Monday, 16 August 2010

I won a shop!

I won a shop!

The news of my win in Coventry's "The Business" competition had finally sunk in. Naturally this soon presented me with a new to convert this empty shell into a quirky fashion boutique worthy of displaying my designs in. Fortunately for me, I had recently met http://http// a company full of enthusiasm for my project. Champions

dedicated team swung into action.

Now these guys are not work shy....long hours and overnight stints are the norm...whatever it takes to get the job done....

Now, how many men does it take to......(only kidding guys!)

The girls worked hard too!

The Coco Chanel theme was taken very seriously!

Within a couple of weeks the shop was complete!

The transformation complete..........the shop opens on 17th August 2010!

14 City Arcade, Coventry. CV1 3HW

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Can You Keep a Secret?!!!

I love watching Mary Portas in her quest to help small businesses maintain their presence on Britain's high streets. After all, I do despair at the duplication of our town centres across the country. I can't be the only person who wants to see quaint and quirky shops adding their own splash of colour to our towns and villages. But as the owner of a home based business, I am only too aware of just how difficult that is to achieve, given the high rents and business rates that such retail outlets command.
So you can imagine how my eyes lit up when I saw a local competition to win a shop. I had to read that twice! I had dreamt of having a shop to showcase my designs in. Unfortunately it had all seemed a little pie in the sky given my personal circumstances...that was until I saw "The Business" competition. The prize was a shop in the heart of Coventry's city free for a year with business rates paid by CV One and a media package between the local radio station, Mercia, and the Coventry Telegraph . The total prize value was a staggering £120,000.
I've been running my business from home for the past eight years. I was a dressmaker prior to that in what was little more than a paying hobby. On becoming a single parent I had to reinvent not only myself, but also the business into a viable venture capable of sustaining a family of three.That was a challenge and a half with no backing....and no financial support. But hey...we survived and a new business emerged built around a niche product.....corsets.
Whilst working from home was not ideal, as a single mother to two children it DID suit me. I've seen a lot of the children...had no need for childcare....and on the odd occasion when I have had a sick child.....I've been able to put them to bed and carry on working.
Its also been a huge learning curve. I've become more disciplined, and I have successfully trained my friends and family not to pop round for coffee! In fact, I am quite proud of the way I have blended work and home life.
With a marketing budget of zero, I've become more imaginative in making sure people knew I existed.Even the cashier at our local supermarket says "Oh, you're the corset lady!"
I've got to grips with the web site...Facebook and blogging....all a complete mystery to me at the start!
So with my children now grown up, this innovative competition appeared at just the right time. An extensive questionnaire followed by a lengthy business plan secured my place in the final.This was to be a real test...pitching Dragon's Den style to a panel of five.
On the day of the pitch I arrived at the Coventry Telegraph offices in a buoyant mood. My friend Teresa and I had literally stopped the traffic whilst manhandling a corseted mannequin through the streets of Coventry! To say we had a positive response was something of an understatement! All I needed to do now was to convince the three men and two ladies on the panel.......
A phone call the next day provided one of life's moments that I will remember forever...."Can you keep a secret? You've won!" said the nice man from the council!
So...this will be the most fascinating year of my life as I embark on a second transformation....from home based business owner to high street retailer.
Fasten your seatbelts............

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Cannes Film Festival 2010

Being stranded at the Cannes Film Festival due to volcanic ash wasn't one of the greatest hardships I've had to endure in my life!

So what was I doing there? Well....I was invited under the umbrella of my business( and it would have been rude to say no! Simple really!!!

As a lover of both fashion and films...its fair to say that it was quite an intoxicating break in the glorious sunshine of the South of France.(
Hospitality was provided by the fabulous Intandem Films ( and my days were punctuated by attending screenings of their latest offerings.

