In celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, we thought we would highlight three inspiring self-made female fashion entrepreneurs, that we’ve had the pleasure of supporting during their business journey.
Getting noticed in a crowded market is tough, but they’ve all demonstrated they’ve got what it takes to start and grow a successful fashion business. Although each has a very different approach, the common factor is our female entrepreneurs have created brands with a point of difference, developed a strong connection with their customers, and shown oodles of passion and drive…..
CARA MELZACK – CARA AND THE SKY
Cara Melzack, founder of knitwear brand Cara & The Sky only launched in October 2019 but has already secured retail stockists, sells direct to the consumer via their own website and on marketplaces such as Silk Fred. The brand has had shout-outs from numerous bloggers and been featured in both online & print media, including securing a front cover and double page spread in International Knitting Magazine. Cara was also asked to contribute to trade magazine Drapers Online on How to Win In Womenswear
Prior to starting the brand Cara had been a knitwear buyer for major retailers and high street brands. She had always wanted her own brand however being made redundant gave her the push she needed to make it happened. She had spotted a gap in the market for affordable, quality knitwear that was a bridge between high street and luxury and understood her target customer, and what they wanted.
The company’s philosophy is to ‘create a right attitude’ and to promote a positive attitude by producing colourful and inspiring knits, giving the brand a very distinct feel which has has resonated with their customer.
LILY BOUILLE – SLEEP SIREN
Lily Bouille launched Sleep Siren, Europe’s first online sleep and wellness boutique, in January 2019. The platform offers a carefully curated product range of the best in luxury sleep and wellness products from around the globe.
Prior to starting the business Lily had to leave her job as gaming marketer due to ill health. She came up with the idea during her long recovery, as a result of her personal experience of how lack of sleep can lead to declining health.
Her research showed a growing interest in sleep and wellness, as reports started to be published on the impact of long term sleep loss & women lose a significant amount more sleep than men. Planning the business gave her something positive to focus on during a difficult time. Her background meant she understood the importance of branding and that a strong marketing and PR plan would be necessary to get noticed.
Lily secured over 30 partnerships with premium brands such as Chinti & Parker and Olivia von Halle, and embarked on an aggressive PR strategy. As a result Sleep Siren products have been featured in numerous gift guides, leading to some product categories selling out! In addition she was also asked to produce a sleep kit and guide book for Inhabit Hotels.
The brand is steadily growing an online following and Lily’s dream is to eventually open a Bricks and mortar store with an event area so she ca host workshops and events.
ROSH MAHTANI – ALIGHIERI
Last but certainly not least, Rosh Mahtani, founder of cult ethical jewellery brand Alighieri which launched in 2014 and now has a turnover of over £3m a year. The brand sells through renown international stockist such as Galaies Lafayette, SSense and Matchesfashion, as well as direct to consumer via their own website.
When she launched the brand in 2014, it was also a difficult time as she was struggling with depression and her father had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She had previously worked as a visual merchandiser and for the online (now defunct) e-retailer Avenue32 but had always loved jewellery, so enrolled on a wax carving course and experimented in getting her creations cast in gold.
Storytelling and strong brand values has been at the heart of the brand with the first collection taking inspiration from Dante’s Divine comedy, and each of her pieces is built around one of Dante’s poems. The brand has also championed ethical sourcing and continues to support UK manufacturing.
As a result the brand has forged a strong emotional attachment and built a loyal following, as well as a celebrity fan base. Strategic collaborations have helped the brand reached a wider audience including the latest one with Hungarian brand Nanushka for A/W 20-21. And to cap it all, Rosh has been awarded the 2020 Queen Elizabeth 11 Award and is currently shortlisted for the BFC/Vogue fashion fund.
As a female led business ourselves, we are so proud of all our female entrepreneurs and how they have overcome adversity to build successful fashion businesses
If you’re looking to start or grow your fashion business, Fashion Angel can help you with 1:2:1 business mentoring, a rolling programme of inspiring and practical workshops, a Business Club and access to a Start Up Loan. For more information do get in touch.
Happy International Women’s Day!
By Alison Lewy MBE
Founder, Fashion Angel