“Always a glass of wine or champagne (my husband Sam works for a wine and champagne company so we are always well stocked-up) potentially in the hot tub (if I am feeling a bit extra).” Helen, Owner of Rock the Frock Bridal Cheshire on how she would cheer herself up during lockdown
Rock The Frock Bridal are celebrated throughout the industry for their sass, style and alternative approach to bridal, and their Cheshire branch in Bramhall (owned by boss babe, Helen) is the perfect place to start the dress hunt if you’re looking for something a little bit different. Stocking the likes of Leanne Marshall, Lucy Can’t Dance, Otaduy, MilaMira and Studio Levana, this curated bridal store just breathes achingly cool vibes ALL. DAY. LONG. And, I’ve got no doubt you’ll want to jump on board ASAP. I caught up with Helen herself to chat all things lockdown, including everything from why her brides are so incredible to the Paris Hilton-inspired wardrobe she donned throughout quarantine…
#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: (by this I mean in Jan/Feb) – positive, excited, determined for an awesome 2020.
During: (From End of March-Mid June) – anxious, apprehensive and attentive.
After: (after Mid June when boutiques could open again) – proactive, relived and ready.”
#2 What time do you get up? Did this change in lockdown? Was life a little slower? Talk to us about your usual daily routine and how this was changed by lockdown…
“I usually get up around 8am as I am a bit of a night owl (from years of working in hospitality) and the boutique doesn’t open until 10am most days. During lockdown this moved to around 9am but my husband was still working from home so I was up with him in the morning to make him a brew.”
During lockdown it was a lot slower, I tried to go into the boutique 1-2 times a week to check everything was ok, check the post and do virtual appointments. Virtual appointments allowed for me to have a bit of normality and still hang out with brides via Zoom and talk about wedding dresses. I also tried to sign up to as many Zoom business seminars as possible too and gained a business coach to keep me positive and focused.
One of my brides is an awesome graphic designer and artist so I commissioned two wall murals to be painted at the boutique – they are awesome and highly recommend Lobster House Designs to Manchester businesses!Out of lockdown I had a promotion video made of the boutique (made at the end of July) by Amy Louise Photography which was awesome too!
During the height of lockdown there was a couple of weeks in the middle of April where I did nothing other than read books, drink wine and sit in the sunshine…we even bought a hot tub. I think it was important to take a step back and switch off for a week or so.”
#3 How did lockdown impact your business, and how can people (brides/the wedding industry) support you now?
“Due to lockdown I lost three months of sales. Since lockdown and due to the uncertainty of weddings next year I have found brides are booking bridal appointments to browse but they are not confident in making the financial investment on a dress when there is so much uncertainty. I have also had brides move appointments or not show up more than usual which is disheartening as the spaces they hold could have been given to someone who wanted to visit the boutique.
The wedding industry has all been severely hit by Covid-19 and all we can do is support each other and be each other’s cheerleaders. Recommendations go a long way. Over lockdown I wrote Google reviews for suppliers who I have worked with on shoots to share some love and positivity.”
#4 Name three local businesses/small Instagram businesses you are supporting or would like to support more…
No.1 “Emily @lobsterhousestudios – seriously cool badass window and wall designs for your shop.”
No.2 “@amylouisephoto1 for making me an amazing video for the boutique – Amy shoots beautiful wedding photography, videography and also business videography.”
No.3 “@lucy_cant_dance – I proudly stock Lucy’s gorgeous designs and over lockdown she has been so supportive of me and the boutique and has even offered to rush bride’s dresses if they want to get married this year. All the designers I stock have all been so wonderful; I am lucky to work with such supportive, inspiring women.”
#5 What is/what was your favourite isolation snack?
“Over lockdown I got really addicted to Haribo Giant Strawbs – I think it is because they reminded me of being a teenager again which suited being in lockdown.”
#6 Before lockdown eased slightly, what was your most recommended quarantine pick-me-up when you were feeling down?
“Always a glass of wine or champagne (my husband Sam works for a wine and champagne company so we are always well stocked-up) potentially in the hot tub (if I am feeling a bit extra). Chatting with the girls from uni was always a highlight as we live all over the UK so it was great to see them more regularly than normal – even if it wasn’t in person.”
#7 What’s the item you could NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dreamt continuously about) during lockdown…
“I could rarely find Oatly Oat milk – none of the other milk alternatives cut it. Being able to have Oatly back in my cup of earl grey in the morning has been heaven.”
#8 What’s the strangest thing that’s happened during your lockdown period…
“The whole concept of lockdown was strange and something which I never thought would ever happen. If someone said the country would be locked down last year I would have thought they were bonkers!”
#9 Favourite app for keeping in touch digitally with friends and family?
