Thank our lucky stars…๐Ÿคฉ

Hello lovely followers! Another week gone by.

Hope you are all well. How are you feeling about restrictions being lifted a little: excited, nervous,  relieved… anxious?? ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜•๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Yes?? Me too!!

My week has been pretty fully occupied with liaising with my wonderful assistant manager, Marie. We’ve been considering how we can put in place a Covid-secure risk assessment whilst still delivering an exemplary service.  It’s been difficult, as our USP is hands on design and our studio is full of beautiful items:  dresses,  veils, jewellery,  floral crowns, capes, belts and sparkly things galore! They all just reach out to you to be stroked, touched and tried on, but in our ” new normal” (I f@@ckjng hate that term ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ก) you now have to act like your super strict draconian parent is watching… “Look but do not touch” I hear my Granny’s voice in my head… “Look with your eyes not your fingers…”

So, we have scratched our heads and asked ourselves: what if this, what if that, how can we do this, how about that?? We feel we have come up with the best solution we can offer our wonderful clients whilst still keeping all safe in this trying time.

We will be opening via phone or messenger to do virtual consultations from 15th June. We’ll be looking after our existing brides in the studio throughout July and we will invite new brides from 4th July also.

We will be able to accommodate new brides on Tues, Thurs and Saturday initially (we do still have some availability in August) We will still offer our 90 min personal appointment and the bride will be allowed to bring 2 guests (fortunately, since our Studio is absolutely huge, we can accommodate two guests and maintain social distancing – there had to be a silver lining right??)

Bexbrides Ltd. Covid-secure policy:

๐Ÿ–ค Marie and I will be working together in what’s known as a “fixed pair” (none of our other staff will be working in the boutique initially). We will look a little like cute welders in our visors. You and any guest(s) will be required to wear disposable masks, which we will provide.

๐Ÿ–ค You will be asked to make a declaration regarding your exposure to Covid 19 in the last 14 days, and make an assurance to advise us should you or your guest(s) become knowingly exposed or develop symptoms in the subsequent 7 days after your visit (and we will advise you in a similar manner should Marie or I become knowingly exposed or develop symptoms.)

๐Ÿ–ค We will require you to sanitise before during and after your appointment. All documentation will be provided electronically.

๐Ÿ–ค Any dresses tried on will be quarantined for 72 hours and all surfaces/ touch points will be sanitised after each appointment.

๐Ÿ–ค Before your appointment we will have a detailed discussion about your style and what you are looking for in a dress, as we would do under normal circumstances. We will select dresses for you and can pull additional ones during the appointment. You and your guests will be unable to browse through the rails, but we will happily show you everything that would be suitable for your desired style, size and budget.

๐Ÿ–ค Your guest(s) will need to remain seated and maintain social distancing, unless they are a member of your household.

๐Ÿ–ค For brides wishing to bring more than 2 guests we have good news๐Ÿ˜ – we have free parking and are situated in 14 acres of beautiful grounds, so we can accommodate up to 4 guests per appointment. In this case, we would divide your appointment into sections and your guests would be invited to enter in relays, with a 5 min gap between to allow us to sanitise touch points. This would be factored into the total 90 minutes maximum appointment time). However, WE ARE AFRAID WE CANNOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ACCOMMODATE MORE THAN 2 GUESTS PLUS BRIDE IN THE BUILDING AT THE SAME TIME: PLEASE DO NOT ASK US TO.๐Ÿ˜ข We also apologise that we are unable until the guidelines from BBSA change allow any children under 16 either, for the time being.

๐Ÿ–ค A copy of our full risk assessment can be supplied upon request.

I hope you can all appreciate how hard this has been for us; it goes against every atom in my being and to how we at Bexbrides work, but (as ever) we are putting our clients and their safety and satisfaction first.

We are normally hands on, touchy-feely, hugs all round; we often allowed our “90 min appointments” to run between 2 to 3 hours if there is no other bride booked in. We will now have to strictly limit appointments to 90 mins and our close-up time will be limited to 15 mins at a time. Whenever possible we will be maintaining 2m distance.

I hope this is an acceptable compromise for all our lovely clients, whilst working within the parameters. By following the guidelines as closely as we can we will all remain safe, but still provide a fun, joyful stress-free dress buying experience.

Of course, brides are welcome to share the experience with others via any social sharing applications they might wish to use (the studio can access the 4G network, – it can be patchy but is usually OK). Photography has always been permitted so they can share images with their wider gang that way as well.

So that was a fun part of this week… not ! However you might be wondering about the title of this weeks blog… Thank our lucky stars.

Well, when I wasn’t being a health and safety executive and virologist and battling with Covid-secure guidelines, I was being Bex the designer (which is what I much prefer!), making and posting Etsy orders to far-flung corners of the earth like Helston in Cornwall and Jackson, Mississippi.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/819874975/black-veil-ombre-veil-alternative-veil
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/819868593/ivory-star-top-bridal-topper-star-lace
Small stars, short front version

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/805982896/ivory-star-top-bridal-topper-star-lacehttps://

Small stars longer front version

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/819872641/ivory-star-top-bridal-topper-star-lace

Not stars, but an etsy favourite, wisteria and willow top.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/819872937/embellished-veil-cape-lace-topper-lace

So I’ll love you and leave you again. please get in touch with any queries re our re opening.

WE CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU!!

๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜ท๐Ÿคฉ

Love, Bex and Marie xx

 

 

The Big Ones…

Hi again, lovely followers!

