been a favourite
with retailers for the coming season. The most
popular colours have been the bright, vibrant,
pinks, purples, magenta and turquoise.
Do you have a favourite prom dress from the new
collection? If so, what is it and why?
There are so many gowns that I could name, for
diﬀerent reasons, but if I had to choose a dress that
I think epitomises ‘Prom’ it would be style P1344.
This is a strapless vision in taﬀeta print bodice and
tulle skirt, available in moss green/black and plum/
black. The ﬁgure hugging bodice with its ‘V’ cut
neckline and ball-gown tulle skirt will make every
girl feel like a princess for the day! A
Bright and Beautiful
Tiffany Prom Capitalise on the growing UK prom market by investing
+44 (0)8707 707 670
in these gorgeous gowns…
Mori Lee Prom
+44 (0)1476 541 116
Full and FABULOUS
+44 (0)1245 425 558
True Bride Prom Mark Lesley Prom
+44 (0)1273 728 637 +44 (0)1621 784 784
Mark Lesley Prom
+44 (0)1621 784 784
Stevies Gowns London
+44 (0)20 8803 8084
Sho rt and Sweet
Lou Lou Froxy Prom The House of Nicholas
+44 (0)20 8368 1500 +44 (0)1245 425 558 +44 (0)20 8802 1399
www.louloubridal.co.uk www.romance-bridal.co.uk www.thehouseofnicholas.co.uk
+44 (0)20 8368 1500
Girly Glamour Mori Lee
+44 (0)1476 541 116
+44 (0)8707 707 670
Alice James Prom Maggie Sottero
+44 (0)1254 279 766 +44 (0)151 339 9139
Top to Toe
No longer the preserve of the mother of the bride and groom, hats
are now the accessory of choice for style-conscious brides. We
speak to leading milliners to ﬁnd out more…
When choosing accessories to complement Rose Belinda were made popular as costume jewellery for
her outﬁt, the bride is presented with plenty of brides. Inevitably, over the years, the tiara is now
options, particularly with regards to headwear. everywhere, as likely to adorn a Saturday night
Should she wear a veil, tiara or both? Or should reveller as a bride. The tiara is devalued and
she do away with tradition and opt instead for discerning brides are looking for a more individual
a hat or fascinator? Modern brides, it seems, statement of good taste.”
are increasingly selecting the latter options and Over the past decade, Rose Belinda has
retailers keen to maximise accessories sales should diversiﬁed into fashion accessories, supplying
start stocking up now. hats and fascinators for all occasions. Through
Hatsonheads is an accessories company located acquisition, the ﬁrm has also become the UK’s
at The Artisan Design Studio in Lincoln. Co-run last remaining manufacturer of silk ﬂowers, using
by fashion designers, Angela Coupe and Carol antique tools and traditional methods. Flowers
Robinson, the duo has won a number of awards, now form an important part of Rose Belinda’s
most recently the ‘Hatty Award 2008’ for their the races.” They’re also proud that all their designs Bridal and Fashion Collections.
Designer Hat Making Kits and Millinery Courses. are made in the UK: “We strongly believe that we Another company that places great emphasis
Most of the time, Angela and Carol can be should promote UK design talent and do our bit on its UK-based design and manufacture is
found at the studio designing and hand tailoring for the UK fashion manufacturing industry.” Vivien Sheriﬀ Millinery. Established in Salisbury,
millinery in a range of styles. Speaking about Naturally, weddings is a core market for the Wiltshire around four years ago, the brand is
their product oﬀering, they say: “We don’t make design duo and, in recent times, they say they fast becoming one of the most respected names
ordinary hats, we create spectacular, individual, have noticed a shift in the type of headwear their in the ﬁeld of ﬁne millinery. “All our pieces are
head turning adornments with a hint of humour brides are requesting: “Hair decorations and manufactured by hand in the UK, from start to
and quirkiness, perfect for a wedding or day at jewellery seems to be taking the place of traditional ﬁnish, which is why our customers love us,” says
veils and our brides Charlie Gale. “Our
like to have something “The tiara is now everywhere, designs are classic and
Vivien Sheriﬀ Millinery
unusual to wear, like yet cutting edge, and we
as likely to adorn a Saturday
small headpieces and are always looking for
fascinators with jewellery night reveller as a bride. innovative new ways to
incorporated into the use our exquisite feathers,
The tiara is devalued and
designs with veiling over silks and organzas.”
the eyes.” They continue: discerning brides are Vivien Sherrif
“Our brides are looking Millinery designs and
looking for a more individual
for something unique for makes a wide range of
their special day and tend statement of good taste.” headpieces for brides,
to prefer headpieces that from larger cocktail hats
are one-oﬀ, bespoke pieces. We are also getting to smaller headpieces, as well as handmade veils
more and more orders for special hand made and tiaras. All pieces are comfortable and wearable
couture fascinators.” so they can be worn right through to evening.
John Lee, Director of Rose Belinda, an Recently the company noticed an increased uptake
established bridal accessories ﬁrm that launched to in hats by brides, and responded by creating a
the trade in 1981, has also noticed this shift. In his whole new brand to cater for this market. “Our
eyes, the catalyst for this change is easy to pinpoint: designs have always been popular with brides;
“Tiaras, once the preserve of the aristocracy, however, demand for our designs has been so
Image: Dave Overton
interest would be to host a hat-making workshop,
whereby brides-to-be, or members of the wedding Vivien Sheriﬀ Millinery
party can create their own bespoke headpiece.
The Designer Hat Making Kits have been created
using four unique designs from Hatsonheads, and
“Hair decorations and
jewellery seems to be taking
the place of traditional veils
and our brides like to have
Hatsonheads something unusual to wear,
high in recent times that we decided to make our like small headpieces and
bridal collection a whole brand in its own right
(Vivien Sheriﬀ Bride). The new bridal collection
fascinators with jewellery
has proved a huge hit over the last year and we incorporated into the designs are available in 15 colourways. Each one contains
have been overwhelmed with requests for bespoke
pieces incorporating personal touches such as silk
with veiling over the eyes.” step by step instructions, all materials required, and
a designer hat box to store the completed item.
from the bride’s gown, or from vintage jewellery Vivien Sheriﬀ Millinery Retailing at just £29.99, the kits are excellent value
etc. We have also been busy designing amazing and
and would be perfect for using at any in-store
unusual couture veils as well as hand made crystal
wire ‘tiaras’ that are so beautiful, they have been
While trends come and go, the demand for
described as works of art.”
beautifully crafted bridal accessories has never
For retailers, the opportunities presented by such
gone out of fashion. Hats are very much in-vogue
a keen interest in hats and fascinators should not
for today’s discerning bride in search of a classic,
be ignored. Headwear completes a bridal outﬁt,
sophisticated look, and UK-based milliners can
and may well help to convince a bride that the
deliver exactly what they are looking for. A
dress she has tried on is ‘the one’. On presenting
hats in-store, Charlie encourages retailers to:
“Display them well and oﬀer brides-to-be our
“This season is about restraint. Retro is in, and
bespoke colour matching service as we pride
less is more, with beauty in the detail. Flowers,
ourselves on being able to match any outﬁt for
net, small ‘button’ hats and fascinators on
style and colour.” She continues: “It’s important to
structured sinamay shapes are all popular.”
provide a good array of price points as, with the
inﬂux of Chinese imports to many department
stores, the independents have more of a chance
“Any style with bespoke touches and veiling
of getting a sale. More often than not, potential
will continue to be big this year. Vintage
customers are looking for something more unique
is popular year after year with brides. Also,
for their special occasion.”
volume is back, so oversized pouﬀy veils are
Retailers not yet stocking a hat line may want
sure to sell well.” Charlie Gale
to test their local market ﬁrst. One way of gauging
Rose Belinda Rose Belinda Rose Belinda
Tel: +44 (0)1522 529 165
Vivien Sheriﬀ Millinery
Tel: +44 (0)1725 512 983
Tel: +44 (0)1423 358 986
Mother and daughter team Joy Devine and Liz Devine-
Wright opened hat and accessory boutique Simply Devine in
Yorkshire ﬁve years ago, and it is now one of the best in the
region. We spoke to Liz about their journey to the top... Joy Devine and Liz Devine-Wright
Liz Devine-Wright What was your career What do you consider to be your core customer base?
background before you opened Our core customer base for millinery is ladies who are main players at
Simply Devine? weddings, i.e the bride or groom’s mother and their families, not excluding
Strangely, we had two very non-related racehorse owners and race-goers. We also do extremely well with our jewellery
career backgrounds. My mother, Joy, had and accessories for gifts or just for treating one’s self. Our customers range
‘retired’ as a postwoman and I had a 30 from teenagers to mature ladies and we have many customers that believe if
year career in secretarial work. they do not shop locally then they will have an empty high street.
