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INTRODUCING CLAIREABELLA'S CLOSET – Decade of Reproduction Dresses, launch of own legwear brand – will the next decade start with an award?

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Claireabella's Closet: Vintage Reproduction Ladies Clothing & Accessories, Handmade By Miss Bella. From Kitchen Worktop to working with high profile vintage inspired brands, travelling the country and launching her own legwear brand! We find out more about Claire Alexander's journey over the past decade to nominee in The National Vintage Awards Best Reproduction category...

What inspired you to launch this as your business?
My business actually started back in 2004 when I began selling clothing on ebay as way of making money while my 3 children were fast asleep in bed! It was a real 'Kitchen Table' business with me working late into the night listing lots of items online. I still remember the buzz when I made my first online sale & it's that what continues to push me on to growing my business. Fast forward 10 years & I'm now working with lots of high profile vintage inspired brands, travelling around the UK attending big fairs & festivals alongside having launched my own legwear brand earlier this year.

What drew you to "vintage" & what is your favourite era and why?
I love the old school glamour of 1950's vintage. I love nothing better than getting my hair & make up done in a vintage style & then slipping on a beautiful dress with a pair of heels but, like many people, I've always found that sizing & availability of sizes can be an issue with true vintage pieces. I tend to wear a lot of reproduction vintage pieces now, not only as an advert for my business, but because I love being able to replicate vintage styles & the 1950's dresses with their nipped in waists & full skirts are just perfect for my hour glass figure!

Who are the majority of your customers?
I find my customer base to be a real diverse cross section. Initially I was catering to a client base just like myself, those who loved vintage style but wanted a good selection of sizes or maybe different colour options but now it could be almost anyone! From those who are already established within the vintage scene to those ladies who are looking for a new style & are drawn to the vibrant colours or full circle skirts. My client base isn't just contained to the UK either as I receive lots of orders from places like Italy & Greece every week. I've started to build close links with lots of pin up & alternative models through my work with the photographer Claire Seville & my legwear line has gone down a storm with these lovely ladies who love to put their unique spin on a timeless classic such as my jive seams.

Where do you supply to?
We offer international postage on all of our items & mainland Europe has definitely fallen in love with the vintage inspired items I offer. Most recently, I've been inundated with orders from America for a certain style of dress which isn't available over there yet!

What is your most popular item?
Dotty Jive Seam Stockings & tights – Popular because of their timeless classic style and add the ultimate vintage touch to any outfit.

Do you use authentic vintage patterns and/or design your own patterns?
Recently, I have been focusing on launching another offshoot to the Claireabella's Closet brand with my 'Handmade By Miss Bella' range of dress & skirts. I use both modern & vintage patterns & size them as required by my customers. These are predominantly in a vintage style with my own unique twist which could be a fun retro style print or coloured underskirt. My handmade creations went viral just after Christmas when I made a beautiful dress from the festive pin up girl range of bedding bought out by George at Asda. I shared it across social media & I was fortunate enough to be featured in their blog along with several other very talented ladies who had also made dresses from it too!

How would you like to see your business grow & the Vintage Industry develop over the coming year(s)?:
I see Claireabella's Closet developing into an International brand, known for it's unique style & quality. I intend to carry on attending high profile events & building my brand via social media to continue to grow my client base. I also try to work closely with other unique designers & makers & I carry a fabulous range of accessories which compliment my clothing perfectly. I'd also love to see my 'Handmade By Miss Bella' range grow too. Who knows? Maybe one day I could be entirely stocking my own handmade designs alongside my legwear range too & I could be dressing even more amazing ladies head to toe with my own creations!

A little more about Claire Alexander & Claireabella's Closet...
Vintage is my absolute passion & I'd love to be recognised by the vintage community for all of the hard work & the amazing achievements within my business in the last 10 years. To come so far in what feels like such a short space of time is a dream come true & just to be nominated feels like a real milestone in my company history!

To vote for Claireabella's Closet click here

For more information:
FB page: Claireabella's Closet
Twitter: Claire Alexander – @missbellacloset

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