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The rise and fall of Drac-in-a-Box, in a nutshell

Drac-in-a-Box’s life began in March of 1999. Before then I was in carpet sales, a career I simply fell into. When I met my second husband we went into business together and I was delighted to leave my rather macho workplace behind.

It had humble beginnings. We didn’t design our own clothing at first. We relied on companies like Dark Angel, Kaos Clothing and Raven Clothing. We modelled ourselves mostly. Some of them were taken in the tiny backyard and very tacky backgrounds were added in photoshop. I designed the first couple of websites using Dreamweaver. We had to use small pictures for dial-up users. And we could only accept cheque payments. All in all it was incredible we did any business at all. But we did. We actually did really well.

The company grew quickly with a new professionally designed website, our own line of clothing with a wide range of sizes, new and exciting models and talented photographers. The costs grew too. But it was such fun. It was difficult to imagine it could ever sour.

We had stalls at events like Whitby. I started to feel like a celebrity and more people knew me by my chosen name, Carmilla Voiez, than my given name. Having kids made everything trickier to keep on top of and we hired people to help.

The bubble burst. I’m not sure what happened first. I suspect we were spending too much on photo shoots, we bought in material and invested in new designs. More companies were trading online and customers were becoming, shall we say, less friendly. Clothing was made and sent out to deadline to be returned later looking very much as though they had been worn. I started to feel like we were a for hire service at times, except the refunds became crippling.

My husband started behaving oddly. He would lie about money, about returns and refunds. I lost a handle on what was happening and it was only later that I realised the business had become unviable. It wasn’t easy letting it all go. There had been wonderful times and I met more people through Drac-in-a-Box than before or since. I won’t go into detail about my marriage but that ended too. I went from having it all to having nothing. I felt very lost.

Writing saved me. I needed to immerse myself in something creative and writing books became that outlet. In one of those strange full-circle movements that seem to happen to me I ended up working in one of the houses we’d used for a photo shoot years before.

So apart from the emotional nitty gritty that was what happened. But Drac-in-a-Box lived on until quite recently. Two Goths from southern England took it over. It has closed since, but without false humility, I believe it will continue in the hearts of our customers, many of whom have become my friends.

All things come to an end, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Seize the night and enjoy it while it lasts.

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