What prompted you to launch How would you describe the presentation of your shop?
your shop and how did you With a solid oak ﬂoor and locally made special purpose ﬁttings, not to
decide on the concept? mention the large hat drawers and period counter, it’s unique! It was also re-
Alongside a full time secretarial job decorated at Christmas, so it’s fresh and clean. We had to have body tinted
I was running a long term property glass in the front window since it is South facing, which we are told makes the
portfolio and bought the current site of shop look very ‘posh’!
Simply Devine not knowing what to do
with it. It needed total refurbishment How do you source new product lines and designers?
and was my ﬁrst commercial property. We visit trade shows from London to Scotland, as well as the European
My husband, Andrew Wright is an shows. We do source via other means, but our core business is sourced
architect and was commissioned to bring the building to its current state and at Moda. We like to deal with the smaller companies because the larger
oversee the build programme to create the Simply Devine boutique and a companies have minimum orders that are too great, ending up with too much
separate ﬂat above it. Mum was always interested in millinery and was taught of the same product.
by couture milliner Peter Kingston Youel, Head of the Leeds College of Art
& Design. Following a number of years since the death of mum’s partner my What are the key factors you consider when introducing a new
sister and I suggested that she start her own business, and so Simply Devine product line?
was born at my property. We have to like it, and we don’t want tons of it! We have a saying in the shop
that “if you like it, buy it, because we don’t always source more than one!” There
How did you select the premises and location for your business? are three of us in the business now, mum, my younger sister Kay and I, so
Properties were scarce at that time and it was bought with gut feeling. Whilst when we do our buying we know that we can cover the taste of a good range
the shop is not on the main drag, customers come from all over Yorkshire and of ages.
Cheshire and can park right outside, which is a fantastic advantage. Those
who know about us say how lovely it is to spend considerable time choosing How important is product knowledge and customer service?
headwear without having to worry about parking meters! The shop was also I can’t tell you how knowledgeable mum is about the millinery sold in the
once next to a sub-Post Oﬃce which was very convenient for sending our web shop. We have hundreds and hundreds of pieces and she knows exactly what
orders because we could just pop next door, but sadly it closed last year. she has in the shop and where it is! Mum also knows what suits each customer
and has a fantastic eye for creating a stunning ensemble, allowing you to What are your future plans for the business?
stand out from the crowd. It is Simply Devine policy not to sell headwear if I’ve set our goals high. We want to be the specialist hat shop in Yorkshire! We
it doesn’t suit the customer. If we haven’t got the right piece we will not force currently have our silk and cashmere wraps dyed to match the headwear that is
a sale. In the last ﬁve years we have trusted word of mouth for our marketing available at Simply Devine, so we are taking our ﬁrst steps to exhibit at Moda
and it has worked. A local race meeting was cancelled last year and mum in August oﬀering seasonal, coloured pashminas and wraps. It has taken a long
very kindly telephoned all of her customers to say that they could have their time to build the infrastructure for this service and we now feel that we are
deposits back! ready to take the leap forward. A
How do you view the current state of the market?
We think it is really sad to see well established businesses close because we
now know how much work goes into a small business; however, there is and
has been far too much borrowed money around. It was always our policy not
to borrow money and, whilst we are by no means rich, we can sleep at night.
However, in the early days we remember only having a pound in the bank! We
would like to think that ‘specialist’ shops will do well in the future. Consumers
want quality as well as knowledge and customer service, and a specialist service
should be ﬁt for royalty. The current market may have stopped us from renting
a second shop, but it certainly has not stopped us from moving forward.
What advice would you pass on to other retailers considering a
move into hats and accessories?
Don’t expect to become a millionaire – just be passionate about hats. Hats
are a seasonal product. We have an extra long holiday from Christmas and
don’t re-open until early February, and then we only open from Wednesday to
Saturday. Once spring arrives we open the shop from Tuesday to Saturday. It’s FURTHER INFORMATION
a lifestyle choice. Telephone +44 (0)1937 836 068 or visit www.simplydevine.co.uk
Elegant, beautiful, affordable
Phoenix Gowns are the only
choice for exceptional quality &
design at affordable prices
For enquiries please call
01322 338 503
The stunning ICON Collection is now available.
Please contact us to make an appointment.
UK Sales Executive: Mr Robert Wilson
07783 476 408
It is possible to build upon your existing offering to consumers in this current
climate, says Business Link Adviser, Peter Mulhall. Read on to ﬁnd out how…
Every business would like to see their sales monthly will keep you on track. attract new customers.
increase and their proﬁt margins improve, but this I always encourage business owners to think • Open another shop, or expand or refurbish
isn’t just going to happen of its own accord – it about a longer term vision for their business – your existing shop.
needs positive action from the owner or manager, certainly one year, and perhaps two years or longer • Create a website or, if you already have one,
looking at fresh angles and seeking out new in some cases, as it encourages them to think about increase your internet sales.
opportunities to keep developing the business. It what they want for the business and how their plan • Attend trade fairs, shows and exhibitions.
is always diﬃcult deciding when and how to grow for the coming year will move them towards their
your business and it is even more daunting in the ultimate goal. You may need to adopt all your strategies in order
current economic climate. to reach your goals, but each strategy may require
Nevertheless, there are alternatives to explore Think about what you want your business to be like diﬀerent actions in order to achieve it. At this stage
that may give you the chance to grow your in one to two years time: you should put more detail into your plan for each
business without taking on too much extra risk or • What types of products will you be idea. For example, for the ﬁrst strategy you might:
investment: one such strategy is collaboration and selling? Use your current knowledge of • Develop themed shopping events with other
we will focus on this topic in the second part of the your customers’ needs to think of any new retailers in your area.
article. Before making any decisions it is essential directions. • Introduce a loyalty card to incentivise your
to research your options thoroughly and to make • What type of customers will you have and regular customers.
sure you fully understand the implications of your what markets will you be serving? Perhaps • Arrange special discount days.
plans, so you know what to expect and you can you will widen your market by developing a Once you have listed your options for each strategy
then adjust your actions if the results don’t meet website or you will attend more trade fairs to you should prepare your ﬁnancial plan or annual
your expectations. reach a much wider audience. budgets. How detailed this is will depend on your
• Can you grow your business by collaborating business. The very least you should do is to have
Getting to where you want to be with other businesses? targets for the key things you want to achieve,
There’s no getting away from the fact that business • What level of turnover and proﬁt do you want broken down into monthly chunks. You should
planning is essential to success. If you haven’t to achieve and what resources will you need? include your sales targets, buying budgets, and cost
updated your business plan for some time, or • This should get you thinking of where you targets for any large costs such as setting up a new
haven’t got one, then now is the time to focus on want to take your business in the next phase website or refurbishing your shop.
your plan. of its development.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that
How to make your business plan work for you The next stage is to look at your strategies for business planning is essential to success.
I usually encourage my clients to adopt an action achieving the vision. For instance you might decide If you haven’t updated your business plan
centred approach to planning which, apart from to do the following: for some time, or haven’t got one, then
the ﬁnancial budgets, involves relatively little paper. • Sell more of what you currently oﬀer to your now is the time to focus on your plan.”
Having a vision, annual goals, targets and existing customers. This is about selling skills,
milestones identiﬁed as stepping stones to the use of displays and promotional activity. Putting your plans into action
vision, is simple but highly eﬀective. Writing down • Introduce diﬀerent product ranges to not only You need an action plan for each of the strategies
your strategies and action plan and reviewing it increase sales to existing customers, but also to that you have chosen. For instance, you might
decide to completely upgrade your website in There are several things to consider when going some investigation is needed before any decision
order to improve your online sales. To achieve this down this road: is made.
someone needs to do something about it. A sobering thought is that the majority of
Your action plan should be concise and cover The opportunity collaborative business relationships fail. This is why
each of your strategies: You will need to identify an opportunity. You may it’s so important to do your groundwork ﬁrst. Be
want to collaborate on a one-oﬀ event such as prepared to put the time and eﬀort into making
• What needs to be done? a trade fair or you may see that there are longer the partnership work and you stand a good chance
• Who is responsible for making sure it term activities such as setting up a website, where of succeeding.
gets done? collaboration could help you share costs and
• When should this activity be completed? expertise. In a nutshell:
• What resources will be needed, including • Identify the business opportunity;
money, people, equipment etc, in order to get Trust • Choose your partner carefully;
it done? This is a diﬃcult one as it only truly forms with • Spend time getting to know them and their
• How will you know that it has been experience. Ultimately you will need to trust business;
completed successfully? partners, sometimes with sensitive information • Take advice;
about your own business. Not only that, you will • Be clear about the risks and beneﬁts.
