Designer of the Month-May 2012

For anyone new to Make it Fashion.com I am ‘every month’ shedding light to a new emerging designer! I ask them questions I think all us ‘beginning designers’ would like to know and they tell it just as it is. I love to be able to help other Fashion Designers in what I’ve always felt has been a tight lipped industry and these interviews is just a little part of it. Rebecca is a member of Make it Fashions VIP forum community and if your serious about making a collection, why don’t you join us?

Now Introducing the very talented;

Designer of the Month-May 2012 Rebecca of Huxton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Hi Rebecca, tell us a little about yourself, how old are you, where do you live and what kind of education, schools have you attended (any previous Fashion jobs/education or are you self- taught?

My parents are Swedish and English, my upbringing has been in Denmark, Spain and in the UK where I did my education in International Business and Languages.  Since finishing my education I have lived in Barcelona for 10 years and I am now based in Vietnam. I am 36 years old. 

2. Do you remember when you first decided that the best option was working as a self-employed designer and that clothes where your passion?

I’ve always been a little restless which is partly due to being brought up in different countries and constantly changing lifestyle.   Combined with this I have an entrepreneurial spirit which has always made me fight against the odds, to swim upstream and fight for a lifestyle in which I can enjoy life and work in equal measures.  Being self employed has for me been the only option, what has changed is the projects I have dedicated myself to. 

In the past ten years I have started several projects with varying levels of success but I never really found something that touched my heart.   I am naturally very creative and I never managed to combine this with my business sense and work in something I am truly passionate about.   

I have designed and sewn my own clothes from a young age and I have always loved how the clothes you wear really can depict a personality.  My personal style has always been boho chic with an elegant and trendy edge which is the theme for Huxton, the label I created in 2011 with my all time best friend, Jo. 

As soon as Jo and I started to develop the idea of Huxton I was filled with excitement – finally something I truly love, something for which I feel a real passion and something from which I can create my own version of an ideal business and lifestyle.

3. Tell us how you went about setting your company/business up? What is the procedure for a person who’s never set up their own business, any basic steps?

Well, we based our company in the UK where it is very simple to start either as a sole trader or set up a LTD company.  For most people I would recommend starting as a sole trader as it does not require much paperwork, you can literally just start trading, invoicing and etc.  The set back would be that when you invoice clients, it may not look quite as ‘ big’ as having a Ltd company, but I would start like this to gage the reaction of buyers to a new collection and then move over to a Ltd company which has setup costs as well as strict legal requirements for book keeping.  This is what we did with Huxton. 

The other basic important things to keep in mind are the name, the logo, the website. There are programs nowadays to help create websites that are relatively user friendly and not at all costly. I have used in the past weebly.com, prestashop, and wordpress and I know another good program used by a couple of my clients is shopify  (apart for managing the development and production for Huxton I also provide these services to other designers).

4. How did you go about finding someone to sell and represent you (any online tricks) or do you sell all your designs yourself?

After a lot of research and meeting with retailers, agents and etc we decided to focus on our own website and retail from there. The main reason was that we wanted to have the liberty to do promotions and to benefit ourselves from the retail margins as well as build up the traffic to our own site.  Working with clients who were more established than myself promotions wise I realized that with good marketing, it is possible to create an online brand and sales sufficient to get brand recognition and if you can do it, it keeps all your focus on one area, allowing you later to branch out to wholesale.  We also use Asos Marketplace and Ebay to sell our designs. 

Our next steps will be to work with online retailers focused on the smaller brands and to grow from there.  We will also stock a few very select boutiques and hope to grow from there. I do feel it is very important to choose one avenue and give it 100% and then to move on to the next ones. Each designer will choose a different path and it depends on their capabilities, what can be invested etc. 

5. How do you know what mark-up to use and describe briefly how you put a line sheet together?


The typical mark up is simply to multiply your cost plus the margin you need by 2.5. This is your RRP.  This however is mostly relevant to when you sell to boutiques and department stores as they use high markups on your products and so you must try to have as low costs as possible of course to have yourself a suitable margin.  This can be tough when you start out as costs are always higher the less you produce. 

Hence there is a benefit in retailing yourself as the full margin goes to you and you can lower your retail price as needed to turn around stock. 

I don’t have a line sheet yet as I have not wholesaled our collection yet. 

6. I know your based in Vietnam, what is the benefits of being ‘on the ground’ where the collection is made versus in a different country and what do you provide to your manufacturer, sketches or sewn samples?

I came to Vietnam initially to find a manufacturer for my range.  You can read about the difficulties and challenges I encountered in my blog where I describe the whole process of sourcing the right manufacturer, fabric etc.  http://huxtonclothingblog.com/category/rebeccas-adventure/ 

I visited over 10 different manufacturers and mostly coming up against the same problem which was that they required a minimum order of 100 pieces to develop my designs.  It was very disheartening for quite some time as we simply did not have the financing available to produce over 1000 items for our first collection, nor would we have done if we did have the financing available. I have learnt from my many years in business that slowly is the best way and testing the market response. 

