There are a couple of questions I get asked A LOT during my appointments. I am always happy to talk shop, but I thought it might be helpful to answer a few in the written word.
"Where do you find all your dresses?"
This is probably the question I get asked the most. The truth is I don't find it hard to find good vintage dresses, in fact I sometimes have to stop myself from buying too much. I do buy a lot online from other dealers (2 babies in 2 years has limited my ability to travel!), but I am also constantly on the lookout in other vintage shops and second hand shops.. you just never know where something fab will turn up.
What makes the difference is I quite often adapt dresses before they even go in the shop... this can be something simple like taking up the hem line, shortening a sleeve an inch, or something more elaborate like removing a sleeve altogether. When I'm sourcing I have to be able to make a quick judgement - not based on the dress as it is, but on the potential of each dress. I guess it's what they call "having an eye."
"How did you get into this?"
Understandably, my clients are always interested in how Archive 12 came to be, and what my background is. So here goes..
I studied fashion and textiles ands moved to London after graduating. There I did work experience for a year for FREE (!) at lots of different fashion mags like Marie Claire, Grazia, Elle, Harpers Bazaar etc. This helped me to gain work as a freelance stylist assistant, which I totally loved. I worked mainly with music artists helping with their music videos, TV appearances and so on. It was a very exciting time in my life, and my heart still lies with styling photoshoots. It's my comfort zone and is why I am always planning my next shoot for A12!
So after 4 years in London, I was assisting a stylist called Charlie Brear. She had just set up a company called The Vintage Wedding Dress co, and asked if I wanted to work on Saturdays doing the bridal appointments. Within months TVWDC was so busy she offered me a full time job managing the showroom. I found doing the appointments a real joy, and also loved the organisation side of managing. But suddenly I had pangs to move back to Belfast. After almost 10 years away I felt I wanted to be near my family, and so made the plan to move back home.
(FYI Charlie is now one of the top British bridal designers! - charliebrear.com)
Once back I tried to get work as a stylist in Belfast, but unfortunately there just wasn't the volume of work available. By luck I met a friend at a party who worked on movies.. he gave me a contact for the costume dept for a movie called 'Your Highness' being filmed in Belfast.
And so began my costume career. I got into the business at just the right time, and have been lucky enough to work for the last 7 years on a wide range of jobs including Game of Thrones.
Anyone who is very curious can check out my credits on IMDB
But in 2013 after my first baby was born I decided that the long film hours were too hard to do full time. I had always wanted to open a vintage bridal shop in Belfast as I knew there wasn't anything like that here, and so within a couple of weeks I had rented a space and Archive 12 was born! I still dip into costume work if something juicy comes up but I love being able to work my own hours, and actually spend time with my girls too. Plus there's no other satisfaction quite like running your own business and seeing it grow.
While these 2 are without a doubt the questions I get asked on a daily basis, last weekend the teenage daughter of a client, mid appointment said to me,
"You just have the dream job, don't you?"
My initial reaction was to blush and brush off her comment, but then I thought about it and was like, hang on, this is my dream job!
And so thanks to her for making me realise how lucky I am, and to be grateful for everything that has happened with Archive 12. I dreamed of a job with a better work/life balance and the creative drive to run my own business... and I have been able to make that happen.
I love meeting new clients and helping them style their bridal look, each one totally unique. Seeing how everything lights up - eyes, body language - when a bride tries on a dress that makes her feel all at once totally fabulous, but completely at home.
THANK YOU for helping me to make it happen. XX
To book in for your private appointment get in touch with me here.