How it all began.
After gaining a 1st Class (hons) degree in fashion buying, and deciding to take a year out to backpack across Europe, Asia, and Australasia, Joel found himself in the clutch of a global recession. He applied for several positions in the field of assistant buying in London, but due to the economic downturn there were no such positions available.
Having always had an art/sculptural based background and excelling in the art department, both at GCSE and A Level at Barnard Castle School, the opportunity arose to take a course in millinery. Upon attending the Janie Lashford School of Millinery, it quickly became apparent that Joel had a natural flare for the art, picking up skills and techniques very quickly, while eager to create his own designs.
Combining the business skills from his degree and his new skills in millinery, Joel felt confident enough to start his own small cottage industry business; in 2010, the doors to Quills Millinery opened.
Joel progressed very quickly from the day he opened, featuring in Vogue magazine, showcasing his first collection at a fashion show at Auckland Castle, and going on to make two bespoke headpieces for the Royal wedding of William and Catherine, all within the first two years of business. Going form strength to strength, Quills Millinery saw Joel’s client base increase solely through word of mouth for his fabulous creations and great customer service.
The more clients Joel received throughout his doors, the more times he would be asked about the possibility of supplying occasion wear. Women would say to him, “I just can’t seem to find simple lines, classic shapes, and elegance. All there seems to be is ruffles and ruching.” With this in mind, Joel began to do some research on designers to see if there was anything out there that he could supply, as there was clearly a demand for this style of dress. In spring 2012, Joel opened Alexander Occasional, which ran alongside Quills Millinery, bringing occasional wear into the boutique.
In Spring 2014, Joel was offered the opportunity to purchase a shop on the prestigious Grange Road, Darlington. This would place him right in the hub of the small designer district of the town, and after a substantial refit of the shop, it was ready for business. With this move, Joel decided on an entirely new brand, as he already had two sections to the old business with two separate names, and so created the Joel Alexander boutique that we know and love today.
“I love what I do. Everyday is different, in the way that every client is different. I love being surrounded by all the other fabulous boutiques on Grange Road and the camaraderie that has developed amongst us. Since Joel Alexander has opened, I have worked with a large number of new clients, and I’m equally as thrilled that my existing ones have followed me here too.” – Joel Alexander