Designer Stephanie Moran has just opened her first bridal boutique after battling serious illness. Catherine Scott meets her.
“I was 23 and had been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, but I think I was in denial and just got on with things,” says Stephanie.
“But things got so bad that everything the doctors tried didn’t work and so I was left with no option – have an operation or die.”
When doctors operated they found Stephanie’s condition was worse than they feared and they had to remove part of her bowel.
“When I woke up I saw that my mum was crying and I realised that they’d had to give me a colostomy bag. I was 23, I was devastated.”
Doctors were hopeful that they would be able to reverse the colostomy but could offer no guarantees.
“I’d already moved back in with my parents and didn’t go out for six months. It really affected my emotionally.”
But eventually doctors were able to reverse the colostomy and now Stephanie is managing her condition with daily medication and careful eating. “I actually find that my worse trigger is stress,” she said.
Being ill gave Stephanie time to think about what she wanted to do with her life.
She had studied fashion at university and worked in fashion houses in London until her condition deteriorated.
“Looking back I had probably had symptoms when I was at university which I ignored, but when I started working the stomach pains got much worse. I went to the GP but they didn’t really know what was going on and eventually my stomach pain was so bad I went to A&E and that’s when I was eventually diagnosed as having Chrohn’s disease.”
Stephanie had never heard of Crohn’s Disease.
“I was by myself when the doctor told me what was wrong with me and I had no idea what it was. I rang my mum who’s a nurse and she explained what it was.”
Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system.
Inflammation can affect any part of the digestive system, from the mouth to the back passage, but most commonly occurs in the last section of the small intestine or the large intestine.
After moving back to Yorkshire Stephanie had started working in retail at the same time as developing her own fashion line.
“I am a bit of a ‘just carry on’ type person,” she admits.
She worked her way up into management of a high street fashion brand, but she really wanted to go it alone.
“I had always had my own made to measure clients at home but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to have my own fashion label.”
Stephanie had always thought she would continue her made-to-measure day wear, but after seeing a business advisor they suggested that she go into bridalwear.
“I recently got married and I had also just made my friend’s wedding dress.
“My business advisor said why not go into bridalwear and that was a bit of a light bulb moment for me.”
Ever thorough, Stephanie wanted to learn all about bridal fashion before she started her own business.
“I wanted to get some experience of the bridal industry and so did freelance for a bridal shop in Leeds doing their made-to-measure range.”
Stephanie, who lives in Sherburn in Elmet, worked for them for two years learning all there was to know about the bridal industry before deciding she was ready to start her own business.
“I had always thought Tadcaster would be a great place to open a bridal shop,” says Stephanie. “And then when I was in a position to start my own business there was a unit available and I decided to take the lease out on it.”
Earlier this month she opened Stephanie Moran Couture with her own signature collection for sale and also offering a made-to-measure service, giving bride to be a sketch to dress experience.
She is also planning to launch a bespoke bride service which aims to bridge to gap between off-the-peg and made-to-measure.
“I am asking brides to trust me which is a really big deal, but I really like building up that relationship,” says Stephanie who designs all her dresses and does the majority of dressmaking, although she does also employ a seamstress one day a week to help her.
Stephanie is now in the process of building up her brand and although she still has some bad days with her health, she is determined that her illness does not define her.
“Having a strong support
network around you is essential when going through a lifelong
illness, my husband, family and friends have been essential whilst starting and trying to grow the business.
“I don’t see myself as a slave to my condition, in fact I feel lucky, I am a true believer in everything happens for a reason.
“The things we go through take us on different paths and form us as people,” says Stephanie.
She adds: “My bride’s past and future are the reason I do my job and love it.
“Our tagline for the business is ‘Be the perfect you’ and I like to think I help my clients be just that.”