A hard-working Lincolnshire mum and successful businesswoman says she has no plans to slow down despite a “devastating” breast cancer diagnosis. Kirsty Gale, 43, from Lincoln, dropped out of school at the age of 15 and went on to build a multi-million pound business.
Red Carpet Ready, based in Branston near Lincoln, is now the largest prom and evening wear retailer in the UK. Kirsty lives in Lincoln with her husband and their 11-year-old daughter and will start radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer this month, reports The Mirror.
Despite the devastating health blow, she says she won’t be giving up her business duties any time soon – and was straight back in the office within 24 hours of her lumpectomy. Kirsty said: “Being told I have cancer was devastating and I was worried about the future as I have a 11-year-old daughter who needs her mum, as well as a business to run, but I am determined not to let it defeat me. Despite having cancer, I don’t plan to slow down any time soon.
“If you want it to be a success, you need 100 per cent dedication – it’s not nine till five. I have literally given up my life to be where I am now, but it was never a job for me, and it still isn’t; it’s part of my DNA. That’s why within 24 hours of having the lumpectomy I was back in the office.
“I’ve just designed our new collection and we’re gearing up for what is set to be our busiest year to date, but obviously the cancer diagnosis is always in the back of my mind. It’s been a particularly tough few months following my diagnosis, but running a business is never easy and every year comes with its own challenges.”
Kirsty says she gained her amazing work ethic after leaving school and her home at 15. She added: “Working and earning my own money has always been a driver for me. Leaving home at 15 and being left to my own devices made me very independent.
“I’ve always been very driven and found opportunities to earn my own money, partly because that’s always been in me, but partly because of my circumstances. My parents were great, they moved and I didn’t want to follow so I got a flat share.
“When you are successful people assume you lived at home and it was all glossy and then you go to university but that’s not how things worked out for me.”
Kirsty launched Red Carpet Ready in June 2013 and it now has 3,500 styles of dress available in five luxury showrooms near Lincoln. Kirsty’s dresses are regularly the favourite choice for evening wear by celebrities, public figures, influencers, pageant contestants and household names.
Renowned figures wearing their dresses include Penny Lancaster, Scarlett Moffatt, Olivia Attwood and England footballer Jess Carter. Kirsty added: “I haven’t got a degree in fashion, but I know what our customers want. If you’ve got an eye for something and a passion, it is possible to be successful without necessarily having all the right qualifications.
“We make the highest quality products which are totally unique and accessible for everyone regardless of their budget. We don’t sell to any other shops and we offer a prom promise that we won’t sell the same to anyone at the same school, not even in a different colour. Our sizes range from 0 to 32.”
After taking a break for Christmas and New Year Kirsty says she is ready to start 2024 with a determined attitude in business and for her health. She said: “The operation I had in October 2023 was successful and I’m now preparing for an intensive three-week course of radiotherapy starting on 15th January. I didn’t really know much about cancer, and I still don’t, but I’m learning as I go.
“Potentially my breast will be deformed which is upsetting and the recovery time is at least six months but I’m a very determined person and I’m taking it one step at a time. Red Carpet Ready has recently acquired a new distribution centre.
“We’re also looking at enhancing our technology and investing in scanning and new stock systems. This is the first phase of our ambitious plans for growth and I’m looking forward to seeing those plans come to fruition.”
Despite difficult trading conditions with the cost of living crisis and sky rocketing importation costs, Kirsty’s company is on track to achieve a record turnover of £1.6m this year and in December she was named Businessperson of the Year in the SME National Business Awards which was sponsored by Quatar Airways, The Business Show, Global and Wembley Stadium.