Kate Ford on launching a fashion label amid the pandemic and becoming a mom to twins


Marie Claire Australia: What is your current role and how would you describe a typical day?

Kate Ford: I’m currently the jack-of-all-trades at Kate Ford, not just the design – the joys of starting your own business! I get up pretty early, go straight to the gym, walk our pup, eat breakfast, and then get straight to work. My day never ends once it has started, with everything from emails, managing employees, liaising with factories, to designing upcoming seasons, I currently take care of everything what the company has to offer. I’m also soon to be a new mum to two beautiful twins so I’m sure I’ll have a new answer in October!

MC: How did you get here?

KF: I did a three-year course in fashion design at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. After completing my course, I was lucky enough to immediately get a job as a design assistant in the fashion industry at the age of 20. I worked for many prestigious Australian fashion designers where I made many connections, gained a lot of experience and rose through the ranks. This led me down the path of starting my own business – a dream since I was a young schoolgirl.


MC: What was your very first job?

KF: Actually, I worked at McDonald’s throughout my college years, then I quit to study fashion design. At the start of my course, I started making my own handmade lingerie to sell on Etsy, which quickly turned into a part-time job where I started getting bulk orders pretty quickly. !

MC: And what was your worst job?

KF: No offense to anyone who works at McDonald’s, but it would have to be McDonald’s. I lived when your parents told you that working at McDonald’s opened up a lot of career opportunities. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t get me into the fashion industry, it just kept me smelling like oil for days hah!

MC: What is your career advice to other women?

KF: “Taking risks, no matter the outcome, you will either become wiser or happier! »

I occasionally teach as a guest speaker at a few colleges and students often ask me how they can create their own fashion brand. I remember asking the same question to one of my professors at fashion school, who told me that it was crucial to gain experience in the industry first. I am so grateful that my teacher told me this, it is advice that I now pass on to my students.

I think back to when I was making lingerie by hand in my parent’s garage and I thought I could live off those bulk orders and didn’t need a job after I finished school. . Boy I was wrong. It took me years of working in the fashion industry to realize that I was ready to officially launch my own brand and I’m thrilled about it. I gained an understanding of my own design aesthetic, who I am as a designer and as a brand name, the type of boss I want to be, the stores where I would like my brand to be sourced as well as my factories and my employees. would like to work with. I would never have been able to do all of this like this 18 year old girl making lingerie in her parents garage using scraps of French lace. Experience is crucial and it will make or break you as a designer or businessperson.

MC: You launched your eponymous line, KATE FORD, in the midst of a pandemic—not the easiest thing to do for a line inspired by travel! How have lockdowns and travel restrictions impacted (or accelerated) your launch?

KF: Kate Ford was actually supposed to launch with SS21 an entire year before launch, although it didn’t feel right to us and we didn’t want to rush the process. We weren’t able to physically sell in a showroom due to restrictions and lockdowns here in Australia, we had to improvise and sell digitally. This meant an amazing photoshoot which was impossible in Australia, I had to improvise and send the entire SS22 collection to my amazing photographers in LA who organized and created the most amazing photoshoot for the Kate Ford launch in Joshua Tree , in California.

kate ford joshua tree


MC: Sustainable development has become a major concern for the fashion industry. How does working with sustainably sourced materials, recycled fabrics and natural fibers impact the design process?

KF: We like to explore talents in communities that don’t have the opportunity to express their artistic skills on a large scale, like my artisans in India who handcraft all our clothes and crochet belts, to work with fibers organic and sustainable. who do not use harsh chemicals in manufacturing or dyeing processes and who do not purchase fabrics or stock items that we are unsure of the original source, how they were processed or by whom. We are very careful when working with new factories because I have to personally inspect all of our factories and working conditions.

MC: How do you manage your inbox?

KF: I have a major OCD in my inbox. I can’t end the day without making sure all emails are unread and answered too!

MC: And how do you deal with burnout?

KF: I’ve struggled with anxiety and extreme stress throughout my career and I’ve learned to deal with that better as I get older, making sure that we always meet critical path deadlines which, most of the time, are unrealistic but they seem to be happening! I try to meditate every morning, drink less coffee, eat a very healthy diet, and exercise and take regular breaks when I feel overwhelmed.

MC: What did you buy that made the biggest difference in your productivity?

KF: Bulletin boards and putting them up on the wall! I’m a very visual person and my whole office is covered in bulletin boards. It makes me feel very organized to be able to view not only new seasons but also reminders instead of flipping through notes or searching for emails.

MC: Describe your power outfit.

KF: It should be something from Kate Ford’s new season, I’m a sucker for a blazer or suit pants, but our new Pre-Fall 2022 season released a stunning wrap dress that ticks all the boxes, the shirt Devina wallet The dress should be my current outfit.

kate ford

Devina wrap shirt dress, $495, from KATE FORD

MC: What is your current work bag?

KF: I swapped all the bags for our brand new Stella McCartney baby bag! I don’t think it’s big enough for two babies, although we’ll see how we do!

MC: FMH or office?

KF: Since COVID and the loneliness I experienced, the office for sure! I am a social butterfly.

MC: BYO lunch or takeaway?

KF: BYO lunch! I am very particular with my eating habits.

MC: What’s on your desk right now?

KF: Tons of new season fabrics, fabric swatches, lab dips, paper-printed artwork, purchase orders and deposit invoices, passports, laptops, notebooks, stationery and lookbooks. Very messy office today!

MC: Disconnect from e-mail?

KF: See you soon, xK

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