Case study: Helen Rhiannon – Fashion Designer

People are interested in reading about young women setting up businesses and making a name for themselves. I have found my local support to be invaluable.

Could you explain a bit about what your business is?
“Helen Rhiannon” is a designer label that specialises in satins and silks to create luxurious camisoles, unique corsets and glamorous evening wear. “Helen Rhiannon” also works a great deal in designer denim wear consisting of detailed panel work and colourful, contrasting top stitching. Each denim piece is carefully constructed to create quirky, funky and individual garments.

When did you start your business?
1st March 2005

What motivated you to start a business/become self-employed?
I started my business after buying a pair of polka dot shoes from a local boutique! I told them I graduated in Fashion Design in London and next thing I was selling a mini collection into the boutique. As I had not planned to set up business, the next year was a massive learning curve and still is today. Three years on I have designed and maintained my own website, completed various business courses and taken on some fantastic projects such as making a dress for International Opera star, Katherine Jenkins. The Helen Rhiannon label is growing rapidly.

Have you used any business support services and if so was this support useful?
After completing a number of courses, I then completed a comprehensive business plan via my local business centre. I took the business plan to the Knowledge Exploitation Fund where I received a scholarship for a year. I then applied for the Business Start-Up Grant which awarded me funding towards the cost of my studio. I am now looking at further funding for marketing. I have found the local business support invaluable.

What are the highlights of being a business owner/self-employed?
I love being in control of my creativity and my future. I love networking and meeting new people, which has led to some really exciting projects in the last few years. Being self employed can be very hard work a lot of the time but I really enjoy being part of a unique network of people. Also, the fashion industry can offer some fantastic rewards and experiences, which I would not have had the chance to experience normally.

Have you experienced any particular difficulties/challenges in starting a business? The obvious challenge in business is the money and managing time effectively, both of which I am still working on! I have had a lot of help over the last three years which has been invaluable. I enjoy what I do which motivates me and makes me a very determined business woman. I have found that over time the business has steadily grown and every day there is something new to learn. There are always challenges and difficulties but that is what makes life so interesting!

Do you feel you have experienced any disadvantages in starting and growing a business becasue you are female?
I have not felt I have been disadvantaged but, at first, some business networking meetings were attended predominantly by men. It was a little daunting but over time I have become confident with my brand and business which means I can network confidently and successfully (and it helps to be 5″11 so most men are looking up to me!)

Do you feel you have experienced any advantages in starting and growing a business because you are female?
I have been very lucky with press in the last few years and sometimes I do feel this has something to do with being female. I think that people are interested in reading about young women setting up business and making a name for themselves in the world of business.

What key pieces of advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?

I think that if you are passionate about what you do and are a very determined person, then go for it. There are so many opportunities out there for all types of people and businesses. I would advise anyone to make the most of their local business centre and network to your hearts content, as that is sometimes the key to growing your business!


Prowess archive 2009

Leave a comment