“How has life changed? I’ve gone from being a bridalwear designer, to being a primary school teacher and a toddlers snack bitch.” Barbaranne Heaton, Founder of HOM The Collection on her new WFH daily routine
At the helm of HOM The Collection – a FRESH, exciting, achingly cool, Dubai-based bridal label – is head designer and founder, Barbaranne Heaton (who has not only killed me with her answers to this WFH Diary, but is a truly inspirational woman). Designed with the contemporary, rule-breaking bride in mind, the HOM The Collection’s first line, Goddess, is “a tribute to the modern day woman, her strength and ethereal beauty,” and no newly-engaged woman will be able to resist, trust me. BOY will you want to be a HOM bride, bridal babe. I caught up (digitally, of course) with this multitasking wonder woman to get her lowdown on lockdown…
#1 Provide us with three words that sum-up how you were feeling about lockdown when it first started, and then three words about how you feel now:
Before: “Won’t last long.”
After: “Send help, now!”
#2 What time do you get up? Has this changed? Is life a little slower? Talk to us about your new daily routine…
“How has life changed? I’ve gone from being a bridalwear designer, to being a primary school teacher and a toddlers snack bitch. Wake up time is the usual 6-6.30 am and we have a play and breakfast before
school starts. It’s a very structured learning programme my sons school have set, he Zooms his teacher at 8.20 am and then lessons begin, with a full timetable everyday of work to get through. My brain has certainly been put to the test these last few weeks, and I’d like to think my Arabic skills will be on point after we come through this! I have a question for you, though. What’s an adverb? Literally threw me. Week one.
After school is done, I then spend some time with my two year old who has pretty much been ignored all morning, so I try and strike a balance. I’ve never been more grateful for having a garden. The lockdown rules have been very strict here (in Dubai). Up until last week we were on a 24 hour lockdown and not allowed out of our house without a movement permit which you could only apply for every three days. We weren’t allowed
to go for walks and that was quite tough, but we’re lucky to have a garden. So, I get to about 3pm, start to consider whether it’s too early for wine, resist the temptation and then countdown the minutes until bedtime. Then I get to start my work at around 9pm. Hit repeat for the next day…and the next day…and the…!”
#3 How is lockdown impacting your business, and how can people support you?
“Due to the strict lockdown laws here in Dubai, it meant the workshop went on complete shut down for around 4-5 weeks. No one could travel so my team were stuck at home too, but they’re back in this week so we can start productivity again, which feels really positive. The main issue we are facing is the postponement of all the weddings. My entire bookings so far for 2020, aside a few that went out before the lockdowns, have now all been postponed until 2021. Like every bridal designer facing the same problem, it has a massive impact on cash flow. I feel positive next year will be a great year for weddings, but we all need to be able to keep going to get
to that point. I’m working really hard at the moment to try and generate new streams of cash flow to help the business run, and find a way to still have a functional business during times of social distancing. It’s actually been a great exercise in reviewing the business and how it works, and actually having the head space to be able to do it whilst things were on hold.
We introduced virtual appointments around five weeks ago and they have been amazing! It felt so good to stay connected to new brides, and really gave me a lot of motivation. Bespoke orders contribute towards around 90% of the business so it’s really important to keep that one-to-one element
with our brides. I am also noticing a real shift towards people wanting to support local, smaller businesses and designers throughout this time and I’m finding people reaching out to me more because of that. Despite this being a really tough time for any business owner, I feel so strongly about
the positive impact it will have on my own business because I’ve never appreciated it more than I do now and I’ve never wanted to fight more for it.”
#4 Name three local businesses you are supporting or would like to support more…
“There’s so many amazing businesses I’ve been trying to support through all this but if I had to name three they would be:
No.1 “Ginger and Poppy Bridal Boutique – myself and owner May have been in this together from the beginning. Offering daily (virtual) shoulders to cry on, business advice and just trying to make each other laugh through it. Going through all this with someone in the same boat puts everything into perspective.”
No.2 “Wolf & Ivy Events – the wonderful Florence of Wolf & Ivy has been making the most beautiful balloon bouquets for me to send to loved ones and friends during the lockdown. We’ve had birthdays, anniversaries, and she even helped me send some to my son’s teacher to cheer her up.”
No.3 “Our local grocery delivery company, Kibsons has been absolutely swamped with orders but still delivers on time and is helping me fight off the snack monsters that darken my door (feet) every 5 minutes!!!!”
#5 What’s your favourite isolation snack?
