Rada Priya, 27, is an Australian based Fashion Designer, Fashion Illustrator, Blogger and new Mum!
A creative type, hippie sophisticate making my living by hand. I am one of 2. And we are two of 9! Coming from a big family gave meaning to the term "first in, best dressed" the rest, well, its here...
I started a blog in October 2010, 4 months after moving to Florence, Italy, as a way to express myself, share my story, deepen my fashion knowledge, take self indulgent pictures and to keep my English fresh!
About the same time I began exploring and reading, which led to religiously following other fashion blogs, and soon discovered their unique importance in the fashion industry, and even more intimately, the incredible influence they have with some of our biggest designers. Karl Lagerfield, for example, cleverly invites popular bloggers to sit in the rows with the rich and famous at his renowned Chanel runway shows. He, like many other of his peers, understands the massive power these young fashionista bloggers have over the everyday consumer - whom have turned recently to the Internet for everything from fashion advice, styling and more so, online purchasing. It amazes me how these young everyday girls and boys from all over the world, some with no fashion background or training, some with extensive, help form, shape, and predict the fashion trends we see walking down the most prominent runways and frozen on mannequins behind the glass of the biggest department stores, and in the chicest boutiques, throughout the fashion capitals of the world. I in no way count myself as one of these fashionistas, I am a designer at heart and this blog exists for me to share my ideas; acts as one of many outlets to continue to be creative everyday
Read More About in Interview below
Here's a fragment of me
(questions from Fashion students at Queensland's University of Technology)
Have you always been interested in fashion?
Yes. Since I can remember from a very young age at school studying the ancient histories and cultures, the traditional costumes of the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks captivated me. I used to make my own outfits to glue on my barbie dolls before I knew how to sew
How did you originally get into the fashion industry, what was your first position?
Primary and High school played a very important role in my path in to the fashion industry. My teachers encouraged my design and sew skills, and the school provided a platform to showcase my work on a larger creative scale in the annual Wearable Art Awards. The school also connected me with Victoria Spring, whom I did my school work experience with in her Sydney store and studio. I got the chance to meet Collette Dinnigan and Alannah Hill, two of the Greats in our industry
When and why did you decide to start your own label?
The desire to have my own label motivated me to learn all the facets of the Fashion Industry - especially the Retail industry, which scared me the most. Design and producing garments comes easily to me, but my people skills, marketing and actually selling my product took a lot of hard work and training. I hoped for a boutique position in one of the higher end design houses, however, zero experience and fresh out of high school - they recommended I do the retail training course through Myer.
Since than I have worked many positions in the retail industry working my way through the roles; assistant manager, store manager, Retail Operations manager, Visual Merchandiser, assistant buyer. I have even had the chance to teach fashion Illustration for 2 years to pre and post University students building their portfolios and business plans. During these years I travelled the world and in 2010 decided to make a permanent move to Paris to see how I could further my experience in the fashion industry.
I made it only as far as Italy.
A year in and I was getting request after request from friends back home in Australia to return, or create a space where they could have access to my designs. My friends have always been my biggest supporters, and since my teens have been designing and making them outfits for their special occasions.
There were many motivations for starting my own label, but it was these friends willing to pay for my designs that was the real tipping point.
How did you achieve this?
In Italy I started a travel blog to keep my friends and family updated on my travels. This became the perfect platform to announce the idea for my first collection. I had overwhelming support from not just friends and previous clients, but complete strangers. It was a very difficult 6 month period finding manufacturers who could produce my small order to my quality standard. In the end I produced 50% of my own collection on 2 household sewing machines.
What were some of the main hurdles you had to over come?
I would have to admit my main hurdle has been overcoming my shyness. If you ask anyone who knows me, they would say I am the opposite of shy, but that did not come easily. Answering to none but yourself can be very rewarding, but it comes with a lot of pressure, and the words "you are your own worst critic" have not been more true - except maybe that I have an identical twin sister who is my biggest critic, and fan. She keeps my feet firmly on the ground.
Did you study this field and/or receive any relevant qualifications that helped you in this career?
When I was 19 I made my first wedding dress for a client. It was such honour, and prompted me to refine my skill set. I completed a Pattern Making diploma at Tafe. I learnt a lot during my school years at Shearwater, so I was lucky to be able to pick and choose what I felt was missing through casual courses in the years after.
So now that you run Rada Priya, what does this entail?
I am hands on through every aspect of my label, from concept to construction, to the distribution and promotion. I sell my product through multiple online outlets, including my own website and blog. Blogging is a huge part of Rada Priya Designs, and provides my cliental access to the inner workings of me and the label
Explain your company?
Rada Priya Designs is seasonal woman's fashion label based primarily online. I create 2 lines per year, Spring/Summer & Autumn/Winter. We run by the southern hemisphere seasons as the collections are mostly produced in Australia, however the majority of the cliental is based in the Northern hemisphere, which means we try to stay current according to the European trends. I also personally produce Made-to-Measure garments for special occasions, mostly wedding dresses. These are also showcased under the label with client permission.
Who or what has been your main inspiration in pursuing this career?
