Bridal wear maker moves to Fermoy
"I've never done anything else. I love it," Sheila de Paor says of the career she's carved out for herself as a seamstress, specialising in bridal and occasion wear. Her enthusiasm for her work is evident. "Three-quarters of the battle is loving what you do," she says and it's obvious that Sheila relishes the work she's been doing since she was 14 years old.
Born and reared in Tallow, Sheila came from a big family. Her Dad died when she was 14. When her mother was told there was an apprenticeship going with the Castlelyons clothing firm Ferlyons, it was considered too big an opportunity to pass up and so, Sheila began work in the factory which at that time made waxed outdoor clothing. Despite having to thumb a lift home from her new place of work, Sheila loved her job.
"I never looked back" she says. She recalls owner Jim Fleming fondly, saying he was like a second Dad to her. Watching Sheila's skills develop, he encouraged her, telling her to stick with it, that she had 'a keen eye' and 'would go far'.
Sheila went on to set up her own business, working from home initially. She then set up shop in Lismore, trading for two years in the heritage town. Her move to Fermoy's Market Square was a decision made on commercial grounds. "It has a better footfall and a bigger catchment area," Sheila explains simply. That said, she's pleased to be back again in an area so close to where she first learned her trade nearly 35 years ago.
"I've a good feeling about it," Sheila said as she looked around her new shop this week. She's delighted to have found a premises that allows her studio space to work from as well as ample room to showcase her range of bridal wear, debs dresses and other special occasion wear. She's particularly pleased with the upstairs of the premises which she has turned into a bright, airy showroom.
Describing it as 'not a typical bridal shop', Sheila explains that she makes bridal and other occasion wear to order but also buys in dresses and outfits which she can alter and customise to create a design that is unique to the customer. Sheila is also unusual in that she specialises in bridal alterations and is happy to do the work, even if her customers haven't bought their bridal gowns from her.
Sheila's friendly approach makes for a less formal shopping experience for brides-to-be. "I like to put people at ease," she says. She does so by inviting them to come first for a relaxed browse to see if there is anything they like. After that she's happy to arrange a private consultation so that they can come back with family members to try on gowns.
Her new premises at Market Square is adorned with photographs of brides and debs down through the years wearing her creations. "I make sure they have a dress for their wedding they will cherish. There's no greater satisfaction than creating a gown. I get great satisfaction from what I do," she says.
Sheila can also take wedding gowns afterwards and use them to make christening robes. It's something she's done with her own wedding dress, creating a beautiful christening gown that has been passed down through the family over the years.
Mothers-of-the-bride and groom are also catered for with the same options available to either buy from the peg and have altered to fit if necessary or have a bespoke outfit made.
Sheila has found a new interest to indulge in her downtime - pitch and putt - and now plays whenever she can. Getting the time might prove difficult in the weeks ahead as she beds in her new business in Fermoy. While she has already begun trading to give people a preview of her business, she's planning a grand opening for Saturday, July 27th when there will be special offers on bridalwear and other stock. In the meantime she invites all to drop in and view what Chez de Paor - 'house of Power' has to offer. She points out that she is also happy to carry out alterations on everyday items of clothing.
Sheila is delighted with the welcome she's been given by neighbouring businesses and looks forward to making a positive contribution to the retail heart of the town.
Friday 19th July 9:20am