“There’s never any snacks left for me. Coffee and wine is my only pleasure.”
#6 What’s your most recommended quarantine pick-me-up when you’re feeling down?
“I’ve been listening to BBC Radio 2 every day during all this, it makes me feel a bit closer to home. When I’m feeling a bit down and a good song comes on I dance like a crazy woman around the kitchen. The kids have started joining in – highlight of my day really.”
#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dream continuously about)…
“I never seem to be able to find something called ‘FIVE MINUTES TO MYSELF!!!’ I’ve looked everywhere. Seems it doesn’t exist anymore.”
#8 What’s the strangest thing that’s happened during your lockdown period…
“On the first day of the 24 hour lockdown I saw my friend / neighbour taking her dog for a walk (obviously testing the rule) and I popped out to say hi and to have a ‘safe distanced’ chat with her over my wall. Next thing I know blue lights are flashing and the police are pulling over and telling her off for being out and sent her home. It was such surreal, bizarre moment.
We’ve never had to live in times like this and all of a sudden your freedom is so precious, and should never be taken for granted. Also, the other day, it genuinely took me a good few minutes to work out what day it was. That’s never happened before.”
#9 Favourite app for keeping in touch digitally with friends and family?
“Zoom is our life line. Not many video calling apps work here so it’s been amazing chatting every week with family. I’m now chief quiz master and run a weekly quiz for the UK fam every Thursday night. It took them about three weeks to work out how to mute themselves, it was carnage.”
#10 Name your lockdown hate:
#11 Name your lockdown love:
#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?
“When they lifted the permits last week we were allowed to go and see my sister-in-law due to the Dubai government now allowing family gatherings of up to five people. They only live five houses up from us but we hadn’t seen them in almost six weeks. We just hugged and cried for ages. It was the weirdest feeling. But with the travel restrictions being as they are the reality of being able to come home to the UK this summer to see our family is looking very unlikely and it may be a year until we see our parents. That’ll be really tough, but when we do all manage to be together again it will feel amazing.”
#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated?
“One of my beautiful brides sadly had her wedding cancelled recently (rather than postponed) for September, but still offered to pay the balance of her dress early so that I could cover wages this month. I cried when she messaged me, it’s been weighing really heavy on my mind managing the cash flow. I couldn’t believe how, through all the disappointment she must’ve been feeling, she was also thinking about us. There really are some truly amazing human beings in this world and there has never been a time more like now where it is becoming apparent.”
#14 Talk to us about what’s new at your brand?
“We’re currently knee deep in scrubs fabric! My brother is a front line worker for the NHS, he’s a paramedic, and it’s been tough on them all. I wanted to do something to help but also use our skills and resources that are currently on hold, and when I saw the national effort to provide scrubs for the NHS I really wanted us to help. Due to the strict 24 hour lockdown we were only able to start once it had been lifted but we’re cracking on this week and we’ll be sending our first set out in a few days. As a team we are loving making them and to everyone who has donated so far, in order for
us to make them, I’m so grateful. Thank you.”
#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:
No.1 “Freedom of movement.”
No.2 “My family.”
No.3 “The life that we have. It can be so easily all taken away from you.”
#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted?
“Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to at this point. I haven’t missed going out to bars and restaurants. I’ve missed people, communication, and the freedom to go out. If anything I’d just love to go and have a coffee and a good catch up with a friend.”
#17 What series have you now completed on Netflix? Any recommendations?
“I’ve honestly not watched a lot on Netflix during lockdown, but one thing I have been doing is watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals that they’ve been streaming for free. Every weekend one gets released for 48 hours so Saturdays nights are now for going to the theatre, I get quite excited! We’ve even started having virtual ALW parties. I would have never have done that before lockdown.”
#18 What would be your quarantine book list?
“My dream quarantine book list? Where I get to read an actual book? Like a proper adult? Wow, miss those days. Current books on my waiting to finish list are: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. I read How to be Famous first and it was brilliant. The way Caitlin Moran writes is so relatable and funny and deep all at the same time. I heard they’re making it into a movie. Yass!
Mary Portas, Shop Girl. I just find her fascinating and she’s been through so much. Michelle Obama, Becoming. MO for president!!!!! #Ledge. Dan Brown’s Inferno. Don’t judge me.”
#19 And, finally, your quarantine cocktail/tipple of choice?
“My ‘Quarantini!’ – Cointreau and vodka shaken with the juice of a lemon. Amazing! It’s what I live through the week for. Oooh now I really want one….what time is it?”