I now work with 4 different manufacturers both for my own line and for 5 clients I consult for. It has taken a long time to build the relationships with these manufacturers and certainly I could not have done it from afar.  It was realizing this that made me set up as a consultant helping also other designers realize their dreams by using my experiences and learning curve to help others.   It is very difficult to build up a relationship when you are not there,  constantly on the ground working side by side.  I certainly could not have managed it for Huxton had I not decided to stay in Vietnam.   

I work in variuos ways , from sketches and swatches, from photographs and from samples sent to me.  It really depends on what the designer can provide. 

For Huxton we work with our sketches created  from a mood board where we develop the feel of the collection and then create from there the styles.  

The basic rule is that the more you can offer a manufacturer to work from, the better they can create what it is you designed! 

7. Where and how do you go about sourcing fabric for your collection?

I source a lot of the fabric in Vietnam from markets and wholesalers. Some fabrics are imported from China where there is a huge selection of fabrics available via Alibaba Express where smaller orders are permitted and can be couriered to me.  I also have buying trips to Thailand and will soon be in Bali to source fabrics as well. 

8. Tell us about a normal day for you, how do you work and organize yourself, from 8 to 5?

My day starts with taking care of myself which means a game of tennis, or yoga or gym.  I know that if I don’t do this first thing, I will end up being incredibly busy and not have time for myself later.  As I am ahead in time (7 + GMT), a lot of my work is done in my afternoon and evening when Europe has woken up.  Of course when I’m working with manufacturers, that’s in my timescale so I have to adapt to their availabilities. 

Before starting the meetings of the day I go through my emails and paperwork and online promotional tasks. This takes about 3-4 hours per day.  Meetings are typically from early afternoon as well as communication with clients and my partner in the UK. 

I’m not strict with when I work, I never have been. Because I have always worked for myself, I have learnt to integrate my work into my personal life. I’m always working and not working so to speak, it’s the same to me. I don’t have weekends ‘off’  for example, but perhaps I will take a day off mid week if I have something I want to do.  I really adapt myself to what is needed and when. 

This is probably not a good system for most people starting and running their own company though!  It is really important to find what works best for you. Starting a new company requires 100% dedication and planning and most people work best in a typical 8/5 work day so that they can then switch off at the end of the day. 

9. What’s your vision for your label, where do you think you are in a year from now and 10 years from now, if you decide and dream?

For me, the whole point in creating my own label is to create the lifestyle I dream of by doing something I love.  And as I’m doing it with my best friend who has similar dreams, this is a very easy question for me. 

I want to live in and travel to different countries.  I want to travel to be inspired and to source fabrics for my collection and for my other designers.  At the moment my base is  in Vietnam because it is where I produce but I travel plenty from here.  It is important to me to have that freedom and I’m very lucky to have Jo based in the Uk managing the promotional side of things for Huxton as I manage the production.   Of course our roles also overlap so I need to spend time in the UK just as Jo needs to travel to Vietnam and on sourcing trips with me. We design our collection together so this is essential. 

In a year I hope to have reached further with Huxton which of course means selling more and we will soon be branching out from our online sales to work with other online retailers as well as boutiques and eventually department stores.  Initially we will focus only on retailers in the UK for ease of management of the relationships. 

In ten years time I hope my lifestyle will be the same but even more varied. I hope that Huxton will be well established as an international brand, though for me, it does not need to reach the highest heights.   I want mostly to live a fulfilled life and to run a successful and respected brand which will require drive and dedication. 

In parallel I hope to have helped other new designers benefit from my own experience and see many of them become a success and attain also their dreams. 

10. How do you get your brand seen-noticed, any tip? Tell us what you do?

I have learnt that blogging is essential. Not in the sense necessarily of having your own blog, but certainly in reaching out to bloggers. And it is not easy! The well established bloggers have over 20,000 followers and many are other bloggers trying to get their attention and of course brands asking for a mention on the blog. It’s a slow process but certainly worth it. 

At Huxton we target bloggers whose style we greatly admire and invite them to visit our site. If they like a particular item we send it to them and ask in return that they wear it and post it.  This is a great way to get traffic to your site.  Big bloggers are very influential and can give you thousands of hits from just one post. 

Other means are creating sites in Lookbook, Pinterest, Tumblr and so on, but it is slow to get a following. Of course Facebook and Twitter are useful too.

11. Where can we buy and find your clothes? Do you have a website or an Online Shop?

Absolutely and it is about to get a facelift www.huxton.co.uk 

 

Thank you Rebecca for being so helpful, best of luck with your gorgeous designs!

xx Alice

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