Bridal Buyer gets an exclusive look into a typical day of bridal shoe designer, Di Hassall
Diane Hassall is an elegant bridal footwear brand by British designer Di Hassall. With over 30 years’ in the bridal footwear industry and years working for larger companies as Head of Design, Di decided to return to making a more niche, higher quality product a few years back and thus Diane Hassall was established.
A typical morning for me is waking up at 6.30AM then followed by a nice walk up the Cotswold hills with my friends their dogs. I like to be healthy, so breakfast is usually a smoothie for myself and my husband with some fruit or nuts.
My studio is at home, so I start work around 8.30AM. My morning usually begins with the ‘housekeeping’ jobs, so I’ll answer emails, sort any orders that need packing and sending out and also place any new orders with production. I love seeing the boxes go out of the door, it’s very satisfying knowing that brides have chosen your shoes for their big day.
When all of that’s done I’ll take a look at social media and see what needs doing, then generally move on to the more creative aspects of my job which I love the most. This will usually consist of designing sourcing fabrics and suedes or putting together bespoke pieces for our stockists.
The creative side is obviously what I love the most, but running your own business is about so much more than that, especially now that social media plays such a big part in brand awareness. Sometimes a whole morning can be taken up answering queries and comments. So before I can even begin to think about doing anything creative, I have social media and other things to worry about.
The afternoons are just a continuation from the morning unless I have meetings, in which case I’m often out for the whole day. If the morning has been swallowed up by the day to day stuff I try to find time for something creative in the afternoons -I have an ongoing list of sampling I’m working on, so it never stops.
On a really busy day, lunchtime can just pass me by or might consist of a Diet Coke and a piece of chocolate but if things are a bit more relaxed and I have time, I’ll stop for half an hour, make a salad and maybe have some fruit.
I’ll usually finish up around 6PM, but then I’m often back on the laptop or doing something work-related in the evenings, after dinner or even while I’m cooking!
With my evenings, I like to catch up with my husband and family to see what they have been up too. We generally eat together, and this is a nice time to chat about our days. After dinner, I’m often back on the laptop to do some more work-related stuff but I make sure I leave some time to switch off later in the evening.
I love to watch a good drama or film with my husband to switch off, and when I go to bed I like to read. I’m currently reading Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks.
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My favourite part of the day is my early morning walk up in the hills. I’m very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world with amazing views and scenery, it sets me up for the day and I always get to my desk with a clear head ready for the day.
Working from home, however, can have its drawbacks. I sometimes wish I could just switch off at 6PM, but inevitably my evenings are spent catching up on things, which can impact on time with my family.
It’s only been a couple of years since I relaunched my brand as an independent designer, so it’s still full-on. We’re getting quite a lot of engagement through Instagram and social media with influencers and fashion brands, so I’m keen to see where that takes us.
I’m adding in some new colours and some styles aimed at the Mother of the Bride too - our shoes are very wearable after the wedding, so they are a great investment buy. I’m continuing to push the embroidery and bespoke elements, as this is what I love doing.
The current collection, ‘Wild Summer Garden’ is all about pretty summer florals with colourful embroidery and shimmery hand-beading, I’ve always said this collection is for real shoe lovers who want to shout about their gorgeous wedding shoes not hide them away.
I feel so lucky to do my job, every day is different and varied. Yes there are tough days that never seem to end, and of course, the buck stops here with your own business, but it’s a lovely industry and it’s a privilege to be a tiny part of someone’s big day, I never forget that.
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If you enjoyed reading about Alison’s day, make sure you read the diary entrance of Terry Fox, Creative Director of The Academy of Couture Sewing and Creative Textiles.