This is part five of conversations with makers in the local fashion industry, produced by Chris Hunt – PR & Events Director at Genuine, and Founder/Director of Social Enterprise Scotland Re:Designed CIC, New conversations will be out every Friday!
What do you do?
I am Hayley Scanlan, a Fashion Designer and Creative Director, Retailer of my own Womenswear brand with Accessories, right now available on a made to order basis due to lockdown.
How do you do it?
I am born and bred Dundee, love it here, and am proud to run my business from here with my family around me, and have an amazing network of customers and friends. I also took part in Netflix’s ‘Next In Fashion’ TV Show, which was a fantastic way to meet a new audience, who I love, and we ship all over the world, I wanted to show the business I’ve been working hard on for my family.
I graduated in 2009 from DJCAD Textiles, and now have a studio and shop on the Perth Road in Dundee, and work with a regular team of 4 freelancers who supply pattern cutting, retail support, customer services and seam-stressing.
What do you think are the Challenges and Opportunities working in this sector locally?
I am super happy with my amazing friends, customers, and family, and have been able to do some amazing activities like Netflix, all from here whilst looking after my two boys. I do really want to see more experienced support and business knowledge locally, as a creative mind there is never really a lot of help, mentorship, funding explorations. I emerged from Uni and found there was not really a road map or pathway as a Textiles Fashion Grad. I ended up learning by trial & error, travelling to other events and taking part in activities elsewhere and bringing that experience back home with me. We need to come together more here with people who speak the same language, plan more, create a marketplace for our product, and network.
A major issue in Lockdown has been no access to fabric shops, and I would love to buy more local, and I am keen to take my business to the next level and figure out how to scale and sustain for the future.
Personally, for me because I am a single Mum running a business, being close to family is essential, and there is such a fab community in Dundee, and on Perth Road where I’m based.
Being able to make it work for me, my boys, that is accessible is so key, and that is what Fashion and Dundee together means, and we love to shop. Everyone here is very supportive, respectful, and aware of what each other are doing.
The weather, the people, the cocktail bars, the DCA, there is a real scene here and it is becoming more cosmopolitan, I love it.
What do you think is happening to Fashion right now, in Scotland and generally?
I totally agree with building the sustainability side, we need to identify sustainability contacts for things like planning and materials. After 9 years building my brand, I have a massive directory of people all around the world and building and researching these contacts has been a major part of the work I’ve done by myself, so it’s not possible overnight. Moving forward though suitable fabrics out there are limited as cost is double for Digital print on Bamboo for example, so I want to make the changes, but it is a journey, and pricing is key.
Fast fashion is the real sinner, copying designs, who knows where the money goes, and carbon footprint wise the focus needs to be on companies like Boohoo. As an indie, you can and you are pivoting, researching, going as fast as you can, but it’s going to take time as I am doing it all myself. I am working towards a green directory soon across all aspects, and everything I make goes towards my business, locals I work with and providing for my boys – whereas let us face it the massive online shops who have seen rocketing sales during lockdown seriously need to look at their carbon, fair work, tax and economy, and yet they have full staff just looking at these things.
What would you like to see happen in Scottish Fashion, or in Dundee for Fashion?
I want a new Fashion network. We all need sector specific support at different times and various levels, the right people for your brand can make such a major difference. I think industry generally needs to understand that Fashion Week simply is not everyone’s aim, there are so many different things to do with cities or buildings, like getting brands noticed, meeting each other, and building assets and audiences which helps.
We really need someone in the know in the city, who can organise creative support for businesses at each stage of development, scaling up and adding value.
One thing which worries me is so many new brands pop up on Instagram, even brand coaches taking money to teach Graduate designers how to set up online but some of these are not verified or relatable, some are simply scams, and that is a concern.
It has got to be about growth and stability from here, reducing risk particularly with what has happened since Covid-19. There is no margin for error, so no risk, no travel or major spends, we all must protect our businesses as we recover.
Do you agree with the importance of collaborative working?
I love collabs with platforms, customers, and other creatives. The print I am wearing while doing this interview is one, and I loved the Blank Biker dress competition I did where people submitted their artwork to see if made up into a Dress. It went mental and I loved the winning print that much we did a whole collection, if it fits within the brand story it is great interaction, offering experience, product and service all together.
What are your hopes long term?
I am keen to get reopen ASAP! Beyond that I want to have a green directory, get back the annual showcases we used to have, and see everything sustained, not bits and pieces potluck, mentoring business, pathways, programme, a professional network.
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