Eclectic Blog

If it looks too good to be true…

I’ve seen a few posts recently about online dresses from lots of different sites.
 
They seem so appealing due to their price!!
 
Why are they so affordable and bridal boutiques or legitimate sites more expensive?
 
There is a reason why they are cheaper, I’ll list a few:
  • They steal images, so they have no commercial photography costs , no brand building advertising costs.
  • They use low grade fabrics, low grade trims, low grade crystals ( plastic instead of glass etc)
  • They use low grade boning.
  • They use unethical methods of supporting and paying employees
  •  
  • They do not provide a bricks and mortar retail environment where you can go and try, and establish what shape suits you, get advice on fit, feel the fabrics. ( some do offer a chargable service to send out to try, which is good, but most don’t

This is just a few examples above.

So how do brides find out what will suit them if the online company does not send out, what to do?
 
These companies ( can you believe!) Encourage you to go visit the very independent stores whose designers they have ripped off , they encourage you to utilise their staff, access the use of those businesses running costs ( rent, staff, sample dresses, electricity, insurance, advertising etc) take up their time and expertise. These are expensive costs which is why dresses in real boutiques, selling genuine designers, where you can touch, feel, asses the quality, TRY ON and be advised and use an hour or three of their time to get the perfect dress, why they are more costly.
 
 
Then they Encourage you to walk away after effectively using that expertise for free ( you see now why many have starred to charge) walk away and order a knock off replica online once you have accessed expertise to see what suits you.๐Ÿ˜ฎ
I am an independent boutique owner, selling designers dresses, plus my own bespoke designs.
 
If I did not have to staff my boutique, insure it, rent it, heat it, spend usually around 4 to 5 hours with each client communicating and helping them choose ( not including fitting and sewing time) then I too could slash prices, If I did not go to the expense of hiring models and doing photo shoots of my dresses, if I just stole other people’s photos I could charge less. But its ethically and morally wrong
๐Ÿฅน
 
I am not anti online shopping, in fact I have a lot of clients who purchase remotely, ( etsy, shopify,Instagram) mostly the ones in USA , Australia and New Zealand , but I would NEVER ask them to go waste another independent businesses time. Instead I take the time ( from my business costs) to communicate with them, take extensive measurements, do video calls. Also I protect them and adhere to distance selling rules.
 
Our beautiful, talented, passionate indie boutiques and designers in the UK are struggling, the world is being consumed by alibaba, aliexpress, temu, amazon, shein ( do love shein mind!!๐Ÿคฃ, as it is hard to find daywear when you, like me are a size 22, but they mostly ( not alwats) do their own photos)
PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR BRIDAL RETAILERS, use it or lose it.
 
For those on a lower budget there are lots of options, all boutiques always have samples at up to 75% off, you can buy pre loved, vintage, retro etc.
 
Please help be part of the solution, not the problem.
 
BEX proud to be an indie bridal retailer and designer.
 
Thanks for listening xxxx
Below is a photo of a vintage/ retro dress that I hand coloured, so its totally original, as it was a 40 year old dress that I customised, I had it on etsy, but the client came to my studio and had it fitted, it was about ยฃ400 plus alts, so very affordable, an original one off. But look at all those copt sites. What on earth would you receive, they dont have a photo of the front for starters so did they just take a wild guess!
I’m bloody certain it would not be a vintage/retro dress that had been hand coloured!!

“As soon as you mention weddings the price goes up” – true or false?

This is a copy of a post I made on Facebook. See below for the full text.
 
 
 
Here are some of the responses:
 
(Thanks to Offbeat WedLinkin)
 
