I’ve been going on and on about how much I’ve learnt since starting my clothing line Saturday By Megan Ellaby back in October 2018 yet I’ve not really divulged exactly what it is that I have learnt, which seems a little silly doesn’t it.
Today I thought it was about time that I let you in on the learnings I’ve acquired in just over one year of running my own fashion brand.
It’s been my dream to have my own clothing line since I was a little girl playing “fashion designers” with my sister and watching my mum make clothes for us, cushions for the house and even wedding dresses for her friends. I’ve been around fashion and design all my life so it was a bit of a bummer when I realised I didn’t really enjoy sewing and I couldn’t draw for the life of me.
That’s why I went down the road of fashion promotion at university, a course that encompassed all that it is to promote a collection, a brand or a piece to the masses. Whether that is through styling, photography, trend forecasting, journalism and of course marketing and PR. It’s so wonderful to have found myself in a career where I actually use and need the degree I have both with my career as a content creator and now as the owner and designer of my own line.
Anyway, I digress, a big learning for me is that you really don’t need to be any good at drawing or sketching to be a designer, it’s all about the vision.
I have a team who take my doodles (which look like they were done by a three year old at play-school) and turn them into CAD’s (computer aided design) which allows me to see my scribbles come to life and know from the off whether I think they will work or not.
The second major learning for me was realising the importance of a team. Having worked solo for so long it was quite hard for me to take the leap into hiring somebody to help with the work load. However, one year on since hiring that someone I’ve learnt just how valuable it is to have someone by your side, to bounce ideas off, to take on some of the load and to kick some ass on your behalf. Working with my sister, who was previously an assistant buyer at ASOS and Missguided has been such a dream and it’s only helped to strengthen our relationship and Saturday as a brand. Her knowledge for buying, for numbers including both units and monetary and also the whole buying lingo (yep, it’s a whole new vocabulary) has been pivotal in the success of Saturday so far.
In addition to Faye coming on board it’s been quite tricky for me to relax into handing over jobs to others. As I said, I’ve been doing this solo for a very long time now so for me to hand over my baby (my designs) and to wait for others to come back to me with CAD’s, samples or otherwise and to be patient was a huge learning for me.
Saturday by Megan Ellaby is completely self funded which I’m so proud of right now. I’d love to seek investment someday but for now it’s at a really lovely, manageable and personal stage that we can manage as a small team. However, even as a super small team it’s blown me away just how much goes into having a start up clothing line.
Whether thats sourcing the fabric, the manufacturers and the factory, the pick & packing, the customer service, the CAD designers and thats only now at the start of this journey. I’m going to be looking into garment technologist’s, merchandisers, graphic designers etc very, very soon, if thats you then do drop me an email. It’s bonkers how many cog’s are needed to make something run smoothly and I’m so proud of the team we have so far, although it hasn’t always been the well oiled machine that I’d hoped it would be, another learning in itself.
With that is a HUGE learning and that is timings! It takes a heck of a long time to take a design from a doodle in my sketch book into a product that is ready to sell. The back and forth and perfecting of the piece itself sometimes takes a while, sometimes it’s instant, but when it takes a while it reaaaallllly takes a while. Also the time it takes to create each piece on mass of course takes quite a long time so getting to grips with timings and knowing when to have completed my designs by, how long things take to make and then when we can launch has been such a huge learning and something I’ve struggled with quite a bit since things kicked off back in 2018, which has resulted in a slightly slower start than I’d hoped.
This year a huge goal for me is to get to grips with all these little timings and to ensure we meet our goal live dates and I think (touching wood as we speak) we’re finally ahead of ourselves which is so freaking exciting and I’m so stoked for you to see what we have coming up.
And finally quite a big one and one that is most likely a work in progress is to trust myself and my visions a little more. I have a lot of ideas floating around my head and scribbled onto bits of paper yet only a small percentage of those designs make it to you guys. And with that you’re always surprising me with the pieces you really, really love. The pieces you love, that sell the most are often the pieces I was most nervous about. Take the Mercury in this look for example, I was so nervous that this was a bit out there and therefore wouldn’t be the best seller amongst you guys. However, you all bloody loved it and it’s been such a great piece for us. It’s important for me to back myself, to trust in the identity I have given to this brand and to put my commercial head to one side. Identity first, commercial-ness second!