Another week! HOW HAS THAT HAPPENED AGAIN?

What has happened this week then? Well, it’s been busy for me…

Still getting my head around our risk assessment to make our large and eclectic studio “covid secure”. We think we will probably open for limited appointments in late June or early July. Since part of our unique selling point (USP) is our hands-on, close contact, very personal fitting and design process, we don’t feel it’s acceptable to open in a rush on the 15th  June – clients are advised not to try garments on and contact time must be limited which does not fit in with our philosophy.

We are looking at opening when it is deemed safe for nail technicians and hairdressers to open, as our business is similar in terms of the physical relationship we have with our customers. We will have all the safety procedures in place as regards sanitising, restricted guests,  quarantining gowns for 72 hours and so on. It’s been a real struggle to work out because it is so alien to the way we normally deliver our service. However, we are looking forward to tackling the challenge with our brides and utilising video calling and so on to allow them to share the experience with their loved ones whilst keeping everyone safe.

Also, I’m still chasing the local authority and my MP for help with a grant,  so scintillating stuff… But by no means the most interesting or important events of the week…

This week saw me turn 50 yesterday and my daughter is 16 today!

So my main challenge this week was to juggle all my business tasks – admin, the trials mentioned above, make my weekly  new designs as part of my lockdown challenge – and…

…get my head around the fact that my long-planned 50th birthday party was not happening and working out how I could make my daughter’s birthday special too!

A couple of weeks ago, it was my son’s 13th birthday. This was easy as, to be honest, if he had been asked what his perfect birthday was he would have said “bacon sandwiches, presents, hugs from Mum, Dad and Rhianna, cake, wearing my onesie all day, chatting with my friends on the computer and not having to go anywhere or do anything. “

SO THANK YOU LOCKDOWN,  you actually provided a silver lining for one 13 year old!๐Ÿคฃ

It would also have been the birthday of my younger sister, Fleur Lombard QGM, on Wednesday,ย  the day before my birthday (this used to annoy me when I was young, that her birthday was first). She was killed at work in 1996 (she was a firefighter) when she was 21, so she has remained ever 21 in everyone’s hearts.

Me and Fleur

I wonder what she would have been like age 46. Would I have nephews  or nieces? I miss her so much. Last year she had a train named after her, and my parents, my children and I travelled to Bristol to see it named. We then went to Cornwall for a few days to visit her resting place.  This year I just had to make do with a socially-distanced hello to my parents, with no hugs ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข

I can’t begin to say how hard that was. But the sun was out and we got to say hello and they were able to see me – luckily we only live 20 mins apart and I’ve been doing their shopping anyway, so no 250 mile trips needed๐Ÿค”. That reminds me – I do need to chase Specsavers for my new glasses. And did you know Chris and I got married at Barnard Castle before it was cool…

Me and Chris at the castle, 2009

So I managed to get through Rowan’s and Fleur’s birthdays as their needs were few!

However, my daughter and I are cut from very different cloth. We are both Gemini (yes, that is as fraught with emotion and battles as you would expect!) We LOVE to party, see our friends,ย get dressed up and go places.

So this pandemic posed a particular problem.  How do we do it? The obvious answer is you can’t ( well unless you are a government advisor who can go where you want if it’s your mam’s or your wife’s birthday – don’t get me started). So I was a bit gloomy for a while, pondering how rubbish this was. Then I had a brain wave. I would just ask a few local friends to drive by, or walk by, and I booked 45 min slots, bring your own drink and cup. I placed a chair several metres away from mine in my garden (the upgraded lockdown project from the previous week’s blog) .

I love (like, passionately) the beach, so Chris (the husband) and I dragged the kids to the beach first thing yesterday morning and, boy, was it glorious. We parked on a quiet lane and walked down, only saw another family in the distance, collected shells and sea glass and it was perfect.

My family on the beach near Hartlepool

We returned home after our walk and I went into my garden to await my first drive by. I was not disappointed! I had planned that my friends could drive down the back lane and park the car right on the edge of the garden, but Jacqui, my first guest, was thwarted by a scaffolding lorry so she called me and I told her that she would have to park on the main road and walk through the alley and yard to me. I got on with arranging the shells and sea glass from the beach . Suddenly I heard singing and I turned around and there she was singing “happy birthday”. I was so shocked – she had come dressed up! I always have fancy dress balls or masquerade parties for my big ones, 30th, 40th and had planned the same for my 50th.

So there I am, in my shorts and cami top, and Jacqui is wearing a forest green silk off-the-shoulder 1991 bridesmaid dress and a peacock fabric wrap. I stood there gobsmacked for a nanosecond before I felt such overwhelming happiness that I have people who love me so much that they will do crazy things like this.  It totally set the tone for the day! She had even made me a 50th card by recycling some of her own cards from her 50th.

Here she is, one of my  most eccentric friends x (We recently had a conversion where we were discussing that she was eccentric; afterwards she asked a work colleague if she was and got the response, “Of course you are, you are weird as f@@k)” ๐Ÿคฃ and I love her so much.

I cannot leave out the beautiful, amazing Marie,  my Assistant Manager, sidekick, keeper of my books and sanity.  My “bouncer off of ideas-er “. I miss working side by side with this trusted colleague and friend so much.

