INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN - Clare Guest
We have had great feedback from our readers about our inspirational women feature. Next in line is Clare Guest from luxury Wedding Boutique, The Wedding Club. Based in London, Clare was a very early supporter of Violet & Wren, and we fell in love with her store and welcoming Brummy accent the second we met. Founded in 2001, The Wedding Club is going from strength to strength, and Clare's enthusiasm for the wedding industry is both motivating and inspiring. This month, Clare will launch a new lifestyle concept, 'The Club'. Designed as the UK’s first bridal loyalty programme, The Club aims to bring together carefully curated offers, privileges and events from the very best bridal & lifestyle brands.
Describe yourself and what you do in a few sentences
I am a co-owner of The Wedding Club, which is a luxury designer wedding dress retailer. I head up the PR, marketing and business development side of the business.
Where are you based?
I am now based in London and have been here for 3 years. Born and bred in Birmingham.
How did you start out in your early career? Have you always been in the field you are now in?
My customer service career started at the age of 5, helping out at my parents’ market stalls. My father both had a very strong work ethic, which he encouraged in me (alongside the need for excellent mental arithmetic skills!)
An adult career then followed, as a Project Manager, which paved the way for dreaming big and following a goal.
What is your dream job?
I love my job but if I wasn’t doing this then my other dream job would be reviewing 5 star hotels and resorts all around the world (with first class travel, of course!).
Who/ what is inspiring you in your field right now?
This is going to sound so cheesy, but I am inspired on a daily basis by the enthusiasm, loyalty and commitment of our team. I often look to them for new ideas and creative ways to grow the business.
Describe what you and your business are about.
We aim to provide a friendly take on luxury retail. We feel that it is important for brides (and their guests) to not feel intimidated when planning their wedding and so we look to strip away the snobbery that can exist in luxury retail, especially within the bridal industry (think Pretty Woman!), but without allowing our excellent customer service standards to drop. Having a Brummy accent makes us a very human and approachable brand. Also, we aim to source high quality dresses that make every woman feel a million dollars on one of the biggest days of their life. A wedding should not equal an unstylish dress!
How did you get started? Where did the seed of inspiration come from?
A love of luxury and quality fashion design marked the beginning of TWC, with an aim to dress stylish brides in the regions.
What motivates you to continue to keep what you do fresh and innovative and how do you grow the business?
The luxury retail market is changing rapidly and this keeps us on our toes. The advances in technology, especially with social media, coupled with the emergence of some great new designers, keep things fresh and exciting.
Where do your creative ideas / inspirations come from?
I always find that a trip away gives me inspiration, whether for business or pleasure. Removing myself from the day to day allows my mind to wander. Also, I am a big lover of live music and I read a lot of books, which help in feeding my soul.
How do you start your day?
Radio 6 wakes me up; followed by 2 cups of strong black coffee and a shower. I catch up on the world news and emails on my morning commute.
What makes you feel the most alive?
Music and laughter.
How do you wind down and find that all important work/ life balance?
Music, a good boxset, reading and comedy.
You have an unexpected day off – what do you do?
I love being a tourist in London.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to live and/ or work, where would it be?
Describe the most inspiring view in the world?
Watching the sunset from the balcony at my apartment in West London.
Do you have a favourite place to eat or a desert island meal?
There’s a fabulous Italian restaurant 2 doors down from our Knightsbridge store, called Giovannis. They do the most delicious fresh pasta and everyone is welcomed with open arms and encouraged to stay into the early hours of the morning, drinking melon vodka shots that taste like heaven.
One thing you have done that you think everyone should try in their lives?
Speaking openly with closest friends about my depression allowed me to understand that it was ok and that I could live with it. I encourage everyone to talk openly about mental health issues rather than suffer in silence.
Your most unforgettable memory?
Giving birth to my beautiful daughter. She stole my heart immediately.
Your most recent act of kindness?
Not something that I consciously think about, as I hope that I am a kind person generally. Maybe you should ask my daughter this question as she would definitely tell me if I wasn’t! She is the kindest person that I know – a very sweet soul.
What are you reading at the moment?
Trevor Noah – “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood”
Describe your style. Who is your style muse?
I think that I am quite androgynous in my appearance and so I try to work with that. My friends would probably call my style ‘communist chic’!
Where do you like to shop, and who do you think are doing a great job at the moment?
Cos and Zara take up most of the space in my wardrobe. I can’t stop looking at Temperley and Costarellos on my Insta feed – both are on fire at the moment!
Where is your go-to brand ?
Favourite piece in your wardrobe?
I have a very good selection of loungewear (so I am told by my business partner). My cashmere sweaters give me a feeling of being hugged.
What do you wear to bed?
Violet & Wren silk PJs, of course!
What is your favourite flower?
To find out more, or to join 'The Club, please visit thewedding-club.co.uk/the-club