Tell us a bit about yourself
I am originally from Bedfordshire in England, but moved to the south west of France in 2015. I enjoy being in the nature and mountains, good food, going to gigs, vintage / second-hand clothing and general cultural experiences. I come from a really creative, musical, art loving family which helped me to embrace and develop my own creativity. I knew that I wanted to be a 'fashion designer' since I was 5, as a child I used to make fashion magazines by collaging images of things that I deemed 'hot and not'.
I first learnt to pattern cut and sew when I was 13 and haven't stopped making clothes since. I graduated university with a BA (Hons) degree in Fashion Design, and have worked as a global designer in numerous clothing brands. I decided to quit my job and reconnect with my creativity, investing in an industrial sewing machine. I started to study business and ecological fashion, after some years of experimentation my brand Brawno was formed.
Tell us about one of your favourite projects and what inspired you to do it
My first experience that heavily inspired my later work was in 2009, there was a module at university where we had to work in teams upcycling pieces from the local Oxfam charity shop. My favourite project to date is the Brawno Autumn 2020 collection, it was the first time since leaving university that I took the leap into making clothes from scratch, as opposed to altering existing garments. The upcycled worker jackets were so popular that I still make them today, it is a very special piece to me because it represents not only courage but ultimately the birth of the brand's identity.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a small creative capsule collection for Summer 2022, as well as planning something exciting for the Autumn Winter 2022 collection
Who are your biggest influencers in the industry?
Christopher Raeburn has been the biggest influence to me since the beginning. I started following his work when I was in college, his first studio was in my hometown, and then I saw him lecture at my university, he's even replied to a few of my emails - a great guy with great ethical values! I also really admire Nigel Cabourn and Christopher Shannon, two other incredibly authentic British designers that I've followed since art school.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
Most of my inspiration comes from my own experiences and the people that I experience things with, I make clothes for my friends, they're all my muses. I'm also heavily influenced by sub-cultures; I studied a range of sub-cultures from Beatniks to Mods, Teddy boys, Skaters, Rockers, Hooligans etc at university. There's something beautifully intriguing about groups of likeminded individuals forming a collective energy and identity.
Tell us why it's important for you to have a portfolio website
One of the first things I did when I started to upcycle was make a website via Portfoliobox. A website is a vital hub directly connecting you to your clients, a digital representation of your brand which is accessible around the world.
As aclothing and accessories creator what are your tips in building a portfolio website?
The most important thing for my website is to keep it as simple as possible. Regarding e-commerce, I was advised to have a '3 click' system, where on arrival at my website the client can be at the checkout within 3 clicks. I originally tried to demonstrate my capabilities by creating a technically complicated website which presented all of the work that I've produced, but the reality is that it was a labyrinth that my clients couldn't navigate. After this I stripped back my website and included only a 'Shop' selling solely the current collection and a small 'About' section. With the new Portfoliobox Version 4 Pro update I've added a 'Welcome' and a 'Lookbook' page, including the photoshoot from the collection currently on sale, this makes my website look coherent and professional.
How do you market yourself?
I survived for a long time on 'word of mouth' and self-promotion, but now that I am building a bigger business I rely heavily on social media for marketing, especially Instagram. It's difficult to find the time for both production and marketing, so I try to be as time and cost effective as I can. I create marketing campaigns on Instagram such as competitions, countdown to collection releases, behind the scenes videos and I am also starting to be present at more events. Frankly marketing and promotion is something that I am learning as I go along.
Why do you use Portfoliobox?
I use Portfoliobox because it is simple, effective, time saving, cost efficient and there is a great support team to help with any queries. I didn't have a budget to employ a web designer and thanks to Portfoliobox I don't need to, there is no coding or complicated language. The wide selection of options and templates available made it possible for me to be as creative as I want. I have already and will also continue to recommended Portfoliobox to my friends and family.