Enjoy this abridged interview with The Purple Collection, taken from our London Runway Virtual Festival! Watch the full discussion with more content on our IGTV.
LR: How about first of all, you introduce yourself and let everyone know what is The Purple Collection, what is it all about.
TPC: My name is Susanna. I’m the founder of The Purple Collection. And as you can tell, it’s literally purple, the whole clothing and the whole aesthetic. I chose the colour purple since it’s my favourite colour, I’ve always been obsessed with purple, and sadly enough, I can’t pinpoint what shade of purple is my favourite. I just tend to say, I like the whole range of purple! So we launched in May but I originally came up with the idea last year.
LR: So it’s quite a long journey from coming up with the idea to actually launch it! Talk us through some of the stages that you’ve had to go through just from having that initial idea.
TPC: So, I’ve never been in the fashion industry. I don’t really know what it entails. Being on the phone, my friend and I must have been like, Oh, I’m gonna do a collab with Rhianna! She said, Okay, what’s your idea and I was just like, I don’t know, I want to do something purple, and then she must have said, Go on then. And I know it sounds so simple, but it’s like, okay. So with that, I started thinking about, okay, what do I actually want to put in the collection. And so my aesthetic in general is more of the vintage inspired style. I also wanted to go into another style that I didn’t really have much knowledge about just to broaden my knowledge, as well as cater for more people. So with that, I went on Pinterest, and I went to seek some inspiration. I have a friend that’s an artist, so we had phone calls and we even met up, and I was explaining my idea and she drew it all down. So then, [I was on] The Dots. It’s like a Creative Social Media for creatives, and I’ve got in contact with a fashion stylist. I must have been like, hey, these are my designs, let’s do it. She was like, I don’t make the clothes and I was like, what? And I know it sounds silly again, but I didn’t know the difference between a fashion stylist or fashion designer, I didn’t really understand the process. So, she then said, we need to find a seamstress, so I found a seamstress called Chloe, who actually designed all the clothing. So we sat down, we saw the drawings, we did a breakdown of the fabric that we wanted to confirm my ideas. And then we started the process.
LR: Amazing. So, are there any kind of resources that you’ve been relying on, as you’ve been learning so much along this journey?
TPC: I am willing to do a massive shout out to The Dots, as well as it being a social platform for creatives, the webinars that they put on, the workshops that they put on, are so beneficial. I totally recommend to anyone wanting to progress in their career as well as like a small business.
LR: I want to talk about COVID in a second but first of all, you’re doing a giveaway today. So let’s tell the guys about that.
TPC: Okay guys, so the first two followers from London Runway, if you DM me, you’ll receive a scrunchie. And a face mask. And it’s such a pretty colour. It’s Duchess satin, which is really good for the skin. The following followers that come in, that DM me saying London Runway Mag will receive a discount on the clothing!
LR: That’s really amazing, I wish I could enter, they look really nice!
TPC: Yeah, definitely, I think, when it came down to picking the fabric, I wanted to make sure that it’s eco friendly and it benefits us as well as the planet.
LR: Let’s talk about sustainability, actually, how important is that to you?
TPC: It means a lot. Even when it comes to like the food I consume, and just things that I have around me, it needs to be organic, it needs to be eco friendly, it needs to be good for the environment as well as myself. So, having those thoughts towards what I put in my body, I want to do that when I’m wearing it as well and just with the things I have around me material things.
LR: Yeah, it’s very important for us as well and we love that. So, we were talking about COVID – how has that really affected the process for you?
TPC: It was hard throughout, but specifically in the beginning, due to lockdown I wasn’t able to visit the seamstress. Just had frequent Zoom calls just to see everything, but I like seeing things with my eyes. Yeah, it was hard.
LR: How do you think it’s affected the launch of the business? Do you think it has had an impact?
TPC: Good question. I’m gonna say yes, because when booking a studio… There’s just so much uncertainty. Like, how many people can be in that space, or are we actually still going to be allowed to run the session.
LR: And how about choosing who you work with, how has that been like?
TPC: One of the fashion stylists that were involved, Liliana, she’s a friend of mine. We went to the BRIT School together. I’ve seen her work, and I know how she works, so I just thought it would be amazing for her to jump on board because she’s an amazing stylist. And then Misha and Chloe, I found them off The Dots, their portfolio.
LR: So, we’ve had so much stuff happening over the past couple of years, I think, in the fashion industry and in society as a whole. We’ve also had Black Lives Matter, and we’ve had what we call performative activism. I’m seeing a lot of push to support Black-owned businesses. Have you seen any effect of that?
TPC: I like your questions. I don’t know. I think during that time when it was at the hype, the peak of it, I didn’t have the business at that time. So, I can’t compare how the business would have been, then compared to now. But regardless, the support and the love and everything that I’m getting from anyone is [making me] happy.
