WFH Diary | Shoe Designer Diane Hassall

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Photographed by Lee Scullion for Belle Bridal Magazine

“We have all been hit hard, but we’re a resilient lot and have had to keep going as best we can, often diversifying into other areas.Shoe Designer, Diane Hassall on how lockdown has affected the wedding industry

Celebrated throughout the wedding industry for her decadent, jewel-embellished sole mates, British shoe designer Diane Hassall continues to steal brides’ hearts with her highly-curated shoe creations for the aisle. With 25 years of experience behind her, not to mention periods working alongside the likes of Emma Hope and Jimmy Choo (shoe industry royalty) and styles housed in the V&A’s permanent collection, Diane is quite the design force to be reckoned with. I managed to catch up with Di to get the lowdown on her lockdown 3.0… 

#1 Lockdown 3. In three words, describe how you are currently feeling…  

“Resigned, optimistic, hopeful. I can’t say I’m surprised we ended up in lockdown again, it was always going to happen so I wasn’t that upset, all that really matters is that we all come out the other end! 

So, whatever it takes I will do willingly.”

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#2 Talk to us about your usual daily routine for your business and how this will change in lockdown…   

“My routine has changed but not dramatically, I work from a garden studio so I am very lucky really, but I also do my office stuff in my house and unfortunately my husband who is also now working from home has taken over my office space…. so I’m currently doing my admin/emails etc. from the shoe stockroom! Not at all glamorous and a bit tight on space but needs must!

I get up early-ish (6.45am) and head up the hills walking for an hour or so, I’ve always done that but it’s been especially important during lockdown, it’s my escape. When I get back I do all my admin, schedule social media and send out any shoe orders. That usually takes all morning, sometimes longer. After that it varies, I prioritise catching up with brides queries and make calls if needed, it’s lovely to hear their plans and help them decide on their perfect dream shoe! I’m involved in quite a few styled shoots, so there’s often stuff to organise and send out, but obviously what I really love is the creative side, designing and sampling especially…. I’m currently working on some chunky pearl styles which is making me very happy! There’s so much to do in a small business, the to-do list is never ending so there’s never a dull moment….. even in lockdown!”

#3 How will/does lockdown impact your business, and how can people (brides/the wedding industry) support you throughout?   

“The bridal industry has literally been shut down for most of the year, and my heart truly goes out to all the brides who have had their big days postponed. Naturally there has been a knock on effect on every aspect of the industry, as brides cancel or postpone their weddings, so it has been a tough year for everyone. I’m in a group with lots of wedding suppliers (from cake makers, stylists, florists etc.) and we have all been hit hard, but we’re a resilient lot and have had to keep going as best we can, often diversifying into other areas. 

After binge watching Bridgerton and loving the costumes, I found myself inspired and back on the sewing machine making decorative detachable collars! I’ve loved doing this, it’s been a lot of fun, I’m also working with a lovely illustrator on some prints of my shoe designs, so it’s been a year for trying out new things!

The industry has on the whole been really supportive, the many styled shoots (when not in lockdown) have given us lots of beautiful content for social media and coverage on lots of great blogs, which has expanded our reach and lots of new brides have discovered us which is wonderful. Other suppliers/designers etc. sharing our content and talking about our shoes has been lovely and helped spread the word too. I’ve also spent more time online learning more about marketing and social media so I’ve certainly been busy!

Now we’re in 2021 I’ve found brides are feeling more optimistic and we’re getting lots of shoe enquires and orders for later this year and even more so for 2022, it feels great to be hearing from brides again!”

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#4 Name three small businesses on Instagram you are supporting or would like to support more…

“That’s so hard! I’ve met so many lovely people, choosing three seems so mean but here goes!

No.1 For style, inspiration and gorgeousness @bowendryden ……….I’m a huge fan.

No.2 For general loveliness @boho_bride_boutique …we’ve always supported each other and always will.

No.3 “For something creative but completely different @emmacarlow – we’ve known each other forever and she’s still coming up with amazing new projects, love her style!

