The fashion industry is a tough terrain for a young up and coming designer and having an edge is just one part of the package you need to succeed.
Kate Fearnley certainly has that cutting edge, her individual designs appearing in glossy magazines worldwide and on many a catwalk. After winning numerous awards, including Cosmopolitan’s 2009 award for Ultimate Young Fashion Entrepreneur of the year, Kate Fearnley Ltd has really taken off.
“I design quirky and sophisticated occasion wear for women of 25-40,” says Kate. “My styles are vibrant, creative, and flattering to the natural curves of a woman’s body. I guess the uniqueness comes from the quality for the price. It’s rare, if not impossible, to find my kind of workmanship at the prices we charge.
“My inspiration comes from the Hollywood icons of the fifties – Audrey Hepburn is my ultimate style icon. My role model has to be the iconic Vivienne Westwood, who has overcome numerous financial difficulties with her business. I think she’s fabulous. I love the theatre of what she does.
“I feel there is too much black in the world – I love working with vibrant colours and different textures which allow the wearer to stand out from the crowd and feel unique.”
Kate’s designs have earned her a following from the likes of Pixie Lott, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Zoe Salmon and members of Girls Aloud.
“I feel great, when I see my designs being worn by the celebrities” says Kate “but I get a real buzz seeing everyday people looking fabulous in them too. That makes me feel really proud. I remember when my friend had just had a baby and was going to a wedding. She was a dress size larger and had no confidence at all. I told her to trust me and put her in one of my dresses. She looked so lovely that she cried and went off like a new woman to have a fantastic time. That’s why I do what I do!”
Kate was born in a little village called Newtoon-Under-Roseberry, close to Middlesbrough where her company and boutique are now based.
Coming from a creative family Kate learned her sewing skills from a very early age, customizing, not always successfully, clothes and accessories with her own unique style.
“My aunt was a fashion designer” Says Kate “I was very close to her growing up. We lost her when I was 15, which made me even more determined to follow in her footsteps
“After graduating from Northumbria University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) fashion degree I used to work for a local company that made clubwear, a great experience and my first step onto the fashion ladder.
“The company went bust, so I bought all their machines back in 2002. Then my father wanted to retire from his Middlesbrough record shop and I bought it from him and with a grant from the Princes Trust set up the business. With the additional help of a friendly bank manager and sheer grit and determination in selling dresses my business was under way.
“It was the highlight of my career when I won the Cosmopolitain’s 2009 award for Ultimate Young Fashion Entrepreneur of the year. It was amazing. Funny though – one minute I was at 10 Downing Street, and the next I was sitting on the floor of a train back to Middlesbrough as I couldn’t get a seat, and back to business as usual! It always makes me feel proud when I see my award – I couldn’t believe it when they said my name.
“It is hard, running your own business but I have never thought of giving up. I have been blessed with fantastic support from great staff, family and friends. I know when to switch off, but I definitely work hard!
Kate’s designs are now available in over 50 stockists throughout the UK and Ireland and through her website: www.katefearnleyboutique.co.uk
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