Life. I don't think there is a true alternative for me. I find inspiration in everyone and everything. I don't believe in the easy road, and I wouldn't want it to be. All the hurdles and set backs makes each tiny success so sweet
Do you strive to keep your label on trend with current styles, or is it more about doing your own thing?
I would like to always be relevant, and keeping up with trends is the best way to do that. The beauty of our industry is that it caters to the entire world, and so there is always a trend that can easily be adapted to the individual, regardless of taste. Determining how well the trends are translated is of course up to the person that is willing to pay for it. And at the end of the day, that is what tells you the most.
Does this affect your business in anyway?
Yes. My label is my name, it captures who I am. I don't change with the trends, I adapt them me. New adaptations of trends can attract new clients, but it can also turn regular clients off. I try my best to keep my finger on the pulse of what works for my clients, but its tricky business. Just the psychology of how woman buy is fascinating enough...
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs (e.g. favourite labels, style icons, culture, travelling, media, creative materials such as movies, or even friends)?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and usually at the most random of times. I keep a sketch pad and pencil in my handbag for those such occasions.. At a traffic light, on the airplane, in the middle of the night.
I also have my never fail icon: Marilyn Monroe. I own all her movies, and most days you will find me at home in my sewing room with "Gentlemen prefer Blondes" playing in the background.
I love the new social media platforms, Instagram, Pinterest, etc - however I still can't go past the magic of turning glossy pages in beautiful fashion books and magazines. The tangible is so much more giving to my creative mind.
Who is your main customer base?
The majority of my customer base is in the UK. Female aged 30 - 39
Was this the demographic you expected?
Not at all. A very important part of creating the business plan for my label and first collection, was researching my intended demographic. A lot of time and effort went in to establishing the specifics of my customer base. I thought I had it pinned down to a t. The majority of my fan base on social media, and the demographic of my blog readers is correct to my research (female aged 20 - 29), however, they turned out not to be my paying customer.
Has the growth of technology etc. affected you in particular?
As a business based online, keeping up to date with technology is paramount to my success. I have found that my blog has been my largest traffic driver, and with the boom in fashion blogging, posting and coming up with new content is almost a full time job. Luckily I have the support of clients who run their own fashion blogs, so I have others spread the word for me.
What challenges do you face in your career?
My label is still in its infancy, and I am in no hurry for it to move faster. I am expecting my first baby in August, and this in itself has brought with it exciting new challenges. I plan to release a limited maternity wear collection, before taking a 2 season break. Pregnancy has opened up a whole new world, and has made me more motivated than ever to create and build a life long career
Do you believe this is a long-term career position in the fashion industry?
Do you feel that it may be increasing or declining in importance or popularity?
The industry is constantly evolving, from trends to technology, some roles become less important as others, depending on a world of factors. The role of fashion bloggers has boomed, and anyone and everyone is a fashion critic. Something that I have yet to do is a paid avertising campaign, and this is due to having access to so many bloggers. If they are good, they have astounding and real influence and expose designers to an audience they might not have otherwise had access to. This also opens up the field of 'designer' to just about anyone who wants to give it go. Most of popular bloggers have little or no design training, yet have successful fashion lines (Chiara Ferragani of the Blonde Salad has her own line of footwear, Julie Saranana of Sincerely Jules has a line of t-shirts, and think of all the celebrities with their own brands..). You no longer need to have pattern, sew or illustration skill if you have a consumer network.
How sustainable do you think it is, what makes it an important role?
We are creatures of our senses, and as long as we continue to care about our appearance and how we present ourselves, I think that dressing will always be an important part of who we are, and who we want to be as individuals.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this position?
I wouldn't say I feel any disadvantage doing the work that I love. At times I think it would be nice to have an employer so I could step away from my work more. Especially off days when I'm busy with deadlines. But the upside is that I create these deadlines and pressures, and I don't have to report to anyone if I want to take a 'personal day'
Is your current position your main focus or are you looking at pursuing other avenues in the fashion industry?
There are so many fantastic positions in the industry - I would love to be a fashion journalist and travel the world for the respective fashion weeks. I also love the high pace of editorial shoots, and would love to be in a more objective position, like a stylist. When you are shooting your own designs, its hard to see the bigger picture at the time of shooting - like an artist who see's only the brushstrokes
What is your favourite thing about working in the fashion industry?
Physically creating beautiful garments that bring out the confidence in woman. By nature I am a very spiritual person, and this aspect of what I do is my main motivator. Feeling good is contagious, and the simple act of dressing can do that
Has the industry changed since you first began working in it?
Not yet, but I'm still young and open to change
What advice would you give to someone aspiring for a position in the industry?
2 things; Network. Don't just volunteer for any and all odd jobs in the fashion industry because you love it, karma works a treat. Holding a light reflector on a fashion shoot set for 6 hours straight can hurt, especially if you decided to wear your favourite pair of heels, but that photographer could be working for you next - for free! and all because you had a great attitude, you did the coffee runs and you helped the model tie her shoes
And Obsession. Its more than loving what you do. If you don't have it, change careers.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Being 80 and still stitching away. In between than, I don't know, but I very excited about it