Thandie Olivia, Exclusive designer label, comprising up to date trends with the designer's unique signature style in luxurious fabrics.
We Interview the founder of Thandie Olivia.
How are you doing today?
Really good thanks, busy as usual but can't complain as it's all positive.
So what’s the concept behind your brand?
My clothes are first foremost made to make the wearer look and feel good, the brand is all about luxury and quality combined with a modern edge and my own signature style.
Can you give us more information about yourself, your name, your age, where are you from?
My full name is Thandie Olivia Fazakerley, which is a bit of a mouthful hence why I dropped the surname when naming my label. I'm 24, fast approaching a quarter of a century old, and I've lived in London since the age of 3 so would pretty much class myself as a Londoner inside and out!
What inspired you to go into business?
I've been designing since I started secondary school and it was only natural for me to go on to study Fashion Design at College. After completing my diploma I then got caught up in the rat race and last year decided to bite the bullet and quit full time work to set up my own label. I always knew I would have my own label and felt that I was personally ready to take on the challenge not to mention the incentives of having complete job satisfaction and financial independence. I'm now happier doing what I love to do on a daily basis and it can only get better as the company grows!
Did you feel any pressure starting a business, or any pressure in succeeding?
I had the benefit of taking part in a couple of smaller scale fashion shows before I officially launched my label and so from the positive response felt quite confident about setting up the business. The main pressure in any business is establishing an efficient cashflow and nearly a year in I'm well on my way there. The other pressure in my industry is the amount of competition out there both from other emerging and established designers. With that all I need to do is keep my collections fresh and innovative and that will ensure I stand out from the rest.
Do you think your line is effective?
Yes I do, I combine classic shapes and cuts with my own style and what I do create is unique yet wearable.
What makes your clothing line relevant to today’s society?
In these times of fast throw away fashion I feel my customer still appreciates quality timeless pieces, probably even more so with the current economic climate as it's something they can invest in rather than only wear a couple of times. Alot more people are also tapping into their own individual style and are looking for exclusive pieces as opposed to the commercial and that's exactly what Thandie Olivia provides.
What’s the most unique thing about your line, so much people doing what you’re doing, what will make me buy your designs?
Well when I design I not only look to create something different and unusual but something that is also wearable. This coupled with the quality of fabrics and craftmanship will hopefully have the customers not only buying once but returning too!
Have you done any shows, how have they been? The cost, the planning, did you have a budget, and did you go over your budget?
I have done two main shows, one of which I organised on my own. I must admit it was alot of hard work alongside designing and making the collection but entirely satisfying once the models went out. I did have a small budget for that show but managed to call in some favours from people I've known for a long time or had met through networking so didn't go over budget. Call me crazy but I'm actually in the planning stages of organising another showcase at the moment which will include 3 or 4 other designers as well as myself. I guess the more work you put into something the more satisfaction you get from it when it comes together succesfully.
How did you make your profit, did you lose more than you made?
I currently make everything to order so I don't tend to lose money, the largest expense when putting a collection together is getting the samples made. But that's all costed in as overheads so gets covered once the orders start to come in.
Which show has been the most successful so far and why?
The last show I did in February 2009 was really great for me. It was entirely organised by a company called La Geneve North which left me with the time to really just focus on the collection and getting it right. There were also alot of industry figures there such as buyers and press and so my outfits were seen by the right people. I've had alot of queries and subsequent orders from that show and met alot of good contacts, so it was extremely beneficial.
How did you raise money for your business?
I had some savings which came from the 9 to 5 job which I initially injected into the company. From then on in I've just re-invested anything I make from the company back into it. I'm now talking with possible investors though as it is time to take the business to the next level and a lump sum is required for that. It's all good though as I have some very interested parties and things will be taking off sooner rather than later which is all very exciting.
Who are your competitors? (Customer profile)
I tend to see alot of the same emerging designers on the circuit at fashion shows and events I'm taking part in and on some level I guess the they are competitors but I'm all about placing my label alongside the bigger boutique and independent designer brands. Labels such as Arrogant Cats who are really doing their thing right now, and brands in the independent designers section on Asos are my main competition.
Who are your target markets?
Mainly women aged 18-35 who love fashion and appreciate quality and style, who shop at exclusive independent boutiques and higher end high street dept stores. My customer is also into socialising and looking fab whilst doing so, so ladies in the entertainment and party scenes, not to mention in and around the fashion industry.
