Tag Archives: Business

Authentic Creatives & designers a dying group

Designers and original makers are dying out. We are going extinct and being replaced with big machinery and cheap overseas labour. Not only that whenever we make something that is authentic it is copied. That I don’t mind. I just want to let people know that working with our hands and a sewing machine is an art form and the fact that you meet someone who can sketch an image, draw their own pattern, cut and sew from start to finish is rare nowadays and I’m amongst the youngest in this field in Australia that can make anything from the beginning.

When you look at a dress in a retail store that costs $350 it has went through so many hands for each piece and the fabric sourced all over the world but made in less than an hour. When an authentic creative makes you something for $350 +++ it would of taken many more hours or days to produce. The sewing of retail clothing is hardly done in Australia nowadays and is mostly done in India, Bali, China, Phillipines, Turkey etc where the dollar is cheaper. I don’t mind that but do not compare an authentic designer or creative who makes one off designs or capsule collections to the mass produced market or to something you buy from the retail store.

For 19 + years I have been slowly learning my craft. Just bits a pieces here and there picking up every piece of knowledge that I can from people, from books and just generally learning as much as I can of anything at all that I can apply to my field. It is my obsession and my dream. I am young to be running my own business as a Designer Dressmaker but I created my job because I saw a need in the market. Plus until I started calling myself The Designer Dressmaker nobody else had put those words together. The decline of dressmaking and especially dressmakers that make their own patterns is obvious in Australia adding further value to what is left. We are a dime a dozen. Help contribute to Australian dressmakers or local dressmakers if you aren’t Australian because otherwise we may just die out and who shall you buy an authentic designer dress from.

I’m going to rock this year. You should too. ūü§ėūüŹĽ

Go Daddy newby builds a website with wix and tells you about her amazing story of building her business.

So I didn’t realise how hard building a website is and starting a business until I bought my go daddy domain 4 years ago. Here’s how I did it. First off I used my domain and my friend attached it to my blog until I could figure out how to build the website. Now the best part of Wix is how easy it is to build the website with them. You don’t need to know how to speak the language of html which I still can’t speak either. You just need your photos and the ability to upgrade your account $$$. The wix website editor allows you to add pages and buttons as well as background images. Portfolio pages and even a shopping cart. The thing that is off putting is the cost. A website is something I wasn’t willing to invest in until I was sure I was ready. Since I bought my domain four years ago I’ve completed a diploma in fashion design courses in marketing and management as well as admin inc book keeping. The list goes on. I’ve also worked as an intern for Suboo resort wear. Had some work experience working for we are handsome swimsuits resort wear as well as Jenny rose fashion leather textile designer. I’ve worked for a famous shoe designer in Sydney years ago Donna may Bolinger. I’ve seen the back entrance and the front entrance of fashion. I might not like the social and ecological effects it has on our society but I just want to make clothes and share them with people. I want to make changes in this world. I don’t want to leave a heavy foot print. I want to find a better way to make fashion environmentally friendly and I want to build my own factory overseas with a cr√®che with training and proper pay. I’ve worked for nothing and worked for something. I’ve been a pieceworker and a dressmaker. I’ve made custom designer outfits I’ve designed and I’ve had to pattern make copies of pictures for clients. I’ve been an advisor for new fashion labels who have no training and I’ve been advised by my mentors. Now amongst working permanent part time as a blood collector and running my business as a pieceworker and custom designer dressmaker. Everything I’ve ever done has been directed to this moment and I feel on top of the world. I might not of been an overnight success but even I realised if you start building something now it will eventually become a success. If you share the passion you have for your dreams with people they will eventually become addicted to your energy. If you fail get back up on that horse. Don’t ever give in. Don’t ever let your fears get the better of you. Be brave. Be humble. Be beautiful. Stress does funny things to people but If you don’t let it get to you then you will succeed. Eventually. Take every single lead that comes your way. The people who fail are the people who don’t try, who give up and forget their dreams. I’m ready and I’ve just launched my website http://www.secretcultureshop.com

If you like what you see please follow my blog, like my facebook link on the right hand side or follow me on Instagram #secretculture or Twitter Ashleighreneepatel.

Don’t forget to live, love and be beautiful;) xx Secret Culture living the dream


Fashion Palette Highlights

I attended Fashion Palette recently as a V.I.P for displaying my white silk satin gown that Paige Freeman modelled for me. If you would like to view the gown it is on display in my previous blog post.Here are a few photographs of the highlights of Fashion Palette 2012.The moments where my heart really did  skip a beat. Where the room felt alive with the bright lights shining on the 6 foot tall models as they glided down the white catwalk to the mesmerising sounds of Lana Del Ray.

