Bridal designer Charlotte Balbier spends her nine to five buried in beautiful wedding dresses – no bridezillas, no bad days. Find out why this woman's job is THE DREAM.
We all love a wedding, and whether you’re engaged, or not – most women would be happy to admit that being a wedding planner or bridal designer falls into their list of plan Bs should they ever fancy a career change. For the last ten years, designer Charlotte Balbier has spent her nine to five buried in beautiful wedding gowns and dressing excited brides-to-be. Find out why her job is the dream…
How did you break into the bridal industry?
I was born into bridal heritage – both my grandparents were in bridal design, manufacturing and retail between the 1960s and 1990s. They had several bridal boutiques across the UK and a manufacturing business that supplied independent boutiques both in the UK and internationally. My mum is also the award-winning bridal designer, Amanda Wyatt who is celebrating 20 years at the forefront of British bridal with her own brand, Amanda Wyatt. I launched my brand Charlotte Balbier ten years ago and am now celebrating with my latest collection, ‘A decade of style’.
Is there anything you dislike about your job?
I don’t hate anything but I don’t enjoy the stressful time on the lead up to a big show, I tend to live on my nerves and not sleep several weeks before. My brides are my favourite thing about the job, I feel truly blessed to have so many amazing women choosing to wear a Charlotte Balbier gown on their special day.
What advice would you give someone trying to set up their own company?
To be focused, determined and passionate in what they are doing – nothing is too much trouble when you’re starting out.
Describe your typical working day.
It’s fair to say I’m not a morning person, so I get up around 7.30am and leave the house at 8.30am, with no time for anything except a shower and getting dressed. When I get to work, I grab a cup of tea and have breakfast at my desk while looking over emails. From 9.30am onwards the day can really vary – I can be out on a photo shoot, showing a bridal boutique our collection, meeting with fabric suppliers, or just in my office working on designs, answering emails, and holding team meetings. I usually leave the office at 6.30pm and head home to walk my dog Buster for an hour. That’s my time to clear my head from the working day. My evenings are spent chilling out at our Cheshire home with my hubby-to-be Teddy – or we may pop out for supper somewhere local. On a work night, I like to get to bed at 10pm to read.
Do you use any social media channels? Do you think they help?
You can so easily become obsessed with social media. I use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, although I go through stages of which one is my favourite. They have definitely helped, though, and I would recommend that all businesses have a social media strategy in place.
If the internet died tomorrow, what would you miss most?
OMG, yes I could not live without the internet. It’s an abundance of inspiration for me and I would miss having that instant access to current affairs – and of course the odd bit of celebrity gossip.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Stay true to what you believe in.
What are your ultimate work wear wardrobe staples?
My Alice Temperely dresses. I have about 12 that I wear day in, day out, season after season, as they’re timeless classics.
Name the best gift you’ve ever received.
My amazing engagement ring, I love it.
We’re always obsessing over our work/life balance – how do you manage it?
This is the first year I’ve tried to shift the balance. I’ve made a conscious effort to stop working at 7pm, rather than 10pm, and to have more of a personal life. I find it hard to switch off, though, and even on holiday I sneak a look at my emails from my sun lounger.
How would your colleagues describe you?
Headstrong, determined, sensitive at times and warm-hearted.
What do you do to de-stress after a tough day at work?
I walk every night with my dog, Buster. I also have regular facials and massages, but if that fails, a glass of wine usually does the trick.
What was your first job?
At the age of 13, I worked in a local hairdressers. It was (in its time) a very cutting-edge salon and had a string of celebrity clients, so I was in heaven.
Do you have a role model who inspires you?
My mum is a huge inspiration. She brought me up on her own while working full-time, then when I was 15 she started her own very successful business.
What did you buy with your first big pay cheque?
A Mulberry handbag.
What’s your plan B?
As a self-confessed optimist, I don’t think like that. I’m doing the job I love and am passionate about – there is no other option than to succeed.
Which career achievement are you most proud of?
Building a successful brand over the last 10 years and continuing to do so even when the economy has been so bad.
What have you learnt along the way?
Hard work always pays off.
Should bridesmaids have to pay for their own dresses?