Monrose Award-Winning Boutique
Winner of Cotswold Life Cheltenham Bid Awards 2019 Customer Service Award.
Winner of Gloucestershire Region of England's Business Awards Best Fashion Boutique 2019. Now we're through to the Nationals!
Emma Durrant told her story to Beth Cox from the BBC:
I’ve always had my own style with how I dress and my love of the vintage look has evolved over the years. Both Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith, have had a massive influence on my style and how I like to dress.
However when I was pregnant with my son in 2013, I found I couldn’t wear these nice dresses whilst I was pregnant & I was constantly window shopping on the internet at wiggle dresses as none were available locally to me.
After my son was born I started again wearing vintage dresses all the time. Everyone was saying “Oh where’d you get your dress from”, and I know form personal experience myself that buying on the internet is an absolute nightmare.
So the idea of setting up a local shop came to mind & One day my husband found out about a building was up to let, we took a look & And that was it, that’s where we started.
I’m now going in to my fourth year.
I never thought too much about it – just jumped in headfirst, I'm glad I did!
I never thought I would work for myself, not in a million years! I wasn’t the smartest at school, I wasn’t very interested. I’m actually dyslexic and at school it had a really bad stigma. I told my mum not to tell any of the teachers, the kids didn’t know. I was good at disguising it.
I went in to college, because my parents said it was either a full-time job or full-time education, otherwise you have to fend for yourself. So I did four years at college, and did absolutely nothing!
I then had my children and my parents were happy because they thought I’d finally find myself, but no! Having this business shows you don’t need to the academic knowledge.
You need common sense, but most importantly a passion that drives you.
The hardest thing for me, because I was a full-time stay-at-home mother for my daughter, I had the guilt of going to work full-time and having to get childcare for my son, which for me, was the hardest. I still carry the guilt but I’m doing it for their future, they enjoy coming to work with me. I get a lot of coverage and everyone seems to know me, so my children absolutely love that.
As for buying the dresses… When I first started doing it I got more dresses of the same style, and the same cut and colour.
But I’ve learnt now I only get one or two of the same dresses.
Cheltenham is quite small. Wearing these dresses you definitely don’t want to be bumping in to somebody else wearing the same dress.
I know I have to buy something for everybody. I have got quite loud taste, but it’s working. The ladies seem to love what I buy in so I believe I’ve got an eye for it. Who would’ve thought?!
Now we’ve got the website, I will be buying more of the one dress so everyone can have a choice.
I always get lots of ideas. They’re usually at about 3am so I have to wake everyone in the house up to tell them my new exciting idea.
My husband is now at the point where he just shakes his head. He used to talk to me about it and try and advise me, especially if he wasn’t so sure. But now he’s at the point where he knows they work. They work!
He always says “you’re crazy” but I think you’ve got to be a bit. You’ve got to be a bit out there.
And everyone embraces the craziness too, they love it! If ever I have the odd day where I’m wearing jeans people stop and are like “What’s with the jeans, where’s the dress?!” I don’t even know who they are most of the time.
I enjoy it so much, I just cannot get enough of it! My time just flies by.
I think with life, you’ve got to make sure you’re happy. You create what you want to be doing.
I’m at that position of my life where I’m doing what I want to be doing. I’m pursuing happiness!
I love people. I love meeting people, I love talking. People read your body language too: I’m very open. I walk around with people in the shop so I can get to know them, advise them. People come in browsing, the go home with dresses! They always say it’s addictive wearing them.
Something else I do is make the hair accessories. We have fascinators, hair flowers, they go like hot cakes!
We have something for everyone, All body shapes, all ages. This look is perfect for everybody. The ladies love it, the gentlemen love seeing their lady in our dresses. There’s so many compliments from everybody.
People always come back in tell me how amazing they felt.
When people step out of the changing room and I tell them they look amazing I genuinely mean it.
It’s the ultimate job satisfaction, It’s priceless! Absolutely priceless. That is exactly why I do this.
If I don’t think it’s right I say it, you’ve got to be honest with the customers.
I’m not after single sales, I’m after customers for life.
All the models on the website are customers. I like to use real women, I believe everyone deserves a go at having their pictures taken, hair and make-up done. So as loyal customers, its my way of thanking them is being able to create these opportunities.
Getting dressed up and having the make-over is part of the Monrose experience.
I don’t want people just coming in, buying something and going back out.
I want everyone to have the Monrose experience…
By the time they’ve left, everyone knows they’ve had one!
We also rent out our shop as a location and our good friend Kim Cypher used it for her recent music video:
Checkout Kim's Website at www.kimcypher.co.uk
Video used with Kim's kind permission.