Marie, ideas mistress

I won’t spam you with the rest of the day’s attendees, who were all equally delightful in their own ways. I felt like a total queen on my throne (AKA garden bench) receiving guests. It was totally amazing. And all the other friends who could not travel or be fitted in, I cannot wait to see you all over the next year – I’m 50 for another 364 days after all…

So today my daughter Rhianna (our daughter, darling husband) is 16. We have a typical feisty relationship: 2 strong willed Geminis; what would you expect? But I could not be more proud of her, especially the way she has survived during lockdown, when (like me) she is sociable and needs her friends, so she has struggled with it like me.

Rhianna , photo by Corrina Atkinson,  check out this blog for the whole team and all the other gowns and girls on the beach, it’s one of my favourites.
https://unconventionalwedding.co.uk/bohemian-beach-wedding-inspiration-boho-bridal-look/

And before I forget! Here are my weekly lockdown designs:  a starry top and a matching veil. Slightly easier project than previous weeks, as I was time-restricted since I had so much to do… Must be getting slow in my old age ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ.

So, until next week, I’ll love you and love you again. Am I older and wiser? Well definitely the former – not sure about the latter…

PS

I also want to quickly thank my wonderful husband who proof reads and corrects my blogs every week, and built my website, and is pretty much very useful. Love him loads. He has been a rock (as always) during this lockdown.  He might or might not add a little word or two here about me. He wrote me a wonderful card, but it’s as long as this blog or I would share it with you. Suffice to say he is awesome.

Chris adds: “Greater love hath no husband than this, that a husband spend 30 minutes of his day editing his wife’s blog.” Love you, Bex!

Bring the beach to me!

Hi again, lovely followers! How on earth has another week gone by?

I actually wondered whether or not to write a blog this week, as I was struggling to think of an interesting topic. So I did consider giving it a miss. Sadly for me, I have an unfortunate character trait… I’m stubborn!!

I set myself these weekly challenges at my virtual coffee morning attendance on Google Hangout every Friday with the lovely Linzi from Unconventional Wedding. It’s become a sort of ritual that I design something new and write a blog each week. This morning, I felt a sort of reluctance. I asked myself, what if I don’t bother… Who will care? What can I write about that’s engaging and interesting? What have I been up to that my followers might be even remotely interested in? And even if I can think of something, how can I make it a cohesive topic?

The fingers of my mind leafed though the last 7 days’ worth of events: socially distanced supermarket shopping, posting a veil to NYC, figuring out a way to ombre synthetic satin, arguing with my local council about my eligibility for a grant, trying to open a new business account to access a bounce-back loan (sorted now, thanks to my mate Helen the financial wizard), negotiating the minefield of BBLS, chasing my MP to petition parliament on behalf of small wedding businesses and the long reaching financial effects of Covid amongst many other tedious tasks.

Meanwhile, I’m trying not to let my brain explode into an emotional and physical meltdown at the ridiculously complex and exhausting process to risk-assess my 2500 sq feet 7 showroom studio to facilitate a Covid-secure shopping experience. This would be about as far away from the hands-on, personal, free, unrestricted, wild adventure into a crazy attic of wonderful treasures that we pride ourselves in offering as you could possibly imagine. BUT we will find a way, which is why we are not rushing to open on the 1st June!

To be honest the week has been an emotional and mental rollercoaster… a Coronacoaster for sure.

I thought “pivot” was my least favourite term of the epidemic, but now I think it’s “risk assessment” ๐Ÿ˜ท๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ก.

On that topic, we now plan to open late June, early July. We will not sacrifice either our clients’ safety or our customer service. We will be announcing our “Covid secure guidelines” in due course.

So, as you can see, it’s been a frustrating week – not stuff that will scintillate you!

That said, I got to thinking about the pressures we feel, and put ourselves under, at times of stress – the expectations and responsibilities.

I feel very fortunate that none of my loved ones have become unwell so far. The friends and colleagues I know who have contracted Covid have all recovered. My husband is a teacher, so is being paid. I received a small business grant, so am not overdrawn. With careful juggling and a loan or two, Bexbrides will survive.

So, whilst I’m extremely stressed and juggling over 80 brides being moved to new dates, I’m working out the “new normal” going forward (whilst battling against it, as it goes against everything I love and stand for in the way of the shopping experience.)

I have also had wonderful moments of calm and joy this week. I’ll share 3 of them with you.

  • Etsy success
  • Satin ombre success
  • My beach garden sucess

ETSY ORDERS

I have long planned to spend more time on my Etsy shop and the items I sell on there, whilst in my bricks and mortar shop I try and satisfy all needs from traditional to contemporary to alternative, in order to survive in an extremely competitive market. On Etsy I can just sell things that are truly me: a beautiful vintage brooch or gown, upcycled retro numbers I have ombred, rainbow veils etc. Do you know my rainbow veils have sold to Australia, Canada, Los Angeles and Mississippi, but not to one single bride in the UK? Come on UK rainbow lovers – where are you?๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคจ

My first lockdown challenge – the “veil on a bike” project…

SATIN OMBRE

I have wanted for years to try my signature ombre on satin. The first time I tried I was not happy with it, so I decided it was not possible and have stuck to tulle, chiffon, organza and occasionally lace.

But last Friday, at the weekly coffee morning, I set myself the challenge to do it. After making a skirt and dip-dyeing it… every last speck of colour just rinsed away.

๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

So I thought I’d try my normal method, that I had dismissed as unviable a few years ago. Maybe now I’ve been doing ombre for years, and am more practised at it, it might work…?

๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿคž

Yeay… it did!! I chose blue as it’s my favourite colour (the colour of the sea in Cornwall when the sky is a really cloudless blue, that deep fatherless blue…) Of course, I added a blue ombre veil, and could not resist teaming it will the new short version of the Linzistar cape in blue that I made a couple of weeks ago. Ooh, and a jacket which I’ve added sparkly stars to!

Here you go… it’s our beautiful model Molly the headless mannequin again, on location at sunny Costa del Carpark…

So, with mention of the sea (yes there is a relevance to the title of this week’s blog, I’m not just being random… well actually I am, so what’s new I hear you cry), what’s happening in the world outside of Bexbrides?

MY BEACH GARDEN SUCCESS

I mentioned at the beginning of this lockdown that I had been using the personal time suddenly available (a commodity that is usually extremely scarce for me) to work on my yard and garden. I have been obsessed with the sea (yes, yes, and peacocks of course…) since I was a tiny tot… the sea has always held me in its mystical timeless thrall. I just love it! I think in a previous life I must have been a mermaid (or maybe just a seagull…)

So I was already well known in the village as that bonkers woman with a beach hut in her back yard, even though I live a good 25 mins drive from the sea. But… close enough to have seagulls on my roof, so I can dream, right?

Omg, how I miss my late nights in here with a close friend and a bottle of beer๐Ÿ˜ข

So I was very happy with my little beach hut in my yard, but beyond my back gates for over 4 years since we moved in I have been putting up with sitting in a scrubby wild patch of garden, with no time to sort it out. During lockdown, I have kept myself busy. If I was not in a supermarket queue, caring for brides with the stress of moving their weddings, arguing with the council or the bank or simply going on my #dailyexercise, I was to be found here, losing myself in simple toil, listening to endless audio books, or simply enjoying the cacophony of the surrounding birdsong.

I have felt a ridiculous amount of anxiety at what has seemed like a guilty pleasure . Whilst key workers are on the frontline and many folk don’t have a garden, or even a yard, I’ve been doing something which some might see as unnecessary. But it’s kept me sane and so for all that it’s been done on a shoestring budget, and even though my preparation skills would give a landscape gardener an apoplectic fit, I’m truly chuffed to bits.

It’s been a meandering journey and the design has changed along the way, but my key inspiration I think is the huge driftwood beam fastened to the entrance on the right of the garden,a treasured find my hubby hauled back to the car from the tideline on the first day we were allowed to travel by car to #dailyexercise beyond our home. my hubby whisked me off to the beach (if I’m honest I was a tad low that day, and he was concerned and prepared to tackle and police that might quiz us, arguing the case it was to protect my mental health). But we did only drive 25 mins each way, parked well away, and only saw 4 people in the distance. We did not drive from Leicester to Cornwall, go out in a canoe and call out the sea rescue, like some other Muppet, or Covidiot.

Since then, we have had 2 or 3 8am trips, avoiding people and scouring the beach for bits of wood, maybe from a far off tropical coast (or maybe just from Whitby – who knows, that’s the mystery of the sea!)

I didn’t take a fully “before” picture. This one was after I’d already done a lot of clearing. If I had known I’d be sharing it with you guys, I would have created a more insta-worthy starting shot!

The inspiration driftwood beam…

And a little sign that has been patiently waiting for over 4 years for me to make the garden a worthy place to hang it up!

The fake grass is a 50th birthday present to myself, paid for with etsy sales to the far away US of A…

So, with that, I’ll love you and leave you for another week. Next Friday I may have a hangover as next Thursday I have the big five 0 – yep, I’m 50 next week, on Thursday, and my daughter is 16 on Friday… what an absolute pain, neither of us is impressed, but it is what it is and as I’m 50 for a whole year I’m sure I’ll have a party (or 5) in when this all blows over.

Stay alert, stay safe, see you next week.

Bex and co.

Retro Recycling

Hello, lovely followers! As we come to the end of yet another week of lockdown, I thought I’d share with you my latest dress experiment.

One of the positives of lockdown is I’m finally having time to experiment with projects I had on the back burner of my brain, so to speak.

I am very well known for my hand-ombred-hem dresses, but less well known for my passion for upcycling and bringing new life to sad and forgotten gowns.

I am a hoarder!!

There, I said it!! I am the proud owner of over 250 vintage and retro gowns, all of which need either TLC or a blast of fresh air and creativity.

Usually the only time I get to do this is if I, or another creative colleague, has an idea for a photo shoot, in which case I rummage through my collection and select a likely candidate to be upgraded -given the Phoenix treatment – so it can rise from its ashes of neglect and have a new lease of life.

Sometimes it’s a radical makeover with dye, or pigment.

Sometimes it’s changing the sleeves (the 80s are best remembered for their awesome pop songs, and not their sleeves…)

Sometimes it’s changing a 1970s neckline that satisfied great aunt Mavis and her delicate views, but today’s bride would rather risk a raised eyebrow.

Sometimes it’s changing the hem length, or a combination of all of the above.

So this week I decided something, after my tie dye mother-daughter experience last week (which was great, and means all the fake tan-ruined tops can now be salvaged!)

Last weeks mother daughter experience…

I decided to try it out on a sadly forgotten 1990s silk 2 piece. It was a beautifully made piece, never worn, but just lacking that little bit of “wow”.

1990s silk two piece looking a little woeful

I decided to go all out and go for a vibrant pink! I had some fabulous pink floral applique I’d been itching to use… So I shot off to the most exotic location I could find – my studio car park!

Revitalised with bright pink tie dye and floral applique.
Plus of course we can add an ombre overskirt

So that was this week’s lockdown project … Cannot wait to see it on a bride who has a head and arms!

