Crissan has been a friendly and familiar face on Church Road, and a star of the Cheadle Hulme fashion scene for nearly three decades.
During that time other ladies’ clothes shops have been and gone. That’s quite some achievement, and testament to owner, Ann’s, eye for style and quality fashion. It also says a great deal about her enviable business sense, first-class customer service and knowledge of her market.
Ann has lived in Cheadle Hulme for over forty years and has spent her entire adult life working in fashion. Graduating with a degree in clothing technology, Ann worked for some of the biggest names in the industry. Like so many who take the plunge into working for themselves, Ann chose to take some control of her hours and set up for herself. That was back in the post-punk, New Romantic, ruffle-filled days of 1981. Like so many women at that time, the business started off as ‘party plan’. Think Tupperware – but selling clothes instead. Ann would showcase the clothes she was selling by wearing them to the parties. They sold like the proverbial hot cakes. Such was the success of these parties, that Ann was asked to stage a charity fashion show. Another soon followed, then another, and another…
The operation snowballed until the point came when Ann had enough of keeping boxes and boxes of stock at home. It was a no-brainer to buy the shop just around the corner from where she still lives in Cheadle Hulme. Thus, Crissan was born. Ann’s sisters Trudy and Jill joined the business and are still involved 28 years later. Ann only stopped organising fashion shows three years ago, as they were incredibly hard work and all-consuming. Ann dotes on her young grandchildren and wanted to more time to spend with her family.
The Crissan ethos is simple. Ann stocks only the most ‘stylish, beautifully made fashions that will last over multiple seasons.’ Choosing brands which specialise in elegant, smart and versatile designs, means pieces can be mixed-and-matched to bring timeless style and elegance. Crissan clothes never tie the wearer to a fixed look or trend – but will always look good. Fashion changes and is notoriously fickle, but at Crissan, it’s about choosing to follow fashion – not being a slave to fashion.
Many high street shops offer ‘fast’, or disposable fashion, trying to follow what’s in, without really considering their clientele. Their clothes are rarely made to last. Others seem only interested in a twenty-something audience. It’s no surprise that Crissan ladies often feel disillusioned with the high street shops. ‘We cater for stylish ladies who want to look great and feel great but want to have the option to cover their upper arms and knees. They also want colour! High street fashion can be very dull, and my clients want, and need, colour.’
Crissan is also renowned for the occasion wear. Ann tells me
‘Crissan occasion wear is perfect for a special event, such as a wedding. but then can be worn again on a cruise, at a lunch, to the races, etc. We really specialise in this. We also offer an alterations service, to achieve the perfect fit.’
Ann has developed almost a sixth sense when it comes to purchasing for Crissan. ‘This season we have fabulous collections, that deliver the cut and quality we all want, in fabulous, flattering colours… ‘My customers are discerning women who demand quality and style. Crissan suits their sense of who they are at this point in their life, their lifestyle and their budget! I am them, really! I get very cross with high street fashion stores, where you’re not really looked after either in terms of choice or service. Here, we take the time to get everything right, and it works.’ Ann still wears all her own stock and always looks the picture of elegance.
Ann clearly loves what she does, and it shows. She knows what will suit her ladies, what will fit, and how to accessorise – the shop is a treasure trove of stunning scarves and jewellery, as well as the clothes and shoes. There is eight staff, two of whom have been with Crissan from the very beginning. After living here for four decades, Ann and her husband still love Cheadle Hulme, enjoying real ale in the Chiverton Tap and shopping for fresh food in Waterhouses.