I can draw clothes but I can’t draw people!

To think that I’m a fashion designer and I make special outfits for women you would have thought I could draw people for a start…. but I can’t! I love to draw clothes, dresses, shirts, skirts, trousers you name it! But when it comes to actually illustrating the outfit on a human body I have never been able to draw people. Especially the eyes and fingers. If you ever see any of my illustrations you’ll notice I always leave the face bare… well this is why.

Some people say my sketches are amazing, but I admittedly use a template outline of a body then sketch the outfit on the template – this is only the body template mind, I can draw clothes without the template it’s just the correct way to sketch on a body so you can see how the clothes will hang properly on a body. Now this is only 2D so they can be so so different in 3D but at least you get the main jist of it when drawing it on the body template.

I will always keep reverting back to the sketch when drawing up my initial patterns first, its almost like a ‘working drawing’, what they call it in the industry. Your working along side the drawing to create it in real life once all patterns have been drawn up.

How do you feel about ‘Fast Fashion’ in the fashion industry today?

This is something I have never agreed with, ever since having my dream of starting a fashion business I solely wanted to make pieces from scratch that would almost be a work of art – an item of clothing the customer could keep for ever and would last forever. So the idea that all these big chain companies are flogging out T-Shirts for £2 is hurting the environment, this has been going on for years and its only now coming alight because of the recent uproar about how much plastics are going into landfill and the sea’s.

So huge companies such as Primark, Miss Guided, Boohoo and Asos are making dresses as cheap as £10 and are managing to get them out to the customer the next day! Amazing yes, if I’m going to be honest a few years ago I totally got sucked into this too, it’s a bargain and It can be with me the next day OMG. But lets just stop and think…. so how have they made that dress for £10? Whats the fabric its actually made out of? What happens to all of the left over stock they don’t sell? If they are selling a dress at £5 how are they making any profit or paying their workers correctly when the national minimum wage is £7.83ph. Interesting yes? Starting to ask questions now?

I have worked in many many retail fashion shops over the years, I can tell you now not everything gets sold at the end of each season, it normally heads back to the Warehouse, but what happens after it goes there? Earlier this year Burberry was criticised of burning £30m of stock instead of selling it off cheaply. Or here’s another thought? Why not give it to charities or send it to the 3rd world countries to help those people that don’t even own any clothes! Are they that bothered about their brands image? Do they not think it would help their image by helping those in need.

Food for thought anyway…. here’s a great article on today’s trending topic https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46358969

Starting a business: IN REAL LIFE!!

So guys this is such a realistic way of me telling you how it all starts, this isn’t going to be the same for everyone but, the general way and things of what I’ve had to do will be very similar.

So if you caught my last post, I ended up moving back home to my hometown to Middlesbrough. I moved back in with my parents. Initially this was a huge deal for me like a million steps back kinda deal. But I knew it would lead to bigger and better things. Once settled for a few weeks I knew I had to get looking for a part time job, I secured a decent job about half an hour away from where I lived in a retail shop, I knew this was too far and Id spend too much on petrol but it was a job for the time being.

Then I had to start thinking about, how do I even go about starting my business. One of my sisters friends who has her own business, recommended The Princes Trust to me, so I started with this and enquired online. To receive a phone call the following day about signing up to a 4 day course at their center in Middlesbrough. Things were going well so far. So I signed up to it and there were many other business start ups there or people only just thinking about starting a business so very new to the business world. The course went through everything from accounting, time  management, advertising and marketing. But if I’m honest because your so new to it at this stage you can’t really take much in. It’s all a bit of a blur when I look back on it now.

One main thing that attracted me to the The Princes Trust was that they offered funding, through a loan scheme that had to be paid back over a few years. I knew I needed capital to at least buy an industrial sewing machine and an industry mannequin, along with stationary bits, stock to start with and many fabric sample books (which cost a lot may I add).

So I intended to follow through with the course then go to monthly meetings with the designated person who got us through from the course, to business plan to applying for the funding. So basically you had to have a fully completed business plan to be able to apply for the funding. Which is absolutely fine that’s pretty normal, if you went to a bank asking for a business loan you would need exactly the same thing it may just be a lot harder. So I started the process of the dreaded business plan, if you haven’t seen one go and check it out, they are hefty as hell. But very in depth which is only fair to be honest. So after a few months of planning and sorting the business plan out, I was ready to go in front of a panel, so a panel meeting just to talk about my business and a few things in the plan to make sure it was all legit. (I was successful in the application for funding)

This process of the Princes Trust was the most deflating if I’m honest, it took so long to get to this stage, it was actually quite deflating to me and my business as starting up, I was literally raring to go but I knew I needed capital to get it up and running properly. It was so frustrating because it was out of my hands I couldn’t make them go any quicker.

