“Wake up.. make coffee… stare at the wall whilst my four year old drives Lego cars across my scalp…” Sian Smylie of Tilly Trotter’s Bridal Boutique on the start to a typical day in lockdown
Trying to choose a pull-quote from Sian Smylie’s (Owner of Tilly Trotter’s Bridal Boutique) answers to her WFH Diary Q&A was a real toughy (once you read it, you’ll see why). Not only is this woman a true inspiration when it comes to her boutique and love for her Tilly brides, but she’s got serious wit (and a penchant for a good glass of vino, like me). Having worked in the luxury sector for the likes of Dior and Burberry for 15 years (training people on the art of the customer journey), as a bride, you can rest in the knowledge that you’re definitely in good, jewel-adorned hands. After her own below par bridal experience, Sian built Tilly’s with not only a true understanding of luxury design and fashion, but a determination to offer brides a truly exclusive (and totally unforgettable) experience. “We’re not intimidating, we’re not overly fashion – but I can guarantee that with us, you’re going to have loads of fun, get great advice and have a really fulfilling experience.”
I managed to catch up with Sian (digitally, of course) to get the lowdown on her lockdown…
#1 Lockdown 3 – in three words, describe how you are currently feeling…
“One day I’ll be ‘anxious, stressed and hysterical’ and then another day I’ll feel ‘motivated, hopeful and inspired’…. I’m switching between the two moods on a regular basis!”
#2 Talk to us about your usual daily routine for your business and how this will change in lockdown…
“Our main routine is generally focused around the usual business admin and working on our various social media platforms. Obviously since our account was hacked last week and we lost everything, Instagram has been our main focus.
My general Groundhog Day is something like this:
Wake up.. make coffee… stare at the wall whilst my four year old drives Lego cars across my scalp…
Make more coffee
Reply to emails
Argue with 4 year old about home-schooling
Conduct physiotherapy on disabled sausage dog
Have face painted by 4 year old
Feed 4 year old
Walk dogs and 4 year old (who refuses to walk and now just sits in dog pushchair)
Attempt more home-schooling
Feed and bathe 4 year old – reply to emails sitting on the toilet whilst 4 year old is in bath
Argue with 4 year old about bedtime
Win said argument
Go out to office.. Emails, social media, TO Do List …. This generally goes on until the early hours of the morning
Wake up and repeat.”
#3 How will/does lockdown impact your business, and how can people (brides/the wedding industry) support you throughout?
“Lockdown is an absolute blimmin’ nightmare for us (and everyone else in the industry). If Tilly’s can’t open, then we can’t run appointments and without appointments we have no means of building our client base…that’s the bare bones of it. It’s also a nightmare for our current brides who’s weddings are still going ahead and need alterations and fittings appointments – we just feel helpless!
However, myself and the Tilly’s team are working hard to make sure that we have a Super Plan in place for when Boris gives us the thumbs up to re-open, so that our appointment diary can accommodate all of the booking enquiries and we can get on with all the fittings we need to prioritise.
The main thing that brides can do to support us, is to be kind! We know that planning a wedding is stressful at the best of times, and trying to plan one during a pandemic is near impossible and takes the stress levels to a whole new level; so please know that we’re doing absolutely everything we can to help make your dress journey as stress-free as possible. However, some things are just out of our hands.
Secondly, we need support on social media now more than ever (particularly Instagram). Losing our account has been devastating for Tilly’s …seven years of hard work was taken away from us in under a minute. So we REALLY need everyone to ‘like’, ‘follow’ and ‘share’ our profile. It’s the main platform that helps to increase our visibility and keep us connected to our brides.” Discover Tilly’s on Instagram.
#4 Name three small businesses on Instagram you are supporting or would like to support more…
“We try and support as many of our fellow wedding industry suppliers as much as we can, particularly during lockdown as we know how important it is to stay connected to our clients when we can’t physically spend any time with them. I also need to take this opportunity to thank each and every supplier who has supported us following the Instagram hacking – I was completely blown away by the support.
A special shout out to my girls @thesocialhq – these ladies have made the most incredible balloon installations for the shop and they’re definitely making balloons ‘cool’ again.
@jodiefernjewellery – is a local designer and she makes the most beautiful pieces… I may be investing in a few pieces myself.
My beautiful friend Mhairi @theroadblockcoach is a qualified life coach who has now dedicated her career to helping women create a life without limits. I worked alongside Mhairi at Estee Lauder and even though I was having the most horrific time, Mhairi’s positivity and humour got me through each day. Mhairi is intelligent, knowledgeable and incredibly funny and all women should follow and connect with her!”
#5 Favourite lockdown snack?
“Wine. Oh, you said ‘snack’….. wine.”
#6 What’s your most recommended lockdown pick-me-up when you’re feeling down during lockdown? What’s getting you through the days?
Ok, maybe not wine all day….
As someone who has suffered from fairly severe depression since childhood, on my bad days I really struggle to get dressed, let alone change my pants. So I find that forcing myself to go through my daily skincare rituals it’s a great way of kicking myself up the backside and putting myself into a better frame of mind.
I tend to spend most days in my old maternity underwear and ‘dog clothes’ (joggers and a t-shirt that is covered in dog hair), so on the rare occasions I get to leave my little cottage, I find that putting on some nice underwear, some decent clothes and a face full of makeup makes me feel AMAZING.
Oh and online shopping…. always the online shopping.”
#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dreamt continuously about) during lockdown?
“Tomato frito. I’m not addicted to it or anything, but I’ve needed it for a recipe for absolutely bloody ages and it’s doing my head in that I can’t find it anywhere!”
#8 Name a dinner/meal or beverage choice you feel might bring someone joy to their lockdown life…
“Oh my god, definitely @redhotmammapizzeria. Their pizzas are better than sex. End of.”
#9 Talk us through what’s new at your brand…
“Well, we had a huge re-fit and re-brand last January that we still haven’t been able to properly shout about and celebrate in true Tilly’s fashion (basically translated as a party!)
We’re excited to be working with some exciting new designers in 2021 (watch this space!) and ultimately extending the Tilly’s brand to make a truly immersive bridal experience. We’ve definitely managed to develop a reputation of being more than just dresses – Brides come to us for an experience and to become part of the Tilly’s Tribe; so our plans will include ways in which we’ll extend this.
My brain is on the verge of exploding with all the exciting ideas and projects I have planned!”
#10 What’s your lockdown outfit most days? Have you, say, developed an unhealthy attachment to the elasticated waists of your leggings like myself?
“See ‘Maternity pants’ and ‘Dog clothes’. Don’t make me describe them again. I’m not proud.”
#11 What series have you now completed on Netflix/Amazon Prime etc.? Any recommendations?
“I have the SHORTEST attention span and don’t think I’ve actually completed a box set since I finished The Tudors in 2012, but I’m sloooooowly working my way through This Is Us on Amazon Prime. It’s deep and emotional and happy and sad and funny and traumatic, but addictive (not so addictive that I’ve finished it though).”
#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?
“Anyone who happens to be passing.. I’m not fussy. If it’s the spotty teenager who serves me in the Coop then so be it.”
#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated during lockdown?
“My amazing team at both Tilly’s and our sister store Mabel & Maud Bridal Outlet. The girls haven’t just been an incredible support for the businesses, but they have also been the most wonderful friends and I couldn’t have gotten through this horrendous year (both personally and professionally) without those girls.
I consider everything they do – Laura’s ‘check ins’ on me, Jade’s digital genius and Aisha’s sick sense of humour – they’ve all been incredible acts of kindness.
(Oh and my best friend @jerenhogben – she is literally my soulmate and her daily WhatsApp messages make me howl. Her memes are definitely an act of kindness).”
#14 For a little Instagram-escapism and positivity, what account would you recommend?
#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:
I’M KIDDING! (Sort of….)
No.1 My dogs.
No.2 Joe Wicks (not for the exercise… just, y’know, visually)
#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted again?
“ALL of them. All of the restaurants. All of the food.”
#17 What would be your five film recommendations to watch during lockdown…
“The ‘Nostalgic’ part of Disney+…. I’m talking Three Men and a Baby, The Parent Trap, Goonies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hello Dolly, Willow…the gang’s all there!”
Amélie – for pure, romantic escapism.
Also, The Dig on Netflix is gorgeous and Barb and Star go to Vista del Mar is the most wonderful thing that has ever walked into my life.”
#18 What book would be top of your lockdown book list?
“I’m working my way through Untamed by Glennon Doyle – I read it with a highlighter pen poised over each page. It’s life changing.
Cookery books – not that I’ve used them, but the pictures are pretty.
Also my favourite book in the entire world: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Beautiful, gentle and just…well, bloody wonderful.”
#19 Name an odd purchase you’ve made during lockdown…
“I mean, where do I begin? A book about Witchcraft and Magic, a silk turban, bouncy eyeballs, approximately seven Manifestation Journals, an embroidery kit, a Himalayan salt lamp, a few more tattoos…..
I also signed up for THREE aromatherapy courses. Don’t ask me why three. I have absolutely no idea.”
#20 The best gift you received this festive period?
“My best friend had local artist @thedrawingroome to create a gorgeous picture of Tilly’s shop front and I love love LOVE it. Camilla even made sure she featured my sausages Margot and Deirdre!”
#21 Name a brand you would love to collaborate with…
“Oh lord, there’s so many! I’m having chats with my gorgeous girls from @thth_bridesmaids as we’ve both got some exciting ideas! Plus, they’re based in Leamington Spa so it’s local supporting local.”
#22 What’s your advice to lockdown brides?
“I know it’s easy for me to say, but try and stay positive. Your time WILL come and it’ll be even more sweeter when it does. In the meantime, celebrate the small things with your love, have date nights, plan some mini-breaks… just give yourselves little milestones to look forward to.
On the flip side, PLEASE don’t spend hours scrutinising your dress, your venue, your flowers etc. because you’ll drive yourselves mad. I promise that you won’t regret any of your decisions and you’ll love everything just as much on your wedding day as you did when you first chose them.”
#23 Your favourite beverage?
“Rosé. Always the rose. Or prosecco. Or champagne. And I do love a cocktail…”
#24 Name your favourite magazine to curl up with…
“Vogue. I’ve been collecting issues for 20 years and I’m only missing one copy (the month my son was born…bloody kids). Vogue is my bible.
As Carrie Bradshaw said “I would always choose Vogue over dinner. I felt that it fed me more”.”
Discover more about Tilly Trotter’s bridal boutique and the experience they offer via their website STAT.