What is your advertising strategy? (Do you use any social networking sites to promote your brand)?
Yes I love social networking sites, I think they're not only a way to promote the brand but they also allow the customer to get a personal insight into myself as a designer. I'm on facebook and have a group http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=12195917573 , feel free to join! I'm also on fashionspace.com, nineteen74.com, modelmayhem.com and myspace.com/thandieolivia. Its all about getting your brand out there and seen by as many people as possible so the key is to network, network, network! I'm also always getting involved with various fashion showcases and exhibitions to get the label seen by different crowds and as the brand grows we will be investing in some online and print advertising too.
What does your range consist of?
I don't limit myself when designing, I just run with a theme and let it come together over a period of time so you'll see everything from tops, trousers, skirts and dresses in my collections. One of my fav pieces of the moment is the jumpsuit or all in one as some may call it. I think they look so chic, I've included them in my last two collections and you'll definately be seeing a few more in the Autumn/Winter 09/10 collection. I also tend to have alot of dresses in the collections. The plan though is branch out into more casual wear with a diffusion line of denim and printed tees, and menswear too (I always get guys asking 'when are you going to hook up the fellas' lol) so watch this space!!
What fabrics do you mostly deal with?
I love, love, love, silks and alot of my stuff is 100% silk or has silk trims. It's just exudes luxury even in the most simplest form. Other than that I like to stay with natural materials such as cotton and silk, the long term goal is to eventually use all organic and sustainable fabrics which are not only more comfortable and luxurious but also environmentally friendly. We've all got to do our bit you know?!
What do you like most about having your own business?
Definately just having control over my life and future, I now plan my own schedule and once the business is thriving I'll be completely financially and time independent. It's now all up to me and I'll get out of it what I put in instead of grafting hard to make someone else money!
What has been the important lesson you have learnt so far?
Definately to be organised, time management is the key........ well as managed as possible as in fashion everything tends to go right down to the wire and you can sometimes be ironing out last minute complications the night before a catwalk show. Although I do sometimes work better when under pressure it's nice when a collection comes together with time to spare.
When should we be expecting the launch of your website?
The website has been a long time coming as I am really fussy about the finished look. Alot of designers don't think about brand image and I think that alot of the time a bad website is alot worse than no website. It will definately be finished by the end of May, in the meantime people can also check me out on the sites mentioned above or email email@example.com for general enquiries or to be added to the mailing list.
Describe your collection in ten words?
For sassy and fabulous fashionistas who love the finer things!
Do you have any role models/influences?
My first role model was Vivienne Westwood, I based two of my college projects on her and she remains one of my favourite designers. Her and Coco Chanel are a huge inspiration to me as they were so influential in changing the way women dressed. My family, especially my brothers motivate and push me to the best I can constantly be and it's nice to have them as a support system. In general life though I admire anyone who has a dream and motivates themselves to go for it.
What are your advices for Aspiring young entrepreneurs looking to break in the Online Business (Websites) or other industries?
Research is the key! There's a huge and more importantly free resource at everyone's disposal in the internet and there are a lot of websites out there aimed at young entrepreneurs and setting up business. Market research is very important as you need to not only have a great idea but also need to know that it will sell and make money for you, especially if you're looking to approach an investor. I'm also a big believer in learning success from the successful, look at other's who have excelled in your chosen field, read their biographies and find out how they made it happen. Most of all you need to really believe in what you are doing, if you don't then no one else will!!
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
I'm really proud of both of my collections so far, and feel I have achieved great things from beginning to finish as I'm constantly taking steps into bigger and better things. It's taken nothing but hard work and sheer determination, everything I've done solely on my own and as cliche as it sounds it truly has been blood, sweat and tears all the way! Saying that, I wouldn't change it for the world.
What should we be expecting from you in the future?
I'm really excited about exhibiting and retailing the label at the Clothes Show London which runs from 29th to 31st May 2009 at Excel London. Thandie Olivia will be showcased in the 'Untold Boutique' area, alongside some long established and well known labels and it will be a great opportunity to get my label's name out there to the masses whilst also hopefully making some solid sales. As I also mentioned earlier I'm also planning my own fashion showcase to be held later this year, where I'll be unveiling the Autumn/Winter collection, it will be a big event so sign up to mailing list, join my groups................and watch this space for more information.
Thanks for your time.
No probs, it was my pleasure, thank you for having me!
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