A DRESSmaker whose costumes have been worn by film and opera stars has seen her clothing and soft furnishings business flourish from a studio in a Bolton mill.
Jane Flanagan — sister of former Coronation Street star Helen Flanagan — has dressed Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, actress Cate Blanchett in The Golden Age and Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust.
She has also made opera and ballet costumes for performers, including ballerina Darcey Bussell.
And now special events, like school proms and weddings, along with soft furnishings and everyday alterations, have helped her business at Albion Mill, Bridgeman Street, to flourish.
The 31-year-old former Thornleigh Salesian College student returned to Bolton in 2009 after spending 11 years in London.
She set up Jane Flanagan Couture and says her hard work has paid-off.
Miss Flanagan said: “The transformation from moving from London to Bolton was huge. I now feel really secure in the business.
“I did a degree course at the London College of Fashion and was in London for 11 years.
“I did a lot of interesting work, such as for the Harry Potter films, the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera. But I gradually started thinking more about where I wanted to be.
“My friends started moving out of London and I wanted to come back home to Bolton.
“I worried about making the commitment to come back because so much of my work was based down there.
“But I made the decision and have never looked back. It has been brilliant. I still do theatre work and have done costumes for the Royal Opera, Birmingham Royal Opera and the Royal Albert Hall.
“However, I also do other work, which I love. This includes wedding dresses, mother-of-the-bride outfits and dresses for school proms.
“Recently I’ve made about six wedding dresses and worked with 12 girls on altering their prom dresses. They’ve all got their own ideas and it’s great to show people how a few simple alterations can make such a difference to their clothes. A few tweaks can make a dress fit perfectly.”
And Miss Flanagan is keen to pass on her skills to the younger generation.
She said: “I was very fortunate when I was young because I got work placements, so I now offer work placements here. It’s tough to get jobs and get set up in business so I want to give trainees the best opportunities I can.
“I employ some people on a sub-contractor basis and some of them are still at university.”
Social media and a website are important to her business, but the majority of her work comes through word-of-mouth recommendations from customers.
Miss Flanagan said: “The business is growing and getting very busy so I’m going to have to take people on.
“I’m a bit of a control freak so taking on other people will be interesting. The business features my name and I want complete control over what goes out.”
Away from the glamour of theatre and prom dresses, Miss Flanagan also makes soft furnishings and offers alterations.
She said: “Getting to this point has taken a lot of hard graft. Sometimes I’ve slept in the studio on the sofa and haven’t gone home for days. I’ve also got a very supportive family, but it’s all paid off.”