Go for gold - introducing the fashion business focused on Irish women over 50
As a young woman, I hugely admired the gorgeous actress/model Olivia Tracey and her courage when she quit her established, safe life in Ireland to realise her deeply held dream of living in Hollywood. At the time, she told me she read Susan Jeffers' Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. Olivia, who models on our pages today, has never looked back.
Chatting to Ann Robinson, co-owner and founder with her husband, Gerry, of Golden Spiderweb stores, it is clear to me that Olivia's 'live life to the fullest' ethos and Ann's motto of 'be yourself and be your best self always', are well matched.
Ann created Golden Spiderweb as an unashamedly 50-plus-focused business, with comfort, colour and a fulfilled life at its heart. And, of even more importance to Ann is being feminine and proud. Unsurprisingly, young women adore the stores for that reason, too.
"It is girly-girl, and I love it," says Ann, laughing. "I love putting it all together. I go to Italy and I choose the fabrics and colours and shapes, and then I go to Paris and I think, 'I must get some more lovely jewellery!' I see Theresa May is suddenly wearing jewellery. It looks good on her; softens those suits she favours. Chunky jewellery is great for covering up our necks. More importantly, it makes us feel feminine and glamorous, which we women love."
What has always impressed me about Ann is her good sense. In designing and buying for the stores, she favours elasticated waists in trousers (also skirts and dresses) because they are more comfortable, and when we hit 40 (if childbirth didn't do it for us already) our waists widen due to hormonal changes. "That and elasticated waists give flexibility - some of us like to wear things high on the waist, and others wear low on the hips," Ann explains.
Then there is Ann's commitment to natural fabrics. "Our core customer comes to us for linen. She always has. This year, linen is the most sought-after fabric, and it has shot up in price. I am battling with suppliers to keep prices down, because affordability is essential."
Golden Spiderweb has a loyalty scheme that gives €20 credit for €200 spent, and does special online offers.
But it is Ann's insight on courage that speaks to me. "As we age, we can get fearful. Fearful of showing our age, fearful of making changes, of taking risks. And it ages us," she says. "Women can feel lost when they come into a fashion shop. I am often in my shops and I meet and talk to the customers. And for that reason I, and all our staff, know that some women need additional support. If a customer will trust us, allow us to show her how she can, simply by trying something that she doesn't normally wear, look so much better. That is the most rewarding part of this business."
Photography by Emily Quinn
Styling by Grace Moore
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine