CO-FOUNDER INDIA SELLARS, OF THE BOOMING BRIDESMAID STORE ‘MAIDS TO MEASURE’ TELLS US THE INS AND OUTS OF HOW IT GOT TO WHERE IT IS TODAY
I studied English Language at uni because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was
told at school it wouldn’t restrict me to any one-career path. That was half the
problem and I left with no clear idea of what I wanted to do.
So I thought my best option was to gravitate towards London like everyone else and
work in a pub – that will put my English to good use! I was living in South Kensington
at the time (big mistake. Big. HUGE.) I couldn’t afford my council tax so started
working double shifts. Passing ships in the night with my friends; socially it was a
nightmare so I started to search for a job.
The first job that cropped up through a recruitment agent was a stint in music PR,
however a year later I then found myself heading in the total opposite direction,
entering the world of corporate finance.
Another year on I got made redundant… That’s when I was stumped with what to do
To pay the bills I got a Saturday job working for Vera Wang through a friend and that
was the first real job I felt I loved doing and was good at. Also it was here where the
seed was planted for my business Maids to Measure, which I currently run with my
sister Sinclair. I managed Vera Wang’s bridesmaid department and constantly
overheard girls say that there was nothing really out there for bridesmaids, which
was confirmed by my sister having been a bridesmaid three times that year-popular
I had the idea of Maids to Measure then but didn’t have the confidence to run with it.
I remember panicking at the time that I didn’t have a career path set out and started
looking at professions, becoming a teacher or going back to university to do
medicine. I gasped at how old I’d be by the time I’d graduate so decided to do a
TEFFL (Teaching English as a foreign language) course and get a taster for
teaching. With this qualification under my belt I went to Hong Kong and then to Paris
to teach English – finally putting my bloody degree to good use!
I absolutely loved my time in Paris and what was meant to be a 6-month stint ended
up being 2 years. It also allowed me time to lay out the foundations for Maids to
Measure and for my sister and I to do our research into the wedding industry. Diving
into the deep end and using a close friend’s wedding as a trail, we made her
bridesmaid dresses. From there the business snowballed which meant my time in
Paris was up and I headed back to London.
We started the business from our flat in Fulham and I laugh (and cringe slightly!)
about how we initially set up. We rented my room out to keep us a float and used my
sister’s room as the changing area/show room for dresses, which meant we were
without a room so slept on camp beds each night, which we’d pull out from under the
sofa and pack away every morning before appointments. A year of camping out in
your own front room is fun whilst it lasts but we soon realised we needed to take the
business to the next level.
We found a big studio and office space, where we were able to double our
appointments and therefore start to expand the team. I think this was one of the
challenges of M2M, we grew too big too quickly, with no background in fashion/retail,
we ran before we could walk. Keeping up with the demand we worked 7 days a
week, which had its benefits and we wo numerous awards along the way:
-National and Regional winner: Best Newcomer – Wedding Industry awards
-Start up of the year 2014 – The Guardian
-Best UK Bridesmaid Retailer 2014 – You and Your Wedding Magazine.
-Best UK Bridesmaid Retailer 2015 – You and Your Wedding Magazine.
My advice to any 20 somethings fresh out of uni – go with the flow, don't be to hard
on yourself, try lots of different things and if you’re thinking of starting your own
company there is no right or wrong type of person to do this, you just need to be
prepared to work long hours (sometimes for very little or no reward), be determined
to succeed and you’ll have the ingredients for success. Being self-employed is the
best cure for flu!!!
Link to the website here