Can you tell us about your journey into the world of fashion design and sewing? What initially sparked your interest, and how did you transition from pursuing it as a passion to a professional pursuit?
I have always loved sewing. When I was thirteen, we had an old, unusable sewing machine in our home. When I was offered the choice to learn a craft during a school break, I decided to learn tailoring because I had always wanted to sew. From 2009 to 2019, I experimented with various aspects of design to find my niche. Then COVID-19 hit, and I started sewing outfits to sell on social media in my living room during the lockdown.
Your expertise spans various aspects of sewing, designing, beading, pattern drafting, and draping. Could you share with us some of the key experiences or moments that have contributed to your growth and proficiency in these areas?
Most of the time, my clients are the source of my development and adaptability; occasionally, I encounter clients that motivate me to push myself to do magic. The main reason is because I don’t want to let others down, so in order to avoid doing that, I usually have to study up on it, watch videos online, or enroll in online courses. In the end, though, the information I acquire is mine.
As the owner of Astonish Designs, how do you integrate creativity and innovation into your work while maintaining the essence of your brand?
The brand’s motto is; ‘a style for every age’ going by this, we like to be creative but we still try to consider the age, gender, occasion and style while giving you affordable quality. I prioritize a culture of innovation by encouraging my team to explore new materials, techniques, and design concepts. We stay connected with industry trends and customer preferences, ensuring our creations align with evolving tastes. However, we always anchor our innovations in the core values and aesthetic that define Astonish Designs.
Building a thriving small business requires dedication and resilience. What were some of the challenges you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?
In the journey of building Astonish Designs, challenges like initial financial constraints and market competition were prevalent because we couldn’t afford some things, we improvised a lot. Secondly, passion; this job takes 80% of my time, I understand it is a growing business and requires all the love and nurturing it can possibly get. Also, its not always rosy, there are good days as well as bad days, but we find fulfillment on the faces of our satisfied client.
Beyond the confines of your atelier, you’ve been actively involved in empowering your community through short sewing classes and job opportunities. Could you elaborate on how these initiatives have impacted the lives of individuals in your community?
They say ‘great things start small’ the business grew to the point where I discovered I needed extra hands, and employed a few. I still felt I wasn’t giving back enough to the society so I put out a flier for free basic sewing classes.These people came into the business and made everything easier, on days where I feel like this business is not for me anymore I look back and think of the people that depend on me and the people I inspire.
What role do you believe small businesses like yours play in fostering local economic development and community cohesion?
Small businesses like mine contribute to economic development by creating jobs and supporting local suppliers. Additionally, they foster community cohesion by providing personalized services, creating a sense of identity, and often engaging in community events or collaborations.
How do you envision the future of Astonish Designs evolving, both in terms of its creative endeavors and its impact on the community?
In the future Astonish designs will like to embrace technology for personalized experience, collaborate with other brands, increase emphasis on sustainable and ethical practices. Creatively, there might be a shift towards unique customizable designs.
Lastly, what advice would you offer to individuals who aspire to follow a similar path in pursuing their passion for fashion design and entrepreneurship?
For aspiring fashion designers and entrepreneurs, my advice is to blend creativity with business acumen. Invest time in building a strong foundation of design skills, stay informed about industry trends, and cultivate a unique style. Additionally, understand the business side – marketing, budgeting, and customer relations. Network within the industry, seek mentorship, and be adaptable to evolving market demand.