REAL WORK: THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS: ELSPETH GIBSON
Sunday 13 June 1999
I've always loved fashion. My mum says that from the age of three or four I used to change outfits at least four times a day.
For my eighth birthday my grandmother gave me an old hand-powered sewing machine. I had hoped for a pony, but I think my granny knew me better than I did. At that stage I was already drawing silhouettes and designing dresses.
At 16 I did a foundation course in art and design, followed by two years of fashion design. My first placement was at Zandra Rhodes and then I designed for Monix. That was excellent experience as it taught me the commercial side to the business.
To be successful as a designer you have to keep your feet on the ground and ask yourself the right questions: whose going to wear it, is the fabric right? I like to design things that are innovative but wearable. I get my ideas from everyday living and I am passionate about designing. Even when I'm on holiday I can't switch off.
Designing is about having taste, but you have to balance that with the business side. Being creative is easy. It's harder to start up a business which doesn't fold. My own label started up in my home in north London. We were there for three years; looking back I could never do that again. It's great now that we have got our own premises - it feels like a proper company.
My husband runs the financial side of the business and loves it as much as I do. He's definitely one of the keys to my success. He gives me support and encouragement, but he's also quite tough on me - he always makes me go the extra mile.
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