People talk about clothing, new trends, or celebrities at the MET gala whenever the word fashion comes up in a conversation. Most of the time, people undermine the importance of clothing that makes them feel confident about themselves. In today’s world, it is essential to be confident individuals, and they say the first impression is the last impression, which is why clothing can be one factor that makes one feel confident. Elif Köse, the Founder of Elif Köse Fashion House, understands this and has created a clothing line dedicated to empowering women through fashion.
Being a non-native in the UK, she faced a hurdle of problems and overcame them to find her venture. She believes that every woman deserves to have the best look, personalized according to their taste and preferences.
The Journey of Becoming Haute Couture
Imagine arriving in a country with only £265 pocket money with shaky English, no family or friends, and the education which wasn’t even recognized by the authorities that makes you feel like you start the game 5-0. Elif didn’t plan to stay and start a business in the UK, and her only intention was to learn English at a great level and get back to her country to land a job that paid well.
Elif realized that financially independent women were stronger and had a say in society. She says, “I had no voice back at home, yet I found my voice here in the UK. Irony is that it is not even my own language! I always had this “other” girl feeling. I am that Turkish girl here. And had the same feeling when I went back home again to “the other” girl who lived away from home.”
The challenges in business doubled Elif’s emotional obstacles that she faced. She didn’t just learn the language but also learned the way of living, speaking the culture, which helped her better understand her venture. She built her business with intentional networking to get a sense of belonging. Belonging and being part of a bigger picture is one of the greatest challenges that she faced.
Changing the World
Elif says, “Fashion is the most empowering way to tell the world whom we are without speaking, and I know the effect it has on one’s feelings.” Her mission is to help women reclaim their confidence and have the courage to live and lead the life they strive for.
Creating Her Own Style
When Elif set up her business back in 2009 as a mobile alteration service, her vision was to offer a personalized service to all her clients and make them feel the best version of themselves in their outfits.
Creating one-of-a-kind designs has always been Elif’s number one passion, but she realized that not everyone has the time or budget to get tailor-made or bespoke clothes. With that in mind, she analyzed all her customers’ requests for fit and style with her years of experience and started creating small capsule collections. These classic pieces can be altered and customized easily to cater to all women of shape, size, and style.
A Meticulous Business Approach
Elif highly values returned customers and loyalty discounts and other enticements intended to build up a personal relationship with each customer. She goes to the lengths to understand customer needs, choices, and optimal styles rather than sell. She also offers a generous return customers discount scheme.
Elif wants her staff to feel like part of the business, so she willingly shares her experience, knowledge, and expertise in garment design and fabrication. She offers apprenticeships, especially to younger people, and she is pleased that some of them have progressed to launch their businesses.
The fashion industry contributes 10% of the world’s entire carbon footprint. Elif is aware of this issue, which is why she produces the majority of her ready-to-wear collections in the UK and bespoke clothes in-house.
Weaving Up Various Aspects
For the last three years on International Women’s Day, Elif hosted sell-out day-long Fashion events publicized nationally, at which she attracted a few leading speakers. These have been opportunities to launch new season products and raise the profile of her brand.
Owing to Covid restrictions, this year’s event had to be held online, but Elif plans to resume the live event again next year. In her earliest years in the UK, to help build a network of business contacts, she staged several local themed fashion events with sponsorship from cosmetics suppliers and companies complementary to hers. She rounded these events off at the end of the day with sell-out fashion-themed musical cabaret entertainment performed by artists from the West End.
Currently, through her blogs, she gives sustained expression to her design expertise, eye for fashion, the attributes of quality, and the low-down on the Fashion Industry; she pulls no punches. It has attracted international business, and she has a following of dedicated customers and readers, especially in the USA.
Talking about the future, Elif says, “Whilst I have some clear commercial targets, timescales depend on progress along the uncertain economic path of recovery from the pandemic. Also, the long-term effects of Brexit remain unclear. Suffice it to say that I turned the former to my advantage and I’m determined to react constructively to any disadvantages arising from the latter.” Now, she looks at opening a store in Brighton, but Wimbledon is an interesting possibility too.
Elif is confident that her durable, versatile style and quality message must prevail over disposable, poorly made quantity in the long term and expects the Elif Köse brand to become synonymous with that evangelization.
Tailoring Thoughts of Budding Entrepreneurs
In her advice to aspiring fashion designers, Elif says, “Be ambitious but be prepared to take small steps, always assessing your risks and identifying contingencies in advance.”
“If you don’t mind my using a double negative, never have “no” in your vocabulary when faced with a daunting setback or problem; get into the habit of always saying “yes.”
“Think positively, seeking ways of turning bad events to your advantage. And listen to a sound, disinterested, experienced sources of advice,” concludes Elif.
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