Its not often than things make me so incandescently mad that i have to put them straight immediately!
But this is one of those times.
Anything you book for your wedding will have a different price than the same or similar service if its not for a wedding.
If you have a dress made for a party will you spend up to 3 years talking to me, exchange often 50 to 150 messages, spend hours choosing fabrics and designs. Have 4 to 6 fittings??
Probably not? Thats why a bespoke wedding dress costs what it does, not because it has wedding in the title!
If you are having your hair done for a party or a night out, will you want to have one or more trials, will you want to exchange dozens of messages about your hair and wedding vibe, have a trial possibly with your hair accessory in? Will it need to stay looking fabulous for up to 16 hours?
Probably not, thats why wedding hair costs more, because its more difficult, takes more consideration and communication not because it has the word wedding in it!
If you are having make up for a party or event, will you want the same amount of skill, communication and attention to detail as mentioned above for hair? Probably not! Will it need to cope with different lightning, day and night, flash and no flash, will it Need to last 16 hours??
Thats why it costs more, not because it begins with Bridal!
The same goes for your food, your photographer, your styling. All have to be meticulously planned, it’s probably the most photographed , most important event you will ever plan and be part of.
LIE TO YOUR SUPPLIER??
WHAT SORT OF ADVICE IS THAT??
Shame on you bride book!!๐Ÿ˜ก
Who , do not forget provide a service to couples which is entirely funded by those suppliers they are asking their readers to lie to.๐Ÿคฏ
Thanks to Plaits And Pin Curls – Award Winning Bridal Hair Plaits And Pin Curls – Award Winning Bridal Hairfor raising this, as i don’t use Bridebook so didn’t see it.
Absolutely disgusting behaviour.
Thankfully all my clients recognise the value and expertise a skilled wedding professional brings.๐Ÿฅฐ
Bridebook – The No.1 Wedding Planning App
I strongly suggest you have a word with yourselves!!

Love knows no restrictions

This week has been hard, last week was hard, my mental health is hanging in there.

When you suffer with mental health or anxiety or both , when you have a flare up you feel incredibly isolated,ย  as you feel like you are drowning,ย  when all around you are ok.

For me this time it’s different, I’m not alone.

250,000 other small wedding business owners are in the same position, so rather than isolated in my anxiety, I feel overwhelmed, I feel all their pain too.

Last time when I was really struggling with my mental health I felt alone, folk see your happy bubbly face, and your successful career,ย  your home, your family and friends.ย 

They wonder why you would struggle?ย 

You wonder why on earth you struggle!

Several years ago 2012-2014 I had a serious breakdown,  a build up of unresolved issues over the years, my sisters death,  my weight, my first marriage breakdown etc.

Luckily I had an epic psychotherapist (Mandi) who helped me, plus I have an awesome husband who read up and learnt how to help. With their help and the help of my family, friends and my colleagues and clients in the industry I love I survived.

My therapist read me a short story called “The tree that survived the winter.”

Here is a link to it being read on YouTube

https://youtu.be/ymW2QzhuaJE

She said I was that tree, I truly hope so, as I’m facing my worst winter ever.

It is staring me in the face, daring me to turn and run, to hide,  to shelter.

I refuse to turn, I refuse to run, I even refuse to shelter.

I will just add extra layers, find a way through or around . On the worst , the coldest days when the despairing gales batter me I may just hide on those days, but I will see that as sensible,ย  not failure.

The last few weeks when I, and all in my industry were finding a new way, a plan, to survive on the few 30 person weddings going ahead, we had processed the situation,ย and thought “Ok this is where we are”,we had done the maths, and tightened our belts.

Then “The rule of 6! ” Wham, sideways knock. It’s fine they said, does not affect weddings, but it did, as it was a confidence knock to those hanging on for an October announcement lifting numbers.

Then “Weddings to be 15 people, for six months ”

๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿ˜ข

Whoa, stop, I want to get off the world   this is too much, too little,  not enough. ๐Ÿ˜ช

My inbox starts to ping…

“Can we move to 2022, 2023”

“What happens with my deposit”

“We are bringing the wedding forward,  to this Saturday! Can you finish my dress”

Meanwhile the groups I am in, brides groups,  suppliers groups are all in total freefall, in meltdown.

It’s too much.

I can’t think.

  I can’t breathe. 

BEX, breathe, deep breaths, in out, in out.

I’ve had 2 of the worst occipital neuralgia attacks I’ve had in five years in the last 2 weeks,ย  imagine your head is being slowly crushed whilst knitting needles are inserted into your ears whilst feeling like you will vomit.ย 

Yep, not fun.

I have an award winning business.ย  Multi award winning! ๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ†

I WILL NOT BE TOLD MY BUSINESS,ย  MY INDUSTRY IS NOT VIABLE. ๐Ÿ˜ก

Who do they think they are??๐Ÿ˜ 

So here I am facing my worst winter, with my tools to survive.