If you are a size 16-18 and love pink, check it out!

Here are a few 1970s dresses I have changed necklines on, removed sleeves, made into separates etc. over the last few years, that I have been meaning to blog about, and now I have the time to

Changed the neckline and waistline
Changed the neckline,  the back and made into seperates.

Here is another that I made into separates (can’t find the before image in the depths of my files…)

And with it ombred to grey.

With and without ombre

These are all 1970s dresses that were either really short or far too small a size for today’s bride. I made them separates and added fringing etc.ย  I’m always really excited when I find a 1970sย  gown as the sleeves are usually epic.

Emma Ryan Photography
Emma Ryan Photography
Emma Ryan Photograpy

If you liked these you can (after you get to the end, don’t wander off yet…) check out this lovely feature on https://unconventionalwedding.co.uk/live-your-own-fairytale-wedding/

This dress has had a couple of outings on shoots with the sleeves cut back and the damaged and ridiculously small bodice opened at the back.

Helen Russell Photography

Only in the darkness can you see the stars

I thought this was a very apt title. As we approach week seven million and fifty three of lockdown,  is it just me that feels it’s been that long…?

There is something rather magical about the stars. I find it rather mind-blowing to get my head around the fact that many are so old and far away and it’s taken so long for their light to reach us that they have long burnt away. We are effectively looking at a memory. How magical is that? I love the moon as well, especially a full moon, when it hangs like a shiny ten pence in the sky. As a child, I felt I could just reach up and take in my hand.

Anyway, this blog is not just me rambling on about stars and moons and how long they have been there. I would like, however, to take this moment to digress and mention star signs. I am mightily peeved to reach the long awaited May 2020, which I had carefully orchestrated (OK – that’s a stretch – it was a fluke…)

    • My son Rowan would turn 13 on the 12th (yep, we await the switch to Kevin the teenager)
    • I would turn 50 (no I can’t believe it either!) on the 28th
    • My daughter Rhianna would turn 16 on the 29th!

An amazing month of celebration, with parties galore (also my Mum is 73 on the 11th and my late sister Fleur has her celestial party wherever she is for her 46th on the 27th) So, as you can imagine a certain party pooper called Covid was not on my list of favourite guests! We all have Amazon wish lists and I’m pretty damn sure a pandemic is not on there! But I’m going to be 50 until 27th May 2021 so i will have that party! Anyway I digress. On with the stars!

A couple of years ago I met a lovely bride to be called Linzi who was to marry her partner Graham. I have rarely met a more wonderful client, so full of joy. together, we designed an ombre dress,which was quite full and which was to have an ivory star topper. During the dress journey, Linzi’s health took a turn for the worse and she had to change her wedding plans. She knew she might possibly be in a wheelchair and would definitely have a stick. She wanted a more slimline dress that she could easily manage, but she refused to give up her stars and that little bit of extra! So, as if by magic, she found some starry fabric and, using that and a version of my Rhianna Cape, the Linzistar Cape was born! It’s become one of our bestsellers; celestial themed weddings have become really popular , which I’m really pleased about because I simply love stars! I used to doodle stars over everything when I was a child, so being able to source fabrics with stars is fabulous.

Here are Linzi and Graham on their big day captured by https://belleartphotography.co.uk/and featured in Rock n Rollbride Magazine.

We now do the Linzistar in many colours: ivory with silver and gold (when I can get the fabric as it’s like gold dust, or should that be stardust?), ivory with gold, champagne with gold, ivory with pink and lilac, pink with pink and lilac, midnight blue with silver and finally simple ivory on ivory for the more sedate star lovers.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/806128641/linzistar-cape-star-veil-embroidered

About a year ago a colleague of mine Nicola from Not so Average Wedding challenged me to make a star dress for the cover of her new magazine The Alternative Wedding Magazine and so the Rowan dress cosmic version was created, and modelled on one of my favourite places Marsden Beach. Photo by https://www.instagram.com/thewildloveclub/. You can buy this magazine here http://alternativeweddingmagazine.co.uk/shop

Every week I have a virtual coffee morning hosted by the wonderful Linzi Barford from http://unconventionalwedding.co.uk and I rashly make a promise to Linzi and the other virtual novelty mug tea drinking wedding suppliers who drop in and keep me sane, to make something each week. Last week brought you the Pink starry Andromeda dress, this week I bring you Starlight Rowan available on etsy. Looking fabulous in the sunlight, and in artificial light, so you can imagine what you would look like twinkling on your big day.

I managed an impromptu photo shoot on my own in the Studio carpark, and the mannequins were all well behaved and tried to social distance, but then remembered as they were all headless it was fine to cluster together for photos. I’m hoping I have a queue like this when I reopen ๐Ÿคฃ

I’ve pulled together a selection of images of Linzistar and Rowan for you to enjoy. I’ve credited the photographer, BUT there is an awesome team behind every image.  I could not supply you with such beautiful images without all the amazing suppliers I have been privileged to work with. Please contact me if you like what you see and I can point you to the full team behind each image.๐Ÿ–ค

Tonight, go outside with a rug, lie down and stare at the stars and the moon –  really stare. In a time of uncertainty like this its great to have something beautiful and timeless to gaze upon. If you live near the sea, even better…

Enjoy these images. Until next time, love from Bexbrides and Eclecticbrides team: Bex , Marie and Christine ( and behind the scenes Chris my hubby and tech support, Rhianna my often times model and Rowan my ginger tea maker…)Xxx

Love to you all

Bex (aged 49 and 49/52ths…)

These 2 images taken at Arnos Vale by https://www.leeshawilliamsphoto.com

These 4 photos at Northshire by https://www.paylorphotography.co.uk

The image below was taken just before lockdown at Camp Katur by https://www.paylorphotography.co.uk

This below was taken at Newcastle Castle by https://www.victoriaspongephotography.co.uk/

And finally a few more beauties from https://www.instagram.com/thewildloveclub/ at Marsden for http://alternativeweddingmagazine.co.uk

PEACOCK ON LOCKDOWN

Hi, my lovely followers! How are you all doing?

