Alison Reuben and The Bluebell Journey
Next month, our founder, Alison Reuben will head to London for the National Finals of the prestigious Institute of Directors, Director of the Year Awards 2018.
After winning the Award for ‘Director of The Year – Family Business’ at the regional final back in May, this additional nomination is an exceptional achievement for an inspirational lady and the team at Bluebell are beyond excited and have everything crossed for her.
As we celebrate our 25th year, this award really would be the icing on the cake to what has turned out to be a wonderful year for our family business.
Many of you may have already met Alison but for those of you who haven’t, or don’t know much about her, we thought now would be a great time to tell you a little bit more about her – what drives her, what inspires her, where does she get all that energy from!
Below, Alison tells you in her own words..
- Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?
A typical day starts around 7am, liaising with the factory manager to confirm our installation diary for the day is running smoothly. I am mostly based at our showroom and to be honest, there isn’t a ‘typical day’ as every day is completely different.
I work very closely with all my team, dedicating a great deal of time helping and supporting each and every one of them in their particular role. As my factory is just two miles away from the showroom, I spend quite a bit of time between the two sites.
I’m also very active in the marketing side of the business which I believe is vitally important in maintaining a strong presence at all times. Dennis, was voted ‘Best Mascot’ by Facebook and Twitter followers of the independent review website Which Trusted Traders
Although the showroom closes at 5pm, my day continues working into the early evening most nights. I find ‘switching off’ quite difficult at times!
Alison and the team celebrating their award as Which Trusted Trader of the Month for May 2018
- Did you always know that you wanted to have this career?
Definitely not! From a very early age I wanted to be a dancer with the Royal Ballet but realised I was too tall to ever be considered. Becoming a Bluebell Girl then became my lifelong ambition, which I achieved at the age of 16 years old. Miss Bluebell was without doubt the most inspirational lady I have ever met who showed me hard work and commitment was the only way forward. Her belief in me at the tender age of 19 years old to Captain a troupe of girls to fly out for a year’s contract to dance and deal with the theatres management in Buenos Aires, Argentina, helped me develop leadership qualities which I went on to use when I established Bluebell Fitted Furniture.
Alison with The Bluebell Girls & Tom Jones
- What factors do you think have contributed to your success within the industry?
I realised I had a passion for interior design, but also understood I had to stand out from the crowd. I had to offer something completely different compared to all the many competitors around me. It was then I made the big decision to manufacture for myself, which enabled me to be completely bespoke and to push the boundaries, trying new ideas and offering customers exactly what they wanted to create their individual requirements within their homes.
Remaining one step ahead with new, innovative designs and products has been paramount & especially working alongside respected and established brands in the industry such as Hafele UK has enabled me to ‘think outside the box’ and wow my customers with products they never knew existed.
- Who and what inspires you?
I grew up surrounded by a hardworking family of entrepreneurs, so my inspiration came from my parents who motivated and mentally prepared me for anything I set my mind to. Nowadays, I take inspiration from my wonderful team of designers most of whom joined me straight from graduating from university. I find they have such fabulous vision with creative minds and so eager to learn. For example, we teach them how to ‘present’ rather than ‘sell’.
As we manufacture, we listen to their innovative ideas and this enables us to push boundaries within our factory. Creating amazing bespoke furniture allows us to stand out from the crowd and we continue to remain one step ahead of the competition. We are without doubt leaders, not followers.
Our latest MMU design graduate, John.
- Is there enough support and opportunities for women in your industry?
I personally think there are not enough women in manufacturing in the UK and I would love to become involved with mentoring women to show them what can be achieved and make an impact in this male dominated industry. I truly believe women in manufacturing is good for business but leadership opportunities are with the manufacturers themselves and there is still room for growth for women in this field.
- What advice would you give to females starting their career?
Believe in yourself and enjoy the opportunities of being involved in an industry, which will give you immense job satisfaction. If you are committed to do the best design, offer the best service and be passionate about what you do, then success will surely follow.
I think it’s important to remember that there is no better role model for young women than women who break down gender barriers!