As I start another new month, still in lockdown, I was reflecting on the journey of Ellen Elizabeth.
The start of an ideaI can take it back to the start of this year, or 2013, but I suppose it started when I was in high school and watched The House of Eliott. It was less the drama I was interested in, and more the fashion - admittedly it was the glamorous 1920s era of fashion - and the process of designing and fabulous construction I found exciting. It was the reason I went to fashion college.
And then in the early 2010s, off the back off a brilliant trip to China to meet with possible suppliers and manufacturers, I moved into design mode and Ellen Elizabeth was born.
Fits and starts
And the ideas were big - the designs were big and the range was big with lots of prints, and lots of capital needed. I wanted silks and gorgeous print clashes. It was a range - a full range with multi-colourways.
Perfect blue chrysanthemums
A little art nouveau
A draped dress in three colourways
I still love this - it was going to be embroidered and sequinned on a dress
Flamingos! This was designed for the lining
Commonsense prevailed, and I shelved the ideas because of the amount of capital needed, and slightly intimidated about dealing with overseas production.
And I remember, while I shelved that particular iteration, the idea for Ellen Elizabeth still bubbled away, but I needed to find a way to make it sustainable and still true to me.
Then a few years I played around again with the idea, with a slightly different iteration. Just accessories, and over the top with colour and beading and sequins.
Neckpieces. In the new iteration, there's still neckpieces, just not quite like this.
I am unashamedly still enamoured by the checkerboard.
Still me, but maybe a little too narrow, and trying to find the right partner for production was tough. So again, I parked the idea.
But it kept percolating, and I was getting closer to what I wanted.
I didn’t want to extend my financial position too far. I didn’t want to feel I was a slave to a big label.
I wanted to use fabrics of my own designs. I wanted to test the market with small runs. I wanted layers of colour and texture. I wanted to work with great suppliers. I wanted to build a great community with customers and people who the designs resonate with.
I wanted small ranges, maybe not even whole ranges. And inspired by brands and people like Kholo, ShiloLydia, Par Moi and of course Pamela Easton I realised I could dump the traditional view of a ‘range’ I had been taught when I studied because people were willing to buy from micro-labels without needed 12+ pieces in a range, who didn’t need everything to be perfect and polished and fill a whole wardrobe from a single brand.
Because who does that anyway?!
Most of us magpie our way through life - collecting a little bit from here and there, both online and from mainstream and boutique stores. Although, admittedly in the last two years there’s been more online and less tactile in store experiences.
The art at the heart
In the last few years I realised I didn’t just want to create graphics for the fabrics, but use my art as the centre of the fabric prints and colour ways.
And this also meant I could play with my art - I didn’t have to find one perfect style and keep pushing it.
Each drop didn’t just have to be a different set of colours, I could have fun with style and brushstrokes and colour.
And so the Vignette was born.
So here I am, starting the idea again in a slightly different way. Moving forward slowly with Ellen Elizabeth and hoping to maintain momentum to launch in the second half of 2022.
I am investing in my idea, refreshing my long along acquired knowledge by signing up for a mentoring and launchpad program with Sample Room.
I am building a lovely list of experts and cheerleaders who can be a source of wisdom when I need it.
I probably more important than all of that, I am being kind to myself about what I can accomplish, and how I can accomplish it. Because the times, they are still unprecedented.
- October 2022