Deborah has done just that and is about to launch ROCKHOLLY this Sunday… quite nicely timed for mother’s day! Her jackets are 100% waterproof (not only weatherproof) and breathable!!! And she uses environmentally friendly sound PFC free DWR.
What’s your background?
I studied for a degree in Fashion Marketing at Northumbria University (many moons ago!). I wanted to study fashion design, but have the business/marketing knowledge to support it. Looking back it was a good choice. My first job was actually with a fashion start up brand called ‘Little Black Dress’ in Manchester, doing a bit of everything. I then took a design job with an outdoor performance brand and discovered it was an area of design I really enjoyed.
I love the outdoors anyway, but found technical design to be really challenging, particularly thinking of design solutions to ensure the garment is functional and fit for purpose, as opposed to just looking nice.
I left a job designing womenswear for outdoor brand Berghaus after having my eldest daughter Maggie. She was born 2 months premature and I wasn’t ready to leave her to the world of full time work. Since then, I have done freelance design to allow me to work around my kids.
Why waterproof coats?
After 15 years in the industry, I really felt that some of the larger outdoor brands weren’t addressing the market for women who wanted stylish but technical outdoorwear. I thought this was a gap I could fill and do it well. Whilst on maternity leave, I started to speak to other women who were always on the look out for the perfect coat that was fully waterproof and breathable but looked good. It cemented my original idea and gave me the push to go for it.
What’s been the process of starting your own business now?
I had the idea for Rockholly years ago, but my girls needed more of me at that time so I put it on the backburner. Just over a year ago, I started speaking to manufacturers and was lucky enough to find a market leading company who already produce for performance brands and were willing to work with me. I worked through some initial designs with them and then started the sampling with them. Along the way I’ve picked up a number of new skills from logistics, photography styling, social media, ecommerce & finance. A year on I’m ready to launch with a small range and I am now in the process of developing new styles for winter 18.
The best things along this journey and the worst?
Being able to set the direction and creative content of the business. I’ve learned so much about e-commerce and social media platforms, but as a creative I’ve also really enjoyed working on Instagram, it’s a really encouraging and generous platform and community. I also love the flexibility to work around my family. The juggling bit is sometimes hard. As a mum I think we always feel guilty whatever work choice we make. I therefore end up working late into the evenings to allow me as much time with my girls as I can.
Tell me more about your girls and what’s important to you…
I have 3 daughters aged 7, 5 and 3. They are my number one priority and everything I do is with them in mind. I think its good for them to see women doing things for themselves and I hope they will grow up with the belief you can do whatever you set your mind to.