CFE designers discuss “the grit behind the glamour”

The Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE) yesterday hosted an intimate press breakfast and panel discussion with designers Charles Jeffrey, Molly Goddard and Ryan Mario Yasin, with freelance fashion journalist and Vogue International contributor, Jessica Bumpus, as chair.

The event was held at hip warehouse style diner and bar, Bistrotheque, in East London. The CFE-supported designers discussed the experience of running their own businesses and how they balance creativity and integrity. The discussion also offered a real insight into CFE and its support for London-based designers.

CFEis London’s pioneering fashion business incubator, supported by London College of Fashion, UAL. The programme-based offer supports businesses from across fashion, accessories, jewellery and fashion tech at different points in their journey. Tailored mentoring, studio or desk space and business guidance helps them not only grow but manage growth.

The “FashTech Pioneer” programme nurtures emerging FashTech SMEs by identifying and providing solutions for some of the issues that can hinder growth in the early stages of business. It supports businesses for six months by providing regular one-on-one mentoring sessions and expert workshops covering business strategy, production, finance and legal.

Glasgwegian designer Charles Jeffrey, who shot to fashion fame with his Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY label – now sold in high profile designer fashion stores such as Dover Street Market (which he actually started as a club night called LOVERBOY to fund his MA) – said the support CFE offered was “like therapy for your business.”

It was a comment designer Molly Goddard thought was particularly poignant. “It’s true,” she said. “The CFE coaching is talking you through it rather than telling you what to do. It can be from how to manage interns to a five-year plan.”

Jeffrey then added: “Coaching helps map out your thoughts and intentions for your business, but it also helps to get your emotions in check – it’s a safe space. I find the sessions most useful and rewarding.”

He also couldn’t stress enough how much the help from CFE really got him out of the starting blocks in the fashion business. “It offers a platform of mentors to interact with, which is amazing to be a part of when you start. When I began, I was doing it from my bedroom pretending to know what I’m doing, but now I have confidence in myself and my team.” Goddard agreed the support was there, not just for her, but for her whole team, “so everyone gets to grow.”

Ryan Mario Yasin, founder and designer of the Petit Pli childrenswear brand, which creates “clothes that grow” with the child, is actually a qualified design engineer who studied an Aeronautical Engineering degree before applying his skills and technology to clothing. He commented: “CFE has given us a strong fundamental structure of how to build a business. Coming from an engineering background, I needed a lot of insight into the fashion industry. Everything in business is an equation to solve and you just need to understand the different variables to make the right decision.”

Yasin also best tackled the subject of sustainability which was also brought up in the discussion. He said: “Sustainability is at the core of our business. We put seven sizes into a single garment. Embedding the psychological values of longevity is very important.