Reviewing your progress need to trust that the person you collaborate
This is a process that is often overlooked but, you with will fulﬁl their responsibilities on your joint A helping hand is there – grasp it
should assess progress, ideally at least monthly. projects or ventures. There will inevitably be a You might want to bounce your ideas oﬀ someone
Typically, you should look at what you, your staﬀ or division of labour and you are unlikely to be able to get a reality check and see if there are aspects of
anyone else involved were meant to do during the to supervise, hands-on, the things that the other your plan that you hadn’t thought about. Or you
period, and whether and how well it was done. You person is doing. If you, as a sole trader, want to may just need help with practical business skills
should also check progress against ﬁnancial targets collaborate with other sole traders, understanding such as ﬁnance, business planning or marketing. Or
and budgets. the other person’s style of doing business, you may need to ﬁnd a good supplier to help you
But remember, customers’ needs, shopping habits vision, view of the world, their values, beliefs with a speciﬁc task such as designing your website.
and local conditions are constantly changing, so at and behaviours will be important for eﬀective This is where Business Link can help. The
this stage you should decide if the action plan is collaboration. programme of workshops will give you all the
still relevant given the events or changes that may business skills you need to help grow your business.
have occurred (or are likely to occur) and amend as Skills match In addition you can arrange a one-to-one meeting
necessary. One of the big advantages of business with an adviser to analyse your needs and if you are
You should also identify and share the lessons collaboration is that you can beneﬁt from skills looking for a supplier then they can help you ﬁnd
learned from the actions you have taken, which and competencies that you don’t have. This doesn't the perfect match through the supplier database. A
will improve the way things are done in the future. happen automatically; drawing up a ‘skills map’ and
Therefore, the four stages are: Plan, Action, Review checking each potential partner’s skills in order to “One option for developing your business
and Act on the outcome of the review. match the skills you need with those available is a without taking on too much additional
crucial part of the preparation stage. ﬁnancial risk is collaboration. You may have
Collaboration So yes it is deﬁnitely an option to consider… met someone at an event or know another
As we’ve already mentioned, one option for It is widely accepted that business co-operation retailer and think that you could work
developing your business without taking on too or collaboration is a valid strategy for growing a together .”
much additional ﬁnancial risk is collaboration. business. There are huge beneﬁts to be had from
You may have met someone at an event or know utilising the synergy of complementary businesses
another retailer and think that you could work as well as potential economies of scale. Further information
together. You could, for example, share the costs …but don't go into it blindfolded. For more details on all Business Link services,
of a stand at a trade fair, or work with other retail including details of events in your area, visit
outlets in your area to promote special discount We have only scratched the surface and looked at www.businesslink.gov.uk or telephone
days or develop a website with another business. a few aspects, but even so it should be clear that +44 (0)845 600 9006.
Jonathan James speaks to Attire Bridal
about his fast-growing bridal brand
Tell us a little about your background. What relationship with my customers, has proven to saying that this is the wrong thing to do, but
prompted you to set up your company, Jonathan work as a winning combination. it’s not a route that I wanted to follow. Retailers
James Couture Bridal? wishing to become a stockist of my label are
Having researched many bridal retailers over a Tell us a little about your current collections required to purchase eight gowns from the
number of years, I felt that there was a need for a - how you would you describe them? collection. They then have a full 12 month selling
diverse range of bridal gowns that gave retailers I wanted the 2009 “ICON” Collection to epitomise period. My retailers have found this to be a sensible
the ability to change the design to suit their brides’ 1950s glamour, so it features soft gathered skirts way of working as they are able to judge the
requirements. Every bride wants that slight touch with lots of movement, but a twist of modern collection in their store from the outset and most
of individuality to their gown and my collection day fashion. The 2009 collection has proved most have added further styles to their range throughout
allows retailers to work with their bride to achieve successful, and the images have captured the look I the year by listening to their brides’ requirements.
the perfect look and, in turn, allows the bride wanted perfectly.
to play an important part in creating her gown How do you promote your business?
should she so wish. What are your best-selling designs? Currently I have a team of sales consultants that
As I try to make each collection as diverse as visit bridal retailers in their own stores to promote
Jonathan James Couture Bridal was only possible, it’s tough to say which styles have outsold the collections. Again, I came to this decision from
launched in March 2006. Was it diﬃcult to others due to the fact that my gowns reﬂect a listening to bridal retailers’ requirements. My
convince retailers to take on a new label? bride’s individuality. However, for the fairytale retailers ﬁnd that it is a more leisurely way of
Obviously launching a new label in an already bride “Sylvie” has been fantastic and has been purchasing your collection and minimises the
saturated market was tough, but I’m a great ordered in a wide range of colours by retailers. chance of possibly buying styles that you may
believer in working closely with your customers “Demeter” and “Rula” have also been fantastic already have similar in-store. National advertising
and oﬀering something fresh and new to retailers. I gowns this season. is also extremely important to me and my label. If
understand that the purchasing of a new designer advertising is to be successful then it has to be in
label is at a risk and, therefore, oﬀered all new How often do you launch new lines? the right place. I am very happy with my current
retailers as much support as possible with designer This question comes back to working closely with advertising choices as the results are to be seen
days and targeted national advertising. I’m proud to your retailers. I only release one collection per year through my retailers’ sales.
have stores stocking my label and advertising the as, during my research into bridal retailers, I
fact, but the most important thing is that retailers discovered that retailers cannot keep up with How are you being aﬀected by the current
are making a fantastic mark up and successfully certain levels of purchasing that are required by economic climate (if at all) and what steps are you
selling the gowns. This, teamed with a great other bridal designers or manufacturers. I’m not taking to minimise its impact?
I’m a great believer in turning a negative into a areas. I always consider the fact that my stockists my retailers. All retailers are given a login and
positive. I think everybody is being aﬀected by have invested in my label and my brand and they password into the website where they can access
the current climate, but if we are to succeed then need that to work for them. The last thing that I all of my business forms and promotional material;
we have to ﬁght it. We are working with retailers wanted to do was to create a situation where my they can also read news items and be informed
more than ever at the moment, promoting their own customers were ﬁghting each other for the of any changes that are coming up. From the
stores and the label with more designer days and same business and slashing prices to obtain it. I bride’s point of view the site is extremely user
innovative advertising. If you have a great product personally feel that this lowers the proﬁle of the friendly, allowing the bride to view images of all
and a good attitude then your product will sell. label and sends out a message of desperation from aspects of the gowns.
The answer is not to slash prices and try to beat the retailer to the bride. Business is hard enough to
the next man down; I feel it is to promote your obtain in the ﬁrst place without having the brides What can we expect from your brand in 2010?
business, be proud of your labels and stand your beating down the retailers on price. I am so excited about my 2010 collection “The
ground; this positive attitude will undoubtedly The collections were launched in Canada and Gem Collection”. I have introduced many new
emanate to your customers. Australia at the end of 2008, and this has proved a fabrics including new silks and organzas and
good move for me. I am still insistent of using the stunning lace. It’s under wraps at the moment but
Is this stockist base something you are hoping same business direction in those countries as I have is released for sale from June 2009 to retailers and
to grow and would you consider approaching in the UK. delivered to retailers from September 2009. A
stockists in other countries?
Of course, but within reason. I don’t want a When did you launch your website and who Further information
stockist on every corner because I don’t think that designed it? How does it support your business? Any new retailers may call Mr Robert Wilson to
this works. I am much happier to have a smaller My website was designed by ‘Spira Creative’. It make an appointment to view The Gem
stockist base with a larger gown collection, selling was of the upmost importance that the website Collection on +44 (0)7783 476 408. To ﬁnd out
across the board. Indeed, I have had to place some reﬂected the elegance and sophistication of my more about Jonathan James Couture, simply visit
retailers on a waiting list for availability in certain gowns. I also wanted to interact via the web with www.jonathanjamescouture.com
Through the looking glass
Debbie Williams, We speak to two bridal retailers to ﬁnd
Owner, Amychloe Bridal
out their differing views on the art of
Tel: +44 (0)1269 595 500 window display…
How often do you change your
I always try to change the window
display every week. If I just absolutely
love gown in the window and don’t
Director, Mamﬁi Bridal, Winner of Best Bridal Retailer 2009
want to take it out, sometimes it stays
Tel: +44 (0)1483 480 556
in for a little longer!
