NSAMM. What was the inspiration behind starting your brand Silken Favours? How did it all begin?
VICKI. I always loved creating handmade presents for friends and family. I decided on scarves to begin with, because they are a great medium to present your artwork. Through word of mouth, I began designing one off bespoke pieces for other people- designing the print, drawing and painting them by hand and making them personal to the individual who was receiving them. I would ask what their loves in life were, and then incorporate this into the print. For example, they may love dogs, horses birds etc, and I would then design the print around this theme. Each scarf I made was completely personal to that person. As more and more orders came in, I realised I needed to have a brand name relating to what it was that I was doing. Customers could then understand the brand and the story behind it.
From here I designed my first collection. I took it along to Liberty’s Open Day for Young Designers back in 2011, called ‘Best of British’. You have to queue with hundreds of other designers showing their wares, then you have 3 minutes to pitch your products to their top buyers. I was so happy to be selected with my silk scarves, and I got invaluable help from the Liberty team, with their expertise in a business I was so new to. It really was a dream come true for me to launch exclusively at Liberty in their world famous scarf hall with my first collection.
NSAMM. What has been your biggest achievement so far with your brand?
VICKI. The brand will be 6 years old this year, so that’s a pretty big achievement to me, but I’ll never forget getting to design and dress the windows of Liberty’s with all my scarves and cushions- having that creative freedom to make a Silken Favours patterned world was amazing. I was given two weeks from the initial go-ahead to D day. Not only is it an incredible honour to have your designs in the window of such an iconic building, It taught me so much in how to work under pressure and to deadlines. Wanting to be a designer is just one of the many hats you have to wear when owning your own company. You quickly realise you have to work in so many other areas of the business if you want it to be a success. This was certainly, for many reasons, the defining moment so far in my career.
NSAMM. Having the tenacity and confidence to sell yourself as a brand to stores is hard work. Having been a model previously, did this help you cope with the rejection you face now as a brand?
VICKI. Absolutely, modelling was, and is, a tough job. People never see the real work that goes into it. Everyday you would be out on castings, spread all over London, it was like being interviewed for work over and over again, and 9 times out of 10 not getting the job. You generally had to wait in queues with 20 other girls who were your competition. Constantly caring so much about how you look and critiquing everything about yourself, with all these other girls to compare yourself to, got really tiring ,quite quickly for me. However I got really good at dealing with rejection and learnt not to take things personally because of this, and it has been such a great tool for my business and brand. I like to go for it, push my neck out, and if it doesn’t work, I try something else, move on. Failing is a great lesson. I can thank modeling for that, haha!
NSAMM. What are your fondest memories of modelling?
VICKI. The lifestyle. You have such freedom- you could literally say to your agency,”I want to go and live in a different country”, and they could make it happen. Which is what I did so many times. I have lived in New York, Cape Town, Sydney and Tokyo. You would soon get to know the other girls who were on your castings, and before you knew it, “work” was hanging out with your friends on a weekly, if not daily basis. It allowed me to travel the world, have incredible experiences that I just wouldn’t have had without modelling. Before it all began at 17, I’d been to the west coast of Scotland for my holidays, so modelling was life changing for me.
NSAMM. The way in which we shop today is directed by retailers, and society is very much geared towards throw-away, fast fashion. Are you marketing yourself in this same way, or do see your brand as something different?
VICKI. The ethos of Silken Favours is designing pieces for someone to fall in love with and cherish forever, it’s not throw away fashion at all. I work in seasons with my stockists, as I love creating new products and patterns, that’s why I’m doing this, but I have classic designs that never die, and why should they? ‘Precious Pussies,’ a pastel print with kitties and hearts mirrored on it, is one of my first designs I created, and still one of my most popular. So, my brand is not “fast fashion”, maybe it’s really slow!
NSAMM. Exciting times lay ahead for you, and congratulations on your pregnancy. We are thrilled for you both. Having accomplished so much already, we feel as though this is just the start of your biggest chapter yet. Will you be expanding your collections to accommodate the new person in your life?
VICKI. Who knows, I am keeping an open mind. I’ve just been taken on by Net A Porter, and I have some really fun collaborations launching this year. Who knows what the future has in store. I’m just so thrilled, and feel so lucky to have the success and happiness I have already.
Check out Silken Favours here.