Virtual browsing in a Belgian haberdashery shop with 1,480 different trimmings, laces, buttons and buckles and much, much more. Gorgeous.

Who is behind A’Lies?
“I am Monique Ceulebrouck and I have been a busy bee ever since I was small. Always doing everything at once; watching television and knitting, and with a book on my lap to read, too. My grandmother was a very creative person, she designed pictures for all kinds of lace and needlework (the lace industry was very important in our region – Aalst – in those days but has sadly disappeared). She worked with more than forty lace-makers for the purveyor of the Belgian Royal court, among others. My mother and aunt were very good seamstresses themselves. As a child I would always follow the process of making clothes closely; tracing the patterns from sewing magazines Burda and Knip, puzzling with the fabric, cutting it out, the delicious smell of the fabrics…I copied them and made heaps of doll’s clothes.”

How did you come to start A’Lies?
“I went to university and started working at a bank. Although I had a good head for numbers and I had a good job, I yearned for more liveliness and for open air. I ended up in the confection trade and in 1991 I started a wholesale company in all kinds of fashion accessories. But the fashion industry has largely shifted to countries like Poland and Rumania, India and China. So we decided to focus more on the end user, began a web shop and started to participate at trade fairs. My daughter Annelies is my right hand, without her help the web shop would never have materialized.”

What is your best experience so far with the web shop?
“We are continually surprised by the wide range of things people make with our articles. Doll’s and teddy bear’s clothes, baby jackets, pillow throws, table cloths, Christmas cards, little sheets and curtains, interior furnishings for boats, restoration of paintings, women’s and men’s clothing, crochet and knitting projects, carry bags, classroom crafts: more than you could dream up! And the responses we get at the fairs are lovely: ‘You have sooo many things, it makes me want them all.’”