The Ballerina was 2 metres from me dancing the most beautiful dance that I have ever seen.Each costume had it’s own point of difference.The designer sat on a long couch on the catwalk as she watched her own models dance so beautifully. If I were her I would be very happy at the amazing performance!No doubt she would of made many sales on that day!

I almost cried it was so beautiful!

Fashion Palette Highlight!


When I saw that white dress with the black bow it just seemed to make sense and stood out from all the rest!





Behind the scenes “Secret Cultures Photo-shoot at the Merewether Baths”

First and foremost Secret Culture owes credit to the team who made this photo-shoot happen.

Paige Freeman who was modelling (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=644756382)

Mike Baker’s Photography¬†(¬†http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Bakers-Photography/180973365286324).

Let’s not forget Cherie Freeman who did a gorgeous job of make-up on the morning. Paige and Cherie both have their own Make-Up Company called M.A.D Artistry¬†http://www.facebook.com/M.A.Dartistry¬†and can be contacted on¬†0422 640 352.

For almost a week we waited for the rain to pass and the clouds to part and the sun to shine down again. All in the name of Fashion. We couldn’t have everything we wanted and what we did have we made the best of.

It was just before Sunrise we gathered at the well known Merewether Baths to capture the perfect picture, of a dress that I had made especially to be displayed at Fashion Palette this year in Sydney.I wanted Paige to look natural and gorgeous as she always is. I love how her hair how is so long and straight. Her hair is usually blonde although she dyed it brown for this photo-shoot and I think that she looks absolutely amazing!

Mike truly had all odds against him when the sun was rising on the morning and the barest light was parting from the skies.This was our last chance to get a proper photo-shoot of the dress before I delivered it to Fashion Palette in Sydney.


I have decided to sell the couture gown that I made for Fashion Palette 2012! If you know anyone who would like an all white couture gown for a wedding or special event please feel free to share this link with them!!!!!


Designing a Fashion Range Based on a Brief

With many design companies you will find yourself having to design to a brief. A Design brief will tell you what the company you are working for is wanting you to design, hint at the fabrics that are trendy and the current look that the company is going for based on their own trend research.Here is an example of the Design brief that I was given for my first major work in TAFE  and I will show you the process of design through this example. My work is in no way special as this was the first collection that we were actually allowed to design from the beginning using the whole process.When you first begin a design course they teach you many bits of information about all different aspects. In this project it all comes together for me and so it is a little more than messy although it is a good example of a variety of techniques.


You are required to design a Spring/ Summer 2010/11 five piece cohesive range, targeting women aged 18-30 years of age. The range will be suited for day wear and the australian middle market and involve a fresh, clean pastel colour palette when considering fabric choices. One piece must be a dress that will be produced in the pattern making & sewing classes. Present to a ” Design Team” to sell your ideas and range.

A post hippie romantic theme inspired by the seventies and a handmade spirit with a dark undertone. A focus on basic high summer fabrics like pure cotton, plain to colour wovens and stone-washed, bleached denim. Prints focus on bucolic motifs, photography landscapes. Botanical and insect plates that are treated in a naive romantic vein with a strange edge. The colour range is made up of fresh clean pastels that are offset by a pop of pink and a somber brown.

The dress design and garment must be of a stable woven fabric & include either lapped or invisible zip CF (centre front) or CB (centre back) button opening.It must include one or more of the following features – yoke, gathers, pleats, ruffles, sleeves, sleeveless, collar and facing. The dress design and garment must NOT include: Evening/ sheer fabrics or linings or strapless, halter, raglan or wrap opening designs.

Creating a Design Diary

Title Page & Mood Board:

This is the beginning of your design and so make a quick mood board of what direction your thinking about heading.In this case I am thinking about the romance from the brief and decide to base my designs on Italy:

Mood Board

Mood Board Italian Romance

Brain Storm

so now that you I have decided on the mood and the basic idea it is time to develop this idea. So Cutting out heaps of magazine images or collecting heaps of pretty pictures off the internet helps to find inspiration.

map Italy

Italian Map Design idea

Also Writing in what you like about your chosen idea and what things you think of once you have decided on a design really helps in developing those initial idea.

Brain storm

Brain Storm

Making a brainstorm can be a fabulous way of pulling ideas out of your mind. Here it helped me to name my collection:

Italian Romance

We have the title of our collection so now it is time to develop who our customer is.

