Kate Iselin, a female entrepreneur with a flair for fashion, design, feminism and current affairs, shares her passion and business experience in an interview with Business Boss.
Describe your business and products/services you offer?
I run two businesses - a clothing label called PAVO and an online magazine called Vanity Project. My goal with PAVO was very simple - to create a clothing label that both men and women would go to when they needed something completely individual and off-the-wall to wear; and my goal with Vanity Project was to speak to women, and with women, about both fashion and feminism. I think the world of fashion writing could really benefit from a smart, critical, and empowering look at the industry and that's what I'm trying to deliver.
What made you decide to start this business?
I've always loved fashion, and I left the corporate world to study fashion design at university. That didn't work out well for me as I felt very trapped by the academic world - I'm more of a 'learn on the job' person. I made a deal with myself that if I was going to quit my degree, it would be to start my own company, so I did!
How many hours a week do you work in your business?
I work full-time across both businesses. I generally keep nine to five hours but my days are really varied. One day I might be writing articles and interviewing people for Vanity Project, the next day I could be meeting with manufacturers for PAVO or shopping for fabric. Or, I could find myself able to take a day or two off during the week; but end up working on something urgent over the weekend. No two weeks are the same!
How has your website helped you run your business?
Vanity Project is a website, so without a space in which to publish I wouldn't have a business! PAVO is a little different, I really do think that most of our clients find out about us when they see our clothes in-store or even in other magazines or photoshoots - but having a website is a great way for people to reference your brand or company. It adds legitimacy to a brand and it's important to have a part of the web that you can use to build your brand's image.
Did you have any business training before you started your business?
None, unless you consider a degree that I quit and a corporate career that I abandoned! I worked in offices for years and years as a personal/executive assistant and I will admit that I learnt a lot from watching other people make decisions, and often mistakes. The corporate world taught me a lot of things I would never have learnt at university; working for a start-up company that was slowly falling apart was a really effective (but sad!) way to see the ins and outs of business.
How do you keep up with the latest news / trends in your industry?
Fashion is constantly changing - every day I see something new I want to write about or take inspiration from. I work from a coworking space called 1derground with a lot of other entrepreneurs from the fashion and commercial writing industries - the social and professional environment there plays a huge part in how easily I'm able to keep up with all the happenings in the industry.
What is the most rewarding part of running your own business?
Obviously there are a lot of little things that are great about working for yourself - I can wear whatever I want, work whatever hours I want, and take a day off to nurse a hangover any time - but ultimately the best part of being my own boss is that I've been lucky enough to create a sort of sandbox in which I can do whatever I want. The professional and creative freedom that comes with running your own business is second to none, and not a day goes by when I don't think about how lucky I am to be doing this.
Do you use social media as part of your marketing mix?
Social media is a giant part of my marketing! So many professional relationships I have are ones that have been built from social media - it's vital to any businessperson, especially in the creative industries, to maintain a strong and active social media profile.