“WhatsApp – but it is easier to FaceTime my mum as she understands it. I tried TikTok but it turns out I am RUBBISH at miming, dancing and being forcefully funny when being filmed.”
#10 Name your lockdown hate:
“All my brides having to postpone their weddings – it was so awful to be so helpless and not be able to help them!”
#11 Name your lockdown love:
“The weather was amazing.”
#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?
“My Mum, Mags – she is a regular feature on my Instagram and is a mega babe. Only yesterday she was in the boutique modelling some of the new pieces which have arrived. I think it is really important to show wedding dresses on different ages as not all of my brides are under 35 years old.”
#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated during lockdown?
“My brides have all been amazing, I have tried to keep them in the loop about their dresses and generally be there for them as it has been such a shit time especially for the girls who were due to get married at the beginning of April and had already had their dresses fitted. But they have all been such strong inspiring women I feel grateful to have met every single one of them.”
#14 Talk to us about what’s new at your brand?
“I might have spent too much time over lockdown looking at wedding dresses as I have ordered loads of delicious new pieces for the boutique.
I also picked up an amazing new designer who specialises in dresses for women with curves. This designer is called Studio Levana and they have already been a huge success!
I also chose my new collection from Otaduy – a super modern and cool bridal designer from Barcelona. New pieces which I am most excited about include a dress called Nix with a HOOD – total Grace Jones vibes. I am also getting this super stunning silk cowl neck dress called Haiti which is super elegant.”
#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:
No.1 “MY HUSBAND – for being my voice of reason and keeping me focused and positive whilst he was still working full time.”
No.2 “MY BEAUTIFUL BRIDES for being such cool girls and coping with postponing their weddings like absolute bosses.”
No.3 “HAVING THE BOUTIQUE – I am so grateful I have come back to a job I love doing.”
#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted?
“Me and my husband LOVE Indian food; especially southern Indian street food style. We got engaged in Kerela which is Southern India and it is one of our favourite places in the world (not including Vegas and Hawaii). There is an amazing South Indian restaurant down the road from our house which makes amazing curries and dosas so we were quick to go back once restrictions were lifted.”
#17 What series have you now completed on Netflix? Any recommendations?
“Me and my husband watched sooooo many series over lockdown; other than the obvious Tiger King which seems like years ago I enjoyed watching:
- Modern Family
- Rupaul’s Drag Race (and All Stars) – this was just me and not Sam
- Selling Sunset – again just me but Christine’s wedding and engagement party were pretty extraordinary
I also watched some good docuseries which were very inspiring and all about perseverance:
- Knock Down the House – AOC is my hero
- The Defiant Ones – Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s story (I secretly like gangster rap)
- Becoming Michelle Obama – she is such an amazing inspiring woman”
#18 What would be on your quarantine book list?
“I read The Comparison Cure by Lucy Sheridan as I was spending too much time on social media – I needed to focus internally.
I am also a big fan of a writer call Matthew Reilly who does cheesy action books (similar to Indiana Jones) which are great for escapism brain candy and sitting in the sun, so I read a couple of his newer books.”
#19 For a little Instagram-escapism, what three accounts would you recommend?
“Instagram escapism for me is non-wedding related and here are my fave accounts which I follow:
- @boochaces which is a non profit animal sanctuary in America, the animals are so cute and have been previously treated badly. It’s amazing to see them thrive in an amazing safe haven.
- @twojudgeygirls – I am a HUGE Real Housewives fan – especially New York City – this is an Instagram account and podcast of two ladies who just talk about all the Bravo shows and all the housewives drama.
- @tyla.official – I am always here for a sassy meme and general celeb gossip.”
#20 Name three things you bought online during lockdown.
No.1 “A new L-shaped sofa and matching two seater – for me, the hubber and Clive the dog to have our own sofa space.”
No.2 “Paint – we did a lot of home décor.”
No.3 “A vintage G Plan drinks cabinet to house all of the lockdown booze we accumulated.”
#21 What was your ‘lockdown’ outfit most days?
“If it was chilly a pink velour tracksuit (like I said I did start to regress to a teenager and Paris Hilton-chic seemed to be my inspiration). If it was sunny a strapless maxi dress to avoid any tan lines – with no bra obvs!”
#22 And, finally, your quarantine cocktail/tipple of choice?
“As I mentioned before with Sam working for a wine and champagne company – a glass or bottle of champagne was always a tipple of choice; if I feel fancy adding a dash of Crème de Cassis to make it a Kir Royal.”
Want to discover more about Rock The Frock Bridal Cheshire? Click here.
To read more WFH Diary entries from your favourite bridal designers, brands and boutiques on Bridal Editor, click here.