"do your research and its okay to ask for help, keep in mind we all started off with a vision/dream which we decided to pursue. Take one step at a time."
Art of Semiology: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? What did you study and how did you start your own brand? What inspired you to start it?
Sofia Ozakay: Both of us wanted to go to an art college from a very young age, and that is actually how we met - in a summer camp that helped kids prepare for education at Central Saint Martins. Both of us had some experience interning for different brands and realised that it wasn’t really for us. Annabell comes from a very business driven family and as a child she would watch them work and wanted to go into a direction of running her own company, and we both felt like working for someone would limit us to only designing, when we wanted to get into all the other aspects of the industry as well.
A.S.: What are the main ideas behind your works?
S.O.: To create small collections which don’t follow the typical fashion calendar. We are looking at creating elegant everyday pieces whilst trying to be conscious of the impact the fashion industry has on this planet.
A.S.: Where do you seek inspiration?
S.O.: Inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime and there are a lot of factors that play into it, usually its not just one thing that inspires you and the way you get inspired by something won’t be the same as for someone else, your life and experience play into it too.
You can be mid through your design process and your ideas/inspirations can shift. Don’t always be too hung up on your initial idea, you grow and change as a person through your surrounding so let your inspirations and work grow with time too.
A.S.: What other brands/designers inspire you?
S.O.: Can’t say that there is a specific brand or designer that inspires us. Brands always change, one season might be amazing where as the next isn't. It's the same with designers, not everything you create is going to be incredible and loved by people that buy into your brand. Take inspiration from people their work ethic and how they have built their brand or grown it.
A.S.: How do you create your designs?
S.O.: We keep our brand identity and aesthetic in mind when designing, but we also think about the consumer. We focus on our core items that are a must in the collection, it's easy to get carried away in the designs process.
Some of the design decisions had to be made after we got our first samples and something did not look as it does on paper and we had to sacrifice certain design elements that did not sit well on the body.
A.S.: A bit about technicalities. What should be the first steps in creating your own line or launching a store?
S.O.: Do your research, find your unique selling point and stay true to your ideas and the aesthetic of the brand you want to create, but stay realistic with any brand or store comes a cost and it can quickly add up which is why research is very important.
A.S.: Do you work alone or do you have a business partner? If yes, tell us about how you manage the creative process. Do you ever have any disagreements?
S.O.: We have been working together on everything we have achieved so far. All of the decisions be it design, or values of our brand, were made together. Not having a partner would have been a lot more challenging! We work very well together, we might not always have the same opinion about things but this is sometimes necessary because you might get caught up on one thing and missing the bigger picture.
A.S: You mentioned that your clothing store will be presented only online. Do you think it’s more difficult to take off online than offline? What are the advantages and disadvantages of that? How does it affect your brand and its presentation?
S.O.: Deciding to launch online or as a store both has pros and cons. Launching online means anyone in the world can buy your product however it also means other things come up like dealing with shipping, returns, lost packages etc, but for us this makes more sense than taking up the cost of having a physical store. This might change further down the line but for now it's just going to be online.
We like the idea of pop-up stores, since it gives customers a possibility to get introduced to a brand without the high costs of keeping a store.
A.S: Have you ever had a feeling that people are not taking you seriously?
S.O.: Neither of us have ever had an issue with that, usually people are very helpful, they give advice or introduce us to people who are already in the industry. Once in a while we meet someone who doesn’t believe in our ideas, but in the end of the day we are our own worst critics.
A.S: Tell us a bit about how you spend your day / what’s your studio routine? What is your studio like?
S.O.: Our days are always different. We do a lot of it ourselves which means our time is always split between being creative and working on the business/financial side of things as well as staying on top with the current changes that are happening in the world and the affect it has on the industry as well as the supply chain. When it comes to work environment and space, we both like it very clean and tidy so everything is stored in boxed or folders which are easily accessible and organised.
A.S.: What would your advice be to young creatives wanting to start up their own business and take on the world of fashion?
S.O.: It is very helpful to join forces with someone, finding someone who has strengths in the areas you are not familiar with, and wise versa, makes you so much more productive.
Also, do your research and its okay to ask for help, keep in mind we all started off with a vision/dream which we decided to pursue. Take one step at a time.