Do you have a particular day of the
How often do you change your window display?
week/time of day for this and why?
We try to change it at least once a week so that passing traﬃc does not
We don’t have a set time – just when
see the same thing every day.
the mood takes us.
Do you have a particular day of the week/time of day for this and why?
Is this something you feel is important? Why? Why not?
We tend to change the window on a day that is quieter so this changes
It’s very important. The window dress stirs up so many diﬀerent emotions
week by week! It needs a bit of time spent on it so we have to ﬁt it in
for all sorts of poeple. I really love the reaction we get from the passers by
as they see something new or something a bit outragous.
The older ladies get quite excited and even open the door and tell us
Is this something you feel is important? Why? Why not?
what they think!
Yes – the shop front is a large form of advertising, so it needs to be
appealing and attention grabbing.
Any success stories? For example, has a particular window display
attracted a surprising number of brides?
Any success stories? For example, has a particular window display
You would be amazed at how many calls we get about the dress in the
attracted a surprising number of brides?
window, even from men asking details so they can tell their girlfriend
A black and white themed display attracted a lot of attention, and if we
about a dress they have seen.
do something a little unusual it always gets commented upon.
Any window display disasters?
Any window display disasters?
No disasters as yet! Many brides call to ask the price and name of a gown
Only on a Saturday! If brides ask to try what’s in the window you end
they had seen when driving past. I often think ‘please don’t smash your
up with a few bare mannequins as your display!
car as you are looking in!’.
What elements would you say make a good window display?
What elements would you say make a good window display?
A great dress and not too much clutter! A
I think all you need for a good window display is a fabulous gown and
nothing else. Keep it simple and let the gown do all the talking, this looks
TOP TOPS * Let the dress speak for itself.
* Have some sparkle to catch the light.
* Don’t make the display too fussy. * A well placed mirror if the dress has back detail.
* Always place one of your most eye-catching dresses in the window. * A couple of accessories will often complete the picture.
Bridal Dress Collection
www.trudylee.co.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 01707 643633
The A r t of the Dre ss
The stunning new collection
is now available
Please phone our sales team for an appointment.
+ 44 (0) 1424 427284
www.victoriakaygowns.co.uk | email@example.com
These gorgeous ﬁshtail
gowns provide the perfect
ﬁt for discerning brides
+44 (0)20 8888 8833
A stunning and
of bridal gowns. Please
contact us to make an
appointment to view or
call our UK Sales Agent
Phil Swift on
formally Eva Jordan Bridal
formally Samantha Jane Bridesmaids
All dresses available in Taffeta & Satin
Over 40 colour ways - from £69.00
For more details please contact our
UK agent Phil Swift on 07984 876330
+44 (0)1909 774 471
BLU @ MORI
+44 (0)1476 54
+44 (0)1254 279 766
08 262 62 dom.com
+44 (0)19 unitedking
+34 932 378 015
+44 (0)1792 564 710
27 851 45
+44 (0)17 o.uk
+44 (0)1621 78
+45 (0)9893 0144
E B ternity
Bridal wholesale £85 - £299
Bridesmaids wholesale £49 - £89
Bridesmaids available in over
60 colours & 5 fabrics
Bridal wholesale £139 - £375
Evening wear / MoB wholesale £95 - £159
Stock available of all collections
for immediate delivery
Client only online warehouse
to view stock & account information
View our Spring 2010 collections at
Moda this August 9th-11th &
BBEH this September 13th-15th
Promwear wholesale £75 - £165
Studio 10 Valley House Hornbeam Park
Harrogate England HG2 8QT
Tel: +44 (0) 870 770 7670 Fax: +44 (0) 870 770 7610
ANGELINA FACCENDA @ MORI LEE
+44 (0)1476 541 116
BY CARL M
PURE BRIDAL BY RO
+44 (0)8707 701 024
+44 (0)20 8838
07 701 02
+44 (0)87 .co.uk VICTORIA JANE
ww w.romanti +44 (0)1476 541 113
To see stockist list, download brochure or view more styles visit
www.veromia.co.uk or for a free copy of our brochure or further
information email firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel: 020 8554 6436
Protecting your Business
The current economic downturn is not something anyone can afford
to ignore, particularly with no signs of improvement in the foreseeable
future. During this period of economic uncertainty, reviewing and
streamlining the ﬁnancial outgoings of your business is an obvious
course of action, with your insurance premiums being one of the
ﬁrst areas you might look at to reduce costs. Reviewing your policy
is something that should be encouraged by your insurance provider
and can be undertaken at any time and should be free of charge.
Here Jim Pittman, ACII Chartered Insurance Broker of T.H. March
& Co Limited discusses the importance of the correct insurance
cover that will see you through the current ﬁnancial downturn.
Does it pay to cut costs? insurance brokers offer and have built their
There are a number of ways in which you can reputations on. Discounted premium rates are
look to reduce your insurance premiums but not only unsustainable in the long-term but Jim Pittman ACII Chartered Insurance Broker
whether it is ﬁnancially prudent to change more importantly have the potential to put your of TH March & Co Limited explains why it pays
the terms of your insurance cover, even in business at serious risk due to gaps in cover; to protect your key assets.
the short term, is highly questionable. For risks you cannot afford to take.
example, understating your sums insured to Ensure all quotations are in writing and that
get a premium saving could have signiﬁcant Protecting your business the terms are clear and unambiguous;
long-term consequences as many policies Historically during a recession, retail businesses When comparing quotations with existing
impose penalties in the event of under insurance become more vulnerable making the likelihood providers make sure you are comparing ‘like for
at the time of a loss. Equally, taking a chance of a claim more probable. Having adequate, like’ for all aspects of the policy;
by dropping certain covers to achieve a small dependable insurance protection to cover all Make certain the proposed insurer is of
cost saving could become an expensive mistake eventualities is critical to the security of the sound, secure, ﬁnancial standing; and
when a claim occurs which is not insured. long-term future of your business. Be satisﬁed that a new provider will give you
the same high levels of customer service and
Your partner in business aftercare supplied by your current insurer. A
“Caution should prevail if you are It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but you
offered a cheaper alternative to your cannot afford to underestimate the role a
reputable and reliable insurance provider can “Taking a chance by dropping
existing insurance arrangements.” and should play in protecting your business.
A good provider will always be proactive
certain covers to achieve a small
Talk is cheap and work with you on an ongoing basis to cost saving could become an
It is important that as a business you negotiate identify any changes that need to be made expensive mistake when a claim
the best possible deals to achieve secure, to your policy to ensure that your business occurs which is not insured.”
competitive prices for all your ﬁnancial is fully protected – giving you peace of mind
business needs. However, caution should throughout these difﬁcult times.
prevail if you are offered a cheaper alternative
to your existing insurance arrangements. The Considering a review? Further information
commercial insurance market is currently If you are considering or are mid-way through a T.H. March & Co Limited, Insurance Brokers
ﬂooded with so called competitive deals that policy review, there are a number of points you is a well-established family business
may simply not provide the high standards need to consider before signing on the dotted founded in 1887. To ﬁnd out more visit the
of integrity and customer care that reputable line, including: website www.thmarch.co.uk
ALL THE ANSWERS
Jane Watson and Anthony Meier solve your retail worries…
Jane Watson has over 30 years’
experience in bridal retail,
previously selling dresses to dresses at the show, there was little point. Instead, I started taking just enough
Anthony Meier is the dresses for the mannequins and made a display so all the designs and colours
brides and supplying shops
principal of Anthony with Eva Jordan Couture Bridal complemented each other.
Meier & Co. Chartered and Samantha Jane Collection I always took my diary to make appointments.
Accountants, based in Bridesmaids and Proms. Don’t sit down with a book or newspaper; this is such bad manners as the
South East London. In response to retailer brides have made an eﬀort to come to see you. Make a big eﬀort to speak to
Anthony specialises in demand, seven years ago she as many people as you can; hand out leaﬂets, oﬀers, details of your next sale or
accounting, tax services and launched a consultancy ﬁrm, designer day and talk to them about these events. Ask the brides if they would
tax planning for small and ‘Starting a Bridal Business’, like to make an appointment to see the stunning collection you have in your
medium-sized businesses. to advise new and existing showrooms. Make a point of saying there is no obligation to buy and that they
Email Anthony Meier at: bridal retailers on all aspects of can just come along and have some fun. If they like you, they will want to buy
email@example.com running a successful shop. their dress from your showrooms.
