I named my business after a book written by Claire McCardell, one of my favourite designers of the 40's and 50's
One question i'm frequently asked is "how did you end up running a Retro dress Boutique" ? I must admit that I've asked myself the same question at times - so here is the definitive story...
What Shall I Wear ? was born out of my love for the amazing fashions and styles of the late 1940's, 50's and early 60's, combined with my passion for dressmaking and creating.
The Early Years
As a child, I used to watch the Saturday Matinee's - there was something magical about the "glorious technicolor", the beautiful leading ladies and of course, the amazing costumes. Being a child of the 70's, many of my own clothes were handmade by my mum, and I loved watching her sew. On my 12th Birthday, I got my first sewing machine and many a wild and wonderful creation was made, spending much of my pocket money in the remnant section at Boyes department store, Grimsby.
I decided there and then that I wanted to be a fashion designer, and recreate these gorgeous. glamorous and feminine styles from the films and I eventually found the ideal course at Nottingham Polytechnic, however, life choices and not having the confidence in myself to "follow my dreams" meant that I ended up down the "sensible" route of doing a degree in Social Psychology (more job prospects apparently) and following a very different career path.
It's now or never....
Fast forward a few years to my 40th Birthday (how did that happen !) and I guess i had a re-evaluation (let's not call it a crisis) and realised that I was not happy in my worklife and needed to make a change. I'd been selling my handmade creations online for a while in my spare time and decided that I'd actually quite like to make this my full time vocation ! however, I really needed a place to run my business from, as my office (kitchen table) was in real danger of collapsing due to the "stuff" on it. I happened to drive past a little studio up for rent at Meridian Point, Cleethorpes and phoned up to see if I could look round. That was in June 2014 and by August I was in !. I kept the name I'd initially thought of and started with opening at weekends and a few hours in the week (I was still working part time in the "day job") I soon realised that in retail, you can't just open your doors when you feel like it, so the following March, I had what could be described as a "sod it" moment and handed in my notice to the day job.
My first "publicity" shot
Well, here I (still) am. It's been a massive learning curve (I've definitely learnt how to survive with less money coming in) I've learnt (sadly) that not everyone who gives you a smile has your best interests at heart, that saying "yes" to everything isn't always the right option and that having your own business really is a rollercoaster of emotions (ask my husband) - but, I've also met some amazing, lovely, lovely people, learnt more about myself than any psychology degree could teach me and hopefully brought a little vintage sparkle to my customer's day, and do you know what ? I wouldn't change it for the world (okay maybe an occasional weekend off would be nice)
Two of my lovely customer's showing off their dresses from my exclusive collection
I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about my journey. If you would like to visit my shop, I'm based at Unit 7, Meridian Point Craft Centre, Cleethorpes DN35 0AR