Can you spot the baby’s soother in the middle of the madness?
Some great news, and a bit of personal news.
Firstly, I am so excited and proud to announce that I have been chosen as 1 of 10 Irish designers to represent Ireland in New York in May through the wearing Irish Initiative (www.wearingirish.com)
WearingIrish NYC 2018 is a curated showcase and event program that will take place from May 15th to 17th at Bank of Ireland Startlab, neighbouring the iconic Grand Central Terminal.
I am one of ten Irish designers that will be flown to New York to spend 48 hours displaying our creations, meeting potential customers, and forging connections to accelerate growth. Plus, I will get to meet with panellists and guests, eager to discover Irish designers.
I thought I would use this news to share with all of you who are interested a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes in the business, some of the struggles Sands & Hall has faced and continues to do so today.
When I began on this journey, honestly the last thing I expected was for Sands & Hall to grow so quickly and hugely over the space of less than 2 years. Going from spending my day on the phone pleading to newspapers in my local home town (City I should say), Newry to write about my business to being in newspapers such as The Times, The Daily Mail and on the pages of Vogue and Red magazine, I mean who would have even begun to dream of that happening?
Since then, I have given birth to another little girl, which involved a pretty hard-going natural labour plus complications with the placenta afterwards, and only 3 weeks later threw myself back into planning a new collection…at the time there was no let up, Sands & Hall had begun to snowball and I needed to keep up with it! Over the last 2 years I have learned so much about production, social media, technical phrases in fashion – I have also learned that this is one tough business.
A quote that sums it up…
“Business is tough, and the fashion industry is particularly tough.”
– Ali Hewson
Trying to juggle being a mum to two incredible girls, a wife, a homemaker, friend, daughter, sister and an owner of a fashion business – well let’s just say the last 2 years have been a juggling act trying to make it all work. It’s been nearly 4 years since the adventure began with my Cocoon days, pre-Sands & Hall, and only towards the end of last year did I start paying myself a wage of £500 per month.
Sands & Hall is slow fashion – not fast fashion, which you see everywhere online at the moment. It takes 4-5 months to develop a design to sampling point, at least 3 months for our mills in the UK and Ireland to sow the tweed for each colour, then 3-4 months for our boutique factory to make our pieces.
This is what I have chosen, I didn’t want to work with cheap materials or garments made outside of Europe and it takes time and a lot of upfront money which is why the preorder model is the only way we can make things work: where you the customer gets the best price possible and we are able to pay for materials, production and wages.
I won’t lie there have been quite a few times where I have thought in the middle of the night (during one of my many disturbed nights sleeps recently) “This can’t go on, it needs to stop, I need a break, this won’t work next year, people won’t love the new collection”…many fears and worries that a lot of you probably don’t realise is happening when you see the Sara that is displayed on our social media or in the press.
Then what happens? I release something new and you get it! You really get it, you get me, and that is something I still can’t really explain or get my head around but if I am lucky enough to be doing this and making things people love so much that they come back time and time again for new pieces then I ought to keep trying to do it!
“Things never happen on accident. They happen because you have a vision, you have a commitment, you have a dream.”
– Oscar de la Renta
I think what I am learning is how you deal with obstacles. Every business hits obstacles, either you let those obstacles define you or become stronger from facing them.
Today is not the day I give up on this dream and with the support of you all, that I get every single day, I hope that day is not any time soon!
Onwards and upwards – Sands & Hall is ready to take on New York.
Massive thank you to Margaret Molloy and her Wearing Irish Initiative which gives businesses like mine the chance to be seen amongst huge players in the industry.
Thank you all again for absolutely everything and for believing in this vision. We do have THE best customers, I am convinced of that.
I feel like I have just had a counselling session getting all of that of my chest, but I hope it gives you a bit more of a glimpse into the real life of this fashion business and this dream.