In this month’s interview, Caterham Valley For You catches up with Sally Brady, owner of the Helena Fortley Bridal Boutique, to find out about wedding style and what she likes best about our town.
Tell us a bit about Helena Fortley…
Celebrating our fifth anniversary this year, we stock a beautiful range of wedding dresses, from classic and vintage through to boho. We like to hope we are a little bit different from other bridal boutiques as most of our dresses come from the US and Canada, so are not readily available in the UK. In fact, this means we get people coming from all over Europe to see us – and we even had a bride fly in specially from Dubai just recently. In addition to our dresses, we also stock outfits and accessories for bridesmaids, flower girls and every female member of the wedding party.
What made you decide to set up in Caterham?
I used to live near Caterham so I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the town. It’s a great location to be based as it’s a relatively small, friendly town, but without being too rural, and it also has brilliant connections geographically. As well as the M25, there are the airports not far away, and then we have London almost on the doorstep too.
Is there any advice you would have for other business owners in the town?
I think the main thing that I have learned during my time here is to stick with it. Like many businesses, our first couple of years were quite tough, but then our reputation really started to build and it all just went from there. Now, I’m delighted to say, we are doing very well – with most of our business coming from personal recommendations.
Why should someone visit your business for the first time?
As mentioned earlier, we try to be a little bit different from other boutiques, with dresses that perhaps have a slightly boho or vintage feel to them. We are also very friendly so you can be sure of a warm welcome.
What would be your top tip for someone visiting Caterham?
We particularly love the tapas restaurant here, Casa Lola, which is a great little place for an authentic Spanish meal. It has a really nice atmosphere, tasty, reasonably-priced food and the people are lovely.
Describe your typical lunch break to us…
It would either be Bambino’s, for a really great panini, or most often Caterham Cafe, which is just opposite us. It means that I can run across the road for one of their lovely chicken salads and still keep an eye on the shop.
Finally, tell us your favourite thing about the town…
The thing I like best about Caterham is that it’s such a friendly town. I’m always in Craft Stationers or Caterham Valley Computers (now closed) or taking something in to Andrew at JJ Browne & Son jewellers, as we all like to help and support each other. There’s a real team spirit among the businesses in the town – and it’s almost impossible for me to go to the bank without running into someone that I know! In many ways, I think it feels more like a village here than a town – and that’s a good thing.
- Find out more about the Helena Fortley Bridal Boutique in the Caterham Valley For You business directory.
Meet more Caterham Characters…
- Meet Stuart Johnston from home-improvements business, Shard Solutions
- Meet The Caterham Cobbler, Stilios Photiou
- Meet Said Yazici from Caterham Sweet and Savoury Waffles
- Meet Andrew Browne from JJ Browne & Son jewellery
- Meet Abigail Pedrick from Pedrick’s Zero Waste Shop
- Meet Erika Giucastro, team leader at Clarks Shoes
- Meet Paul Smith, director of Fenchurch Insurance Brokers
- Meet the joint owner of Specsavers, Sundip Patel
- Meet Vitaltone Pharmacy and Vitaleyes Opticians’s Shim Patel
- Meet the manager of St Catherine’s Hospice charity shop, Emma Glass
- Meet Bow Butterfly’s Katie Kennedy
- Meet Time Hair & Beauty’s Katherine Casey-Farmer
- Meet Jade Insurance’s Martin Kemp
- Meet Caterham Galleries’ Jodie Green
- Meet Surrey Strength and Performance owner, Daniel Iaciofano
- Meet Wingate’s Ben Clarke
- Meet Huntley Cartwright’s Chris Huntley
- Meet Bib & Tucker’s Togs Ali
- Meet The Wedding LookBook’s Ying Shi