Interview with 20 Years old Entrepreneur
Hello, how are you doing today?
I’m fine thank you. Just a bit busy with planning for this summer's catwalk shows.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I am 20 years old and was born on 12th May 1989 in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. Raised by a single mother, we used to travel a lot to the UK since I was a baby. Whilst there, I attended Academic International Primary School (AIPS) and my favourite subject was Art which I ended up winning an award in, for a real life drawing of my teacher. So, I have always been a very creative person from a very young age. My mum and I moved to the UK when I was 12, in 2002 and start a new life in Leicester where I attended secondary school, then college. Now I am currently at university studying Journalism & Public Relations.
Can you tell us about your company and what you do?
Cecy Ctyles is a new fashion brand that specializes in tailor-made ladies wear for special ocassions; from birthday celebrations to wedding receptions and even clubbing nights out.
We have an annual design catalogue which can be viewed on our online boutique www.cecyctyles.com. We have four collections so far; African, Club, Cexy corsets and Slasa wear and all the designs on it can be customized; from lengthening features to completely changing the fabrics used on them.
If you can't find what you’re looking for from the catalogue, we offer free Fashion Consultations with our designers who will sketch unique designs for you and guide you through the whole design process. We have a wide range of fabrics (most of which is sourced from Tanzania) and accessories to chose from the create our clients' ideal outfits. Clients may also provide their own designs and fabrics using our Tailoring Service.
Our prices are inclusive of customizations, delivery and tax, so what you see is what you pay. Designs are made and delivered within 5 working days and all orders are entitled to free minor alterations for three months.
What inspired you to start the business?
Well, I have always loved fashion and always wanted to be a Fashion designer. I used to make clothes for my Barbies when I was a little girl because I didn't like what they were wearing. At the age 10, I started my own business in primary school, selling custom-made beaded jewellery, which I made myself, to young girls from my school which went very well until I moved to the UK and had to shut it down. So when I learnt how to make clothes for real people in school, I was so excited about becoming a fashion designer in the future.
It was only during my first year of college that reality really sank in. I had made a wrap dress with leather cuffs & corset belt for my first AS Level textiles project that I had modelled at the Haymarket Schools & Colleges annual fashion show in Leicester. And after our catwalk, a lady from the audience ran up to me and said "I've been looking for you everywhere. I love your dress, can I buy?" I was 16 at that time so I offered to make her an exact copy of it as she said she was going to wear it on holiday in Spain. Her name is Roisin Tear and when I delivered her dress she said "you’re very talented and I think you should start your own brand with a website and everything". So I did.
Who would you say your competitors are?
My competitors are mainly UK clothing retailers as they have been established for way longer than I have and they know exactly how the whole consumer industry works. But there are also a few UK tailors who are providing similar services to mine although their products are quite different. Cecy Ctyles is one of the first tailoring designer labels that gives its clients total say into their designs, with good quality products for an affordable price.
Who are your target markets?
It is aimed at women aged 18 to 35 years old who love looking glamorous by wearing unique designs.
Did you raise money to fund your business?
Yes, I do. When I first started it as a hobby, I had to fund it from my part-time job and my mum invested in buying the equipment for it. But since opening the online boutique in June 2008, it has basically funded itself. As I am concentrating on expanding it, all the money made from it keeps circulating within the business. I have my own separate source of income so I don't have to dip into CC's money at all. That way, the business is constantly funded without getting into debt.
What makes your design different from others?
Unlike other designs, Cecy Ctyles designs are interchangable and are undated. Our clients don't have to get exactly what they see as they have the option of customizing the designs. And when it comes to fashion trends, we use classical features such as frills and slits that have existed since the beginning of fashion and will always be used. CC designs are simple but yet contemporary and they flatter the feminine figure.
How do you market your products?
Our products are marketed mainly through internet marketing whilst trying to establish a well known international brand name. Our main clients are from the University of Lincoln (where I study) so we advertise around the campus. CC takes part in a lot of fashion shows too e.g. this summer's catwalk season; we have at least one fashion show every month from between June and October. We will be opening a new office in October this year in Lincoln as part of the expansion process.
Do you make your designs to season?
Sort of. We have one annual catalogue so we make sure we design clothes with colours that blend in with all seasons. However the style of the clothes is ideally for summertime which is our busiest time of the year.
What fabrics do you use for your designs?
We use different types of materials depending on the collection. Our African wear collection is made of East African Kanga and Batik materials. The Batik we use is produced by our textiles designer Francis Nzengula who is part of our Tanzania team. And for the rest of the collections we use silky materials from satins (most of which are sourced from Tanzania) to chiffons; materials that are comfortable, flow very well and move with the body.
Do you feel your designs are relevant to today’s society?
Yes. Today's society is more creative and a lot more picky than they use to be. Young ladies these days like to look smart and sexy for special occasions even if it’s just for a night out. And the older generation are looking for designs that will make them look younger as well as smart & sexy. And our designs are catered to those types of women.
When did you realise you were going to start up your business?
On the 2nd of June last year, the day when the online boutique was launched. My initial plan was to just display the designs on the website and keep updating it throughout my degree, then start up the business when I graduate. And when the website was complete, I just gave it to a few friends and within a few days, people we are asking to buy the designs. And that’s when I realised that this is it, there is no turning back now and no slowing down, I have to start building this business.
How has the entrepreneurial journey been so far?
It has been so much fun so far! I think because I consider myself a designer first then an entrepreneur second, I haven't had to worry about financial problems or anything like that. My aim is to be famous and to see people wearing my clothes on a day to day basis. And if money comes along with it, then I'll take it!
And so far, everything is moving five times quicker than I expected it to and I occasionally look back on it and think wow! It take at least most people at least 10 years just to get to the level that I am at and I did it in 4 years (considering that CC was just a hobby for the first 3 years). I am living my dream and wouldn't change it for the world.
Do you have any role model/influence?
My role model is my mum. She raised me not to give up in life and to be patient as good things take time. Because of her, I have grown up to be very independent and am able to cope with whatever challenges life throws at me.
Who is your favourite fashion designer at the moment?
Jasper Conran is my favourite designer at the moment. I find it difficult to find clothes that fit me well because of my figure - which is why I don't like clothes shopping and make my clothes instead. His clothes always fit me in all the right places and I love the materials he uses.
What advices do you have for someone looking to start their own business?
Be patient and never give up. Especially in the current economic situation, if you start up a business just to make money, then you will lose patience for it very quickly. Let your passion be greater than your entrepreneurship and you will gradually learn all the other business tactics. It is very hard work to be a successful businessman/woman and you have to make some sacrifices which will all be worth it in the future. Use all the talents you have to make your business succeed and appreciate everyone you meet along the way as they might be the ones who contribute to your success.
What should we be expecting from you in the future?
Alot! CC is growing larger every day, so expect some great new designs and events in the near future. We now sponsor Miss Tanzania Europe and have a fashion show each month from June till October this year, so you will be seeing us nearly everywhere. The Cecy Ctyles official red carpet launch party is on Saturday 18th July 2009 in Leicester and it is just part of the beginning of this fun journey!
The Cecy Ctyles life is a dream come true for me and with God's blessing, I will make it all the way to be an internationally famous fashion designer!
Thanks for your time and we all at YHP wish you the best in the future.
Cecy Ctyles Ltd
Tel: +44 (0) 7930807292