Big thank you from

Mimi Gorman from The Cheshire Cat in Hillsborough

Mimi Gorman MIMI Gorman, 50, owns the well known Hillsborough toy shop The Cheshire Cat and gift shop Trio. After finishing her schooling Mimi went to London where she worked for two years but felt she wasn't being stretched enough so then she decided to go to college and study business. After this Mimi then went travelling around Africa. On her return to Northern Ireland she set up an interior design business. Around this time her mother Heather opened the Cheshire Cat and Trio, a gift shop, was later established. Her mother retired in the 1990's and Mimi now runs the stores although her parents are still in partnership with her. Mimi who is a widow, has two daughters Sophie and Alice. Sophie is at University and Alice is still at school.

I normally wake at 7am and make sure my youngest daughter is up and ready for school. I feed the cat and dog and get myself ready. I'm not at the store every day but am still heavily involved and do often work from home.

In the mornings that I am working I get everything straightened at the house before leaving for the shops which open at 10am.

When I arrive I check the post and emails and make out a programme of things to be sorted out - I usually make this up the night before. I order stock and check how the shops are looking and look through any customer requests and see if I can order in what they are looking for.

The Cheshire cat sells traditional toys - real toys that kids can play with from pocket money items to old fashioned rocking horses. Children who came to us years ago are now coming back with their own children. It's nice when people say that they used to visit the shop when they were small. Trio is a gift shop and we stock everything form china, jewellery, mens gifts and greetings cards. There's lots to choose from and it is hard to say exactly what we sell as it changes all the time.

When I'm in the shop I help the staff serve customers and I enjoy chatting to people who come in to have a look at what we are selling. How busy the stores are really does depends on the season. I am more involved on the shop floor during busy times like Christmas and then it definitely is less office orientated for me. The staff I have are extremely adaptable and all have different responsibilities. I liaise closely with the Manager and staff who have been with for a long time and are just wonderful.

When I'm not at work I might be at home sourcing things on the internet and following up new products. I like to keep in touch by reading trade magazines and it really does help me think about what I want for the shops.

I am a big supporter of charities and like to do what I can to help them. The Cheshire Cat supports the Sunshine Society and the Sick

Poor Fund, both administered by Bryson House - local charities helping families with children. We also make a contribution from the sale of head scarves - when I lost my hair through chemotherapy I had to wear them so by selling them I am able to give some of the proceeds to local cancer charities. I've had breast cancer twice and I sell the scarves as a way to help the cancer charities.

Everyday is really different for me. I am very lucky that the staff are so good and have helped establish the good reputation of the businesses. I really love my work and enjoy it too which is important.

When I am at home I enjoy relaxing with my family and cooking and taking my dog for walks.


Ulster Star