Thursday, October 22, 2015

Insider interview: Helen Dickson

In our next Insider Interview, we chat to Helen Dickson, owner of bridal boutique DressPlace, about running a business and bridal fashions.

What’s your usual working day like?

Every day around 9am,  I walk into my beautiful shop and think to myself, how lucky I am. I have been feeling like this for over 6 years now and I don’t think I will ever lose this feeling. My shop is on 4 floors and I always have a walk around first thing, to make sure every room, is in perfect order. Sometimes I feel like Mr Selfridge! My 9 members of staff arrive at 9.45 am, ready to listen to my regular morning meeting to discuss the customer appointments due in that day. There is such a variety of customers that each and every one of them requires personal service. We may have some brides, some Mothers and some bridesmaids. In prom season there will be prom girls to look after and at Christmas time , the party frocks are in high demand. I oversee the day, making sure everyone is happy and smiling. At the end of the day we have a debrief, to see which dresses were favourites, and how many glasses of Prosecco were clinked, to celebrate a successful dream dress being found. At home time, I take a final look around and leave with very tired feet but with a smile on my face.

What was your dream job when you were younger?
I always wanted to be a chef. I trained at Catering College for 3 years and was fortunate to be able to go to Switzerland for work experience. I enjoyed it very much but once I started my family the unsociable hours were not child friendly, so I pursued other interests.

What's the best piece of career advice you've been given?

To never give up and to go for what you want, not what you are offered.

What's your number one style tip?
Always keep an open mind and never dismiss a style on the hanger. As a rule of thumb, the dresses you like on the hanger, or in the magazines, don’t look so good on you, and the dress you really don’t want to try on, is the one you fall in love with

If you weren't doing the career you are now, what do you think you would be doing?
I really have no idea, I would be very sad if I couldn’t have my shop. I like to think I would be doing something glamorous and still dealing with lovely brides and their families.

If someone was looking for a career change into your industry, how would you propose the best way is to start?
I suggest doing lots and lots of research. Find out all about the bridal designers, the dresses and the current trends. Read as many bridal magazines and blogs as you can, and invest in a specialist training course to learn the trade. Present yourself to your favourite bridal boutique and offer to work for free, for a few weeks, to prove your worth, and I’m sure they would take you on.

What's the best thing about your job?
After going through the whole process of the dress finding and the fittings , to see the smiling faces of the brides, mothers and bridesmaids ,on the wedding photos, on their special day.

What's the toughest part of your job?
Definitely trying to handle a jealous sister of the bride, an over enthusiastic Mother of the Bride, a grumpy Mother of the Groom and a group of bickering friends, all with differing opinions and desires.

Most proud career moment to date?
Being chosen as one of the 100 small businesses, for Small Business Saturday, and being invited to 10 Downing Street to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I truly hope I will still be in my shop. I will be nearly 70 years old then, and will probably be driving all my staff mad. My daughter will be taking over the day to day running, but I know I won’t be able to keep away from all the lovely customers.

Read more insider interviews here and look out for our next Insider Interview.


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