This week’s Monday Meetings introduces you to fashionable Mancunian and entrepreneur Naomi Jackson. Hailing from the North of England, she’s been running her own fashion business for several years, with a few other impressive strings to her bow too.
I’m older than I look! (…or so I like to think)
Who are you and where do you come from? Tell us a little about yourself.
I have lived in Manchester all of my life, went to Uni here and studied Fashion. I’m a bit unusual – I’ve NEVER actually had a job. I’ve always been self employed and have many different facets to my work: I’m a DJ, a graphic designer, a fashion designer, I teach young people creative stuff (arts/textiles/fashion), I have an online Vintage store, Mimi’s Loft, and I run my own Menswear label, RUN&FELL.
Do you have a work/life philosophy, or any ideals you try to follow?
Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
[Simple but effective! PP]
How did you decide to start a business? What gave you the confidence to try?
Straight after University I went to Los Angeles to do some work experience with an independent jeanswear label. I loved it, and the guys who ran the brand were so creative and so inspiring. They had an abundance of crazy, unique ideas and I loved their lifestyle that went along with working for themselves. Upon my return, I spent a LONG time looking for a permanent design job in Fashion. I went to a ridiculous amount of interviews and the feedback was always the same “you were pipped to the post by someone with more experience”. After a while I decided to make my own “experience”. Deep down I’d always wanted to start my own fashion label, and had been so inspired by my trip to LA, but it seemed logical to work for someone else for a bit first. I got fed up of waiting for a job and realised that there would be so much creative freedom in designing for myself, as well as having complete control over where and how my garments are made. I’m really passionate about the ethical side of garment production and so this was a major factor in establishing RUN&FELL.
Have you had any emotional moments starting your business? How did they affect you?
HA. YES! So many. It’s not been by any means easy. But I have learnt so much through it all. The first factory I used to create my garments were really disappointing. They made so many errors in the manufacture of a substantial amount of my garments. That was probably the most awful time for me; I’d spent a lot of money on this first run and many of the pieces were just unsaleable. I’d chosen to use a British factory, partly to ensure my garments are fairly produced, and partly because the British manufacturing industry has long been synonymous with quality. So it was a real blow to find how poorly the luxurious organic cotton had been stitched together. There have been many other difficulties too, and the main thing I’ve been learning is just to keep going and not let it affect my determination to succeed. There have been many positive moments too; seeing my clothes on catwalks, in magazines, and getting great feedback from customers.
What do your friends and family think of what you’ve chosen to do?
On the whole they are very supportive, particularly my family. I’m not sure I’d have kept going if it wasn’t for their support.
If you could recommend a useful resource to somebody else starting their own business, what would it be and why?
My sister!! Haha! She’s run her own business for a number of years and she’s an inspiration to me. I go to her first with any business-related crisis!
We’re just awaiting Naomi’s sisters contact details and price list for those who need to get in touch! ;)
What part of starting up would you most like to go back and do differently?
Lots of things actually. But that’s part of the learning process. You learn from your mistakes.
How does the future look at the moment? Do you have business plans or other goals?
I’m excited. I’m about to design my next collection, so, stay tuned!
Thanks for giving us an insight into your experience Naomi, and best of luck with your business (and the rest) in the future!