Businesswoman Gopibhai Naraindas Melwani - the driving force behind Hong Kong's best-known celebrity outfitters, Sam's Tailor - has died in hospital at the age of 80 after a long illness. Over the past 45 years, she helped the small Burlington Arcade shop build a VIP client list that includes US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and almost every star in the political and musical firmament to pass through Hong Kong. A powerful personality who impressed on her three children the virtues of hard work and the need to help their father from an early age, she married Sam's Tailor founder Naraindas Melwani in what is now Pakistan in 1945. In 1957, Naraindas migrated to Hong Kong and launched Sam's Tailor, naming it after his second son Sham. His wife quickly established herself as the backbone of the business. Eldest son Manu recalled: 'When we finished school, my mother would make us help our father in the shop. We would do our homework in the shop. She told us, 'you have to help your father.' 'She taught us everything. She told us to be loyal to people, to be honest and sincere and to work hard. She was always in the background, helping us to do everything. She was an iron lady, a very powerful lady.' It was through the British military that the Melwanis built up the business' early reputation. They targeted the officer class, whose recommendations were soon to lead to the influx of famous clients that Sam's is now renowned for. After the death of Naraindas in 1992, Gopibhai, or Gopi, remained immersed in the business, only loosening her grip as illness took its toll on her health in the past year. 'Our mother used to tell us, 'Just concentrate on what you are doing. If a customer enters your shop, look after them and make sure they are satisfied,'' said Manu. Gopibhai Melwani died in St Teresa's Hospital on Friday. A cremation ceremony will take place today.