Welcome recent newlywed and Savile Row trailblazer, Alexandra, founder of Alexandra Wood, standing proud as one of few women in a sector, unsurprisingly dominated by the gents; offering some pretty darn hot suits for the stylish discerning groom. No more dreary ill-fitting tux and tails. Hurrah!
Our penultimate interview in the series, say hello to the delightful Alexandra!
Tell us more about your gorgeous business?
I first set up Alexandra Wood bespoke tailoring 10 years ago, with a view to making men’s tailoring a little more modern. That bit fresher, fun and flattering.
What were you doing before you started working for yourself?
I was working for Shanghai Tang, Knightsbridge as manager of their bespoke tailoring department where I’d create handmade oriental pieces for ladies. Prior to that I was a student at London College of Fashion studying fashion styling and photography.
What made you take the leap to work for yourself?
I was pregnant with my first daughter, Aimee now 9, and couldn’t imagine going back to work full time, so I decided to invest my maternity pay into creating into my own tailoring business and it’s grown year on year ever since.
What were the most significant challenges and triumphs?
My most significant triumphs have been designing suits for some incredible clients who have entrusted me to make their suits and winning the grooms wear retailer award last year.
Triumphs happen daily I think when you really care about something and have to make choices on your own daily, that in itself is a triumph.
To keep the balance of being a mother, life, bank balance and making the next step in business is a constant exhausting challenge but one which I would never change.
It was recently reported that women in business earned several billion less than their male counterparts last year. What do you think are some of the barriers to equality?
I think that as women we can be very accommodating and as natural nurturers we find it hard to offend people.
Unfortunately, this comes with a fear of charging our worth at times and one which I have thankfully overcome in the last two years. I think we should make no apology for being darn right fabulous and knowing our true value. (Nu Bride: Yes Alex, Yes!)
Can women have it all?
Yes and no.
It’s a daily battle for balance but I do think it’s possible to enjoy all aspects of your life.
Naturally if business isn’t going as well as it had the last month, year and so on that can cause stress and takes away joy from other areas. I think if we truly value what’s really important and not get too obsessive about material goods, then we may benefit and also not putting so much pressure on ourselves. I’m not sure if we’re super women or just like a life more full but you have to choose what’s right for you as a person.
What do you love about working the wedding industry?
I love being a part of people’s special day.
I literally take it all on board and want them to have an amazing experience as possible and for them to enjoy every moment. I’m definitely a soppy romantic so love all the prep that comes with weddings. I’m a natural helper, so like to make it all as fun as possible.
If you could improve the wedding industry in one way, what would that be?
To encourage people to make plans a little earlier would definitely be at the top. People can need a suit in two weeks but have been planning their wedding for over a year. It’s one of the first things to get organised and at the same time as a wedding dress, preferably 3-6 months prior to their day.
What are your top three tips to finding the right balance between work, life, (motherhood if applicable) and leisure?
Definitely compartmentalising, when I return from work I switch off and focus on the kids. With three, they all have different needs so it’s important to listen to them. (Although I am currently writing this, while my daughters are watching the Thundermans 😉 ) (Nu Bride: I don’t even know what that is! LOL!)
What’s your advice for anyone wanting to follow their passion and start their own business?
First off I’m a big believer in asking yourself this question ‘if this didn’t pay much, would you still want to do it?’ If you do things for the love first and money second, you’ll be in a happier place to start and your business won’t feel like a chore.
Next, be prepared, it’s not all glitz & glamour. You absolutely need the energy, passion, talent and organisational skills, ooh and a really good accountant and bookkeeper. Without the books balanced you’re on a losing battle from the start. This year will be my 10th and I’m hoping I’ll be creating suits for many more years.
Tell us one thing on your bucket list?
On a personal level, climb the Michu piccu in peace and tranquility. (Nu Bride: How delightful!) I just need to get off my business treadmill before I can take the time out 🙂
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Images courtesy of Alexandra Wood and Scott Wood Photography