Shanel’s passion for fashion sparks a new start with Stretford boutique

A young entrepreneur who gave up a promising career to care for her younger sister after their mother died has set up a new business showcasing the talents of local fashion designers.

Shanel Williams left her career as a manager of Kurt Geiger in Ireland after losing her mum, Morine Reid, to cancer.

Upon returning home to Manchester, she struggled to find work of a similar level while caring for her ten-year-old sibling, Teigan.

It was then that she decided to open her own store and the idea for her new fashion boutique in Stretford Mall, Wardrobe Wilderness, was born.

Her new business displays the work of three local designers, as well as a label customised and created by Shanel herself.

The 31-year-old from Moss Side said: “I studied international fashion marketing at university and spent 13 years in retail, working my way up through the ranks to become store manager of Kurt Geiger in Ireland.

“Sadly I lost my mum and had to return home to Manchester to be legal guardian for my sister.

“I found it extremely difficult to get a job at a managerial level alongside my personal commitments, and so I just decided I’d set up my own business.”

Colin McCrory, Stretford Mall Manager, said Shanel’s story was inspirational and her new boutique had brought something very special to Stretford Mall.

He said: “I believe Shanel has brought a very unique business to Stretford Mall and I don’t think you will find another Wardrobe Wilderness anywhere.

“I know there has been some terrific feedback from customers because her clothing is very different and business has been very brisk so far.

“We are very pleased to welcome Wardrobe Wilderness to the Stretford Mall and I have a feeling it will be one of those stores which establishes a keen following very quickly.

“I wish her every success with this exciting new business venture.”

After its grand opening earlier this month, Shanel hopes Wardrobe Wilderness will provide a platform for local designers trying to break into the fashion industry.

“I really want to get students and graduates on board to give them a chance to get their work off the ground,” she said.

“They don’t have to have a whole clothing range, just a few pieces would be great.

“I think it’s important to support local designers, especially in the current climate.”

One designer working with Shanel is Carloid Haughton, also from Moss Side, who currently has 20 of his pieces of menswear on the rails.

The 48-year-old’s passion for fashion started out as a hobby 20 years ago and was developed alongside his night job as a cruise ship comedian.

The father-of-one explained: “I started making clothes for myself while working on a cruise ship where I began as a bingo caller and ended up as a comedian doing evening shows.

“As I was free during the day, I would get off the ship wherever it stopped and buy materials to make myself some clothes.

“The first thing I bought was some leather and I painstakingly started to hand sew myself a coat – it took me four weeks and my fingers were red raw.

“Even though I never studied fashion at university or college, I actually trained as a professional dancer, I went on to open a boutique in Italy as I found I had a real passion for it.

Carloid’s chance meeting with Shanel at a boutique – which was holding a MacMillan Cancer coffee morning – led the pair to discover they had more than just a love for clothes in common.

“I realised I’d been at school with Shanel’s mum – Shanel was a little girl the last time I saw her,” Carloid said.

“We got talking and our collaboration all started from there.

“Now Wardrobe Wilderness is helping me to launch myself as I go and already, I’ve had some great feedback.

“Because of this opportunity I’m thinking about extending my range by designing a line of clothes for women.”

In the few weeks that Wardrobe Wilderness has been open, Shanel has welcomed more than 1,500 people through the door thanks to the unique range of clothing styles and sizes on offer.

An official launch of the store took place on November 30 when models hit the catwalk for a fashion show.

The event was filmed and posted on which went live on the same day and features more information about Shanel, as well as the designers and their work.

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