INTERVIEW | MOIRA HUGHES
Name: Moira Hughes
Location: Paddington, Sydney
Current Title / Company: Owner and Designer at Moira Hughes Couture
What was your first job out of university and how did you land that position?
My first job out of university was working for an incredibly successful wedding dress designer in Marble Arch, London. She was notorious for being tricky and not accepting any graduates - partially near any of her celebrity clientele. My Dad was the armed protection for the Prime Minister at the time and when he showed up at her door in full uniform she was so relieved it was just my CV. I was told to start Monday and keep my head down. I loved that job!
What inspired you to create your business?
Having worked in London, Dublin and Sydney with other designers I felt Australian weddings had so much personality and potential. We are lucky to live in a climate that allows the most beautiful coast, city and forest weddings but lacked the access to European fabrics. After lots of researching, we are now able to offer Brides the very best fabrics and fit to match their personalised design and personalised wedding. Creating my business has always been the biggest dream and it took that space to make it a reality.
Take us through a day in the life of your business?
Tea. Always start the day with Tea and a Hug! Call friends and family from home early while the time difference allows and then get to the boutique. I love being close to my brides and ensure I meet everyone at least once. This way when I see gowns coming together in the workroom I can ensure all the personal touches are exactly as they love. My day is filled with fabrics and fittings surrounded by my incredible team
Has anything surprised you about the journey to creating your business?
The support has been overwhelming! So many of our new brides have come in with past brides who just don't want the experience to end! It is incredible how much other people see the love you put into a business and want to help it succeed. We have a whole team of highly trained women who won't stop until a gown is just perfect - even if it means working on the weekend or evening. That’s what makes the dream a reality and Im so touched by the amount of support Ive been shown by customers, magazines and others in the industry.
Obviously, your business has grown! So, let's talk money. Tell us about the intimidating process of finding funding for your business. Any advice for women who need to find funding for their own startups?
I am by no means a ‘business women’ so my advice would be to seek advice from people who know about aspects you don’t. You can't be good at everything so recognise your talents and seek assistance from other professionals. People recognise good quality and great customer service no matter how wide the internet reaches. We started with just our own savings and grew organically. There is a lot to be said for working hard and spending your own money means it is spent wisely!
Your business has developed quite a following. Can you tell us a little bit about marketing your business? How did you spread the word?
I was very fortunate that our gowns are very different from the normal. The ‘fashion twist’ meant I was contacted by magazines wanting to feature our dresses in their photoshoots. This really helped in the initial stages but I didn't have too much experience in marketing. I put my head down and concentrated on making incredible gowns for my brides and let them do the talking rather than investing huge amounts into bill boards and posters. This also meant we could keep our pricing really competitive.
What do you think is the key to the success of your business?
Surrounding yourself with amazing people with experience and talents in different areas. When I moved to Australia, a friend who works for Dior retired here - her french seams are perfect and she loves creating one-off gowns. Another incredible lady hand sews lace with such intricate detail and even Sarah who does our accounts loves her job! Allowing each person the time to make it perfect shows through in the final gown, meaning when a bride walks down the aisle she will cherish that feeling forever.
Best advice you ever received?
Better to do something and regret it than wonder ‘what if’. Try and be a Yes person!
I wish I knew how to ….. Surf. It looks so tranquil floating out on the waves - turns out its harder than it looks!
What is your coffee order? I could never get into coffee. Irish breakfast tea with milk is my must-have.
TV show do you wish was still on the air? Ooooh so many! Breaking Bad would be the first one that comes to mind, excited to have Game of Thrones back too.
Next travel destination? I am off to Bali for my Honeymoon! I had my wedding on the weekend and really looking forward to sitting next to a pool with a cocktail and my husband.
What advice would you give your 23 year old self?
Put things in perspective. In a years time will you remember the money you spent or the experience you had? Would you remember the amazing night out you had or the good nights sleep? I spent too much time being insecure and not enough time just having fun. Making up for lost time now though!