Fashion has been a big part of Dara Ford’s life for as long as she can remember, having loved clothes from the age of 4 when she embarked on a fashion career by making outfits for her dolls!
Dara’s grandmother and aunts on her mothers’ side used to make beautiful garments for herself and her siblings and she later followed this tradition by teaching herself to sew by following Easy Vogue patterns.
After her A-Levels, Dara became an apprentice to Haute Couturier Elise Topell and then studied Fashion Design at the University of Westminster in London. After graduating, Dara worked in the fashion industry for several years before setting up her own business Dara Ford a decade ago. Dara now creates beautiful bespoke designs for women that reflect their unique style and personalities.
Dara’s motto is: There is no perfect size only the perfect fit.
It is a joy to welcome the talented Dara to the blog.
1. Describe a typical day for you?
My day starts at around 6am when my youngest daughter wakes up. I get us dressed then wake up my two older girls. Until 9:30am my day revolves around them and getting them to school.
From around 9:30am I am in my studio. I usually begin by checking my emails and social media. It’s easy to get sucked in and lose several hours, but I am getting better at being focused and making better use of my time. I then look at what materials need ordering for my latest projects, schedule fittings with my clients and start work on patterns on sewing. Currently I make everything myself, but I am looking to get some help for my ready to wear designs this year.
2. What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I know it sounds cheesy, but my daughters. They are smart, creative, full of fun, joy and love. Nurturing them and providing them with an environment in which to thrive is truly fulfilling. On a professional level I am most proud of following my own path. It is winding and sometimes doesn’t move as quickly as I’d like, but I have had the courage to make difficult decisions and continue to work on sharing my designs with the world. My proudest moments are seeing my clients love themselves when they slip into a garment I have made for them and growing in confidence and style.
3. What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
A real mishmash of things. I’m sure mothers everywhere can relate! I carry a purse, my keys, lipstick (though I rarely use it), tissues, sketchbook, an assortment of pens, a book (currently Tara Mohr
’s Playing Big), business cards, a toy or two, sun glasses, a scarf, shopping lists for work and home. I use a yellow leather tote bag as it looks stylish, hides a multitude of sins and adds a great pop of colour to any outfit.
4. What are your ambitions in life?
I want to be a role model to my children, and build a business that is sustainable, inspiring and successful. For me work needs to be meaningful and not just profit driven. I want to design clothes for women that help them feel confident in their bodies, take the stress out of getting dressed and help them re-target that energy into smashing glass ceilings in their profession. I see myself as providing a leg up to women by releasing their powerful energy through feeling great in themselves.
5. What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
That you do not need to do everything yourself and it’s OK to ask for help. Outsourcing the jobs you don’t like and don’t feel confident doing will free up energy for the things you are good at. Also, that a business plan is not set it stone and can and should evolve with you. Thinking it had to be planned out in minute detail held me back from working on one for too long.
6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’d love to have my own bespoke boutique somewhere. A calm haven where amazing women come to pick up beautiful clothes and feel truly appreciated and celebrated.
7. What advice would you give a budding designer?
Be willing to learn, but also keep hold of your own intuitive style. You don’t need to please everyone! Be tenacious and flexible.
8. What do you wish you’d known about motherhood before having kids?
That there is no perfect way to parent. Figuring out how to be the best mother to my kids is challenging and constantly changing. I am learning so much about myself: my strengths, but more importantly my weaknesses and limitations. Being a mother is like joining a self-help programme and working things out as you go along.
9. Finally, happiness is…
Spending time with my family.
Running my hands over a beautiful piece of cloth.
Hearing bird song in the morning.
The smell of fresh coffee.
Dancing with good friends.
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