All the articles I have read about starting your own fashion business begin as a warning – ‘think really hard about whether this is for you’, with a subtle undertone of – DON’T DO IT!!! This warning is backed up by a huge list of the difficulties running a fashion business, with reminders like ‘design will only be 5% of the job’, ‘you will work day and night’ and ’even if you’re successful the cash-flow can cripple you’. Then come the hardcore issues like the 95% failure rate of new fashion businesses.
I can’t pretend this is not a little scary, it is. I have to remind myself of the 5% that do make it, and the satisfaction and benefits if it succeeds. As a designer I obviously enjoy the creative role, and the desire to create my own vision is a powerful driving force. It certainly helps that I enjoy the technical side too and am excited that I can now be more hands on and evaluate every detail myself.
Creating a product is what I have always done, but there is another huge side to a fashion company and that is the business, everything from financing and accounting to advertising and sales. There is an awful lot to consider! But that is something I am just as excited by. I would feel proud to create a beautiful dress, but I would be even more proud to a create a beautiful brand that dresses women season after season, and it’s getting the business right that allows it.
I am lucky to come from a family of creative entrepreneurs, and be married to one. I have always seen the benefits and hardships that come with running your own business and it’s something I always felt excited by and sure I would do someday. Being the beast it is, fashion really needs the right timing and circumstances to risk taking it on. That feels like now. I have spent years designing for other brands. I left London to have my girls in Devon and I want to work from here, putting all my experiences into making the business and lifestyle work.
The final push was from my Mum. She always wanted to write and make films, but it was never going to be the sensible business decision, and life had many other priorities. After years of doing other things she decided despite the odds to have a go and make it happen. I was so proud the day her first feature film was released and it reminded me that nothing is without risk, but the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward and you certainly won’t achieve anything if you don’t try.
It seems to me that if you have a dream that you want badly enough, the worst thing you can do is not try. You have to brave the difficulties, pour your heart and soul in, and allow it the chance of success. At least that is what I believe, we have one life and one chance to make it great, to do the things that are important and enjoy the things that are precious to us.