Wednesday, 1 June 2011

How to be a Super Woman: Meet Gilly Woo!

1. Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself
Hello everyone. My name is Gill Cockwell but I’m also known as Gilly Woo. I'm a designer, dressmaker, stylist, columnist, (and occasional TV presenter), based in Bristol in the UK.

I have been sewing since I was six years old.

I design and make bespoke finery: bridal gowns, occasion wear and corsets, I style photo shoots, fashion shows, performers and individuals and I party pretty hard too.

I’m 31, I'm single and I live with a gay man, a papier-mâché flamingo and a lot of hats in a little flat in Cotham. 

Blue Evening Gown, Bespoke Collection
2. Do you have a 'grand plan'? Do you think this has changed at all over the years?
When I was 6 I wanted to be am ambulance driver, by the time I was 10 I was convinced that Fashion Editor was the career for me, when I was 19 I lost all my confidence and gave up for a while. When I was 28 I wanted to be a mother and now…I just want to be happy. Right now I’m happy, if that changes, my plan will change too. But yes, I do have a plan of sorts. I’d like to continue the bespoke side of my business, launch a ready to wear range, and write a book in the next few years. I am continually working towards all of these goals but I have no idea if or when I will achieve them. It’s all about the journey right?

3. What gets you up in the morning?
Tuesdays and Fridays it’s my personal trainer ringing my doorbell at 6.30am the rest of the time its mostly guilt, nervous energy or impossible deadlines.

4. Run us through a typical kind of day
I try and do some exercise in the morning before breakfast, I run in the park or workout with my personal trainer, I find it clears my mind and makes me feel ready for the day ahead, I ALWAYS eat breakfast, at the moment I love porridge with blueberries and banana and fresh black coffee. I get into the workshop about 8.30 and check the schedule for the day ahead. I usually spend the first half of the day making to do lists for the week and cutting patterns. Between 9 and 10am my staff come in and start sewing the pieces I have cut that morning.
Woohoo Vintage in Shepton Mallet, as featured in The High Street
There is no typical day at Woo HQ really. Sometimes I have fittings or design consultations with clients, or meetings with colleagues sometimes I can spend a whole day sourcing components and ordering fabrics and findings, I occasionally write pieces for magazines, (style tips etc) and I write a blog too.

The one thing that is typical is long hours! I am often in the workshop till midnight during bridal season or when I am organising a fashion show or making a new collection.

It’s hard work but it’s great fun too. It’s true what they say; find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Gill muses about life and the fashion world over on her blog
5. When you experience a setback how do you pick yourself back up again?
Setbacks are inevitable. Rest, (if possible), Re evaluate, and carry on. Sometimes it helps to talk it through. I do A LOT of talking!
6. Who or what inspires you the most?
My Dad is one of the least judgemental people you could ever meet. He always takes people at face value and is the type of person that would be as comfortable being himself at a kings banquet as he would sharing a bag of chips with a homeless person on a park bench. He is absolutely genuine.

My sister is beautiful and caring and wise beyond her years. She is one of the few people I have met who makes absolute sense to me even though we are very different people.

Christian Dior, his sense of proportion was perfect. Everything he designed was beautifully proportioned. He was nothing less than a genius and I aspire to him daily.

My mother: A true grafter, brought up SIX children and remained glamorous throughout.

It's always good to keep things in perspective!
7. We all have bad days when we doubt our abilities and ourselves. How do you get through yours?
Firstly by trying to accept the fact that I am only human and being realistic about what is actually possible, secondly by trying to lift the limitations I impose on myself with a positive mental attitude. Thirdly by resolving to do the very best I can and to be satisfied with that effort no matter what the outcome.

8. What do you feel are your greatest achievements and why?
There have been occasions when I have made women feel good about them selves and improved their self-esteem. These occasions are my greatest achievements. This is because I know how important and how fragile self-esteem can be and how much finding it can enhance your life. I like the thought that I have enhanced women’s lives :-)

9. Tell us what you think constitutes a "Super Woman" and list 3 key ingredients for success.
A Super Woman for me is someone independent, self sufficient and positive. Someone who takes responsibility for her own choices for her own wellbeing and who always treats others the way she would like to be treated.
Peacock Dress, Bespoke Collection

A super woman is exceptional because she achieves things that many would dismiss as impossible through sheer hard work and determination.
  • Be realistic but not pessimistic.
  • Always do your best.
  • Be good to yourself, look after yourself, respect yourself and believe in yourself.
  • Can I add a 4th? Don’t let your back ground or where you’ve come from hold you back. The greatest achievers in the world are only people.

10. Final words of wisdom?
Don’t compare your self to other people too much. We are all very different. We have different backgrounds, different strengths, and different weaknesses.

All you need to be is the very best version of your self that you can be, in your own image.

Inner peace, contentment and true happiness are much cleverer aspirations than mansions and sports cars or perfect breasts and Louboutins.

You can find Gill over on her website, blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Do you know someone who fits the bill of Super Woman? Even yourself - don't be shy! If you would like to take part or recommend a friend, please send a message with the details to me at giveanearthly at gmail dot com.

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