Q I have been a sole trader for many years. Will I be better oﬀ tax-wise as a
A Anthony Meier says: The tax regime for a limited company is very
diﬀerent, and it is possible to pay far less tax via a limited company. There
are many variables however and not everyone’s trading circumstances suit a
company structure. The top rate of tax you could pay as a sole trader is 40%
plus 1% National Insurance [NI] on top, for proﬁts above £34,800. The top
Stand and deliver
rate of tax for a limited company is 22% on proﬁts up to £300,000. A limited
company will pay signiﬁcantly less tax and be able to retain more proﬁt, in
cash or assets. Any retained proﬁt will, therefore, belong to the company and
not the individual.
Q I have a wonderful bridal business, but I’m well aware that I need to
be doing as much as I can in this current economic climate to bring in
new brides-to-be. In a couple of months’ time there’s a large, well attended,
If you want to retain control of the proﬁt you must pay yourself from the
company. There are two ways you can do this: via dividends and via salary with
wedding fayre in my area and I’m seriously considering exhibiting. The stand is a PAYE scheme. You can draw up to £34,800 via dividends without tax, as
fairly expensive – do you have any advice on presentation and how to make the long as you have no other income. Any additional draw downs are then taxed
most of this opportunity? at 25%.
You can also pay yourself via salary, up to approximately £5,000 per annum,
without paying tax or NI. You will be liable for tax and NI above this limit,
A Jane Watson says: It is important to be seen as much as possible to
remind brides you are active in the bridal industry, so if your advertising
budget allows then ‘go for it’. Try to negotiate a special deal as organisers need
and the company as your employer will have to pay ‘employers’ NI. You can
top up the £5,000 salary by drawing dividends of up to £29,800 without tax, as
exhibitors to make the show a success. long as you keep your total income below £34,800.
You may be able to book two shows for a considerable discount; you have One of the advantages of using a limited company is the ﬂexibility it oﬀers
nothing to lose by asking and everything to gain if you can secure a good in choosing the amounts and manner of payments. It also gives you the
deal. I used to take lots of bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses to the shows, ﬂexibility of deciding when and in what tax year you are paid which provides
then I decided it was such hard work and, as the brides couldn’t try on the plenty of scope for further tax planning.
Tackling time wasters
Q My bridal business is located in a very popular university town with
plenty of passing trade. Unfortunately, it also means I attract a lot of
‘time-wasters’ i.e. girls who, when asked, are very vague about the date of their
wedding and, after trying on several dresses, never return for a second look. I’m
well aware that some may be genuine, but it’s so frustrating. Do you have any
advice for me?
A Jane Watson says: This is a very diﬃcult situation. I would suggest that it
is acceptable to look without an appointment; however, in your personal
situation I would suggest that if they would like to try dresses on they will
need to make an appointment, and you will need a wedding date or function
date. Explain if they haven’t got a date, you will not know if you can supply
the dresses they may fall in love with; suggest it is best not to start trying
on dresses before they have a date as the dress may be discontinued if the
wedding is too far ahead.
Young girls looking at prom dresses should be accompanied by a parent or
person paying for the dress.
Make it a rule that groups of young girls are welcome to look but must
return with the person paying for the dress before trying the dresses on.
Should they ﬁnd the dress they wish to purchase, the adult will be there to
pay. Put a polite, clear notice on the door. If you want some help with your
sign to put in your window, please email me with an example and I will make
some additional suggestions.
I am a sole trader and feel like I am paying too much tax. Do you have
Anthony Meier says: There are many ways to save tax. The most obvious
one is claiming all business expenses and retaining all receipts. There
are many legitimate expenses you can claim for that are not widely known,
like ‘use of home as oﬃce’. If you do any work at home, you can claim for a
percentage of your home utility bills. You can also claim for stationery, interest
on a business loan, credit card interest on credit card purchases for your
business, accountancy fees, legal fees, bad debts, travelling including hotels and
subsistence while away, and many other types of expense.
Every business expense you can claim reduces your proﬁt and your tax.
Make sure your accountant notes down all your expenses and submits them to
the tax oﬃce. A
If you have a question about any aspect of your business, simply write to Q&A Special,
Attire Bridal magazine, Broseley House, Newlands Drive, Witham, Essex
CM8 2UL. Alternatively, send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW WEBSITE: www.elizabethdickensveils.co.uk
in the world wide web
Award-winning retailer and columnist, Abigail Neill, reﬂects on her
recent website redesign…
ensure that all of my sites have performed well with
good meta tags, meta descriptions, keywords and
relevant content. It’s worth remembering that there
are two aspects to successful web design; ﬁrstly its
actual design and secondly how it performs (from
the user’s viewpoint and from an SEO viewpoint).
Mackman Group had promised to tick the technical
boxes and apply a fresh new style to my site and it
was time to see the results…
Oh no! Running late as usual! This was one important. They listened attentively to my Sat Nav issues aside I arrived in time.
business meeting I didn’t want to be late for. Thank explanative pleas for a website which would ‘invite Unexpectedly, I realised I was really excited. Bruce
goodness for Sat Nav. I typed in the postcode that the customer in’ and carefully reﬂect our business and Gemma opened the meeting by professionally
would take me to Mackman Marketing Group in personality in a friendly and professional way. I reiterating the design brief and reminding me that
Sudbury and cast my mind back to the time that Sat explained what I felt was wrong with my current it was important to be honest if I wasn’t keen. This
Nav mistakenly took me to the wrong church on site and Bruce reassuringly and knowledgably was in between my impatient ﬁdgeting and nervous
the day of a friend’s wedding! To say that was an reiterated why it didn’t work. Comically he chatter - I said ‘Oh God, will I like it? I so want
embarrassingly late arrival is an understatement. My commented that our meet the team photographs to like it, what if I don’t?...okay I’m building it up
husband and I approached the church doors as the made us look like Estate Agents which (especially in now, just show me...’ On reﬂection I suppose it was
happily married couple stepped gloriously out bells this climate) probably isn’t a good look. a tad embarrassing that I should have to literally
ringing and confetti ﬂying! Two locations with A business website is a virtual shop window hold back tears of joy when the new design ﬁnally
the same name 35 miles apart meant that we had and a well designed site is essential, especially in a ﬂashed up on their widescreen plasma. Reaching
missed the all important ‘I do’s’. I was upset and, competitive industry. There are many factors that for a tissue (and blaming a non-existent cold) I
sadly for our friendship, so were the newlyweds. contribute to a successful bridal business and under conﬁrmed that I was absolutely thrilled! Thrilled
Needless to say Sat Nav and I don’t relate the marketing umbrella I believe that a high-quality and really relieved. I had high expectations of these
particularly well any more; however, I tentatively and visually appealing website is crucial. Brides of guys and they had deﬁnitely delivered.
continued with postcode entry. I was on my way today carry out extensive wedding research online, At last I have a great new site that the staff and
to meet with Bruce again - the likeable and trendy join community chat forums and increasingly I can be really proud of and one that I don’t think
looking web designer complete with curly hair prefer to e-mail their enquiries. Sometimes dubbed I’ll ever want to change; instead it will evolve as the
and skinny tie who was due to unveil his creative ‘techno bride’, more often than not these ladies will business grows and already I have plans for new and
concept for the latest Abigail’s Collection website. most certainly check us out online before making interesting content. Currently I believe it reﬂects
Although my previous three sites have been an appointment. our business personality perfectly and looks really
adequate, I felt that it was time for a complete Ranking on the ﬁrst page of Google (or other inviting, let’s just hope that our techno brides and
design overhaul. I wanted our site to have more search engines) when newly engaged brides-to-be grooms agree. A
personality and I wanted customers who viewed excitedly commence their on line wedding shop
the site to ‘want’ to come and see us. In short, that search is a crucial part of driving business physically Mackman Group can
was Bruce’s mission. through our shop doors. Equally as important but be contacted on
Those of you read my columns may know I from a user’s viewpoint there are many factors that +44 (0)1787 388 038.
am extremely passionate about our business. Poor contribute to the sometimes unconscious decision Visit www.mackman
Bruce quickly understood that too, especially after to stay online and ultimately pick up the phone or group.co.uk or e-mail
our ﬁrst meeting just two weeks earlier during unfavourably, to click off and ﬁnd another more info@mackman
which he took a ‘design brief ’. Brief it was not! appealing business. Likeable design, uncomplicated group.co.uk
Apparently that meeting should have taken an hour navigation, fast download speed and relevant
but I effortlessly extended it to three and a half and content are just some of the topics that an expert Further information
probably could have stayed longer if it were not for will consider during the design process. Abigail Neill runs Abigail’s Collection,
the fact he had run out of tea, empathetic smiles Of the many acronyms, ‘SEO’ (search engine based in Colchester, Essex.