Have you learnt a new skill, become a home teacher, enjoyed your family time, made the most of the situation??

Hmmm?? Maybe? But probably if you are like me, you are just surviving, relishing the small victories: “OMG, a bag of flour!”; “ooh only 30 people in the supermarket queue”; “Yeay! Its sunny again…”

I’ve been juggling the other issues: bills to pay, mortgage and credit card holidays to arrange, checking the children are doing their school work… I’ve a son, Rowan, who will be 13 in a few days and he is quite happy with lockdown, apart from the school work is not interesting/ challenging enough and he is reluctantly dragged out on a walk every eve). I’ve also got aย  daughter who will be 16 this month – the day after I turn 50 actually – she has no school work as her GCSEs were cancelled and (apart from her daily bike ride) she only leaves her room to eat… She is living up in her attic bedroom like a cross between Miss Havisham and the first Mrs Rochester, with her unworn prom dress for company. She has become fully nocturnal and her weird shrieks of laughter whilst connected with her friends via social mediaย  keep me awake like some sort of weird bird of the night.

My husband is a teacher and is teaching online. Only half a dozen out of 30 kids turn up to each lesson he has painstakingly prepared, and the shifts he has covered in school, with 10 of the 1400 students who are still attending, have shown social distancing children is going to be a logistical challenge.

So whilst all this has been going on I’ve been still doing my #dailywalk, lost a few pounds, come to terms with the fact that my long planned girls trip to a fancy villa in Spain for my 50th (with my newly-16 year old daughter) will be cancelled, and there is little chance of finding a new holiday on a date in the next 12 months that all my friends are able to do. It is what it is. I’ve cried, they have cried, my travel agent must be drowning in tears and gin, I expect.

Meanwhile, I’ve been speaking to and keeping in touch with all my brides who are affected so far. I have agreed to move/ accommodate every single one.

My clients have been amazing and I cannot thank them enough for helping keep me sane, rather than cause me further distress.

I love you all!๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

My bespoke clients are keeping to their original payment agreement dates, with me completing the gown to that date should restrictions be lifted, and if alterations are needed in the future, I’m doing them for free. If restrictions prohibit my completing the gown to the original date, then I’m accommodating fittings and completion closer to the new date.

For my alteration clients who either bought a dress from me or brought a dress to me to be altered, I have moved the payment, and the work/fittings closer to the new date (even thought this means me doubling my workload at peak season next year, and having a full tax year with zero wage potentially)๐Ÿ˜ข

I am offering to store gowns for free for six months after original dates, and at a minimum fee after that. I have to increase my goods in trust insurance to cover this, but I want to continue to offer physical and financial protection to my clients for their dresses.๐Ÿค—

Of course every week I am closed I am not selling any dresses or accessories to new brides, or being paid for any sewing, but I still have rent, insurance, marketing (which if you drop that ball you are stuffed) furloughed staff to pay, as the money is not paid back as yet (and I’m making up 20% voluntarily myself), stock package payments- yep sadly those beautiful 300+ vintage gowns and 250+ designer gowns you all get to look at and choose from to have a good choice, they all had to be paid for, some with built up funds from 10 years in business, and some are on finance. I was eligible for the small business grant -it covers my business for 16 weeks of outgoings- and so far I’ve been closed for 5/6 weeks, and as furlough is extended to end of June I’m assuming I’ll be closed at least 15 weeks. Then, who knows when weddings will start again, You can do the maths…

I know all my brides/couples are juggling an entire armada of suppliers, some in dingies, some in corporate yachts, some like myself who feel like they are in an inflatable flamingo from Home Bargains (OMG, that shop has kept me alive with almond milk, puncture repair kits and possibly the odd bottle of fruit cider ๐Ÿค”)

As regards the monumental task of postponing your wedding, here is a fantastic article: see link, with great advice and resources. Oh, and can someone please deal with Martin Lewis, who appears to be trying to capsize some boats by sharing misleading information….

Sharing Perspectives on Wedding Postponements โ€“ What Couples, Venues & Suppliers Would Like Each Other To Know

ย 

SOON ( I hope!) we will have a back to business plan for the UK. Once we reopen I can sew again, and see current and future clients to do face to face consultations and fittings. I can not wait! Even if we are all in full PPE (be a challenge, but hey ho..)

However until the government are clear on plans for weddings in the future Bexbrides and all her lovely brides face an uncertain sea.

Many folk have said we are all in the same storm but in different boats; this is true, but shortly we are all going to be sailing into different winds, some will hit calm seas and some will have to navigate even worse storms.

