A day in the life of bridal retailer, business mentor and columnist, Abigail Neil
Abigail Neil is the owner of multi-award-winning bridal & menswear shop, Abigail’s Collection. Set-up with her husband Robert, Abi launched her own bridal boutique after her own negative experience when shopping for her wedding dress. Also a business mentor, columnist, features writer, TWIA & Bridal Buyer Awards judge, Abi has a wealth of knowledge across the entire bridal industry.
Her boutique, located in Colchester, Essex, prides itself on having a personal, private and unique experience, which remains the very core of everything she stands for. We sat down with Abi to find out about what an average day looks like.
Read More: Abi Neil on Business Measures
My days are usually packed full of things to do, so before I can begin to tackle any of them, I have to have a posh cup of coffee in my Mother’s Day Wedgewood cup and saucer. I’m a real morning person, so I’ll usually wake up around 6AM, even on a non-work day! The first thing I do in the morning is snuggle (and semi-suffocate) my husband and eight-year-old daughter.
My mornings tend to vary according to day and workload. Some mornings I can be based from home, working with various bridal retailers on business to business projects. This usually consists of educating other retailers on important factors that will make or break a business model and determine success or failure.
However, other mornings I can be at the shop. If I am there, I’ll usually check in with the team and catch up with them over a cuppa. I’ll also check in on sales, customers, products and marketing and then I’ll offer any advice or guidance if needed.
It has been a bit hectic around the shop over the last few months as we have had a refurbishment so I’ve had to spend some extra time there. We wanted a new look and wanted to do start doing things a little differently and it’s paid off! The shop looks fantastic now!
My afternoons are just as busy and hectic. I’m constantly juggling busy motherhood with managing the team at the shop alongside my retail consultancy business and writing. This is an ongoing challenge, thwarted with guilt and pressure but I am always learning more about delegating my time.
Like any other retailer, my weekends are the busiest time. On Saturdays, I often finish around 6PM but on Sundays, it could be 9PM or later. I don’t want to sound like a boring fart, but I often find myself working evenings too. I find it really difficult to get a satisfactory work/life balance and I’ve come to realise that my businesses are a huge priority.
We had an awful summer this year and have crawled our way out of the recovery of a fire, so this has put a lot of things into perspective for me. However, we are back and are genuinely so excited about 2020!
I love spending my evenings with my daughter Arabella. She often has homework and theatre club but when she’s back we like to spend some quality ‘PFT’ and ‘LFT’ time together. (Phone Free Time and Laptop Free Time). The fact that we have a name for it, is an indication that finding the balance is not always easy.
Once Arabella is off to bed, I usually find myself working again! The pressure of running a business in today’s climate requires a significant commitment to social media. This task inevitably spills into home life so bedtime is often pushed to 11PM or midnight in order to get as much as possible created.
2020 is set to be a great year! The boutique has just taken on a new Australian bridal brand named Madi Lane. We have also consolidated labels to work even more closely with our existing brands. Alongside this, we will be ‘jazzing up’ our marketing strategy so we can continue to think outside the box.
Earlier this year we won the Drapers Wedding Boutique of the Year award which was absolutely epic! Due to this, we will continue to innovate and work to deliver a brilliant and beautiful wedding dress and menswear shopping experience. Next year we want to continue doing what is at the heart of what we stand for - delivering an amazing experience with exceptional products, fronted by a genuine customer-focused team.
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Want more? Check out what a typical working day is like for Megan Garmers, Founder and Director of The Bridal Masterclass.