No.4 And, if I could squeeze in a 4th @maisiedarlingbridal – Charlotte opened her shop just a few weeks before the first lockdown and has been nothing but positive and inspirational, she’s amazing!”

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#5 Favourite lockdown snack? Has this evolved from lockdown 1?

“Mixed nuts and raisins, oh and Fab ice lollies – my husband started this in the summer and now we’re both addicted!”

#6 What’s your most recommended lockdown pick-me-up when you’re feeling down during lockdown? What’s getting you through the days? 

“Well, it was gardening, until I broke my right arm in the summer! After that walking, it always gives me a lift getting out and about.”

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#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dreamt continuously about) during lockdown? 

“Weirdly it was Gordons non-alcoholic gin! I gave up alcohol (trying to be healthier) in 2019 and a good G&T is the one thing I miss. The Gordons is a pretty good alternative but I couldn’t get it for ages, I’m stocked up now.”

#8 Name a dinner/meal or beverage choice you feel might bring someone joy to their lockdown life…  

“Macaroni cheese – total comfort food.”

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#9 Talk us through what’s new at your brand… 

“Well there’s a lot coming actually, I’m working on some lovely chunky pearly styles which I’m loving. I’m also collaborating with an illustrator and we’re going to be bringing out some lovely cards and illustrations featuring my shoe designs. I’ve also just started introducing my collars, some aimed at bridal and some in embroidered denim and gingham etc. just for fun!”

#10 What’s your lockdown outfit most days? Have you, say, developed an unhealthy attachment to the elasticated waists of your leggings like myself? 

“If I’m at home it’s generally a big and baggy sweater and yoga/fitness pants for comfort, oh and trainers of course, love them.”

#11 What series have you now completed on Netflix/Amazon Prime etc.? Any recommendations? 

“I loved Bridgerton, mainly for the colours and costumes, but just loved it and have just watched Behind her eyes too, I love a drama!”

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#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place? 

“My lovely Dad and my son Joe. I’ve missed them both dreadfully. Can’t wait to see them both, couldn’t pick between them.”

#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated during lockdown? 

“When I broke my arm so many people sent me cards, flowers and chocolates, it was a real low point and the little things kept me going.”

#14 For a little Instagram-escapism and positivity, what account would you recommend? 

@teddytheshetland – especially his videos, guaranteed to make you smile.”

#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for: 

“My husband, my family, the hills that surround us.”

#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted again? 

“For a real treat Benares in London, Indian food like you’ve never tasted before (drooling now!)”

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#17 What would be your five film recommendations to watch during lockdown… 

“I love films and my son is constantly recommending good ones…

Parasite

Portrait of a lady on Fire

Rear Window (Hitchcock – I love an old movie)

I Tonya

Tenet.”

Photographed by Lee Scullion for Belle Bridal Magazine

#18 What book would be top of your lockdown book list?   

“I have read so many!! Mainly crime thrillers, currently reading The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves – it’s easy reading.”

#19 Name an odd purchase you’ve made during lockdown…  

“A ring light – still trying to get my head around making videos, I still shy away from the camera!”

#20 The best gift you received this festive period?  

“New trainers – of course!”

Photographed by Lee Scullion for Belle Bridal Magazine

#21 Name a brand you would love to collaborate with…  

“Oh so many! I love collaborating, can’t pick one.”

#22 What’s your advice to lockdown brides? 

“Stay calm, keep planning, be patient, it’s postponed not cancelled, your day will come and will be even more special.”

#23 Your favourite beverage?

“My hubby bought me the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser – it makes the most delicious little cups of hot chocolate, a proper treat!”

#24 Name your favourite magazine to curl up with. 

Vogue – my Dad buys me the subscription every year for Christmas, it always inspires me and reminds me of my Dad too.”

Discover Diane Hassall’s incredible array of bridal shoes and accessories via her website.

Want to read more WFH Diary entries from your favourite bridal brands, boutiques and designers? Head on over to the Bridal Editor WFH Diary page. 

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