Your guide to getting started as an independent designer courtesy of Nolcha Shows

Let’s face it, being an independent designer is not going to be easy, but a lot of determination and motivation is a good start. That’s why we have rustled up some great tips, as well as asking our fellow independent designers from this years Nolcha Shows in New York, what they think you need to know.

  1. Know your consumer
    Have a target audience in mind and get to know exactly what they like in terms of designs.
    Research, research and research some more.
    And whilst you’re at it, discover what makes YOU different, to stand out from others. What is unique about your designs?
  2. Get yourself out there
    Crank up the marketing machine (aka the internet) and put your name to a face. Make sure your work is shown proudly and broadly.
    Key things…
    Get your designs photographed professionally, the more aesthetically pleasing they are, the more people will be drawn to them.
    Get yourself a website, they can be made for you at a reasonable price locally or design your own at or (after all you are a designer.)
  3. Wear your designs
    May seem a bit obvious, but wear your work like ALL the time. You know when a friend says “ooh I love your top, where’s it from?” Instead of the usual ‘you’re trying to steal my style secrets,’ gritting your teeth and mouthing Zara to them, you can simply turn and smile and say ‘I made it.’ And shout it loudly so everyone can hear.


What do our Nolcha designers think?

Chasity Sereal expresses to “Believe in yourself and your vision. Work hard to get your vision across the world!”

Angela Lee, creator and owner of SHOLDIT believes that “Becoming an independent designer comes from within. I believe if you see an opportunity to be unique, to add value and to instil inspiration, you too can become a designer. My designs came from necessity. I was searching for a discreet, fashionable way to carry essentials like phone, passport and wallet while I travelled as I did not want to carry a traditional purse. Because of this need, SHOLDIT was born. Our mantra became Function, Fashion, Freedom. Our vision is to be the go-to brand for solution based accessories. With a vision and passion, anything is possible.”

Gina La Morte from TRADE expressed to just “Start. Sometimes starting is everything. Too many designers dream and fantasize but don’t begin. You don’t know unless you try and you can make tweaks and learn along the way what works what doesn’t, and most importantly you’ll discover who you are as a designer and what your signature identity is.”

“Getting started for me began with dreaming, and then researching. Researching fabrics I loved. Shapes that felt right. A point of view that I was passionate about. Stick to your convictions. Along the way, people who are jaded will try to get you to settle for less than what’s best because they have a been there done that mentality and want to take short cuts and compromise, but nobody ever created something new and inspiring by settling for mediocre. You don’t become a designer to be mediocre. You become a designer to be the best at what you do and carry your DNA throughout the collection. So many people will suggest you dilute, dumb down and take short cuts; don’t do it! Follow your instincts and stick with your convictions. In the end what you create will be exceptional and that’s the only reason to create something new, to inspire and bring joy to someone else through what you’ve created.”

Lastly, LUYANG by YANGLU spoke to us revealing his thoughts on how to become an independent designer. “In addition to professional and technical skills, I think the most important thing is to have independent aesthetic values. The key is to express your feelings, price ideas, your imagination and your creativity through your work. An independent designer of clothing is a comprehensive and strong knowledge. To express it as work, my advice is:

First: Keep your feet on the ground. Only through the training of basic skills can you
apply the application to the clothing design.
Second: Persistence. Because only by sticking to the good and the bad that you have
been through, then you are qualified to enjoy the pleasure that the glory brings to you.
Third: Learn to give up. Learn to give up the bad people and things you encounter in
your life, because only then can you feel the world is beautiful, with a beautiful heart
to create the most beautiful designs.”

Neubyrne tells us “The best way to get started, for me, was to go all in. Once you decide this is the path you want to go down, don’t look back. Work strategically and keep good deadlines. If you aren’t organized, find someone for your team that is and keep them around. Surround yourself with people who believe in your vision and don’t compromise on that vision. Stay true to what you want to create and everything else will fall into place. The doors will open that need to and the ones that close, are closed for a reason.”

W. Reflex explains “Because I didn’t learn costume design systematically, I have a design team to
whom I give direction and inspiration. In fact, I believe everyone can be a
designer as long as he/she has an eye for beauty.”

Words by Emily Bone