and nodding power. optimisation) is perhaps one of the most useful Tel: +44 (0)1206 574 575
Understanding our business was obviously to understand. This knowledge has enabled me to www.abigailscollection.co.uk
We speak to Sarah Penrose, owner of A Vintage
Wedding in Essex, about her unique bridal offering
Tell me a little about your How did you decide on the location of your store?
background. What prompted you to It really happened by default! I use a studio located opposite my parents’ home
open a bridal studio? in Essex at the moment; this allows me to keep overheads down so I can pass
Although I don’t have any direct this saving onto my brides.
experience of selling wedding gowns,
I do have a background in sales which Have you had any teething problems? If so, what were they and how
stands me in good stead with regards to did you overcome them?
customer service. When I started looking I’ve been very lucky as I’ve not really had any teething problems once I decided
at gowns for my own wedding, which this was what I wanted to do. I always try to turn every negative into a positive
took place in April 2008, particularly or learning experience.
after arriving home after an exhibition,
I could not remember seeing anything What advice would you give other people opening a bridal boutique?
unique or outstanding. The dresses were The advice I would give is, if it is your dream then go for it. It is great doing
all beautiful, but nothing stood out. something you are truly passionate about. I love every day I spend sourcing
Eventually I found an amazing ‘Audrey beautiful vintage gowns and liaising with brides-to-be.
Hepburn style’ gown made by Alan
Hannah. I then felt an inexorable pull
towards vintage, which inspired me to
set up a bridal studio that specialised in
gowns from diﬀerent eras.
How do you source your vintage gowns?
At ﬁrst it was a case of trial and error. Most of my gowns come from the
States, but it’s certainly not without risk as it is very diﬃcult to tell the
condition of a gown from a picture. I now tend to buy from a handful of
reliable contacts so I know my dresses will all be in good condition.
Do you have a favorite dress in-store at present? If so, what is it
Yes, my favourite gown at present is a lovely 1950s prom dress which I know
will be snapped up shortly by one of my customers. Every time I look at it, I
marvel at how beautiful and unique it is. It has been very well cared for and is
in amazing condition. I always wonder about its original owner and the prom
it may have attended.
What designers do you currently stock, and from what eras?
I try to buy famous designer vintage dresses, and so I am researching and
learning all the time. I have a fabulous Will Steinman dress in stock at the
moment. It is gorgeous, white and frothy, ideal for someone wanting an
exclusive wedding dress. To compliment the vintage gowns, I also have a range
of samples by current designers including Charlotte Balbier, Jenny Packham,
Vera Wang, Ian Stuart and Sassi Holford. This gives my brides-to-be a broad
range of dresses to choose from. We are currently sourcing new designers and
have a good selection of prom dresses.
What is your favorite era and why?
I have to say the 1950s is by far my favourite era as I love the elegant and
What do you enjoy most about your role and the bridal business How would you like to see your business develop in the next couple
in general? of years?
Every time I receive my dresses it’s like opening a window into someone’s I would like to have an opportunity to work with or introduce some young
past. I often ﬁnd myself wondering what the woman was like who wore the designers. I would also like to expand the business when the time is right. A
dress. I wonder how she felt in the dress… it’s so interesting. I also love being
surrounded by gorgeous fabrics - there is such an array of amazing coloured
silks, satins and lace. I get a thrill every time I look at the range I have carefully
selected. I also love meeting new people and, since the launch of the business,
I have met some really great girls. Even if they do not buy from me, it’s always
an interesting experience.
Are you planning to hold in-store events?
Yes, once I am more established I would like to have regular open days. I
would also like to run fashion shows in the future.
What do you feel makes your bridal store unique and how do you
We try to research in advance of an appointment the style, colour and era a
client has in mind so that their journey is not wasted. We set aside enough
time so that the client feels at ease, and like to oﬀer a really personal service to
make the bride feel special.
How often do you update your window displays?
Working from a studio, we do not have a window as such, our website is
our window so we hope to maximise its potential by updating it as often as
possible. I am planning to open a shop eventually, rather than operating a
studio, but it has to be in the right place, and I want to stay in Essex.
When did you launch your website and how does it complement your
I launched the website pretty much straight away; however, this has also been
a case of trail and error as I was hoping to list each piece. Sadly I feel the FURTHER INFORMATION
pictures often don’t do the dresses the justice they deserve and my stock is To ﬁnd out more about A Vintage Wedding, simply visit the website at
changing so often I can’t keep up with it. I am in the process of re thinking the www.avintagewedding.co.uk. Alternatively, telephone +44 (0)1376 334 627.
website, so watch this space!
Breathe New Life & Personality into your
Online Marketing with our
Unique Fairytale Packages
Heart & What is your favourite shoe from your
current collection and why?
My favourite is the Bridget – tall and elegant
with a beautiful shape. I can’t wear it – it makes
me look like a 6ft 3in giraffe!
What is your best selling shoe from your it a little different, it looks great on and is a true
current collection. Why do you think this is? contemporary classic.
Our best selling shoe without question is the From Else, the fabulous Flirtini is a favourite of
Maisie style – a fabulous peep toe with plenty of mine. It’s a decadent platform sandal with va va
things going for it. It’s high – about 3½ inches, voom heels – it’s great for the modern bride or
Leading bridal footwear it has a lovely bit of bling, it holds the foot, gives bridesmaid.
suppliers talk trends plenty of coverage and is amazingly comfortable. As for Couture, I love this new collection, but
It has been our consistent best seller since we my absolute favourite is Santi - another peep
Bridget by introduced it in 2007. We love it and our brides toe with a lustrous vintage style diamanté ring. It
Filippa Scott love it too. reﬂects my love of all things vintage and suits so
many different styles of dresses
What can we expect from the new Lastly, from Hassall, Buttercup is a lovely
(2010) collection? style, very unusual and perfect with lace or plain
Lots of beautiful new styles! It is always a dresses. It can be tied with either an organza or
challenge to come up with something new and chiffon bow, or the bride can choose her own,
amazing whilst working with a lot of ivory silk, but making this a truly individual choice
we added in some really stunning new designs.
Plenty of retro styling with some slightly chunkier What is your best selling shoe from the
heels this season, plenty of strapping and current collection. Why do you think this is?
some really lovely highlights of diamanté. We’ve The new Couture collection is selling very well.
updated our ballerina style by putting her on a Brides love the bling this year, and styles such
little kitten heel which I think will be really cute and as Peto and Lacour are especially popular, with
we’ve added some serious glamour too. Swarovski crystal being very well received.
What can we expect from the new
Maisie by Filippa Scott Diane Hassall, (2010) collection?
Designer, Lots more bling! The new collection will again be
Filippa Scott, Rainbow Club inspired by the catwalk, and eveningwear trends
Creative Director, Tel: +44 (0)1392 207 040 as well as bridal will play their part. There will be
Filippa Scott Web: www.rainbowclub.co.uk more fashion elements, with platform soles, ﬂoral
Tel: +44 (0)1502 724 333 trims, and plenty of sparkle.
Web: www.ﬁlippascott.com What would you say are the top shoe trends
for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,
What would you say the top shoe trends are and what trends can we expect for 2010? Ruth Shaw,
for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric, 2009 sees lots of contemporary detail from Designer,
and what trends can we expect for 2010? Swarovski crystal trims to bold buckles and Harriet Wilde
Shoes have gone a little crazy in the last year with pleats. Shoes have more detailing, and are an Tel: +44 (0)207 682 2316
heels reaching skyscraper proportions. Fringeing, integral part of the wedding outﬁt. Heels are Web: www.harrietwilde.com
tassling, rufﬂes and over blown detailing mean higher, with the fashionable conical heel making
that shoes are everything this season. There several appearances. Toe shapes are varied What would you say the top shoe trends are
is no way you can be a shrinking violet in this as the petite point continues to be popular for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,
season’s styles. Platforms, two tone, studding, especially on lower heels, while the round toe is and what trends can we expect for 2010?
wider straps, thinner straps, embellishment, also in evidence. Peep toes are hugely popular, Beginning with 2009, high heels and platforms
there is a style for everyone out there. Bridal and skinny straps are a lovely way to make bridal are the most popular constructions, while peep
shoes continue to be pretty and pretty important! shoes reﬂect the catwalk. Asymmetric straps are toes, round toes and points are popular toe
Diamantés, baubles, rusching and folding; there especially new, reﬂecting the Grecian style seen shapes. Ivory duchess satin is the fabric of
is a little bit of everything out there. The biggest in many of the new bridal gowns. choice for Harriet’s brides, girls are asking for the
trend I’ve seen so far is the use of non bridal shoes to be dyed to the colour of their gown,
shoes for your wedding outﬁt. Many of the stylists What is your favourite shoe from the current they are requesting an exact colour match.
have picked up on it and I am sure the trend will collection and why? Trends for 2010, court shoes are a key fashion
continue to grow particularly as there are SO From Rainbow Club, the new Mia is such an trend, more extreme platforms and sculpted
many amazing shoes out there currently. elegant shape, and the asymmetric strap makes heels, with an embellishment overload.
