Hello and Happy New Year!
You may have noticed it's been a long time since I lasted blogged, so I just wanted to say that yes I am still alive and no I'm not completely disappearing from the internet!
2015 has been a particularly difficult year what with both gallstones and my mental health, as well as trying to complete my Masters. I still can't quite believe that I made it to the end of my course, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of my family and friends. So at the end of November I was able to put on my graduation gown and receive my masters certificate, a very proud moment!
This whole year, but particularly the last few months since finishing university, has been about making big decisions and trying to figure out what I want from life. I decided that staying in Nottingham, rather than moving back home to London, was the best decision for me. I also decided that I want to work towards my goal of having my own label, which can be made possible by living in Nottingham. Not only do I get business support from my university, but also studio space and rent is ridiculously cheaper here than if I was living back home! (It was also suggested on Twitter yesterday that I set up a crowdfund - so that is something I'm going to look into in the new year!)
With having depression it's often hard to think clearly or be able to see a future, so when anyone asked me 'where do you see yourself in 5 years time?' or 'what job would you like to be doing?' - it would just send me into a panic mode because I couldn't answer. And I honestly still don't know. All I know is that I want to make clothes that I want to wear that are currently not available in my size, and if other people like them too then thats a bonus! I want to take all the pressure off - my work isn't being graded by university, I don't have to PROVE statistics, I don't have to be 'contemporary' or 'original' or 'on trend' - I just can be me. And one of the things currently keeping me going through this difficult time is the fact that I finally have control, and the dream that hopefully in the next month or so I will have a studio space that I can call my own and no one can tell me what to do!
I don't have experience with other industries, and I don't know how many people reading this have worked in the fashion industry, so I can only talk about my experiences, but finding a job in this industry is one of the hardest, most soul-destroying things a graduate can experience. I have done the free labour and worked hard to prove my worth, I've had a year of unemployment, I've interned/had interviews with companies whose opinions I disagreed with. I could've settled or gone down a different route, but in the back of my mind I knew I didn't want to do a job I didn't enjoy, or work for a brand that I didn't believe in.
I can't claim to be an expert, after all I'm just a 25 year old masters graduate with no business experience and full of self doubt. But I do know this:
1. I have the skills to design, pattern cut and produce clothes.
2. I know what I would like to wear and feel is missing. - I am my own customer.
3. If I don't at least try, I'm going to regret it for the rest of my life.
I always find myself saying 'plus size fashion isn't rocket science, I don't understand why everyone is getting it so wrong.' Honestly, plus size women are just regular women with the same needs. I just want the same options as other women who are smaller than me, is that too much to ask? I don't require funny hems and patronising graphics. I'm not interested in 'showing off my curves', or covering up, or paying £60 for the most basic dress that someone designed with their eyes closed whilst they too fell asleep at the dullness. You would think with all these new plus size lines there would be more choice than ever before, but instead I feel like we're saturated with half-hearted crap. No one actually gives a damn about the women wearing and buying the clothes, it's just all about money - which is pretty obvious - but if they actually listened and cared they could make so much more money.
I want to be an independent brand for plus size women but without using 'plus size' as my selling point. I want to be a brand in its own right. And I'm not going to appeal to everyone, I don't want to appeal to everyone - that's how it should be. Plus size women can't be grouped as one market sector - we don't have the same personalities, style, or taste just because we're fat. We're all uniquely different, much like everyone else who is any size, colour, gender etc.
I can't wait around for a 'dream job' that isn't coming.
I can't rely on the 'plus size industry' to do what it's already failing to do.
I can't keep saying 'what if' or 'I'm not good enough.'
So I only have one goal for 2016, and that's to take control and believe in myself!
Watch this space.
Happy New Year!