OPENING SOON: Sam Harrison from Formally Yours at her Redbank Plaza store, which will open on September 14.
OPENING SOON: Sam Harrison from Formally Yours at her Redbank Plaza store, which will open on September 14. Cordell Richardson

Cinderella experience for Ipswich formals, graduates

PARENTS who are struggling to buy dresses and suits for their children's formals and graduations can soon receive the Cinderella experience at Redbank Plaza.

Ipswich's own fairy godmother Sam Harrison is opening her store Formally Yours this Saturday, with dozens of gowns and tuxedos ready to be tried on.

Her store allows students to come in and find the outfit of their dreams which they can then wear on their special night.

"This is not a free shop. You can find your perfect outfit and wear it, but then we would appreciate you bringing it back so someone else can then wear it to their special event," Ms Harrison said.

Ms Harrison founded Formally Yours three years ago. Over that time she has helped hundreds of students across the city feel like a million dollars in beautiful outfits they might never have been able to afford.

Ms Harrison drew on her own life experience to help establish this business. After a distressing experience whilst buying her own daughter's formal dress, Ms Harrison knew she had to do something to help other families whose budget could not be stretched to cover the exuberant costs associated with the end-of-year celebrations.

 

Sam Harrison from Formally Yours at her Redbank Plaza store.
Sam Harrison from Formally Yours at her Redbank Plaza store. Cordell Richardson

"I came from a town where the name of the school was more important than the grades you got," she said.

"To do the best thing by my kids, I felt it was more important to send them to the right school, and hopefully that way if their grades weren't up to scratch then they still had a bit of an advantage.

"However, this meant I had to pay school fees because it was a private school. This pretty much crippled me because I was a single mum.

"Eventually we ended up being homeless."

Ms Harrison did what she could to save for her daughter's gown, but when the time came to find the one, the experience was not a positive one.

"I saved for about six months with little bits that I could put together, and when it came time to try on a formal dress, the prices of them just bowled me over," she said.

"It was nothing outlandish, just a really nice gown.

"The ladies there were just so overwhelmingly degrading to us. If it was just to me I wouldn't have been so upset, but they were nasty to my daughter, and that drew a line with me.

"I never want to make any kid feel like that."

Nearly all of the items on the hangers and the shelves have been donated to Formally Yours.

"We have dresses here that have never been worn," Ms Harrison said.

Formally Yours will open to the public on Saturday, September 14.

The shop will be open to the public every Saturday from 9am-3pm. The store will also open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for supervised school groups only.

At this stage, Formally Yours will only be operating at Redbank Plaza until December 1.

Formally Yours is located near the cinemas.