LR: It seems like a lot of that has kind of died away, people have just kind of forgotten about it which is a shame because it should be a change, not just a trend.
TPC: Yeah, but I’m sure we’ll find ways to keep bringing that up and keep pushing them.
LR: What kind of support have you seen coming through – is it like friends and family or have you had any other businesses or fellow people in the industry reaching out to you?
TPC: Friends and family, of course, and also businesses. I’ve received a few DMS, where they’ve been like hey I love what you’re doing, like, keep up the good work, even if it’s just that sort of support and also, hey, we want to collab with you. Even myself as well, I’ve been outreaching to people because I’m gonna give the love, especially if it’s deserved and needed because having a small business is hard. It’s so easy to be like, I want to do this, I want to do that, but having to do it comes with so many things that follow after.
LR: What would you say was the biggest roadblock or problem that you’ve come across?
TPC: The lockdown. And, a day before the shoot, unfortunately, the camera person that I had cancelled. Oh, I cried so hard. Luckily, my friend Liliana, she was able to get in contact with her friends who know a friend who was able to come down. So it got resolved!
LR: What advice would you give to anyone starting up a company in fashion or retail?
TPC: Do your research, you have to do your research. Again, I’m not in the fashion industry, I don’t know anything about the fashion industry. This was just an idea that I had in mind. And you have to know what you want. Because encountering people, they can tell you what you want, and in your head, you’re thinking, Oh, because they said it, that’s what I want. No, you need to know what you want, because once that project has launched, once you have got into that industry, it’s your brand’. People are going to be looking at you to represent your brand.
LR: I want to follow on to that one, about representing your brand. Is there a mindset that you’ve had to change or something that you’ve changed on social media, now being a company founder?
TPC: Yeah, good question, and I’m an emotional person so I tend to lead with emotion. I’ve had to sit down and talk to myself and say, Okay, this is the time where you have to be professional and logical because you’re not only representing yourself in a way, because you’re the founder, you’re also representing a company. I don’t want a bad look on my company, I don’t want a bad look on myself, so knowing how to handle situations, knowing what to put your energy into, is something that I had to have a deep chat with myself about.
LR: What has been the biggest success that you’ve had so far?
TPC: The support, the support. It’s not that I didn’t think I would get support, but it was the amount of support and just knowing people are there and just knowing people want the best for me. And the people that have been involved as well, they’ve done so much for the business that I can’t even… This wouldn’t have been done with without the people that were involved. It meant a lot to me and that is a success to me.
LR: I know as a small business owner that every single little tiny bit of support is so important and so meaningful. What’s the best way that someone can show their support to you now?
TPC: It can be as little as just sharing this. It doesn’t have to be a thing where people have to necessarily buy something. Because every little counts, right?
LR: Having everything handmade must bring his production challenges as well. What are some of the challenges that come along with that?
TPC: I have to be certain on everything, because once it’s done… Even with the fabric. I got sent five different samples of fabric, I wanted to make sure that it was the right fabric because again, once it’s done, it’s done. I like to do my research because you can you can search something on Google and you can find something for cheaper or even better quality somewhere else if you just take your time.
LR: What were you doing before launching your collection?
TPC: So, I am an event planner. However, I had to take myself out of that industry, just because of COVID, as we all know. I’m also an actress, I studied acting at the BRIT School Theatre, and I’m an upcoming DJ. And alongside that, I have a charity with my friends where we provide girls with menstrual cups in Kenya. We started when in 2017, when we were 17. And then we had our first trip in 2018. And it was one of the most emotional things of our lives, because as well as just experiencing it is also helping individuals which I love doing. So, it’s just ensuring that the girls are able to continue with their education, while feeling comfortable within. So, educating the girls on their periods as well as providing cups for them, and I’m so proud of all of us. The Instagram is @officialprojectperiod.
LR: What are the kind of things that you’ve experienced so far with marketing as a startup?
TPC: It is hard with understanding the algorithm. Because I don’t have a personal Instagram, or I don’t have social media, I deleted that over a year ago. So understanding how to use it again, even like I didn’t know how to join a Live. Again, big shout out to The Dots, go into their workshops on marketing. I was able to acquire so much knowledge. I tend to do monthly reviews of the whole marketing aspect, just so I can see what can I do better, what haven’t I done that I should do or stop doing.
TPC: Let’s talk about platforms like Depop. What do you think are the pros and cons of being a site like Depop, as opposed to just doing it through your own website.
TPC: So pros, I’m able to reach more people, I suppose, due to hashtags. The cons. I guess it’s the fees. With that being said, we also sell through Instagram, I will use it for bank transfers so it’s cheaper.
LR: Amazing. I’ve had so much fun chatting with you, is there anything you want to add?
TPC: Yeah, I want to thank you for this conversation, it’s been super fun. I’ve really enjoyed it!
Find out more about The Purple Collection on Instagram @thepurplecollectionx