MY LIGHT BULB MO­MENT

De­signer Na­dine Mer­abi

Scottish Daily Mail - - Inspire - In­ter­view: LAURA TOPHAM

Fash­ion de­signer na­dine Mer­abi, 37, lives in Manch­ester with her hus­band, Frank.

THE launch of Face­book drove me to cre­ate clothes. When peo­ple started post­ing on so­cial me­dia pic­tures of nights out, you couldn’t wear the same out­fit over and over — so I be­gan al­ter­ing my dresses, cut­ting them into new de­signs.

I was work­ing in events at the time, or­gan­is­ing bar launches and club nights, but in 2011, ap­proach­ing 30, I re­alised I needed a ca­reer that didn’t re­volve around nights out.

I de­cided to make dresses that were dif­fer­ent from those in the shops, without a de­signer price tag, but I had no idea where to start — I didn’t even know how to thread a sewing ma­chine. I spent two weeks on YouTube learn­ing how to sew.

I’d made a few makeshift dresses when a friend men­tioned a pop-up where you could hire rails. I made 20 de­signs, and they sold well.

Peo­ple started or­der­ing cus­tom dresses, then Corona­tion Street’s Brooke Vin­cent asked me to make a dress for the Na­tional Tele­vi­sion Awards. Six months later, Sel­fridges asked to view my col­lec­tion.

I didn’t have a col­lec­tion, just a mish­mash of items, but they placed a big or­der any­way. I was too em­bar­rassed to ad­mit that I was mak­ing the dresses on my bed­room floor, so I winged it and said I could de­liver in three months.

I left think­ing: ‘How on earth am I go­ing to do this?’ I didn’t even have pa­per pat­terns; I cut free­hand from an im­age in my mind.

Thank­fully, an­other de­signer let me use her fac­tory. I pulled my dresses apart to make pat­terns and found a com­pany to grade the sizes. Some­how, I de­liv­ered on time.

My de­signs were sell­ing well, but I was do­ing noth­ing on­line and was still run­ning the busi­ness by my­self. So, three years ago, I joined with a part­ner who does global mar­ket­ing and on­line sales, and we hired staff us­ing a £70,000 loan. That was paid back just two years later.

Now we mainly sell on­line, have a large team and our an­nual turnover is £1.5 mil­lion. Our dresses cost from £150 to £500 and are worn by celebri­ties such as Myleene Klass, Paris Hil­ton and Paloma Faith.

A few years ago, I saw a pic­ture of Mel B wear­ing one of my jump­suits — it was an ‘oh my God’ mo­ment, as I grew up with the Spice Girls.

I still work stupid hours and have lots to learn. But or­gan­is­ing events was great train­ing, as it taught me what peo­ple re­ally want to wear.

Daisy mini dress, £265, na­dine mer­abi.com

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