Sally Ellis - the founder of SVE Fashion on fulfilling her childhood dream
- Credit: Archant
Ever since she was a little girl Sally Ellis wanted to become a dress designer and now she has fulfilled that dream
Ever since she was a little girl Sally Ellis had dreams of becoming a famous dress designer like her inspiration, the iconic Coco Chanel. But having not made the grades at school she went into beauty therapy instead.
Of course that could have been the end of her dream. She could have joined the ranks of all those schoolgirls who wanted to be a ballet dancer or actress and who ended up doing something else instead - but not determined Sally.
It took a while, but three years ago the 28-year-old from Christleton began to fulfil her dress designing destiny when she launched her own label Sve at her eponymous shop in Tarporley.
‘The name of my shop takes my initials, Sally Victoria Ellis,’ she explains.
‘When I was little - and the whole of Chester knows this- I told everyone “I’m going to be a famous fashion designer and I’m going to be called Sve”. And when I actually did it, I got messages from people who have known me since childhood saying they could not believe I’ve done it.’
Not only has she launched a label but she’s already a favourite with celebrities such as Paula Lane (who plays Kylie on Coronation Street) Denise Welch, Catherine Tyldesley and Rebecca Ferguson as well as appearing on the reality TV show Styled to Rock with Rihanna.
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‘I’ve always been a very positive person and I have always set myself goals. If I want something I will go out and get it,’ says Sally who with her willowy frame and pretty features could easily model her own glamorous clothing line.
‘I have been lucky to have a big support unit behind me in my family. My dad Robert, he was like “fashion!” but so many years later he has seen it happen. I opened this business in the biggest recession and I was very, very lucky.’
She has also worked hard get where she is with a business that mixes bespoke couture with ready-to-wear.
‘I wasn’t academic at school and didn’t have the grades for university so I was persuaded to do beauty therapy which I did for a couple of years and then I went travelling in Australia. It was only when I came back I thought “I’m going to do this”.
‘I went to Salford University where I did a fashion design course, showed at Graduate Fashion Week and got a job straight after that. But I found I didn’t want to work in high street fashion because I felt there was no creative skill in that side of the business, so I went to London and worked for a couturist.’
The experience wasn’t a happy one for Sally, but it inspired her and one day, she sat down in a cafe and worked out the logistics of launching her very own couture business.
‘I worked out how much it would cost me to live in London for a year and how much it would cost to open a shop,’ she explains.
‘I had always made clothes and so I had the stock. It was just a case of making a few more pieces and I thought it’s cheaper to go home, open a shop and try and make it.’
And she admits that part of her childhood dream had been to be based in Tarporley, where her mother used to take her every Friday to treat her to something to wear.
‘I got on the train and came home and literally walked into this village and there was one shop up for lease,’ she says.
‘But for some reason I was not having that shop. And then I spotted people across the road. They were piling boxes into a van. I ran over in excitement nearly getting myself killed in the process and they said they were retiring from this shop. I got the landlord on the phone, he met me there and then, I shook hands and it was mine.
‘And then I had nowhere to live and was sleeping on everyone’s sofas. Then some guy came in and said “Right, I’ve got an apartment above next door but one, you can have it.” So it is now my studio. Half of it is covered in fabric. It’s a very creative house!’
Over the years, Sally has tweaked the business slightly to suit her clients but still retaining the core values of classic cuts and beautiful fabrics.
‘When I started my target (clientele) was the 20s to 40s age group but my youngest client is seven and my oldest is 96,’ she laughs.
‘ I can dress a child and I can dress a more voluptuous lady because my main custom is made-to-measure. Once they know I make, a lot of ladies go down that route. I am inspired by strong independent women and you see that thorough a lot of my collections.’
‘My main custom throughout spring and summer is mother of the bride but that’s not me. “Me” is the collections: the cool, the harsh, still feminine but with an edge to them. I’m very inspired by Chanel and Valentino. They are classic. Their cuts never change. All that changes is their use of fabrics . That’s me. If you look at a garment, it is so simply cut. It’s just the use of fabric that changes the garment.’
Sve, 45b High Street, Tarporley CW6 0DX 01829 730 193 www.svefashion.com