Mable from Harriet Wilde My favourite style from Benjamin Adams has Shoes will continue to be very sculptural, with
to be Scarlet as it is such an elegant platform; as much emphasis on heels and shapes as
I wore it recently to a ball and I felt so tall, on the upper itself. Materials will be sleek, with
comfortable and cannot wait to wear them again! pared down uppers and metallic inﬂuences.
It has also been a winner with our shorter brides! These shapes will continue into 2010, but with
From Belle, my favourite has to be Moonstone; new elements such as decorative surfaces,
this beautiful peep toe has a matching bag and is embellishment and natural materials softening the
so versatile and is timeless in its design. edge. Silhouettes will be very elegant, with an
My favourite Pink style has to be Pastel, a emphasis on line and detailing. This will translate
simple slingback with a pointy toe. Whilst the pink well into bridal, combined with elements of the
What is your favourite shoe from the current collection is fashionable and fun I think this style key trends.
collection and why? has broad appeal to the whole bridal party.
My favourite, well I have to confess I have two, What is your favourite shoe from your current
Alex because I got married in these, so they have What is your best selling shoe from the collection and why?
great sentimental value. They were great as our current collection. Why do you think this is? That’s a tricky one! I have several favourites, for
wedding was outside and the wedge worked The Winslet shoe from Benjamin Adams has different reasons. One style I’m particularly fond
so much better than a heel, and Maud, I wore proved particularly popular as this style really of is Amelie, as it has such a 1920s feel, with
these for the party after the wedding, they offered mirrors what is being seen on the red carpet. It the classic Mary Jane style and button, but I love
glamour and went beautifully with my vintage has sold well through the stores and will stay in the simplicity of styles like Mimi and Rosa, which
‘Fifties’ gown. the collection for 2010. demonstrate how my shoes can be worn just
From Belle, Moonstone, my favourite, is a as easily with a pair of jeans as with a beautiful
What is your best selling shoe from the best-seller as it has a great heel height, delicate wedding dress!
current collection. Why do you think this is? detail and is made from silk duchesse for only
Mable has been in great demand. Girls love the £74.95 rrp. What is your best selling shoe from your
net corsage ﬂower and the platform; the shoes The Pink best seller is Barbie, a fantastic high current collection? Why do you think this is?
makes them feel glamorous. heeled platform with simple diamante buckle. When we ﬁrst launched there were a few clear
This is a wonderful, fashionable on-trend bestsellers, but now we’re in a variety of stores
What can we expect from the new bridesmaid shoe. we’re seeing good sales across the collection.
(2010) collection? I think because the collection isn’t deﬁned by
Now that would be telling…court shoes with neat What can we expect from the new either age or high fashion it appeals to a real
vintage points and an elegant Fifties stiletto heel, (2010) collection? cross section of women who all like different
dolly rounds toes, and more platforms are on the 2010 will be very exciting for our portfolio. We footwear styles.
cards for Harriet’s designs. Embellishment is key, love to include some real show stoppers which
with inspiration from Thirties Hollywood movie push the boundaries for bridal footwear and we What can we expect from the new (2010)
stars; think lavish pearls, diamonds, sparkly continue to lead the ﬁeld with innovative design collection?
marine blue swarovski gems, and feathers, a girl amongst the cobbling pack! The new autumn/winter collection has been
can’t have too much luxury. designed to compliment the current collection,
with a beautiful selection of closed toe styles
including an on-trend, Victorian style shoe-boot.
Nicola Newberry, The low-heel collection offers an elegant solution
Paradox London to girls who are taller than their partners, or those
Tel: +44 (0)208 509 0001 who just don’t do heels! The round toe styles are
Web: www.paradoxlondon.com soft and feminine on a selection of heel heights,
and the lace styles compliment one of this
What would you say the top shoe trends are season’s key trends perfectly! A
for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric, Rosa by
and what trends can we expect for 2010? Rachel Simpson
Paradox London boasts a stable of three bridal
footwear brands which are available worldwide:
Pink, Belle and Benjamin Adams. I would say the
top shoe trends for 2009 have been peep toes
across all three collections, especially with the Rachel Simpson,
vintage and diamanté trims. The trends for 2010 Designer,
will feature platforms. The collections are all made Rachel Simpson Ltd
from dyeable silk duchesse and satin and we will Tel: +44 (0)121 428 2698
see stunning round toe shapes coming through Web: www.rachelsimpsonshoes.co.uk
the Belle and Pink collections.
What would you say the top shoe trends are
What is your favourite shoe from the current for 2009 in terms of shape, style and fabric,
collection and why? and what trends can we expect for 2010?
We speak to Canadian designer, Lea-Ann Belter, about her classic bridal collection
that is now ﬁnding its way into UK bridal retailers...
Tell us a little about your background. What In 2008 we opened our ﬁrst retail account in
prompted you move into bridal fashion? London and they have done extremely well
I studied fashion design in Toronto – my ﬁrst with our collection. Based on these factors
real job after I graduated was to design my we decided to show in Harrogate since we
now sister-in-law’s wedding gown. That was knew this was a market we wanted to grow
20 years ago. and we were very well received.
When did you set up your company and how has Would you say the British bridal market
it evolved since this time? diﬀers from the Canadian bridal market?
I started Lea-Ann Belter in 1989; this is I would say they are quite similar where
my 20th year in business. My business has my gowns are concerned. I like to focus
evolved from a single room showroom to an on simple, classic, elegant, romantic well
international company with 40 plus accounts constructed silk gowns so my appeal is
in North America and Europe as well as a to a classic bride with good taste – isn’t
successful ﬂagship boutique in Toronto’s Queen Street East neighbourhood. that universal?
I was named Canadian Wedding Gown Designer of the Year for 2007 so I
would say my business has evolved quite a bit! How do you promote your business?
We have a fabulous website which
Would you say your dresses have a signature look i.e. what distinguishes each gown is www.lea-annbelter.com and we
as a ‘Lea-Ann Belter design’? also advertise in Martha Stewart
I like to think of my gowns as simply romantic. The details on my gowns are Weddings (“THE” bridal magazine
understated and classic so that they accentuate the bride’s beauty. I like to in North America, The Knot (print
design a gown that will have people talking about how beautiful the bride and electronically), Wedding
looked – not just how beautiful the dress was. Bells and several regional North
American publications. Our
Tell us a little about your current collection - how you would you describe it? strongest advertising tool is by far
I would describe our current collection as classic, simple, elegant and saleable. our website.
Our gowns are all 100% silk (including linings) cut and ﬁnished in our atelier
in Toronto. We do not manufacture oﬀ shore therefore we can guarantee the
quality and workmanship of each gown is up to my very high standards. We
can accommodate custom requests.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love being able to create gowns that help a bride’s dreams become reality.
What are your best-selling designs?
We have several best sellers and they change all the time – currently our top
ﬁve reorder gowns are Mathia, Isabella, Allison, Alyssa and Tess.
How often do you launch new lines?
Twice a year – a larger collection in the fall (10 to 12 gowns) and smaller
collection in the spring (6-8 gowns).
What prompted you to exhibit at the British Bridal Exhibition for the ﬁrst time
and how did retailers in the UK respond to the collection?
We have always received a tremendous amount of interest from brides in the
UK mostly through our website but also from our print ads in North America.
How are you being aﬀected by
the current economic climate (if
at all) and what steps are you
taking to minimise its impact?
