My Week: Anna Bance of GirlMeetsDress.com

The fashionista on Polo in the Park, running a business with her partner, and the perils of technology.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
As soon as the alarm goes off at eight, I lean over to check my emails on my BlackBerry. It’s a bad habit that I can’t get away from – but I blame it on technology, it’s never-ending. My boyfriend Xavier, with whom I run my business, and I both live in Chelsea, right near our office, so we don’t have far to go, and it’s a great area for meetings – there are so many places around.
 
At the moment, we’re absolutely manic. We’ve got all the summer events coming up, with various balls and proms and big sporting events and weddings. Last week, we were lending for the Grand Prix ball and a few weeks ago, a girl won an award wearing our dress at the Grand National, which was very exciting. We’re so busy at the moment that I’m really trying to expand the number of dresses we have on the site. We’ve got 300 at the moment, but I want to double that by next year.
 
Our customers are absolutely fantastic about keeping in touch – they leave little notes in the boxes saying things like ‘the dress and I had a fabulous night out’, and sometimes they even send us photos of their evenings. We do have the odd outrageous request, though – we recently had one from someone who wanted us to find out whether anyone else was wearing the same dress to the event they’re attending. We also have girls saying, ‘I’m going to a wedding and my ex-boyfriend’s going to be there so I need to look absolutely amazing, will you help me?’ Obviously, that’s fair enough...
 
Over the past few days, I’ve had meetings with Grazia and Marie Claire to talk about what we can do together. We’ve had good PR from the start, which has been great when it comes to feedback from designers: obviously the well-known ones, but also the new, up-and-coming ones, who see us as a chance to promote their dresses. Apparently, people call them saying ‘I saw one of your dresses on Girl Meets Dress and that’s how I heard of you’. I wanted to have a mixture of dresses on the site: people love discovering new designers, and they love wearing unusual dresses to events, particularly if no one else is wearing them, so putting new designers on the site is really important.
 
Earlier this week, we did a promotion with Polo in the Park, giving all the guests a discount. We went with some friends and had a really good day. People always say I must be the luckiest girl because I’ve got a whole room of dresses to choose from – but I’m always really good and don’t reserve them for myself. It’s tempting, but I usually leave it to the last minute to see what’s left. That said, I do have a gold-themed party to attend this weekend, so I’ll be taking a peek at the dress diaries to see which ones are available.
 
We also went to see Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall this week. It’s important to take some time out: my friends are mystified that I run the business with Xavier, they always say, ‘I don’t think I could do it – I think we’d kill each other’. But our roles are so different: I take care of the PR and buying and customer service, whereas Xavier’s very much on the finance and techie side. Still, though – it’s hard to switch off sometimes. You have to keep communication open. I’m always thinking and talking about it, but I’m conscious that sometimes, I need to talk about something else.
 
I do think that going away on holiday and turning your BlackBerry off is probably the only way to do it. It’s difficult when you’re running your own thing, though. There’s no start or end to the day – it’s 24 hours.

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