Agnieszka Wlodarska is the founder of Staples Stable, a small-brand clothing line for women of all ages, who are looking for versatile, comfortable, quality pieces.
Agnieszka spoke to us about getting started and her advice for fellow young and emerging designers.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
My business is a one woman fashion design studio. I am based in Co. Down and I only launched my first collection in September 2018. Before, I had worked for local charities for many years, but the designing and making was always on the back of my mind and I started creating Staples Stable while I was at my day job (not literally... it was a part time job!). I’ve worked with a small artisan manufacturer based in Poland, which is a great link to have with my home country. I had graduated in history and I think my clothes reflect it, with their subtle period clothing hints. I would love to make more myself and this is going to be the aim in the later months of 2019. Aside from designing and dressmaking I looove rock music and gardening and I am super excited to recently have got a greenhouse.
What/who influences/motivates you?
I love history and period clothing, especially medieval and Victorian. I try to use some of the elements of that aesthetic in my designs, but also keep them contemporary and wearable at the same time. I love ‘midi’, ruching and stitching and they will always always appear in my clothes. At times that I struggle with motivation my husband is there- he’s my rock and has always believed in me. I can get influenced by anything at all, I am very visual and get drawn to beautiful scenes and objects, which I then try to incorporate.
What has been your biggest hurdle and your proudest moment or accomplishment in your career?
a. biggest hurdle
Starting the business, telling people about it and convincing myself it is okay to say I was a designer- at the start I felt like an imposter! The second hardest thing, which I am not fully done with yet! – is understanding how I want to do things and sticking to it.. It can be very hard to make decisions when you’re new to the business and everyone wants to advise you - I’ve heard it all… even that I should sell my dresses on Amazon.
b. proudest moment/achievement
When Viv Groskop started following me on Instagram… she probably did it in error haha but I admire her a lot so was very happy. Seriously though, I think there are many of those for any start up and then you also always think the biggest one is yet to come. I was delighted when I sold my first dress to a person I didn’t know, and very proud to be included at Wolf and Badger - a big, ‘emerging and independent designers’ platform.
Could you give some advice for any young, emerging designers?
I very much am one of them! But I would advise anyone who is thinking about starting their own business to make a start and take it from there. I think a lot of people, especially those who give up on an established career path to go alone, are scared to make the start. It was the same for me - I just had this overwhelming fear of failure. But you don’t learn anything until you actually start doing it, so the sooner you take the plunge, the sooner you truly start developing. It’s important to stop every once in a while and ask yourself how you want to run the business and why did you start it in the first place? I think when you are a new designer you often have this drive to cater for everyone, while it’s best to know who you are and it’s important to understand that you are not making a product that everyone will like. Having said that, do listen to your customers and learn from their suggestions.
Och - and definitely don’t start if what you’re looking is a job easier than your day job…! :)