Updated: Nov 15
Co-Owner & director of The Mews Bridal
The Mews Bridal is a family business that started out with my Mum, Gail, in Bristol. I always would help out as a child on Saturdays and during the holidays. But initially, joining The Mews wasn't in my plans. I was at ballet school and wanted to travel to Europe dancing professionally.
After five years of dancing professionally with English National Ballet, Peter Schaufuss Balletten, and Ballet Nice Méditerraneée an injury made me rethink my career. Luckily, my Mum was brave enough to support my suggestion that I could expand The Mews Bridal with a new boutique in Notting Hill (quickly followed by New York!).
We asked Lauren to reflect upon her career transition.
Unlike most ballet dancers, you transitioned quite early on in your career; in your twenties. At the time, you were dancing with Ballet Nice Méditerranée. Was there a definitive point in your career where you felt it was the right time to transition?
Lauren Crispin: I had just recovered from a knee injury, it was the first major injury I had in my career and it really knocked me sideways. I had always been the dancer that was reliable. As soon as you're injured in any ballet company the way they treat you is suddenly very different and it was a real reality check, plus having the extra hours that you would normally be spending rehearsing you now had time to stop and think. I had been dancing professionally by the time I decided to change paths for 5 years and in those 5 years I had also worked for three companies - so I managed to squeeze a lot in! I lived and breathed ballet and I realised that mindset wasn't sustainable anymore, when I realised that, I knew it was the right time for me to move onto another challenge.
And how did you feel about career transition?
Lauren: I was so lucky as I know that 'the transition' is a lot harder for most dancers but for me, it was a happy accident. My Mum ran a successful bridal boutique in the UK and when I decided I wanted to move back to London, we made the plan together for me to help her open up a boutique in London. We opened up The Mews in London six years ago and I've never looked back.
With your mother in the business of fashion, was it always on the map that you'd assume a role in the family business, or did you have other plans?
Lauren: It was never my solid plan that after I retired I would go into the family business as I never had the intention of moving home (Bristol) so when the opportunity came along to open up a sister studio in London I jumped at the chance. I have always, along with ballet, had a love affair with fashion so it was an exciting challenge to find something I could do that I loved as much as ballet.
For most dancers, career transition is a process, and more often than not, a lingering one. Did you feel that you got closure after your final season, or did it happen much later?
Lauren: It definitely is a long process. In ballet, you never want to be seen as a 'quitter' and I feel like the fear of being perceived in this way can make the decision a very difficult one. I don't think you ever need to seek closure as ballet can always be a part of your life if you want it to be.
While dancing in Nice, you discovered a French designer, Delphine Manivet, that inspired your family's bridal business into new ventures in stocking solely French designers. It's since become the signature and DNA of The Mews. Looking back, do you think you were already anticipating your career transition?
Lauren: I have always loved the French style and I was so happy to be able to live and work in France when I got the job at Ballet Nice Méditerranée. Looking back I guess I was subconsciously anticipating my transition as I was so excited when I discovered Delphine Manivet as I knew this would take The Mews to the next level, we would be providing a new designer that had a different style to the UK designers we stocked at the time and we would be the only stockist in the UK.
Are there any ballet skills that crossover to influence your position as Co-Owner of The Mews?
Lauren: Absolutely, dancers are the hardest workers I know. We enjoy new challenges and can adapt to a lot of different situations.
What advice do you have for dancers thinking about career transition or about to go on the journey?
Lauren: You know when the time is right. Ballet isn't the be-all and end-all, there are so many opportunities that are waiting for you. Be open-minded and go for it!
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