Sian Hughes Cooke

 This month we are thrilled to chat with Sian Hughes cooke, designer and owner of Shimmering Ivory Bridal Couture. 

I've known Sian for a while now and feel lucky to have  our candles stocked in her beautiful studio in Peters Green, Hertfordshire.   Always incredibly inspiring, Sian shares her story from making clothes for her dolls to designing Victoria's Secret $15 million dollar bra and beyond.

 

Today we chat about her journey to becoming a designer and how she continues to juggle her thriving business with parenting two children during a global pandemic.

 

Hi Sian, it's so lovely to sit down with you, can you please tell us a little bit about how you got into the design world?

Fashion design has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. What began, as a young child, with making clothes for my dolls developed into designing my own clothes. I still remember my mum helping me to use a sewing machine and then stitching clothes directly onto my friends!

Fast forward a few years and although I initially decided to study Modern Languages and Business at university, after a year I decided to follow my lifelong dream and transferred to a Fashion Design and Marketing degree. I ended up loving every minute of it and was finally a qualified designer.

Immediately after University I was thrown in at the deep end when I started a job in Paris at a trend prediction company. This experience was the platform that enabled me to launch my career and what followed was an extensive and exciting career in underwear design. During these years as an underwear designer I was fortunate enough to travel the world and work in New York, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. I designed pieces for several well-known brands and most notably designed the 15 million dollar ruby and diamond millennium bra for Victoria’s Secret. This was definitely one of my career highlights.

How did you move into wedding dress design and why?

The transition from lingerie design into bridal wear was actually very simple due to my considerable experience in corsetry and fitting. I actually made the leap into bridal design after deciding to design my own wedding dress. I had always felt excited about the thought of picking a dress for my dream day, but when it came to visiting shops I simply didn’t get that ‘wow’ moment everyone had told me about. So, I took it upon myself to design my own dress, and I loved every minute of it!

From this, my business grew completely organically, from one person asking me to design for them and then the next. While my love for underwear design remained, I had a newfound passion for making people look and feel amazing on the biggest day of their lives. I had always wanted to own my own business, and as a mother of two young children I found I was able to enjoy the creation process whilst working around my kids and not having to travel overseas for long periods of time. I also found that I loved building personal relationships with brides which was incredibly different than with corporate design. That is one of the truly special parts about bridal design.

What do you love most about being a designer?

For me, being a designer not only makes me happy, but there’s also something about making other people feel good. The feeling when a bride sees her dream dress go from simply a drawing to a real-life gown is amazing, and I love creating that moment for someone. Sadly, within the industry I’ve realised how many beautiful women struggle with aspects of their appearance. I hope with my creations I can allow these women to feel beautiful.  I love working with all shapes and sizes and bringing out the beauty in each individual. I have an incredibly creative brand, thus meaning I love to design unconventional pieces. I’ve had these kinds of designs worn by celebrities as evening wear as well as to award ceremonies.  

What is your greatest achievement in your bridal career?

Aside from helping a bride create her perfect day, I would say my greatest achievements would be featuring in high-end print publications. Seeing my designs on the pages of magazines such as Vogue and being worn by celebrities really gave me a sense of achievement.

What are you most proud of?

My sense of pride definitely comes from helping others. I have used my skill to take part in some philanthropic ventures in the past few years and this really fulfils me personally. I created a wedding dress from which all the proceeds went to an Ovarian Cancer charity following the bride’s mother’s  diagnosis. Seeing Kylie, now a close friend of mine, walk down the aisle in that dress gave me an immense feeling of pride.

I hear you are also part of the Bridelux Dream Wedding Giveaway – please could you tell me more about this?

I am delighted to be a part of the Bridelux Dream Team, where myself and other suppliers have come together to give away a dream wedding to two worthy key workers. The lovely paramedic Sarah Bevan and her partner, Accident and Emergency nurse, John Husband are the worthy winners, and I will be creating the dress for the mother of the bride. I can’t wait!

How have you found running your business through Covid-19 and all the challenges this pandemic has brought?

I’d be lying if I said this virus hasn’t turned my work life upside down more than a little bit! Without the ability to do consultations and fittings, I was left feeling deflated. But rather than let myself get down, I focused my time on trying to think of new innovative ways to build my business. I focused on social media, branding, virtual consultations and more. This is a time of new challenges and I, along with the rest of the bridal industry, have been forced to adapt to survive. Additionally, I dedicated my time and studio to volunteer to create scrubs for NHS workers. This virus has been a time for us all to pull together and work as a community. 

What quote inspires you the most? 

This is hard, as it tends to change depending on my mood as I love lots of quotes. 

 ‘Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself'

- Coco Chanel

Given the difficult times we are living in, I also want to share one of my favourite Ghandi quotes; 

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important.  You have to do the right thing.  It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit.  But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing.  You may never know what results come from your action.  But if you do nothing, there will be no result."

- Mahatma Ghandi.

If you had to give advice to anyone juggling their own business and family, what would it be? 

For me, differentiating between my home and work space keeps me sane. I am lucky enough to have my own beautiful studio just outside Harpenden, and being able to escape there has been like a retreat for me.

Becoming a mother changed my career completely, and working out how to balance my family and work is both challenging and rewarding. Maintaining a career whilst raising children isn’t always easy, but is certainly worthwhile.

Shimmering Ivory and design are things that are wholly about me and who I am. Keeping that sense of identity is something I would recommend to anyone.

 

You can find out more about Sian and her beautiful designs at

 

www.ShimmeringIvory.co.uk

Facebook: ShimmeringIvory
Instagram: Shimmering_Ivory
LinkedIn: SianHughesCooke