Your fearless and intrepid reporter has safely negotiated a foray into a world where men normally fear to tread. Yes, an hour was passed in the delightful company of Alison Waller who is celebrating 25 years of building a bridal empire in Aberdeen.
The one-time radiographer has three shops with Perfect titles in close proximity on the city’s Holburn Street, a far cry from the launch in 1994 of her first venture, Bridal Revival, in the city’s Leadside Road.
Says Alison, ‘It was just a wee shop with once-worn dresses but I moved onwards and upwards to premises in Great Western Road and Golden Square, all the while offering couture and bespoke outfits.’
Success bred success and in 2001, Alison took the plunge and bought a former TSB bank at 265-267 Holburn Street, all three storeys of it and now all serving a specific purpose.
‘On the top floor, we have a seamstress and where steaming and ironing is done,’ she adds. ‘We feature bridesmaidand prom dresses as well as a selection of evening gowns on the middle floor and on the ground floor we have two fitting rooms and an array of wedding dresses. In addition, we added a lower ground floor we call the Atrium where we offer high-end designer and bespoke dresses.’
Over the years, Alison has enjoyed keeping up with trends by paying an annual visit to a huge supplier in Barcelona, Pronovias, and also has a fruitful relationship with Suzanne Neville in London. ‘Lots of celebrities go to her,’ says Alison, ‘and we enjoy her annual visit to us.’
So what about her other shops? At 286 Holburn Street, once an off-licence, mothers of the bride are catered for and at 263, next door to the main shop, you can buy dresses off the peg.
Away from business, Alison and husband Peter, who hails from Hartlepool and is in the diving industry, have two children. Dubai-based Ashleigh has a three-year-old daughter, Harper, with husband, Andrew Thomson, and son Blair, is an app developer in London.
Asked about the keys to her success, without hesitation Alison pays tribute to her staff of stylists, led by Emma Stuart, a former fashion student in Aberdeen, who notched up seven years in post last Valentine’s Day. ‘It might appear to be a glamorous and exciting job but it is very hard work trying to satisfy the desires and needs of customers and they do it brilliantly,’ she says. “We also pride ourselves on having eye-catching window displays, something I learned early on.’