I wake up in the night (usually woken by the strange teenage nocturnal screech creature mentioned above) and I lie there in the dark wondering how it will pan out. I think I’ve driven my poor husband crazy with my “what if this happens” and “what if that happens…”

He just calmly says, have any of your brides decided they are not getting married at all? I say No. He then says so it’s just a case of juggling then, and moving it around- it’s a challenge, you thrive on challenge Bex, its literally what powers you, I’ve never seen you be defeated by anything or anyone and I’ve known you since you were 7.

Yep, we met in 1977. He is my Han Solo and, yeah if I say I love you, or he says it to me, we do sometimes say “I know” in that infuriating tone. (BTW we just had an Episode 4 to 6 binge watch with our son Rowan, over last 3 days, which was great, though I think I’ll need another month of lockdown before I can face the Pants Menace…)

So I’ve tried to stay calm, keep my inner peacock slightly less crazy than it wanted to be, and keep it coaxed down from that far away tree it flew to in the initial stages.

I’ve set myself little goals each week.

The rainbow veil on a bike challenge, which ended up in insta stories on @unconventional_wedding, and @rocknrollbride .

RHIANNA ROCKING THE RAINBOW VEIL

Adding items to Etsy…

Peacock Tiara
Vintage crystal brooch
New champagne version of the Linzistar

And making new designs, as I currently have this strange thing called time…!

So I’ll leave you with an image of the new design, which I have asked for name suggestions for on my Facebook page, as I could not think of one. Now I have the problem of choosing one of the many amazing names suggested!

So in the spirit of the current times and learning ways to adapt and deal, I decided to pick several of the celestial themed names.

NOW I HAVE TO MAKE MORE DRESSES!

See, as usual, my brilliant followers and friends have helped me out.

I think I’m going to call this first one Andromeda (thank you Gem Stockdale)

And I’m going to come up with more starry designs for the other names. Keep the names coming as I’ll just keep designing …

ANDROMEDA named by Gem Stockdale xx

How does a crazy extrovert Dress Designer cope with a Pandemic?

Not a question I thought I’d ever have to ask myself??

Bexbrides is my passion and fills at least 80% of my waking hours, so to suddenly have it thrown up in the air and feel like someone locked the door and threw away the key has been a totally bewildering and terrifying experience.

I’ve been through all the same stages as every other business owner, and let’s face it, human being.

They (the powers that be, the YouTubers, the life coaches, the psychologists etc) tell us that dealing with a pandemic is like the stages of grief.

SHOCK & DENIAL

PAIN & GUILT- …

ANGER & BARGAINING- …

“DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS- …

THE UPWARD TURN- …

RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH- …

ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-

In my life I’ve had my share of loss, I lost my beautiful only sister when she was 21 , she was a Firefighter killed on duty.

So these stages are no strangers to me, but it took some reconciliation to apply them to what was happening around me.

Also unlike bereavement, when you feel it’s a very individual thing, and that only you and your immediate family are affected, yet the rest of the world still keeps turning.

This is different, we are all in it together.

It’s been a total roller coaster for me and my business.

Way back in mid January ( what feels like about a decade ago , but was only 3 months ) I started to have to juggle things a little, as fabric and trim orders were delayed, because China had this thing called Corona. It all seemed very far away, and a minor inconvenience.

Then as the death numbers were coming out (which we all know know were massively ramped down by at least a factor of 10 to 20) it seemed a bit worrisome.

Then news of its spreading to Italy and to the UK.

Still we were not unduly alarmed.

We are after all the nation whose every household has a wall sign or a mug or a T shirt that says

“KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”…

Then early March it all got a bit more real, but only for weak old people with pre-existing conditions, right?

I remember vividly being on a photo shoot on the 10th March, a glorious day with amazing suppliers, creating awesome images and content for all our marketing. That night , I didn’t sleep well, and the next day I rang my parents to advise them to self isolate, I anticipated an argument, but no, they had already decided the day before to do it.

OMG, this is a bit scary, I don’t want to lose my parents!

Then the news, more news and partial lockdown, so my staff Marie and I we started making playlists of 80s songs to keep us sane, because, well, that’s what women in their late 40s do right? The songs of the 80s were written for this!

Then slowly inexorably the shut down unfolded, before our unbelieving eyes and ears.

In a matter of a couple of days I went from dealing with planning my brides fittings to be brought forward to enable me to be well ahead with my workload in case I became ill, so no bride would be let down. To dealing with weddings guest numbers being restricted to 100, to 50, to 2 to zero.

No weddings , my clients big days, all those hopes ,dreams, hours of planning, excitement, Pinterest boards galore all disappearing like bubbles being popped, or stars in the night going out.

It seemed unreal, brides brought weddings forward only to find out the night before in the hotel with family and friends that the wedding the next day was cancelled.

I can not describe the emotions I felt for my brides, you build such a relationship with them for up to 2 years over emails, messages, consultations and fittings.

Normally we laugh, joke, cry, in addition to the obvious dress design journey and making then all feel fecking damn amazing on their big day.

I also offer support over things like arguments over table plans, awkward bridesmaids, cake flavors , who to use for your photos, which venues are awesome, anecdotes to sooth nerves and worries.

I’m good at that, I’m patient, easy to talk to, apparently very funny๐Ÿคช and an all round nice person so I’m regularly told๐Ÿ˜.

But this, this I’m not prepared for this.
Weddings being basically removed from human life.

WTAF!

How the hell do I deal with this, my inbox every day, was (and still is) brides whose weddings were on hold, postponed, cancelled or just generally we have no idea if we can get married.

I had brides who had already lost weddings in the Thomas Cook crash, who lost them for a 2nd time๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข

I felt like I was on runaway train with no driver, no brakes, and who knew where the track was even going.

