Design diva Molly O'Brien spills on what it takes to build your biz
Have you ever dreamed of starting your own clothing line? Molly O'Brien, 16, did just that when she created Molly Elizabeth Designs—and now, she's getting ready to show her style at Vancouver Fashion Week! We sat down with the fab fashionista to talk childhood dreams, challenges and all things chic. Read on!
How did you begin designing?
I have always had a love for art, fashion and creativity. As a kid, I was continuously drawing and doing crafts with mixed media, and my grandma taught me how to sew when I was young. I went to fashion camp when I was 8, and there I learned all about the fashion industry, like sketching, unconventional designing and modeling.
I think what really intrigued me about fashion, though, was the concept of thinking of an idea on paper and then creating an actual, wearable garment, which I learned more concretely in high school. I then applied to the Omaha and Kansas City Fashion Weeks in fall 2014 got in! That was the start of Molly Elizabeth Designs.
How did you take your designs from concepts into reality?
To take my designs from sketch to final product, I had to learn the basics of sewing. I learned a lot from my sewing teacher at school, but also through trial and error and seeing what works—and YouTube videos are a huge help!
My design process starts with inspiration. For me, that can come from past travels, architecture and different eras. A lot of the time, though, an idea just pops in my head while walking down the street…or even in math class! Inspiration can hit me at the oddest times, so that’s why it's important for me to always have my sketchbook.
Once I have all my sketches, I start off by creating a pattern. Then it's off to creating the actual garment, which can be a long process. But its so worth it when you get to see the finished piece—like, “Wow, I made that!”
How did you brand your business?
Ever since I was little, I always imaged my fashion line as “Molly Elizabeth” (my first and middle name), so that’s what I called it. Once I developed my brand name, I worked with a graphic designer to design my label. I wanted something that was identifiable, sophisticated and timeless, but still represented my brand well. I also include a personalized “Molly Elizabeth” tag in each of my garments. I went with my personal name as my brand name because my brand represents not only my individual style, but also who I am. It tells a story.
What has been your greatest challenge?
When creating a brand and company, everyone goes through a lot of challenges, but it’s the perseverance that makes you and your brand stronger. My biggest challenge has been marketing, because as a teen it can be hard to find contacts to help your business flourish. What I've learned, though, is that one of the best ways to market your company is to take every opportunity you get—because each opportunity could lead to something bigger and better! I have made a lot of progress in marketing, but I still have a long way to go. It doesn’t happen overnight! I eventually hope to come in contact with more fashion buyers and companies. Seeing my clothing sold in stores is my ultimate dream.
What's your proudest accomplishment so far?
My proudest accomplishments has been getting to show my collection at 3 different fashion weeks, including Omaha Fashion Week, Kansas City Fashion Week and Vancouver Fashion Week. It’s such a great feeling seeing your first model walk down the runway. When the lights dim, the music starts and the audience claps… all the months of hard work are worth it.
Any advice for other young entrepreneurs?
Always believe in yourself and know that it is possible to make your dreams a reality, big or small. I know this sounds cliché, but goal setting is also a major component to starting a business. If you take the time to make a list of all your goals and the steps to get there, each time you check off a goal, it pushes you even harder and is a constant reminder of your dreams!
What's *your* biz dream? Let us know below!