I am often told that the fashion/clothing industry is too exclusive and information is hard to come by. That’s why I’m so excited to bring you my new blog series ‘Industry Secrets Unlocked’! I will be speaking with industry insiders to showcase their profession or brand and let you in on what it takes to make it in the fashion/clothing business, the different paths into the industry and the skills needed to succeed. I want to make this space as inclusive as possible and change the narrative. I also want to show you that there are many careers within the industry and even if you don’t have a fashion background, you can still make it because there are always lovely, friendly people who will help you along the way.
I’m so happy to welcome brand founder Rachel Pedder to the Q&A. Rachel launched her dungarees brand in 2021 and here she shares some of the highs and lows and unlocks some of the secrets to getting through your first year of trading.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rachel and I am the founder of Rach x UK, a northeast community interest dungaree brand.
Why Did you decide to set up your business?
I felt for a long time the fashion industry was starting to lose its way. Slowly over the years, clothes have become cheaper and garment workers are being forced to work longer hours with low pay and poor working conditions. I found there was a gap in the market when it came to fashion transparency and I wanted to start making a change. I believe everyone has a right to know where their clothes are made. I’m also an advocate for a practical multi-purpose wardrobe so I wanted a fun creative wardrobe suitable for multiple occasions.
What drew you to this field?
I graduated with a BA in Graphic Design back in 2009. I remember during the final year of degree shows I fell completely in love with the fashion graduates’ exhibitions. It was something I wanted to look into at some point in the future. Fast forward 10 years after a successful career in Graphic Design, I started to dip my toe into surface pattern design and textile design. Then slowly over the course of a few years, I grew my portfolio while working full time. Then when the pandemic hit in 2020 I decided it was now or never to make the jump and start up my brand officially Rach x UK
What has been the biggest challenge either when setting up your business/since setting up your business/working in your industry?
Starting a small fashion brand on your own isn’t easy. Apart from the common issues, we had during the pandemic. I also had the added challenge of finding a reliable manufacturer.
What motivates you?
I’ve always been inspired by creativity – it has been my career for the past 15 years. I want to contribute to making the world a more sustainable and environmentally clean place. Campaigning for workers’ rights and fair pay is a big motivation for me. This is something I experienced in my past employment history and I believe it’s time for things to change.
Who do you admire within your industry or as a business role model?
I admire Barbour. They are also based in the North East and have been around for many years. I admire their brand ethics and they create jackets that will last you a long time. They also offer a rewaxing service which I think is brilliant. It encourages you to pay more upfront for something that will last you for many years to come. Their product very rarely changes as well.
How do you deal with stress and big challenges?
I believe the one thing that will get you through big challenges in life is to practice and perseverance. Just because something didn’t work out the first time doesn’t mean it will never work out. Without sounding too negative but a lot of our biggest desires in life don’t happen overnight. They take time and dedication – if you put in the time and effort then you will usually get the results you deserve. So when it comes to dealing with stress and big challenges there are a few solid CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) practices I follow. Always remember stress and big challenges are only temporary and they will soon pass.
What is the most challenging and easiest part of your job?
One of the hardest parts I found in setting up my business was securing reliable manufacturers. I was let down by a few in the lead up to my initial launch and it delayed the brand opening by a further six months. What I’ve learnt from my first few years of setting up was to always trust your gut – if something doesn’t feel right then it’s most likely not right for you.
The easiest part of my job was collaborating and getting the right people together to help with my fashion startup. I’ve set up a business before so I knew the fundamentals of what needed to be done and how to deal with suppliers. I am still learning so much along the way but I believe these foundations helped me during my set-up.
What skills have you found vital to your job?
Patience, flexibility and goal setting. Starting your own fashion brand is not easy. It’s likely your business will take a lot longer than you expect to set up and grow so you need to practise perseverance and flexibility. Things will change and it’s important to learn to adapt to changes along the way.
How do you manage your time?
That’s a good question! I still work as a freelance graphic designer so sometimes time management can be a bit of a struggle. On my off days when I am working on Rach x I don’t like to give myself a strict start time. I usually like to take it easy in the morning at home and get my household chores out the way before heading to the studio in the afternoon. I usually stay there and work straight through until the early evening.
I always have my google notes on hand and set alarms for those tasks that have more priority. I used to use Trello as well for keeping on top of tasks but I’ve found google notes to be more user friendly and it’s easy to add notes to my list when I am on the move.
What are your goals for your brand?
Rach x UK is still in its first year of trading so I have a lot of goals. I recently launched my collection on Wolf and Badger which is a great achievement during my first year in business. The next 6 – 18 months will be focusing on building brand awareness and sales.
What does success look like to you?
I don’t have many fixed ideas on what success should be. I’ve never been very materialistic when it comes to financial goals but I know when the brand is in an established reputable position and is paying me a comfortable full-time salary then I know I’ve reached my goal. I want this to be a brand, customers can trust.
What would your advice be to those wanting to start their own brand/have a career in your industry?
I would say start off slow and don’t expect to be successful overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will be the same when you’re building your brand. Listen to your customers from day one and be open to flexibility. It’s likely your business model will need to change and adapt along the way.
What’s your proudest achievement in your career so far?
Getting stocked in Wolf and Badger
Unlock an industry secret for me
Patience, perseverance, flexibility and dedication. Keep going and don’t give up.
Thank you so much, Rachel for answering my questions and giving us a peep behind the curtain of your first year of trading. If you have any questions or comments for Kate or myself, please leave them below and we’ll get back to you.
You can find Rachel here:
See you in a couple of weeks with my next guest and go to wordsmith!
My new book ‘How to Develop Your Clothing Line’-Design, Development, Production is now available on Amazon Kindle at an amazing starting price. Buy it here: