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Fashion designer Kayla Stamboul is the founder of local womenswear clothing brand Kayla Stam – which offers eye-catching ready-to-wear, office and occasion-wear-inspired pieces for women.

Exhibiting a keen eye for fashion from an early age, Kayla studied everything from couture to commercial fashion, graduating from Lisof Design & Retail Academy (now known as Stadio School of Fashion) and going on to gain hands-on experience in the biz before launching her own label. She tells Go Hustle about her journey.

It started online…

“Our business started as a purely online brand, but recently we partnered with Soko District to create our first physical store experience,” says Kayla. So, how did she do it?

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Learn as much as you can

“The best way to get into the industry is to learn as much as you can,” says Kayla. “If you’re unable to get a formal education at a local fashion college, there are many online courses you can take to better understand the industry; however, practical skills such as garment construction and pattern making help you understand your craft better,” she says.

And get that first-hand practical experience under your belt. There are loads of designers in the industry, and many of them have small businesses or are solopreneurs. The best way to secure an internship is to reach out to them – they always need help. Kayla’s advice when approaching a designer you’d like to intern for: be clear about what it is you can bring to the table i.e. what value you can add to their business.

Then make sure you keep your finger on the pulse. “The best place to stay informed about the industry globally is businessoffashion.com. They also offer amazing online courses. I’ve done a few and I personally recommend Build A Direct-To-Consumer Brand and Digital Marketing,” says Kayla.

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Choose your partners carefully

As with many other industries, women do tend to struggle with career growth in fashion. “The industry is male-dominated, especially in womenswear,” explains Kayla. Partnering with the right manufacturer is everything. “All our products are locally manufactured, so a lot of our problems stem from the manufacturing process. Finding good quality manufacturers who deliver on time and are on top of quality control can be a huge challenge.”

In the beginning Kayla changed manufacturers quite often, but she’s reached a point where she now has trusted manufacturing partners – and she’s proud to say that all factories she works with are female-run and female-owned. Salute!

Trial and error can be your best teacher

“You never know what a factory can do until you actually give them a job to do. We go through a sampling process with every factory to ensure they can deliver on our quality standards,” says Kayla.

And as for launching your own biz? Kayla would like to encourage women to just start. “A lot of the time women think they need 100% of the skills before they get started – [but] that cannot be further from the truth,” she says. You’ll learn a lot as you go along, she says – you will fail, you will make mistakes, but learn to pick yourself back up and learn from those experiences.

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Start small

Kayla’s financial advice: start small. Start with a single product before creating an entire collection. “Use customer feedback to improve that product before moving onto new products,” she says. Then fly!

A few of Kayla’s fave reads

1. Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
2. The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane Von Furstenberg
3. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
4. Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office by Lois P Frankel
5. The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

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