What do you do?

I run a fashion brand called Birdsong, I started it three and a half years ago with my friend Sophie. What we run is a social enterprise which helps women who face barriers in employment. A lot of them are from migrant communities in East London. They bring their practical skills and we pay them London living wage.

How did you go about launching this idea?
Sophie and I met when we were both working with women organisations and charities, and we saw that they were always struggling for funding. Loads of them were making clothes and jewelry that rarely sold enough to make up for how much it cost, so we saw that as a way of helping. We launched ourselves into it, and the idea was to bring in more income for these charities allowing them to use skills they already have.They don’t necessarily have digital skills so they are able to do what they love and get paid well for it.

It evolved and after a year and a half we introduced a designer to our team – we have seamstresses, embroiders, screen printers etc.

Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to launch their own fashion brand?
Not knowing too much helped us, in a way our naivety was great because we weren’t restricted.

Also working out your margins early on will help the longevity of your brand.

Did you face any difficulties and if so how did you overcome them?
The lack of skills we had when we first started was difficult, but we resolved them through research. We had to learn to code and realised we needed to outsource a lot of this knowledge.

Learning how to make big business decisions definitely is one, and I actually now have a mentor that has been amazing. She has a lot of insight on hiring, team management etc. Having someone there to guide you is invaluable.

Why did you join the AllBright?
We had pitched previously at an Allbright event, and it seemed like a great organisation and well connected. It’s nice to have some space and get stuck into work here.