A few weeks ago I attended Sean’s sisters wedding in a Falo Fabrics original.
I knew what type of dress I wanted for months but no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find one. I wanted a long V-neck dress with a slit that showed off my western and African culture. It happened to be the one of my friends posted about a Rufaro who’d made a beautiful dress and the rest is history.
From start to finish, Rufaro made the whole process sooo easy. Although I said I knew what I wanted, it turns out I was still unsure about a lot of things. I sent my measurements across (if you’re not going to be able to get measured properly you may want to check how to do it on YouTube or you may mess up like I nearly did) and wallah, I got my beautiful dress. The whole process took about two weeks from start to finish, fit like a dream and only cost me £60!
About Falo Fabrics…
- Give a little background about yourself
I’m a young woman aged 24, originally from Mutare, Zimbabwe. I studied in Zimbabwe until I left for the University of Bradford, England. I studied biomedical science there and I am working as a Histology Technician/Fashion Designer. I guess I struck a little balance there between sciences and arts.
- How did you start Falo Fabrics?
My first encounter with sewing was in highschool where we did some sewing for 3 months. I remember being quite decent but at the time I didn’t give it much attention.It wasn’t a subject I took seriously. Highschool is also where I got named Falo by a friend. Falo was derivative of my real name Rufaro. I then came to uni where I met a young lady who had sewing machine. I asked her to lend me her machine so I could repair something of mine. You know, we all have clothes we don’t want to let go. She told me to keep it for a bit because she didn’t have space in her room(university accommodations never have space). The Bradford ACS had a cultural event which I was participating in. They had some fabric they gave us and I turned it into some tops. I suppose that’s when I realised I can actually make stuff.
- Give a little background on Falo Fabrics
I have been running Falo Fabrics for a little over a year now. It took two years before perfecting and learning the craft via YouTube and sewing forums. My first collection was a beige collection of what I like to call staples. I needed to start with a strong foundation and understanding of simple designs. The idea for falo fabrics was to give people some expression. I wanted people to express themselves through their clothes in a way I feel retail shops were not delivering on. So my following collections were an expression of me and the styles that I like and I hoped to inspire people to dress how they want it and if they couldn’t buy it they could have it made.
- What has been your biggest high?
Every new milestone feels like a high I won’t lie. If I had to pick one, I think it’s probably when I got my second machine. It was like getting the affirmation that I really was doing this. A close second is when I got messages from random people who didn’t know me telling me I inspired them, it’s just nice to be recognised for your work/effort.
- What has been your lowest point with the business?
There have been a few. I think the lowest was realising that the capital required to run the business was just not going to fall in my lap or initially come from the business. I guess it’s that pressure of wanting to reach a certain level of finesse. Trusting the process and going with the “natural” pace can be frustrating especially when you have targets.
- Do you receive much support from your community?
My community has been so supportive. I have had people come forward with areas that I may have overlooked and people who have helped in fields I’m not as strong in like marketing. They say don’t focus on numbers too much but I definitely see more people following the brand. That means somebody is telling somebody else. It is literally taking a village to build this business.
- Where do you see the Falo Fabrics brand going?
I have so many ideas of where I want to take the business. I definitely want to have a shop of my own but in the mean time, I’m aiming for a pop up shop. I would absolutely love to be part of a show and to have models on a runway some day. I’d also like to have a branch for charity where Falo Fabrics repairs worn/torn clothes to make them wearable for those without. After all, I did start by wanting to repair something torn and I can imagine that there are others in less privileged positions who benefit from that.
- Do you/have you collaborated with anyone?
I have had three collaborations so far which were really exciting and eye opening. I had two photo shoot collaborations where Falo Fabrics had the platform to be shot by photographers, while giving them content as well. I have also collaborated to make some bags with Atellier Garfiel. I absolutely loved making bags with them.
- Do you believe it is important to collaborate?
I think collaborations are amazing. It makes for great exposure to new clients but also new ideas. I just feel you have to properly analyse the collaborations and make sure that as company or brand you actually benefit from it just as much as the other collaborator. Collabs are so good because it’s basically a way of uplifting each other as brands/companies.
- Any advice to other women in your position as a creator or who want to be entrepreneurs themselves?
My advice is to just jump. Most things including professions, you literally learn on the job. A person can never really be ready they just have to jump. I’d also say not everyone will understand your creative vision at first but just keep going at it and if it doesn’t work out at the very least you’d have done something you wanted to do, something that made you happy and represents you.Surround yourself with other creators and artists, don’t be afraid to take an idea from someone else and improve it (just give credit of coarse) because there is nothing under the earth that’s actually new.Say yes to help, we all need help in different areas and we can’t actually go the whole way alone. Particularly as a woman, I’d day, use your God given charm and gifts to your advance, pretty privilege is what I think it’s called. Some people will do you favours purely because you are a woman or are attractive or will look good for them to be associated with you. You just have to know your limits and which lines not to cross.Lastly, you have to pray for your business and brand, pray for new ideas and opportunities and protection (believe it or not brands need protection). Remain humble and graceful every step of the way.