Owner and Designer: Andrea
Lives in: Sydney Australia
Children: 1 daughter, 8 years old
Top tips to balance work and family life:
Make sure to keep the two separate which can be hard at times (in my case because our offices are in our house). But other than that, learn to strictly take weekends off and have set office hours.
Andrea: My love for sketching and fashion very early on and beautiful things really. I just love the creative process, to see something drawn come to life, the ever-changing fashions, colours, inspiration, no one day is the same as the last. I get bored easily so fashion is perfect for me.
KATIE TFBM: About your Creative Process...What is your favorite design you ever made?
Andrea: I'm still working on that one, I always feel like I could still do better…
Katie TFBM: I know your children inspire your designs. What about them inspires your creative process?
Andrea: My daughter is very kooky and experimental, she's not afraid to wear crazy outfits that she puts together herself. So I guess as she's pushing the boundaries she pushes me along somehow.
Katie TFBM: How do you keep your designs fresh each season?
Andrea: Oh god that's easy how do I keep the collection under five hundred pieces, the inspiration is endless. I always find amazing vintage pieces and I work with very talented people in India who make the process easy. The hardest part is usually to say stop the collection is big enough, this has to go into the next one.
Andrea: India has the best beaders in the world, they can do anything and it's done by hand not by machine as in China. There is no way I could find anyone in Australia or anywhere else in the Western World for that matter (except maybe in the Haute Couture studios in Paris) who could our embellishments. But apart from that, India is so inspiring, the colours, the people, the country, I feel naturally drawn to it, I'm happy to spend time there.
Katie TFBM: What are your top tips for a designer looking for an overseas mfg?
Andrea: Probably visit trade shows where relevant manufacturers exhibit.
Katie TFBM: What is the minimum amount of garments one should be ready produce before looking for an overseas mfg?
Andrea: It depends, the problem with places like China is that minimums are high, India does much smaller quantities, so it could be anything from 50 units.I think my first production run was less than what we make now for show room samples, quite funny.
Katie TFBM: How do you ensure seamstresses contacted to work in other countries are treated and paid fairly?
Andrea: We work predominantly with one workshop that produces exclusively for us and have done so from the very beginning, I go there twice a year to work on the new collection with the beaders. I can see first hand what's going on, the premises, the cleanliness and the fact that all work is done on the premises and is not subcontracted out. The women there are very skilled and get paid accordingly. The owner of the workshop is female, she makes sure the women have flexible hours and can take their children to school etc. Our workshop has gone from employing a few women to most of the women in the village which is really amazing. It makes me happy to know that we have provided extra income for those families and it reassures me to see that the women that have worked there from the start are still there except that they're now supervising and training the newer employees.
Our workshop has grown with us from the beginning and I know that the workers are treated fairly and and get paid fairly but if you produced overseas remotely it might be harder to tell how workshops or factories are run except if they're certified or are happy to be audited.
Be very clear in how you want your business/brand to look and stick to it. In order to be good at something I think you have to follow your passion but stay true to your vision, it's easy to get distracted.