Alison Reuben on how she went from a famous dance troupe to top female manufacturer

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Luxury Cheshire met Alison Reuben, owner of Bluebell Fitted Furniture, to talk about her life in home interiors and her contribution to the North West’s economy as one of the leading women making strides in manufacturing.

It’s 25 years since Alison launched Bluebell Fitted Furniture, but her career didn’t actually begin in manufacturing. Her first love was in fact dancing, forging a successful career travelling the world as Captain and Principal Dancer of the famous and very glamorous ‘Bluebell Girls’ troupe – the name she would later give to her interiors business.

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Living for periods in Paris, Buenos Aires and Korea, Alison featured in films alongside silver-screen heroes such as Sir Laurence Olivier, and Roger Moore in the James Bond film. The highest point of her career was to dance with Gene Kelly during a film made about his life!

So why the change to interiors and fitted furniture? Alison explains, “After seven years of dancing at international venues, I had a feeling that I needed to prepare myself for life after dance. Having grown up with a family in retail, I decided to enter the world of home furnishings by setting up a bedroom furniture company”. This leap of faith certainly paid off and today Alison and fellow Director and husband Mike (pictured below) head up a successful team of 28 staff including their three children at their Sale showroom and Altrincham factory.

The Reubens

What makes Bluebell even more unique is having a woman at the helm. Alison explains that there are few women leaders in the manufacturing industry and by winning the IoD Family Business Award this year, she hopes this will encourage the next generation of women and girls to believe that they too can dominate within what has been seen as a traditionally male domain. Alison feels so passionate about this that she also works as a mentor to women in the wider manufacturing industry and her dream is that one day soon Bluebell will receive a job application from a female fitter.

Alison is also hugely passionate about supporting the local community in Cheshire. As well as being a sponsor for Sale Sharks Rugby Club, each year she chooses to support a particular charity. This year it is Altrincham-based Act4Africa, raising money for Uganda’s poorest women and children, to access jobs and education and giving them the tools to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

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Interiors and design are definitely in Alison’s blood and she works with a number of interior designers across the North West, helping to deliver bespoke projects for kitchens, media areas, bars, bedrooms and studies. One such interior designer is Lana Filippova – a talented lady with an enviable customer-base. Lana (who has a showroom in Bowdon) has recently completed the redesign of Alison and Mike’s Sale home, including two beautiful lounges (pictured) which we were lucky enough to see.

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“We’ve been in our home for many years now and love it dearly,” said Alison. “Now the children have grown up, we wanted a space that was more sophisticated, an area to entertain and of course a space for Mike to watch the rugby and football! Top of the wish list was comfort but we also wanted to include some pieces of sentimental importance – a chair my mum helped me choose, paintings and artwork we’ve loved for years, and of course some precious photos from my Bluebell dancing days.”

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Lana worked hard to perfect the look, working closely with the Reubens to incorporate all the elements, while encouraging Alison to be bold and really go for the WOW factor. The result is two incredibly beautiful rooms with a sense of style and personality which truly match that of their inspirational owners.

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Get Alison’s Lounge-Look

Sofa: Lana Filippova Interiors

Fireplace: Fireplace Superstore, Cheadle Hulme

Coffee Table: Lana Filippova Interiors

Carpets: Terry Cragg at Cheshire Carpet Agency

Bespoke Media Area by Bluebell Fitted Furniture 

 

Bluebell Bedroom Furniture

81-83 Washway Road,
Sale, Cheshire
M33 7TQ

Phone: 0161 976 6606