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How I launched my own fashion brand with zero design experience

L'Etale's founder on what you need to make your passion into a side hustle

How I launched my own fashion brand with zero design experience
07 December 2018

My wife Jemima and I both work in creative, media-type fields, but we both really wanted to have some kind of outlet where we could be our own bosses, and also work together as a family. 

Swimwear seemed like the perfect fit – it’s a fun, playful industry and we had enough seriousness in our lives as it was. We came up with the name, L’Étale, and got to work.

The designs came first. I had a clear vision of what I wanted and the kind of vibe I wanted, so that became my part of the project, and my wife set to work on more of the marketing and social-media side. 

We ended up having a stockist before we even went into production thanks to her efforts!

Obviously, the reality of setting up your own label – and manufacturing and designing everything – wasn’t as easy as generating a bit of buzz was. 

I didn’t want to outsource the design, and we couldn’t have afforded to, anyway, which meant I had to learn how to use all the software myself. 

I had an Idiot’s Guide to Adobe or something like that, but I found it basically unnavigable and just so dense to try and get through.

That’s when YouTube saved my bacon. 

There are so many incredibly helpful walkthrough videos on there, detailing how to do pretty much everything I needed to learn, and people were so helpful.

I really underestimated just how complex the software would be to master on my own, but YouTube made it an absolute doddle. Plus, it pushed me to keep learning.

The other way that YouTube really helps is by connecting us to the fashion world. 

Our lives are here in the UK and we’ve got two kids, so we can’t always be jetting off, but we can watch all the catwalk shows from home, which is ideal. 

Suppliers will say to me, “Oh, are you going to Miami Swim Week?”, and I have to say, “Er, sort of!”

We’re in a really good rhythm now.

I design things, show them to Jemima, she’ll give me feedback, and then she does a lot of branding and marketing. 

Our whole thing with L’Étale is making cool, fun, quirky designs that no one else has – like croissants and alpacas or something. We bounce ideas off one another and push each other to keep going when things get tough.

YouTube is more than just viewers. Read about six more extraordinary viewers who became doers here