So lets plan this out, I moved home in the February, I went on the course about May time, I had my business plan completed by August and was ready to go in front of the panel. I didn’t go in front of the panel until late October and I didn’t receive the funding until November. So anyone looking to go through this process I would recommend, however, I would push like crazy for it to happen as quick as possible. It was just way too slow.

An amazing thing that came out of it though, they assign you a mentor for up to two years. I have had one since the month after I received the funding and he’s amazing, so much advice and motivation to help and see me succeed I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Since I received my funding, I got started by purchasing everything on my wish list. Including many advertising things, like leaflets and business cards. Advertising takes a good 6 months to get a return on anything so its a long stretch of wait before you see any orders come in. But perseverance is key.

That’s how I started my business in a short snippet of it really, if anyone would like any advice or help if they feel like their in a similar situation then just drop me a dm through my Instagram or Facebook page @HallieCouture

How the business venture started: Mentally and Physically

Sooooo, I worked down South for sometime (around about 3 years) and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I learnt so much, it built up my confidence, I met so many nice people and I got myself into a lovely routine. Which I didn’t realise at the time that, I am quite content in a comfortable routine, once this is shaken, I’m all to pot and I can’t handle it!

Which leads me onto the next point, one day I was going out with my boyfriend (at the time), travelling to Torquay for a lovely day out and we ended up being involved in a car crash. Now the crash itself could have been soooo much worse so I am very very lucky. I injured my back but nothing a good few years of repair wouldn’t sort. However, me being me couldn’t deal with everything else that came with that, I was injured for a while so it totally messed up my day to day routine, I couldn’t gym, I couldn’t work, I was left scrolling through social media all the time being depressed. I couldn’t do the things I was use to and I didn’t know how to handle that. Just hang fire I am getting to the point here….

As time went on I eventually went back to work full time after recovering. Unfortunately it just wasn’t the same. It didn’t feel the same. I’d already had thoughts about what I wanted to do with my life so I think the crash just buggered it all up again and sent my head into haywire. I couldn’t shake the thought – I wanted to start my own business.

I’ve always wanted to have my own business, but I knew fine well straight after University I just didn’t have the motivation. Whereas, at this time, there was a light bulb that had switched on in my brain and I literally couldn’t turn it off. This was happening whether I wanted it to or not.

I know I was putting off the decision in the end. That was to move back home with my parents and start my business. It was the only way I could see it working, I couldn’t rent and work full time and try start a business its just not possible. So then came the time to have a ‘sit down chat’ with the parents. I felt like it was such a huge risk and almost like a million steps back. But I couldn’t shake this feeling, I knew if I didn’t go for it then it was never going to happen.

So one Christmas I sat down with my parents and spoke to them about it, they realised how unhappy I was down south now and knew it was the best thing to do, so I moved back home a few months later and it’s gone on wards and upwards since then. They have said ever since, how I’m back to my normal happy self which is nice, that’s how it should be.

So I guess you could say it was the car accident that cut into my life and messed my amazingly, comfortable, daily routine up and made me realise what I wanted. But then again, I’ve always wanted to have my own business, it was only a matter of time. This was just an obstacle in the road – LITERALLY!

The struggle is real: finding a job after University

Its no piece of cake I can tell you that.

I guess you could say now, we all had time to look for jobs whilst we were at University, but this was never the case. Always working long hours we had enough on our plates. So after heading back home after the year, this was for me back to the North East, Middlesbrough – my hometown. I moved back in with my parents – which let me tell you was very hard. I love my family to pieces of course I do but I had my first taste of freedom after University, I never really imagined moving back home to be honest. I always thought I wasn’t really a home girl. I loved being away, being left to my own devices, my own freedom to do what I like when I want. But I had to be realistic, I needed somewhere to actually stay whilst I sort my life out and find a full time job.

Offffff course I didn’t find a full time job, lets be realistic now. So in order for me to actually live and get by on a day to day basis, I ended up securing two part time jobs. How fun! NOT!

I worked during the day, part time at Outfit, which is part of the Arcadia group. I enjoyed this job with it still being related to fashion (what I did my degree in) but they used all of us to shit. I was on a 4 hour contract and could do a minimum of 4 hours one week and could confidently do 25 the next. How convenient! Pftttt!

The second job was working in a busy flaming grill pub on a night time. These shifts were horrific, just constantly, constantly busy. Luckily I was a waitress so I never did close shifts on the bar. But still, its was mentally and physically draining. Some days I had shifts from outfit where I would work till 5.30pm and start at the pub at 6pm. I literally don’t know how I got there in time!

So the struggle went on, grafting my arse off every single week. Somehow finding the time to apply for any job I could find, that may in someway be related to what I studied at University.

About 11 months went by after leaving University, I had applied to this one job in particular. I give all the credit to my mum for this one. She just happened to go in a bridal shop in a little town nearby us and pick up some leaflets of designers they stock the dresses from. Mum brought them home and just told me to apply for them. Me being me left it ages until I finally got round to applying.

They replied saying they didn’t have any designer jobs but they had a part time admin job available. Now, part time wasn’t great, I needed full time. As for admin, Id never really done this before. Low and behold, I went for an interview and I got the job! Wehey, I was so pleased as it was my first job offer out of University that I took it. I thought it was a huge step in the door for me and into that industry that I knew I would learn a lot just being there in and around it all. I thank the company hugely because they really took a leap of faith in me with the no admin experience and I was moving down the other end of the country just for this job.

This was in about 2 weeks of having the offer, I moved all the way down to Somerset for a part time admin job with a Bridal Couture Designer. That satisfying feeling of leaving those two part time jobs though – oh it was like no other I tell you. I didn’t know a single person down there, I had never even heard of the town I was moving too before. I was shitting a brick. But I did it.


The ‘dreaded’ Graduate Collection

Sooooo, first and second year went by at University like a flash of lightning! Before I knew it, it was third year – ok calm down! But still it was nerve wracking. The idea that we only had one more year left and then we would have to find a ‘real job’ Yeah, great! None of us wanted to do that we just wanted to stay and feast off our student loans and keep racking up a ridiculous amount of debt we knew we would never pay off!

Ok maybe I joke, but…… still.

Heading into third year was a kick up the ass but it was my most enjoyable year. You self learn the most. Not sure if that even makes sense but you get the jist. You are left to your own devices more in third year, the tutors are there to help, but the majority of the time its on you. You either do it, lump it and learn it or you fall behind and re do the year.

So we all got on with it. I remember the first ever group tutorial with a tutor I had, he only ever helped third years. I knew why. He was harsh as fuck! He hated my summer project. It’s fine I totally understood where he was coming from when he said “where the hell do you get any ideas for designing from flower inspiration!” But it did give me a kick up the butt.

After all the gruelling, first few weeks out the way, meeting your new tutorial buddies and what not. We had to get down to it. When it came to the final year at University, we were to create a Graduate Collection, this consisted of 6 full outfits and these would get judged whether or not they would go down the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week.

By the January we had to make at least one full outfit to be photographed for the catwalk catalogue. Our University catwalk, we all had to raise £30,000 to pay for it. This is where our full collection would be judged.

Along side making the outfits and learning as you go about the pattern work and fit of each garment, there’s the sketchbook work to support it all. So finding image inspiration, fabrics, colours etc. Then we had our dissertation to write along side all of this too. Luckily for our creative course we had a choice to write a dissertation or create a visual product, which consisted of 100 images and quotes to support. I chose this option and I was very pleased with it, I always found I wasn’t very good at writing and making sense of everything. Ha! the irony! So I chose the visual product, I guess I’m quite a visual learner anyway so that worked hand in hand.

Once May arrived, closer to the catwalk and hand in date, everyone was working a ridiculous amount of hours. We would get into the studio for 7am at the latest and sometimes wouldn’t leave until 10pm at night. It’s what you did to put the work in basically.

I remember when it came to all hand in dates, a lot of people were similar, it seemed to be a theme and this was across the board not just on our course. We always found ourselves doing all-nighters the night before hand in, just to make sure we had done every last bit we could. Or if we were the lazy ones and were catching up trying to put 6 months worth of coursework into a nights work haha!!

The Journey Begins


My interest in fashion from an early age

I guess you could say it all started at secondary school. I never really thought too much about it until I managed to make a pretty decent patchwork bag in Textiles GCSE, really quite proud of it and I was praised for my excellent sewing – ha ha go me! I’m thinking I must have been around the age of 14 which seems crazy it was that long ago. But hey, I knew early on what I really loved and enjoyed doing.

So, I took it to the next level. Applying for a specialised creative college it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, I studied a Fashion Design National Diploma for two years, luckily it was the best decision I made in terms of setting me up on my career path. I enjoyed every minute of it! This is where I learnt from scratch how to make an item of clothing, from sketch to pattern to toile to final product. I really got to undrstand the in and outs of making garments and the whole manufacturing process.

I will never forget the day I fell in love with Elie Saab as my all time inspiration fashion designer, a friend at the time just happened to show me some of his catwalk photos and that was it – I was head over heels madly in love with every little ounce of timeless pieces he created. Wayyyyy back then, he was only renowned for doing the odd red carpet celebrity outfit like the red and gold Halle Berry one! Bet that takes you back. This inspired me through all my work throughout college and has followed me right through to University.