My brain was in 2 halves, two plates wildly spinning, one half worrying that my parents would catch Corona, that at some point during this hideous nightmare had morphed into the much more nasty, yet impersonal sounding Covid 19, that my children or husband would catch it.

That some one I loved, or knew would die, that I might die!

The other half worrying about my brides, and their long hoped for dreams and expectations.

Then the worry about my business, my passion and would I lose my business, 11 years of blood sweat and tears ( and the guilt I felt worrying about money and material things at this time absolutely tore me apart from inside)

One night I stayed awake the whole night rehearsing what to say to my employed member of staff Marie, who is also one of my best friends, I feared I would have to lay her off.

The next day I spoke to my accountant to tell him who says WAIT there might be help coming from the government.

So instead Marie and I had a candid conversation about what we could do to protect our future.

Then we had to make the plans to close the studio until further notice.
It all seemed so unreal, I only close once a year at Christmas, and that takes some planning, this was so rushed.

It felt very odd.

Add to that the other half of my brain looking after my husband who had frantically been making GCSE learning packs for his pupils for 2 weeks, then suddenly I have to tell my 15 year old daughter, that she is leaving school in 48 hours, no GCSEs will be sat ( husband scrap all those 2 weeks work of books you made..) the prom dress you picked up 2 days ago will never be worn.

The whole thing was just insane.

I could not cope.
I can not cope.
I will not cope.

A few years ago I had a nervous breakdown , the final acceptance of my sisters death and work overload amongst other things, I had an amazing psychotherapist, she helped me fix myself, and after 2 years she read me a short book called the Tree who survived the winter.

She taught me I was the tree who survived the winter.

So I got out my mental tools, and made the executive decision that my business could live without me being there for 80% of my waking hours, I set aside time to speak to and reassure brides, I put monetary plans in place to throw Bexbrides Ltd a life raft should she need it, but I left her doggy paddling and floating adrift a sea of uncertainty, I love the sea, it’s my favourite place, but you can’t tame it you have to go with the ebb and flow.

So Bex the human, not Bex the Bexbrides Designer, took up a new pastime for 3 weeks, she became the keeper of her sanity, she walked, she read, she gardened. She painted her gates, her sheds, her fence, next doors fence.

She filled holes in the outside walls, she painted the outside walls.
She cycled, she walked some more.

She spent time with her husband and children. She cooked tea every night ( normally only does this once a week as she works til 8/9pmn normally)

She learnt how to use Google hangout and Zoom to keep In touch with family and industry colleagues.

She learnt to be patient, shop only when she really needed to, to queue , 2 metres apart , she found a quiet place in her heart and head that she had nearly forgotten existed.

She still keep a check on Bexbrides LTD see if it was still floating, kept in touch with all her clients, drew up a strategy to ensure going forward all brides still received the same level of care and attention that Bexbrides LTD was famous for, whilst devising an empathetic and understanding way to still manage the work and cashflow for her clients.

This was a large worry, but totally unnecessarily so, as all brides were relieved to have structure and a plan, in these uncertain times.( I love my clients! )

Bex the human found she was actually managing to spin both plates, nearly dropped them a few times, but actually it was ok. She survived the winter ( well the first 3 weeks of a pandemic anyway…)

One day, today in fact, the day after she did the silly challenge with her daughter to ride wearing rainbow veils on their #dailyexercise she woke up, felt different.

Lay there a moment wondered what it was??

What is this feeling??

O M G

It’s creativity, its come back, the crazy peacock that took flight to some far away tree, its back.

So today I’m off to the Studio with lightness in my heart, I’m putting the heavy rock I’ve been lumping around down, in my new rockery in my newly tidied garden.

Today I’m off to make etsy orders, stars and Rainbows, for when Weddings start again, oh what a glorious day that will be.

Here is the etsy link for the veil ,bike and daughter not included…

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/772566104/ombre-wedding-veil-alternative-wedding

๐Ÿฆš๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆš๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆš๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆš๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆš๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆš๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆš๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆš

Bexbrides and Covid 19

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT re. COVID 19

To my wonderful brides to be: in order that we protect you, and make a stand against this virus, we made the hard decision that it was best that we suspended face to face consultations… temporarily! So it was, with a heavy heart and feeling of utter strangeness, that we locked up today. ๐Ÿ˜ท


However rest assured we are well and truly still here for you. We are available by phone, text and messenger. ๐Ÿ˜˜

We can do Skype or Messenger video calls. Pour yourself a glass and spam me with your Pinterest and wedding ideas ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿท

Our Etsy shop is still open and we will be adding more items every week. I’ll finally have time to upcycle all those vintage dresses, ombre a ton of veils and make accessories!

My studio is actually more isolated than my house! Or I will be sewing from home and ombre in my garden! ๐Ÿฆš

Watch this space for Etsy listings. ๐Ÿ˜

We have been in touch with all our brides who have had to postpone so far. As for those of you who haven’t yet, do not hesitate to get in touch. Bexbrides Ltd has drawn up a Covid 19 plan to protect everyone who is affected.

We feel your sorrow. I have cried so much this week. Those of you with destination weddings could have floated there on my ocean of tears.

But rest assured, we are not going anywhere (can’t as I have to stay homeโ€ฆ but seriously, Bexbrides will be ready and waiting for you when you are able to have your weddings.)

Take care, stay safe.

LOVE BEX AND MARIE (AND CHRISTINE) XX