I think everyone is being
aﬀected by the current
economic climate. We have
not seen our business slow
down but we are sensitive to
our retail partners’ concerns
and for this reason have
designed gowns that are
beautiful, wearable and
saleable at a good value. It
is important to maintain
an open communication
with our retail partners so
that we can bring them
the gowns their brides
are looking for. We do
not discontinue gowns
so stores can sell from
indeﬁnitely. As long
as we can get the
materials to make a
gown we will make it
– our partners do not
need to worry about
How many stockists do you
have in the UK? Is this stockist base something you are hoping to
grow and which other countries would you like to approach to stock your designs?
We are happy to say we now have three oﬃcial stockists and are in
negotiations with several more. Yes, we absolutely want to grow our account
base in the UK and across Europe as well.
When did you ﬁrst launch your website and who designed it? How does it support
We launched our website ﬁve years ago and it is constantly being updated and
reworked by Evoke Solutions in Toronto. Our website is instrumental to the
success of our business – we get well over 1000 hits per month many of which
translate into email inquiries. We list all of our retail partners on our website
and link our website to theirs so it is not only a marketing tool for us, it is also
a marketing tool for our partners.
What can we expect from your brand in 2009/2010?
Our collection will reﬂect what we do best as a company – beautiful, classic,
well constructed gowns that are easy to wear and easy to sell. A
To ﬁnd out about becoming a stockist, send an email to Karen Lackner at
The Blossom Collection
By Margaret Furber
A delightful new collection of beautiful hand made
contact Margaret at email@example.com
Clear Communication Building good relationships with your staﬀ, suppliers and customers
has never been as important as at this moment in time. Jane Watson
Brides will be impressed by any eﬀorts or
Suppliers will be looking for regular orders and promotions you oﬀer to make their visit to your
prompt payments. showrooms memorable. Well presented showrooms
If you have a cash ﬂow problem talk to your will inspire conﬁdence to the bride and her family.
suppliers and explain honestly what your situation Perhaps oﬀer a three tiered payment scheme (I
is and ask them how they can help you. believe any more than three payments you would
If you avoid answering the phone you will miss need a credit license). A 50% deposit, the mid
customers wanting to make appointments and if payment of 20%, then the balance when dress
you don’t return calls from suppliers this will cause arrives at your premises. This may help your cash
a bad relationship. ﬂow and enable you to pay suppliers on time. If
possible, oﬀer out of hours appointments to secure
“Always try to visit the those important sales.
British Bridal Exhibition in When answering the phone “never say no”. If
a bride-to-be asks if you have a certain designer’s
Harrogate (BBEH) in March dresses in stock always say you have dresses very
and September, and try to similar so at least you have a chance of seeing the
bride and impressing her with your collections of
Staﬀ will be nervous about the possibility of losing plan your wedding fayres and dresses and service.
their employment; if you have good reliable staﬀ, promotions around these Always answer your phone, even when you
don’t avoid the subject, talk about it and make are with a customer. You can’t aﬀord to miss an
sure they are aware of their value and security dates. It is so important to
appointment to sell a bridal gown. If you don’t
within the company. Perhaps oﬀer a commission visit this show to keep up to answer the phone, the next shop will and they will
structured to increase sales, encouraging staﬀ to
close the sale rather than letting the customer
date with the current trends make that appointment you have just missed. A
casually walk away. and make contact with your “Answer your phone, even
Spend as much time as possible in your suppliers.”
showrooms as the business is only as good as you.
when you are with a customer.
Have staﬀ training days to keep all your staﬀ Ask suppliers how they can help; for example,
You can’t afford to miss an
well informed about your products. ask if a member of their company could attend appointment to sell a gown. If
a designer day in your showrooms. Alternatively, you don’t answer the phone,
“Brides will be impressed by see if they could oﬀer a free wedding dress so you
the next shop will and they will
could run a “free dress competition” for the Easter
any efforts or promotions you promotion within your showrooms. make that appointment you
offer to help make their visit to Always try to visit the British Bridal Exhibition
have just missed.”
your showrooms memorable. in Harrogate (BBEH) in March and September,
and try to plan your wedding fayres and
Well presented showrooms Further information
promotions around these dates. It is so important
To ﬁnd out more, simply call Jane Watson on +44
will inspire conﬁdence to the to visit this show to keep up to date with the
(0)1256 766 744 or visit www.bridalbusiness.
current trends and make contact with your
bride and her family.” suppliers.
co.uk or www.startingabridalbusiness.com
If you’ve enjoyed reading Attire Bridal magazine, you’ll love our on-line presence at
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the site is updated regularly with information to help you build your business.
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Your essential guid
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Industry News Bridal Trends
Available from: 26th June 2009 Retailer Interview
Advertising deadline: 12th June 2009
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The fabric of a great wedding…
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book is a beautifully presented collection Order samples swatches or full orders
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - www.michaelsbridalfabrics.co.uk
Hair Flair Rosemary Fox, Managing Director of Fox Jewellery and Rosie Fox
reveals what prompted her to launch a career in jewellery design…
Tell us a little Tell us a little about your current collection - how How many stockists do you have in the UK? Is this
about your you would you describe it? something you are hoping to grow and would you
background and I am very excited about the new collection. I have consider approaching stockists abroad?
what prompted worked hard to bring something new and original We currently sell to hundreds of shops throughout
you to set up your to the fashion industry and, so far, we have had the UK and Ireland. Yes, we are currently
company? an incredible response this season to our latest considering expanding outside the UK.
I have always designs. We have lots of vintage, statement crystal
had a passion for and freshwater pearls designs, where many designs How do you view the current market for bridal
jewellery and gem stones. I remember as a child have three hidden attachments on the back and accessories and what trends do you see emerging
loving all my grandmother’s and mother’s jewellery can therefore be worn as a necklace, a brooch and a over the coming months?
boxes and draping myself in whatever sparkled and hair accessory. I believe there will always be a strong demand
I could ﬁnd. for bridal accessories, though brides will now be
At the age of 17 I qualiﬁed as one of Europe’s What are your best-selling designs? looking for something special at a much more
youngest ever gemologists and was, therefore, From the new vintage crystal collection, the three aﬀordable price.
qualiﬁed to test gemstones for their qualities and in one accessories are selling incredibly fast as they As was strongly displayed on the bridal catwalk
authenticity. appeal to all ages and tastes. at the BBEH, crystal and vintage accessory designs
I then followed my other passion for the next will be very popular for the next few seasons.
three years at the London College of Fashion How often do you launch new lines?
where I learnt all about the fashion industry. I am always working on new designs and we bring When did you launch your website and who
With these qualiﬁcations, determination and my out new jewellery lines every two months. designed it? How does it support your business?
passion for what I love about my business I have I have been working with an ecommerce company
used my experiences and qualiﬁcations equally to What prompted you to take a stand for the ﬁrst called EROL and I had an excellent web designer
help me create my dream business. time at the British Bridal Exhibition this March? called Oliver West. My website deﬁnitely is a large
Word of mouth, I have heard some really part of supporting my business, not only with the
How has the product oﬀering changed since the complimentary reports about the show and felt ecommerce option but also so customers can view
launch of the company? this was a wonderful opportunity to show my new the current collection online.
Fox Jewellery & Rosie Fox launched two and a half designs to the bridal industry.
years ago and we now oﬀer hundreds of jewellery What can we expect from your brand in
lines each season, listening to what our customers How did retailers respond to your collection and 2009/2010?
want and in response providing stylish on-trend do you think you will continue to exhibit at trade Fox Jewellery and Rosie Fox will be expanding
new designs. shows in future? their current collection to oﬀer many new lines
We specialise in hair accessories but we have I have had a fantastic, positive response to my of outstanding designs from hair accessories,
increased our new collection to include brooches, collection and I am currently planning my diary necklaces and brooches to breathtaking
necklaces, ﬂower corsages and fascinators. around next season’s trade show. fascinators…keep your eyes peeled to the catwalks
you’ll be seeing lots more incredible designs
What do you enjoy most about your role? Do you currently oﬀer a bespoke, as well as coming from us over these next few months! A
I love every part of my role as the Managing wholesale service?
Director of Fox Jewellery and Rosie Fox. It is so No, we do not provide bespoke as I like to provide
rewarding to create designs, receive orders and then unique, high quality designs at very aﬀordable Further information
further receive emails from customers saying how prices so I can see as many people as possible To ﬁnd out more, call +44 (0)845 465 0400 or
much they adore their new accessory and can they enjoying our jewellery. We could not provide such a visit www.rosiefox.com
order some more. strong collection at our prices if they were bespoke.
Designer Bridal Gowns
25 Years O f Excellence
Enquiries: 020 8801 9797