I know we are well into January now, but I couldn't let anymore time slip by without celebrating all my business achievements of 2018 no matter how big or small! Also I feel it is good to reflect on how I can improve things within my business and in turn, improve my focus on specific goals for the year ahead!
January 2018 started off with me attending The Future Fabrics Expo for the first time in central London. I don't have to look very far in London for events and exhibitions that interest me and are even better on a grey day in January! I believe that this event is expanding year on year due to the growing interest in sustainability in the fashion industry and the increased awareness of the effects the industry has on the environment globally. It was a great education for me to learn how fabric manufacturers around the world are exploring the production of ethical and recyclable fabrics which is off interest to me, in the possible use for my garment production and as someone who cares about the environment and admires innovation. It was also interesting to find out there was more to this than just hemp and cotton as I found some very interesting new fabrics including recycled polyester.
February saw the influence of the premier of the incredible Black Panther movie taking over the Screen Nation Awards which celebrates the achievements of film, tv and digital media professionals of African Diaspora heritage. I was lucky enough to be invited to the event and obviously wanted to look the part and so I had to make my own African inspired dress to be part of the occasion! Above right are pictures of the construction process with the calico toiles.
I just love the different exhibitions they have on in central London and almost all year round there seems to be something I want to see! In February I was lucky enough to get to the Balenciaga exhibition and see the amazing gowns on display and learn more about the work of this iconic couture designer.
I can't talk about February without mentioning @DesignsbyJosh, who at 12 had his first House of Ikons fashion show of the year!
Above is one of the amazing looks the then 12 year old boy designed and I was pleased to have made in the studio!
Photograph Frank Macdonald Photography
Modelled by Tiger-Lily Chandler.
March was a big celebration for me and I was lucky enough to go to Marrakech to escape the cold weather! I was instantly taken with the bold colours and intricate designs on almost everything... but especially the tiles adorning most interiors. This little adventure inspired me to explore colour and print design once again this year, which was a passion of mine in my younger years, so much so, that I even designed my first print design and made some silk scarves in the Autumn. Morocco was full of colour and I have to add another picture to show you...
I so lucky to get to go to Marrakech shortly after the new Yves Saint Laurent Museum had opened the previous November which is located next to the already popular Maison Majorelle gardens designed by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, so how amazing to get to see the two together which I certainly wasn't expecting! Above are some of his beautiful sketches on display there, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you by showing you any more...
Aprils highlight was being added to the Make It British list of top 40 British-made womenswear brands by Kate Hills, whose campaign to promote British brands has encouraged me to keep on building my brand in the knowledge that there are other businesses in the same boat as me! I feel so honoured to be included even though I am still on the early part of my journey.
I also saw one of the first fashion documentary films of the year I had been waiting to be released, which was the Westwood film about the life of Vivienne Westwood one of our most treasured British fashion designers.
May was a month when I was focused on creating some new dresses for Joan Collins who stars in TOWIE, who you may know as mother of Gemma Collins also star of TOWIE and creator of her own glamorous plus size fashion range!
Joan has a great eye for colour, fabric and style, so we always have plenty to talk about when I am working for her! Look out for my blog about working with Joan coming soon...
June was a busy time making some separates for one of my clients and a couple of the previous beautiful silk pieces I have made for her are pictured above. Both pieces are made from a beautiful silk twill which is nice to work with. I'm so pleased that I also found the time to see the McQueen movie after last year seeing the fantastic exhibition, both of which I found an incredible source of inspiration. I appreciate being able to see couture garments in the flesh rather than just on a video and the hear the life stories of different designers.
July came around so quickly that I realised one of the things I had planned at the beginning of the year I hadn't actually started yet! I finally found the time to launch my online shop on my website and start adding some of my unique dresses to it, although this is a work in progress and there is so much else to do including more advertising!
August was wedding season and I had one particular project that I enjoyed working on for a lovely young couples wedding. The bride had bought a beautiful bodice that she saw in a bridal boutique and needed a skirt designed and made that would make it look like a dress when worn together. I confess that usually I am not so inspired by bridal garments but rather enjoyed putting the finishing touches of beaded embellishments on the fishtail skirt.
Photo on right by Annie Hall Photography
I also celebrated 4 years in business in August which was a fantastic achievement for me as I move steadily toward my goals growing my online ethical luxury occasion wear brand!
September was also celebrated by having been nominated for a second year in a row in the STP Awards (Sevenoaks Town Partnership) which is my local council. The two categories were New Business and Micro Enterprise of the year. It is so encouraging to be considered for any kind of awards as it makes you realise that people do notice the work you are doing and it makes it all the more rewarding!
For his second show of the year at House of Ikons, Joshua Birch-Jones' designs were on show as emerging brand Designs By Josh! I was again able to bring a few of his designs to life and was also invited to attend the fashion show in central London. To say he got an amazing reception is an understatement! I look forward to working on some of his new designs for the next show, he is a great inspiration to young people and definitely one to watch for the future!
Photograph by Frank Macdonald Photography
October was a time for a little more time out to visit the wonderful Azzedine Alaia couture exhibition in London, which was yet another incredible display of beautiful garments that are just breath-taking! This stunning pink gown was just one of so many beautiful pieces to pour over.
I cannot forget to mention the truly brilliant Bohemian Rhapsody movie I watched this month that was a complete joy to watch, bringing back musical and cultural memories of my youth! Music has such an influence in our lives and can be reflected in the fashions of the day.
How can I forget my second awards evening of the year...the IBAK Awards (Independent Business Awards in Kent)? That evening I received a runner up award for Best Home Based business, which I was thrilled to receive and two other nominations for Best Creative Business and Innovative Business.
I also, again had to make myself another special dress for that special occasion, so here I am pictured above wearing my royal blue satin cape dress!
I ended October with my first popup in Tunbridge Wells, organised by Support Local which is a great business which helps promote small businesses and local traders. This is where I launched my new silk scarf range alongside my rail of one off unique dresses! I had my first print design transferred onto a couple of the scarves, which was a side step into another passion of mine which is print and textile design, but beautiful fabrics anyway.
November was a time for smaller projects which can be just as interesting as the bigger projects. Here I am in the studio doing some pattern cutting for one of my bespoke clients. I have a range of clients, from bespoke wedding dresses to small alterations, although I do not primarily do weddings. My main passion is evening and occasion wear and developing my own brand, which I am trying to develop in an ethical way.
December was time for a new project and was asked to make some lovely pink uniforms in the form of jumpsuits and two piece outfits for Baker Girl Beauty Academy in Bromley! Above, one of the beauty academy professionals is wearing her jumpsuit. What an enjoyable project to end the year with and this has given me a lovely new network of friends too!
Well I hope you enjoyed reading about my business year as 2018 has flown by and we are at the beginning of another year! I am planning some exciting projects for this year, some of which are already underway and I am so excited to announce that I will be producing more of my own designs this year ... so I look forward to sharing them with you soon.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and I wish you a peaceful and prosperous new year!
#fashiondesigner #fashionstudio #bespoke #eveningwear #occasionwear #partydress #ballgown #atelier #patterncutter #madeinengland #ethicalfashion #luxuryclothing #creativebusiness #womaninbusiness
Caroline Bruce designer, dressmaker and business owner.