To mark International Women’s Day Coleraine Business Improvement District (CBID) is shining a light on Terese Burns, proprietor of Couples in Railway Road, one of the most well-known businesswomen in Coleraine town centre.
When did Couples open?
The business itself started well over 100 years ago with my husband's family (Burns & Co). I joined in 1978…longer than I care to imagine!
What inspired you to go into the fashion sector?
I was starting a secretarial course at Coleraine Tech and I knew it wasn’t for me. My friend told me about an opening at Couples which was a tiny unit then. You couldn’t swing a cat in it but I was sold. I’ve always loved fashion, it’s been something I’ve been so passionate about. You would have found me running around in my mum's heels from such a young age. I still wear heels everyday of my life! I definitely haven’t looked back!
Did you face any barriers during your business career because you are a woman and if so how did you overcome them?
Yes! Of course, there were hurdles to overcome but because it’s something I care so much about I wouldn’t let anything stop me!
Despite the availability of so many fashion multinationals, Couples has been one of Coleraine’s most popular fashion retailers for many years - what makes it stand out and why should shoppers support local businesses such as yours?
I think the thing that makes us stand out from multinationals is the amazing team we have in store. I’m so lucky to work with my sister for all these years and have people on the team who have worked with us for 25+ years. Now most of my kids work in the business so it’s a real family affair.
The past two years have been extremely difficult for many businesses, how have you dealt with the challenges the pandemic caused?
We have been so lucky to have such supportive and amazing customers. The pandemic has taught us to do things differently. We now do Facebook videos four or five times a week and we post to the Republic and all over the U.K. It’s been a learning curve but we’ve loved it and now have so many new lovely customers we’ve only met via phone calls! I can’t wait to meet more of them in person.
Do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Yes, definitely. I think it’s so important to celebrate all the success women have had and although it’s been a difficult journey for many it’s so important to reflect and see how far we have come.
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given during your business career?
If you’re doing something you love you never have to work a day in your life.. so make sure you love it!
What message would you send out to young women who are contemplating starting their own business?
Take the plunge but make sure you’re willing to work hard to get to where you want to be. If you have the drive and motivation you can do it! Have fun along the way too. That’s important!
If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Audrey Hepburn - what a classic beauty. Victoria Beckham - I absolutely LOVE her style. She's elegant and gorgeous and to see how she drives her business forward is fantastic. Lastly, my mum who was an inspirational mother and always so supportive in helping me be who I was meant to be.