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Creatives at Home: LCF alumni on how they're keeping their fashion businesses afloat during Covid-19

Two women wearing sparkly white gloves and fluffy yellow coats
Two women wearing sparkly white gloves and fluffy yellow coats
Work by Henrietta O'Connot for her brand No Wallflower Project
Written by
Alexandra R. Cifre
Published date
22 April 2020

Fashion designers across the globe are facing the incredible challenge of keeping their businesses afloat whilst fighting against the coronavirus outbreak. Many LCF alumni are amongst the creatives trying to continue promoting their brands, making use of the power of social media to reach new audiences or keeping direct contact with buyers and partners to reassure them their businesses will survive these tough times. We got in touch with some of our alumni to see how they've adapted to life under lockdown.

Hanna Fiedler, BA Fashion Pattern Cutting alumna and womenswear designer

Woman wearing blue headscarf and blue blouse

How the coronavirus outbreak has impacted my brand... My business is still very young and therefore fragile. We had to put many things on hold or rethink, which is almost a daily exercise now, as things change so quickly and we constantly try to adapt. At the same time we are a lot more agile than bigger companies, which might be an advantage in these times.

What I've learned from this... The situation is filled with so much uncertainty and it's painful to see so many countries struggling to provide the necessary healthcare. However, it has been wonderful to see how communities are coming together and supporting each other. I am grateful to be healthy and am trying to focus on the things I can control when so much is entirely out of my control right now.

To fellow designers... This period is incredibly tough on everyone around the globe, which I find is uniquely unifying to humanity. We are all in this together and as painful as it is, I believe that something good can come out of it.

We can use this as a reset. Reflect and asses our lives, businesses and industries. Nothing is set in stone anymore which is scary right now, but also the opportunity to drive change and reinvent.

We are physically restrained right now but our minds are not. They can wander to places we have never seen before. While many things are in still-stand right now, we can all start planning out a brighter future.

Olivia Weber, MA Fashion Futures alumna and co-founder of JOA

Woman wearing bomber jacket in grey and purple tones

How the coronavirus outbreak has impacted our brand... Spring is a big season for bomber jackets, and this was meant to be our first spring season ever. We now can’t participate in markets and pop-up shops to get our jackets out and about, which is how we mainly get new sales and connect to new customers. We had also found 3 collaborators who wanted to start offer our sentimental service in their East London shops, which would have been an incredible step for us, but now this has all been put on hold.

How we're using social media... We have definitely upped our social media game during this time. We started sharing online craft tutorials every Sunday and opened our first YouTube channel called Trashion Factory. We are selling vintage embroidery kits and our jackets on Instagram. We started making videos on TikTok and show off our jackets in a fun way. Now people can get to know us better than ever!

To creatives feeling stuck... All three of us (Anna, Julie and myself) haven't had many breaks since we started JOA, because let’s be honest being a creative entrepreneur isn’t easy. Taking this time to reflect on your approaches, goals, ways of working, values and your own wellbeing is so important. Just allow yourself to actually be with yourself without distractions.

Caroline Andrew, BA Bespoke Tailoring alumna and tailor in Mayfair

White blouse hanging on wooden hanger

How the coronavirus outbreak has impacted my business... As a tailor, I need to get up close to carry out fittings and take measurements, so business has completely ceased for me. I have had to improvise with new virtual appointments using video calls to show clients new season fabrics and then post them across different platforms, like LinkedIn.

I'm staying creative and inspired by... Reading, listening to podcasts and music, running, doing free work out classes on Instagram... I listen to jazz in the background during the day and I read a few pages of ‘Kinfolk entrepreneur’ every night, which I find really uplifting.

To fellow designers... If you can sew and would like to help out the NHS during this time, check out Scrub Hub a really good initiative making protective clothing for NHS key workers. They send you the materials and you just have to cut and sew them together.

Henrietta O’Connor, BA Womenswear alumna and founder of No Wallflower Project

Woman wearing fluffy yellow coat

How the coronavirus outbreak has impacted my brand... It has put things on hold! My business is still in the early stages and this is a difficult setback. I'm using the time to go through all the things I don't usually have the time for and to engage more with people through social media with the hope that I can share my vision with new audiences.

What's keeping me positive... Working beside my mum. It's nice to have her keeping me company all day while she does her own thing and cracks jokes! It's a blessing to have company during this time. Also, I've been indulging in my favourite parts of design: research and drawing.

Looking to the future is a good way to stay positive. Even if nothing comes from my sketching and exploring new ideas, at least I've enjoyed doing it and it's keeping the creativity flowing.

Priya Jangda, BA Fashion Pattern Cutting alumna and founder of Quillattire

One woman and two men wearing colourful outfits

How I'm using social media... I'm continuously blogging on my website talking about working from home, how to make masks from off cuts or if gift ideas for someone who has a birthday in isolation — things to help in a time like this. I am constantly posting on my social media, we have so much time at the moment to talk about the stories of our businesses on social media or our websites.

Whilst at home... I always tell myself this is not forever and it will end. I know it's hard in a time like this, where freedom and inspiration have been torn away from us, but we can create our own and should really try to make healthy daily routines to help our mental health. I find sketching helps on the weekends, I recommend taking part in the Alexander McQueen's weekly challenges, if it's your cup of tea it really does help you to relax.

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