Nine months ago on Sunday my Graduate Collection walked down the runway at Graduate Fashion Week at the Truman Brewery in London and, supported by the family and friends that helped me get there, my four year university career drew to a close…(a pretty awesome close, mind!)
I was so proud of what I had achieved and all the hard work I had put in to get to that point but, in all honesty, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I started applying for jobs (an endless routine of online applications which yielded no results) but I wasn’t really excited about going back into a big business where I was at the bottom of a ladder and sat behind a computer screen with little ability to channel my own creativity. I still had so much energy and passion and I didn’t want to give up the pattern cutting, sampling and manufacture side of my degree – I love designing but I also love sitting in front of a sewing machine and watching a garment come to life before my eyes. So when my job hunt continued to end in rejection letters (or worse, silence) I ran away…not literally, don’t worry!
My sister and I spent the whole of August travelling around Europe, which was an amazing experience. There were plenty of highs and lows but we saw so many interesting places (9 cities and 8 countries in one month), ate a lot of new food and had a generally incredible time! Vienna was definitely my favourite – in case you were wondering – but I would love to revisit a lot of the places we went. The whole time we were travelling, I was surrounded by creativity and inspiration and I couldn’t shake the idea of starting out on my own and selling my own designs and clothes instead of being part of a bigger company. Running my own label has been a dream of mine for as long as fashion and design has been part of my life (which feels like forever), but I always thought it was something I had to do when I was ‘grown up’ and had a house and a family and had done my rounds of the industry, but the more I thought about it, the less I could find an excuse not to go for it.
After a trip to New York (I got around, I know!) and filled with nervous excitement I decided that I really was going to give it a shot, and Wild Strings by Eleanor was born. I got a part time bar job to support myself and partly fund the start up and took the plunge into entrepreneurship; I quickly realised that if I wanted to do this properly (which I did) it wasn’t going to a straightforward or easy journey, but coming from a family of entrepreneurs (my parents are awesome and an inspiration) I knew that I could do it.
The plan is to create an online store which releases a couple of collections a year, where women can have a garment made to order to their size; instead of picking a generic size 12 off the hanger in a high street store. The first collection is a development of my Graduate Collection with some new twists and additions. I am truly passionate about slow fashion and the growing impact the industry has on the environment, so I really want to use Wild Strings to have a positive impact on the world and encourage people to invest in clothes (instead of buying them cheap and wearing them once) and educate them on how we can all make small changes for a better future earth.
So, in nine months, I have showcased my graduate collection, graduated with a First, visited 10 cities and nine countries, got a job as a cocktail maker, set up a company, started the range building process and begun building a website for said company. I guess you could say I’d gone from Graduate Fashion Week to grown up. In these months, I’ve often told the people close to me that I feel like an octopus, with eight arms trying to do eight different jobs. I often have self doubt about whether I can actually do this – one person doing all this can be quite daunting – but I’ve found that everyone does. Maybe, in the end, it won’t work, or it will change and I’m not expecting to become the next Stella McCartney over night, but I have definitely decided that this is what I want to do with my passion and I’m sure going to work hard to make it a success. If anyone knows what the next nine months holds, let me know…Actually, don’t. I’m excited to find out for myself.