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and learning a little about what it’s like to own a clothing line. I’d love to answer any further questions you might have about Saturday or business so please do leave them in the comments below. Perhaps we could do a lil Q&A here on the blog or on IGTV over on the Saturday Instagram, let me know which you’d prefer.
Thank you to all of you for supporting me and Saturday, I can't believe how amazing it's all be so far and hope, pray and wish for it to continue.
This is so interesting! Such an important lesson that if you’ve built a strong brand identity, you can trust it to take you forward – feel like that is so relevant to other parts of life. Would love to hear more about building a business and the creative side, maybe you could show us some of the samples that never made it??
Megan Ellaby says
I’m so glad you enjoyed this post Cate and you’re SO right! The identity point is so relevant to general life too, such a great point. I love your ideas, I shall definitely set to work on another post very soon, thanks so much for your ideas x
Izzy Matias says
I enjoyed reading this post, Megan! And that’s so awesome that you get to work with your sister. 🙂 I can totally relate to the whole working on something solo–I also have a hard time delegating work–this is something I struggled with back when I had a 9-5! But it’s so amazing how you were able to launch a clothing line. I’m still saving up so that I can order a piece and have it shipped here to the Philippines. It’s so hard to choose since these designs are lovely!! I really do hope one day you’ll have a home decor line too. You’ve such an eye for design & style. 🙂
Megan Ellaby says
Thanks so much Izzy, I’m thrilled you enjoyed this post 🙂 And my goodness I would truly love to do something around home decor, that is currently a bit of a dream of mine 🙂 x
I absolutely love your sweater designs but I’m vegan and so I don’t wear wool. I was wondering if there are any plans to release sweaters made without animal derived materials in the works or if that is something you would consider? That would be amazing!
I know the t-shirts are not made from wool and they’re so lovely but damn I want a sweater haha!
Just wanted to say congratulations on your brand – I feel it was always a natural step for you! I may choose not to wear wool but I can certainly appreciate how much hard work has gone into this! 🙂
That’s the only thing that’s stopping me from buying a jumper too! I love all the designs and would love a non-wool jumper! Really interesting to hear what goes on behind the scenes, and I’m excited to see what new designs are to come!
Megan Ellaby says
Noted Lucy, thanks so much for your feedback 🙂 x
Megan Ellaby says
Hey Kimberly, thanks so much for the lovely words on my designs 🙂 And absolutely going forward we will be bringing out different knitwear styles entirely which won’t necessarily be made from wool. Thank you so much for your lovely comment x
This article and what goes behind a fashion brand was so fascinating, I had no idea!
I wanted to tell you that I’m so happy for you and for the direction you’re going to, sending you a bug virtual hug!
Megan Ellaby says
Oh Anna I’m so thrilled you found this post interesting 🙂
Thanks so much for the virtual cuddle, sending one straight back at cha xxx
Rosie Murphy says
Hello, i think your wonderful!! and i adore all of your designs! i’m currently applying to universities at the minute but i’m struggling because journalism for the creative industries is massively what i want to do and i’m currently obtaining experience by writing for music magazines which i love and that is strongly where my passions lie. However i want to delve into the fashion element of writing as well but the worry is people might not view writing about clothes or songs as a ”proper job” and the worry is people thinking i have wasted my work opportunity and i was just wondering what the journalism elements on your fashion course was like?
Megan Ellaby says
Hey Rosie, thanks for your lovely comment.
Oooo how exciting that you’re applying to universities right now, good luck babe.
I get questions like this quite often and honestly it leaves me quite confused… Why would anyone think that working in fashion isn’t a proper job? It’s never even crossed my mind as working in the fashion industry is tough, the way other jobs are tough and anyone who says otherwise simply does not get it and to be perfectly honest, who cares what other people think? You need to do you Rosie, follow your dreams and your passion and not listen to those who go against those dreams and passions of yours.
Your career is yours and you need to be happy and be passionate about the field in which you’re working, whether that is music and fashion! DO YOU BABES!
And good luck x
I loved this post Megan! So interesting to know all about the behind-the-scenes of your fabulous Saturday collections. I was wondering whether you’d consider doing a more in depth post about your creative process and maybe show pictures of your iterations from sketches to cad designs to samples to final product? I’m a graphic designer so I’m a bit of a nerd about other people’s processes! Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re absolutely smashing it 💪 x
Megan Ellaby says
Hey Sarah, I think this is a great idea and I’d love to share the creative process.
I’ll have a good think about how I can do this for our summer collections 🙂
Thanks so much for the great post idea x