*My Brand & reputation

*My skills

( luckily I can sew anything)

*My etsy shop- so the world is my lobster

https://etsy.me/3j4JZ9j

*My support network- family and work

*The fact that I chose to build my business in an affordable location to satisfy my affordability ethos for my clients.

My biggest strength is my clients, they have my back, I have had not one single refund request, all are working with me, they have all said no matter what the one thing we know is that you must make/ alter/ provide my dress.

I thank them from the depths of my heavy heart xx ๐Ÿ–ค

It’s all very overwhelming, and difficult, but life is overwhelming and difficult.

That is something I have learnt the hard way.

I feel angry and frustrated that my 1, 3 and 5 year plans are now 2, 5 and 10 year plans, it is unfair, unjust.

Tolkien below sums it up perfectly for me.

So…

What now then you ask??

Well, we have still had a few brides grab the chance and elope or have a 6 person/ 30 person/ 15 person wedding and I’ll share a few images with you.

Going forward we anticipate a flurry of brides who actually bring forward their marriage and then have the party or reception later.

For the medium term we are coming to terms with the fact that the “micro wedding ” is our clients reality at least for the next 6 months, if not longer.

As our ethos has always been empowerment and affordability I feel this means we are going to be in a strong position and able to help those brides who want to forge ahead, with a scaled back, stripped down wedding.

They just want to be married, for whatever reason.

They will not let a virus stop them marrying their soulnext mate.

It might hinder, postpone , mess around with the sharing with family and friends, the party, “the main event” as some call it.

Some brides will forge ahead, some will hold back. It depends on what you as a couple want from your wedding.

And no one can decide who is right, or who is wrong. A 2 witness elopement is just as important as a 400 guest celebration and vice versa.

All I know is I will be here, at the helm of my crazy ship Bexbrides Ltd, with my trusty first mate Marie !! and we will not sink,though we might have to do a bit of bailing especially through this winter storm.

But we are both little mighty redheads, we will not be defeated !

But like the tree, I will survive as will Bexbrides.

I think we will all be taking a deep hard look at weddings, and marriage and what it means to each of us, and finding a way around that works.

No virus, no government can stop love.

And providing you can actually legally find a place to marry ( and probably even if you couldn’t, as for some couples it is be enough to just say the words) we can still do this!

This is the time to focus,  strip it back to the reason you want to bind yourselves legally, morally, spiritually whatever is your jam, to another human, another soul!

Screw Covid 19, shit government, endless roundabout of rules and red tape.

Bring it on!!

You can’t restrict love, it can’t count, it will seep out and around the rules, it will fly over the internet,ย out of phone screens and into our hearts.

Over the phone lines, in letters, in texts  in videos.
Photos,  oh my , photos will become even more important!

We will plan and we will find new ways to get married,ย and in the future revisit with after parties ( maybe waaaaayyyy after lol) we will have vow renewals 6 months later, a year later.

We will all find a way to do it.

DON’T GIVE UP.

Louisa and Rob at their socially distanced 30 person wedding.
Pippa and Dean at their socially distanced wedding in Wales.
Lorna and Sai, planned a cruise wedding, but had to just elope on their own, big party next year instead.

Alex and Michael their wedding was supposed to be the first day of lockdown so the Friday night they found out no wedding next day so they and their guests had to just eat all the buffet that night! They have since had a 30 person wedding at a glamping site.

I expect to see more and more of our brides find ways around, and a small marriage and later reception will be the way forward for many.

I’ve gone on a bit, so I’ll finish now. ๐Ÿ˜‚

I’ll leave you with a few things a peice about me in the press ( I was interviewed before the 15 person bombshell so was a little bit more bouncy, than I am today), but I’ll bounce back, just give my branches time to survive this current gale.

And the best thing I’ve saved til last this slideshow of Louisa and Robs 30 person wedding at Arnos vale. Captured perfectly by Ruby Walker Photography https://ruby-walker-photography.smartslides.com/louisa-rob-arnos-vale

Look at the love, nothing can put restrictions or boundaries on it.

Louisa and Rob, married!

And me in the press, again…

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/18737493.darlington-bridal-business-bexbrides-keeping-ahead-changes-wedding-culture/

And last but not least, me with some of my wedding industry family, working in a wood on Monday to style an awesome circus themed wedding shoot. Watch this space for photos…

Photo by Lucy Ray

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
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