Target Market Profile

Usually a target market profile can be any length. The larger the company the bigger it would most likely be (page wise) as companies spend humongous amounts of money identifying who their target market is.As it is the consumers who spend the money it is very important that you get this right when designing. So make sure you spend your time thinking about who you want to sell to and why you think your design will suit that target market you have specified. This will all connect to the selling points when you approach the buying team with your ideas.

My example is short as it is my first target market profile that I ever did.

Target Market Profile

Target Market Profile


It can be much fun to develop a muse so you can actually think more about your target market aiming at a specific type of girl or boy!Here is my Romantic Isabella:

Romantic Isabella

Romantic Isabella

 Colour-way selection and Fabric Sourcing

Knowing what colours you think would suit the collection is absolutely crucial so colour way selection and Fabric sourcing go hand in hand.In this example I am thinking about some make/up as well as my colour choices.Looking at trends of make-up can really help if you don’t especially know that much about make-up application.I am absolutely fascinated with make-up artists simply because they have found ways to use make-up that I could not even dream of.

Colours & Make-up

Colours & Make-up

More Theme Development as your ideas change:

smooth look

smooth look

pretty pink look

pretty pink look

love and freedom

Freedom in Lust and Love

animal fashion

animal fashion

Dark Seduction

Dark Seduction

Draw your Concepts

Using your theme selection and a combination of everything you have researched so far draw your design concepts. As many or as little as you want to. The more you draw the more you have to pick from.







Design Selection and or Fashion Illustration

Select your designs from your concepts and then begin Pattern Making!It is not important to draw illustrations at this time simply because you may change your mind half way through pattern making after toiling your design!

Pattern Making

Now this is the real designing because it is the pattern maker who gets to make the design based off the concept

Patternmaking 1

Pattern Making 1

Design analysis

The design analysis is what a pattern maker uses when they look at the concepts to define what the pattern needs. e.g. a zipper in the cb and a 4 cm hem. This can be very detailed or just a few quick notes. Even a good pattern maker can make mistakes so it is like a check list to make sure you complete each part of the design on paper before toiling the design.

Design Analyis

Design analysis

Block Selection

Is where you decide which block from your collection to use when designing. A Block is a silhouette of a design before the pattern is made from it. Designers / pattern makers keep these as reference tools when designing in order to save time and money in the design process. Many designs that are made by one company come off the same block. Block construction is a process where you make the block using mathematical equations that have been preset for the last 50 or more years. There are only a few different books in block construction available and so there are not many different ways of making blocks. The only way to get a more specific block is to use the measurements of a model from the target market you are aiming for.

Block Selection
Block Selection

Pattern Making Process

3 ways of Pattern making.

1.There are hundreds of commercial patterns in the world that you can alter.

2.You can trace a pattern from something you like and alter it.

3.You can use a block and make your pattern from scratch.

In this case I made my pattern from the beginning using a block. Placing in my design lines and so my dress looked exactly like the picture that I wanted.

Sewing Construction

A very important part of designing and pattern making is knowing how every piece goes together. This is something that everybody is hopeless at in the beginning. Even the daughter of a seamstress as I am. There will be hours when you grind your teeth. There will be unpicking and there will most definitely be mistakes where you have to re-cut pieces. But how else can you learn without unpicking a thousand seams and re-sewing a thousand zippers. Books on Sewing construction are available from libraries. So if your 16 or 32 please don’t put it off any longer.Just go and learn. If you put the time in you will learn no matter how many hours you cry….maybe put some money into a stress ball aswell.

Dress Complete

Dress Complete

Dress Complete

The Life of a Designer:Part 1 Stephen wheeler

I found this wonderful video that sums up what it means to be a designer working for yourself and owning your own brand and label.Thank you to Steven Wheeler

Everything I Learned in Design School in Under 4 Minutes from Steven B. Wheeler on Vimeo.

Let’s Talk on Trends

I have just found out you can blog via email!Oh the wonders of the technological age.I am attaching my trend search on mini dresses, pants and skirts.I am not sure if they will work this way so please bare with me.


Wow!It does work.How truly amazing. Anyway I have attached some images of what I like and think will be around this year for you to look at. They are word documents that can be downloaded and adapted.Don’t worry no spyware or viruses.I am just not that remarkable to add them;)

1920’s screen prints made into bags

I really love the 1920’s!

So much so that I am creating six beautiful bags.Each is a one-off and I am using a range of screen prints that I have created of this fabulous 1920’s styled gal.Each has it’s own interesting colour palette for those women who know what colours that suit them!

1920's Flapper Screen Print

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