The first was "One Night in Turin" ( an historic account of the events leading up to the 1990 World Cup. Now I am not a football fanatic (as those of you who recall the occasion when I was asked to present the "Man of the match" award at Coventry City Football Club, are well aware! Little did I know that I would also have to CHOOSE the player in question- no mean feat for a girl who knows NOTHING about football! I did, however, do what I do best, and selected the man with the best legs!) This time it was my memory not my....errrr....skill.....that was put to the test! In fact, as the true story unfolded, it triggered many personal memories of that time, followed closely by a sense of shock at the realisation that twenty years had since passed! It's a great story so if you football mad partner wants to drag you along....I say'll enjoy it!!!
The second and third films were so moving, that despite being back at work, the scenes are still tresspassing in my thoughts.

"The Kid" is a harrowing true story of a boy beaten and starved by his parents and then caught up in the criminal underworld. Its a heartbreaking film with a happy ending. Truly inspiring and one I will watch again. In fact, thinking about it....this film should be compulsive viewing for every teacher in the land (

And lastly, "Beneath Hill 60"is based on another true I had not heard before.Australian miners were signed up during the second world war to tunnel beneath enemy lines to plant explosives under the German forces. The subsequent blast was heard in London! Imagine that!!! Its incredible to think that the vivid and horrific trench scenes were actually filmed in tropical Queensland...amazing!(

And other than ....parties and dining out in fabulous company......what more could a girl ask for?!!!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Help For Heroes Photo Shoot

I have an amazing friend, Erika, who is about to take on the biggest challenge of her life. She is going to climb Killimangaro in aid of a charity very close to her heart......Help for Heroes ( Erika's very own hero..her son Bradley, is currently serving in Afghanistan. I, along with her many other friends, look on with amazement at not only the bravery of these young men and women, but that of their families too. Just take a look at the photograph below of Erika and John welcoming their hero back home.You wont fail to be moved by the emotion of it all......

Now at the very first suggestion of me joining the team to climb Killimangaro, I swiftly volunteered to do what I do best instead...make a corset! A camouflage corset...naturally!

A photo shoot was quickly organized by John ( at Wellesbourne Airfield alongside the Vulcan Bomber.

Special thanks to all who volunteered their time and expertise
Models Kylie and Chloe
Jems Photograpy 01788 535749
Hair by Julie 07722908016
Make up by Susan 07899928555

For more information please visit

Friday, 23 April 2010


Hi! I'm designer to real women (no size zeros in my studio!) I always think that the term "Fashion Designer" can really conjure up the wrong image.....think more "girl next door who wants every woman to experience that red carpet feeling" than "barking mad creative type who designs unwearable catwalk clothes!"
I specialize in corsets (yes..AND skirts AND shrugs etc..the complete look!)I am blessed with amazing customers...all are are incredible women each in their own way. Relationships are built alongside the design and construction of their outfits. Its always a fun experience and many clients stay on as friends, and later return to model in photo shoots and at events.They get to meet each other and have frequently been referred to as "The Wesley Girls"!
So who wears a corset? Let me tell you..EVERY woman should own a corset! Why? they look great (always attention grabbing outfits if I say so myself!) and they feel wonderful to wear.Lots of people expect them to be uncomfortable (appalling historical reputation I guess) but these corsets are made from modern materials, give great shape and support, and are unbelievably comfortable to wear.
But one thing that surprises customers the most, is just how many opportunities they get to wear their beloved corsets.Think about could spend £350 on a (mass produced) ball gown..wear it a couple of times...then it will sit in the wardrobe forever. Invest in a corset (ready to wear or made to measure) and in 5 years time you'll still be wearing it! I know because clients from 8+ years ago tell me so!
Wear it to
  • a ball

  • a wedding (as guest or bride!)

  • a date

  • a restaurant

  • to dinner with friends

  • the wine bar with a pair of jeans

Value for money? You work it out! (And guys...NEVER again will she be able to say.."but I've got nothing to wear"!!!)
I am very fortunate that I can put my hand on my heart and say that I love what I do. Being creative is only half the story.Its the people that I meet, both clients and other creatives in conected businesses, that make my life so exciting. Its been an amazing story so far...pop back...I'd like to share it with you!

Gillian x