Become a Fashion Designer without Sewing a Stitch

WRITTEN BY ROCHELLE ALLEN

It took Rochelle almost 40 years to discover her passion. Now that she knows what it is, she’s going for it! Despite two pregnancies and lack of both sewing skills and a business plan, she’s figuring it out one step at a time and making it happen. You’ll love her comical tale of what it takes to become a fashion designer! 

Some of my designs

Some of my designs

The Question that Started it all…

So, sitting in a church service listening to my pastor, my senses were alerted to what I felt was an issue for me. He was posing the question:

‘What is your vision?’

Slightly disinterested and not entirely paying attention at first, it slowly occurred to me:

‘Errrrr, what is my vision?

Attention back to the pastor. Time to pay attention.

‘Your vision is attached to your passion.’

Pah! Another problem! I’m not really passionate about much – unless I can eat it – and even then, I’m not interested enough to create anything worthwhile. Sadly, remorsefully, it occurred to me:

‘Good grief woman, you’re vacuous!’

But this wasn’t entirely true. I suppose I should be fair to myself and use this juncture to point out that this was pre the birth of the loves of my life – Boy Wonder and Wonder Boy – my amazing sons. Before their arrival into my life, I just happily lulled along and casually lurched from one happy situation to another, never planning, never really caring, as long as my happiness went uninterrupted.

Me (left) with the models showing my line at a fashion show

Me (left) with the models showing my line at a fashion show

Well, back to this vision / passion issue. It really started me thinking. What exactly is my passion?

Figuring out the Answer

Well, rather clichéd, it happened to be fashion. Well, more shoes really, but you can’t just wear shoes, lest you enjoy prison food and all the other trappings (literally) that accompanies being detained in police custody.

Rochelle Simone - white and black dress design

Rochelle Simone design

It occurred to me that I love fashion. I love getting dressed up, wearing eye-catching outfits and making a statement through clothing. My attitude toward fashion is probably firmly based on my belief that I’ve been denied natural great looks. Us plain girls know a few smoke and mirror tricks that work a treat! So I decided to follow my passion.

So What if I Can’t Sew?

I ignored my handicaps. I’m not able to sew. I have no business knowledge. And I abhor the idea of writing a business plan! Nonetheless, I ploughed on with the excitement of creating my own outfits driving me forward.

Rochelle Simone design

Rochelle Simone design

I named my line Rochelle Simone (my first and middle names). I found pattern cutters. I had no prior knowledge of this requirement. I didn’t even know of the existence of this profession / skill / necessity before!

I located a local garment-manufacturing factory; visited several fabric stores; and draped, wrapped and played with this until I created some pretty decent pieces. I got drawing and annotating. (Guess what? I’m not a dab hand at drawing either!) I also found an amazing leather factory.

Some of my leather garments

Some of my leather garments

I must say, the process was fun and I learned a lot along the way. Oh, I also had both my boys by now. Being two years apart, it probably gives you an idea of the pace at which I work. I’m definitely not the hare! But, doing factory runs, fashion shows, business meetings and driving to and from factories with a toddler and baby made me feel just a little like Wonder Woman!

Ready for the Catwalk

Well, eventually I was able to take part in my first fashion show in January, 2011. I had a few of my pieces featured in a hair and beauty magazine. My pieces were also worn by the winners of the biggest Afro hair show in London.

Rochelle Simone designs

Rochelle Simone designs

All in all, my little line made the utterances of a new born child. I must say, there was never the loud guttural cry of a dedicated football fan losing on penalties at the World Cup. But it was exciting. And suddenly there was a halt.

The Halt

Now, I’ve not stopped; I prefer to see it as a ‘halt’ as I’ve realised I really do have something special to offer. It took a very long time to come to this realisation but it’s been proved to me a few times. Needing a lot of reassurances to take this on board, I’ve now refused to let go of this new found nugget of information that will propel me forward.

Rochelle Simone designs

Rochelle Simone designs

So, why the halt then, you ask? Hmmmm, remember my attitude toward my business plan? A failure to plan has truly resulted in a plan to… pause.

I refuse to see this as a failure. I’m still on my journey and I’ve learned a good few lessons. I’ve made a few connections that will benefit my cause in the future and most importantly, my passion keeps the interest and determination alive.

Rochelle Simone designs

Rochelle Simone designs

What’s the Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned?

Biggest lesson learned? Listen to your husband (shhhh, don’t tell him I said this).

‘Get your business plan done,’ he constantly chimed.

I thought I could circumvent this. WRONG! In that plan, ensure your finances for your business are thoroughly attended to.

Rochelle Simone designs

Rochelle Simone designs

We creatives need to apply ourselves to the business aspects of our craft as well as the creative aspects. It sounds basic and silly but you’d be surprised how many of us fall foul of this caveat.

‘Schoolboy error,’ I hear you cry.

And you know what? You’re absolutely right! I told you I wasn’t business savvy.

Looking to the Future

I’m looking forward the next part of the journey with a little more insight and a lot more lessons under my belt. And a solid business plan to guide me…

FURTHER DETAILS

CONTACT ROCHELLE

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