Last year I started a fashion company with my now-fiance Jason. May ’15 was when it launched but we had been working on it for almost a year beforehand.
Starting and running a fashion company has been the biggest learning curve I have come across and I thought it might be interesting to talk about some of the biggest factors I have faced while Novem & Knight has been up and running.
All from someone who has not studied fashion design and who does not have a business background but who has wholly thrown themselves into the job, after it being a life-long dream and with a hunger to challenge myself and to push my boundaries creatively.


FAST FORWARD – You need to be working ideally around 6 months to a year ahead of where you are now.
We are still playing catch-up with seasons, we started by designing and manufacturing with a tight time-frame because we didn’t know any better at the beginning. However you need to account for any problems that might arise, items that might need more time than planned in the design or cutting and sewing process and for possible mis-communication between you as the designer and the factories/manufacturers/distributors.

COMMUNICATION – Which leads me on to what I think we have learnt the most about. From the beginning we found it rather difficult to find many people/companies willing to help us as a start-up brand and who kept their cards close to their chest when it came to helping us get in contact with the right people and sourcing the materials and trimmings we wanted and needed.
The fashion industry is very tight-knit (no pun intended) and it really is a ‘it’s who you know’ business. That is not to say that you won’t still be able to flourish.
It took quite a few months but we got what we needed in the end, just by hitting a few dead-ends, and carrying on to understand how to talk-the-talk.

JACK OF ALL TRADES – If you aren’t starting your company/line with a cluster of people around you, guiding you and taking care of different aspects of the brand then do expect to become a master of everything to do with your brand.
You will need to learn the names of certain cuts, sewing methods, what different machines can do and can’t do for certain pieces that you might want.
You’ll need social skills for meeting and working with others who can help bring your pieces to life and to know exactly what you want from them and vise versa.
You need to practice drawing and getting proportions and measurements right – explain your designs well/clearly to the pattern cutter.
You’ll need to know your market, know how to promote successfully and how to brand yourself, you need to make sure the legal side of the company is covered – The list goes on.

THE NOW – Even though our brand is not 100% trend-led, I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world and what is changing in fashion at all times.
We are aiming to keep the brand looking sleek and minimal, while also keeping it current and relevant to current trends.
I am forever collecting inspiration from everywhere around me. Usually in the form of Magazine cuttings and photos from sites and blogs.

BE REALISTIC – There are lots of things we want to do as a new clothing line, but it is often not possible for us to do everything. We have cut things out of our future plans because after calculating and looking at the bigger picture we know that certain things won’t work for us as a company yet. Sometimes you have to step back and look at everything – Like when you are creating a piece of art and you need to walk away from it periodically to see it clearly again.
Even though it hurts personally to leave things by the wayside, it’s what you need to do sometimes. You need to prioritise what is important, what is going to work in a business sense and not just a personal/emotional one.

I do hope this was interesting or helpful for anyone who has wondered what it is like to start up a fashion company or has just wondered a little more about our work behind N&K.
These are just some of my personal pointers – There are of course so many more factors to running a brand but these are what come to mind first.

Let me know if you would like to see any more posts like this and what you’d like to see in particular!

Sammi x