Director of Blush Boutique
Blush Boutique, Lisburn Rd, Belfast.
Aileen opened Blush Boutique over nine years ago, starting from scratch to build it into a thriving bridal business. Having previously studied retail and distribution management and with a background in fashion retail Aileen was equipped to spot a niche gap in the market which led to the creation of Blush.
A Day In The Life
My days vary depending on the needs of the business but a typical morning for me starts at 7am, earlier if I have a lot on. I have three boys and mornings in my house are hectic trying to get them all fed, ready and out to school, as well as making myself presentable for the day ahead.
I leave the house and take all the boys to school. We live in the country so it’s quite a commute from our house into Lisburn to school.
I drop the boys at school and then I make my way down the Lisburn Road to Blush. The shop doesn’t open until 10.00am but I like to get in early to get myself sorted for the day.
I arrive at Blush, check emails and do some admin work, sometimes I schedule early meetings depending on what is happening.
Some days I can have quite a few bridal consultations on which means I'm needed in the store but on other days I can have none.
At the moment I have quite a lot of other things happening with Blush, which I’m setting more time aside to work on, such as the designer Ian Stuart bridal showcase in The Merchant Hotel on November 23.
I’m also busy working on setting up an online Blush store.
Typically a bridal consultation will last one hour. During this period I get the bride to fill in a questionnaire before we start – this gives me a sense of her individual style and helps me to see what she’s looking for in a wedding dress.
Then I would take her through each of the collections that we keep and explain the dresses and designers. As I’m doing this I will get a feel for what she likes and dislikes and from this we’ll choose out several dresses for her to try on.
It's unlikely a bride to be will choose her dress on the first appointment but it will have given her lots to think about for the next time.
A meeting with the printer about flyers, posters and stationery for the shop and the Ian Stuart event which means proof reading and providing ideas of what I want them to look like. After this I check over all the marketing material for upcoming campaigns.
A quick trip to the gym for a 30 minute workout. My gym is just across the road from the shop, which is really handy especially when I have such a busy schedule.
I drive into town for a meeting at The Merchant Hotel to finalise details of the Ian Stuart bridal showcase, liaising with our PR agency CMPR, The Merchant and the florist.
After this it's onto another meeting with the online team as I am currently developing a Blush online store, which should be up and running by the end of November.
I have another meeting and a bite to eat with a friend who I have asked to host the Ian Stuart event. This is the first I have eaten anything all day and quite a few days would be like that as I just don’t have time. However, I do make a point of once a week taking all my staff out for lunch.
I feel that’s really important – it’s good for staff morale, it gives them a chance to get out of the store and catch up, plus it’s great for me to be given any information that I need to know in terms of what’s going well, what’s selling, what’s not, what brides are looking for, reactions to new products. It’s kind of a working lunch with the team.
Blush closes at 5pm, but when I’m out and about I tend to work on to get everything done. I get home at around 6.30pm and start into homework with the kids.
Johnny my husband is great. He collects the boys from school and makes the tea in the evenings as he’s home before me and is a better cook than I am!
My eldest son has Asperger’s, he is in primary seven and working towards his transfer test in a couple of weeks, so homeworks are very important. My middle son has really severe dyslexia therefore homework has to be done one on one and he prefers to do it with me.
Homework usually finishes and then the boys get their pyjamas on ready for bed, they have a bit of a chill out time and then we start the bedtime routine. Johnny and I take turns at doing this, that way the kids get an even part of each of us. Josh goes to bed at 8.15, Ollie goes to bed at 8.30pm and Ryan goes to bed at 8.45, with Ryan we have to do a little bit of relaxation with him before he goes to bed to help him relax, because he doesn’t sleep great.
Once I have all the children into bed, I will then grab something to eat myself, because dinner time is always over when I get home, and then I start answering emails.
I stop all work, watch Newsnight, read a bit of a book and do some meditation to relax before bed at 11.30pm.