career, career development, inspirational women, life, life advice, mentor, mentoring

Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

Name and role:  

Sacha Drake, designer and director

Tell us about your role. What do you do on a day-today basis?

Generally my week is filed with fittings of garments for current and future collections. Lots of staff meetings, marketing, sales, management. I try to fit in time to brainstorm new ideas across sales, PR and also design.

How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?

I knew as soon as I learnt to pattern make at 14 years of age. I could see my ideas coming to life. I love the constant learning that is involved in garment design and construction.

Where do you find your inspiration?

On a creative level, I often photograph great shapes or motifs that I think could be worked into fabric prints. These can be found anywhere at any time and it’s fun to play around.

On a commercial level, my customers are ultimately my inspiration. I am always trying to see the world through their eyes – why would they choose to wear it, where are they going, why must they have it?

Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?

I have had the great fortune to have many mentors. My first mentor was an insolvency accountant! She helped set up a financially strong business with great systems and procedures. My fashion agents are always great counsel in the development of the brand. I have had external business mentors who have been excellent sounding boards and guides through turbulent times. And lastly, many friends and family who are also business owners are continually great support.

What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?

The ragtrade is one big stumbling block for the uninitiated! There are so many people involved to get the product to market. It’s always the same challenges. Design the RIGHT garment. MAKE it at the right cost. HOW to get it in front of buyers and customers? DELIVER it on time. GET paid… And this is just the surface of it! As time has gone on, we have just had to solve these questions on larger scales.

How did you overcome these?

From every mistake or challenge there comes an idea and new way forward and a better way of running your business. I listen very  hard to my agents, my sales staff, my customers, I strive constantly to improve. There is no place for ego in this business. You must constantly keep an open mind and adapt to the market.

What are your goals for the future?

My goal is to continually grow the business in a financially secure way, whilst maintaining the integrity of my core values of quality and flattering design. Our business growth is hinged on multi-platform selling. This means TV, online, and retail entwined. Through the Television Shopping Network, many customers are discovering the brand and what I stand for. It creates a true connection that can be followed through via retail experiences or online. We have also been approached to sell our brand in the US, which is a great opportunity that has us intrigued. I am beginning to feel like the world is truly my oyster!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

The whirlwind journey of fashion is long, filled with twists and turns. Jump in and try anything but recognise when things aren’t going to plan quickly. Adapt and redirect yourself. Be self-aware and recognise your strengths and weaknesses. Surround yourself with complimentary people whose skills and experience will be enhanced by your vision. You must be obsessed with bringing value to your customers to survive and prosper. You must truly love what you do.