Fareham mum takes her Spanish dress boutique business Ruby's Bowtiques into the future, despite losing her shop due to Covid

A FAREHAM mum’s dress boutique business is still going strong despite losing its shop front during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 7:00 pm
The Leung family. Picture: Chelsea White

Mum of four Gemma Leung has run her traditional Spanish childrenswear shop Ruby’s Bowtique for seven years.

Gemma, 33, said: ‘I design all the dresses myself and have over 100 designs.’

‘They are all traditional puffball style dresses, very puffy with bows and lace, bonnets to match.’

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This smock is the latest design from Ruby's Bowtique

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Gemma, who is originally from the Isle of Wight, says that her love for Spanish design began when she moved to the country as a seven-year-old.

Returning to England at 17 to study musical theatre at South Downs College, Gemma later met her husband, Steve Leung, while working for the SSE customer service team.

The couple married in Spain, and now the couple have four children - Roman Blu, nine, who recently modelled for Stella McCartney, Ruby Bow, six, Rose Blossom, five, and Rupert Bay, two.

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Gemma began her dress boutique business when she started making bows and bow holders after taking redundancy.

She said: ‘As I speak fluent Spanish, I flew to Spain to meet suppliers and started Ruby’s Bowtique.’

Now, Gemma creates the designs using pictures, talking to suppliers, and looking at the trims on offer.

She added: ‘I have a sample made, when I am happy with the design we do a photoshoot and then market the dresses. Turnaround is four to eight weeks.’

Gemma said: 'Bows are a big thing for us!'. Pictue: Chelsea White

The Ruby’s Bowtique shop moved from Gosport to a site just off Fareham high street in January 2020.

Gemma said: ‘We spent money on decorating and fitting out, and we were about to open when Covid struck. We thought it would only be three weeks.’

Facing the struggles of running a business through the coronavirus pandemic, the final straw came when Gemma’s son became ill with bacterial pneumonia.

She said: ‘It broke my heart losing my shop but we were faced with life or death, blue lights to intensive care.

‘We spent days in hospital - Covid restrictions are cruel, my husband couldn’t even come in.

‘The decision was easy - Rupert’s health first.’

The shop was closed at the beginning of December. Determined to bounce back, Gemma gave her business a rethink, revamping her website and launching a loungewear collection made in England.

Gemma, who dreams of seeing one of her designs sold in Harrods, said: ‘My passion is fashion.

‘I am constantly adding products, loungewear, embroidery, matching socks and bows.’

She is now shooting her Christmas 21/22 collection with photographer Chelsea White.

Gemma is also working on a rebrand of her shop, named after her first daughter. Since having Rose Blossom, Gemma has decided to call her business RB girls and RB boys.

The shop works with local college students, giving them an opportunity to design a dress.

Gemma said: ‘We feel it’s a lovely way to give back to young people and it gives them a real taste of working in fashion’.

Ruby’s Bowtique also sponsors Gosport Borough’s away kit, Gemma’s son’s football team.

She said: ‘Giving back to the community is really important.’

Find out more at www.rubysbowtique.co.uk.

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