With clients including Judy Murray and Michelle Obama, Joyce Young OBE has more than 30 years' experience in creating bespoke styles for brides and mothers of the bride. Registered in 1993 as By Storm Ltd and trading as Joyce Young, the business has twin bases in Glasgow and London.

What do you do?

We design, make and sell made-to-measure luxury women’s special occasion wear that is mainly worn to weddings. We have five collections: Bridal, Special Occasion, Contemporary Tartan, our Signature Collection, and Casual Chic day wear that is produced in our manufacturing unit adjacent to our showroom in Glasgow. Clients can browse and purchase our bespoke collections along with other carefully-chosen items from like-minded designers by appointment at our salons.

Who are your customers?

We only sell our designs from our own shops in London and Glasgow direct to the client in the UK and overseas. We don’t wholesale the collections therefore they are very exclusive.

What is your annual turnover?

More than £1 million.

How many people do you employ?


Why did you set up your own business?

I had previously designed for M&S and found that while it gave me a good business grounding, as a designer my ideas were limited by price. Starting with the cost of the fabric and trying to work to an unrealistic price point was frustrating. I wanted to use my creativity and love of quality, texture and colour in fabrics rather than be so restricted.

What do you least enjoy?

Administration and accounting. I enjoy most aspects of running the business but when it comes to looking at pages of figures my first accountant used to say he could see the shutters come down.

What are your ambitions for the business?

I am passionate about helping women find confidence and a personal style of dress. I have spent almost 50 years designing clothes. I have enormous empathy now with ladies of an age where their children are getting married. There doesn’t seem one word to describe us that is flattering, though we are all girls at heart. It’s an age group which has been overlooked by designers and marketing companies.

Wearing the right clothes for the right occasion gives joy and confidence and puts a smile on our faces and a spring in our step. Our Casual Chic and Signature Collections are designed to flatter by being well cut to skirt over the tummy but not overwhelm with fabric. Here is where I see the business could grow beyond our bespoke creations.

Our collections are designed and manufactured in our own production unit in Glasgow and will never compete with high street prices. Our clients appreciate good design, high quality, perfect fit, luxurious fabrics and unparalleled service. They are happy to pay the extra in the knowledge that they have an outfit individually made for them and they are unlikely to bump into another one exactly the same.

What single thing would most help?

Investment and collaboration to expand the daywear collection and the contemporary tartan designs. Both collections address a gap in the market. I’m sure collaboration with the right company could take what we have built and move it up a few levels. None of our children are interested in going into the business so there is no one to pass it on to. This however could be an opportunity for the right person or company to grow what has been established over 30 years beyond our own vision.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

You can’t do everything yourself and your business is only as good as the team around you.

Where do you find yourself most at ease?

I enjoy most aspects of the business but I particularly love being in our production unit when we are creating new designs. It’s exciting seeing the initial ideas and sketches come to life. The pinnacle is seeing them on the models on the catwalk with the bright lights and music and on photoshoots I feel so proud of my team.

The very best moments are when our clients collect their dresses and outfits and put them on for the final time in the shop before taking them home before their weddings. I always photograph our lovely mothers at the collection and the pure joy and their disbelief that they can look so amazing is a feeling I just wish we could bottle. Our whole team get such a kick out of the pleasure our clients display when they see themselves in the finished garment. Both in London and Glasgow these are the best moments.

Our clients are our best adverts. I tell them when they leave: “Thank you for being such an amazing ambassador for us. Congratulations you are now part of our marketing team “

If you weren’t in your current role, what job would you most fancy?

I love photography. I enjoy taking pictures of our clients and models and seem to have an eye for a good composition.

What phrase or quotation has inspired you the most?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

What is the best book you have ever read? Why is it the best?

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" is one of the most recent books I have read and the lessons it teaches in communication are so interesting and invaluable. After all absolutely everything comes down to communication. Listening and not jumping in before thinking, finding out what will make the other person happy while achieving your end goals has got to be an essential read for everybody.

What has been your most challenging moment in life or business?

There have been many ups and downs over 31 years since we launched the company. I guess the scariest was the 23rd of March 2020 when we were closed down because of Covid. We had hundreds of outfits at various stages of readiness for weddings and no idea what was going to happen.

Weddings were cancelled with some brides having four different dates before they finally got married. When we did get back to work it threw our production into chaos as the dates were postponed for one or two years and as we make to measure no one wanted to come in for fittings till closer to the new dates of wedding. It was a challenging time but we survived to tell the tale.

What do you now know that you wish you had known when starting out in your career?

As a workaholic I have spent my life living and breathing the business. I don’t regret it as it is my passion and I’m privileged to have been able to have a career that I have enjoyed so much.