Bethany Jakob

Bethany Alice Fashion Design

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Where did you grow up and where are you based now?

I was born in Shepparton and I have lived in Ballarat since 2000. I moved to Melbourne after high school to study fashion design but came back to Ballarat quite recently to set up and start my business.

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? 

I always knew I wanted to do something creative and at one point I wanted to be an abstract painter (mainly because I couldn’t actually paint). But I started sewing when I was about 10 with my mum and it wasn’t long after that I realised I wanted to be involved in fashion.

When and how did you transition from working for someone else to working for yourself?

After I finished university I was looking at a wide range of jobs just to get some more cash under belt after studying. I ended up working as a stylist at a bridesmaid’s showroom in Melbourne. While this job was amazing I was really missing my creative work so I decided to go part time and work on creating my own business. So I moved back to Ballarat, set up my own little studio and started working while still commuting to Melbourne to continue to work as a Stylist on the weekends to help pay for my business.

What’s your why?

After I finished university I really struggled to decide on which area of fashion design I wanted to go in, as I loved every aspect of the design process from conception to production. I also quickly realised that I didn’t like the idea of working for someone else, their ideas and the possibility of being limited creatively.

During my time as a stylist I quickly learned how much I love meeting new people and helping them find a garment that suits them.  I realised that I could combine my love of the whole fashion design process and meeting new people into one if I started my own business. I thought I could work one on one with women to help create a range of garments that have been made just for them. So I did it and I haven’t looked back.

What do you love about what you do?

Now this I could talk about all day long!! I have always had a deep love (or more obsession) with fashion from a very young age. I have always loved how artistic, creative and crazy fashion can be. But lately I have loved how certain garments and outfits can make a person look. They can make us look feminine, powerful, sensual or any one you want to be for the day.

However I have found that a lot of women struggle to find something that actually makes them feel amazing. I strongly believe that every woman deserves to look in the mirror in the morning and say “DAM!! I look GOOD!!” This can be a challenge if women don’t know what suits their figure and find garments that actually fit their body. I absolutely love working with women to create a garment that fits them. I love the look on their face when they put that skirt on that is now the perfect length of that top that finally fits their bust and say “OMG it actually fits ME!” There is no greater reward than seeing a woman happy and most importantly confident in what she wears. And this job also means I get to play with clothes every day which isn’t a bad thing either.

What’s challenged you most since being in business?

My biggest challenge has been my confidence in running a business. Coming from a completely design focused background I have very little knowledge of how to run a business and this can actually be quite scary some times. I often find myself saying “What am I doing? Am I crazy?!” But I always make sure I ask for help from people who are more experienced and know that it’s ok that I still don’t know everything. I am learning to be patient with the process and to set myself small goals to make owning and running a business less daunting.

What are your greatest achievements to date?

I think my greatest achievement was actually just starting my business. Having the confidence and conviction to stop talking about it, day dreaming about, and instead just going for it. It’s been very scary but I am so glad I did it and every new like on Instagram posts or new inquiries from clients have been great little achievements since then, all because I just did it!

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is really trusting my knowledge as a designer enough to promote it to get more clients. This was quite scary because I have always been a quiet worker and never really talked about what I can do. It was quite scary to have to put myself out there and confidently promote my skills to prospective clients but now I have done it, it’s been a lot easier. 

I have also learned to set myself small, achievable goals so I can see the progress I am making. It also helps make the bigger picture of running a business less daunting and I can also clearly see what I have achieved which is very important. 

What’s the toughest decision you’ve had to make since running your own business?

How much to charge and to be honest I’m still figuring it out. It’s quite hard to put a dollar sign on how much you, your skills and your time is worth as you really need to think about what is best for you.

What are some resources you or your business can’t live without? 

I would really struggle without social media. I have found it a great avenue to display my work and creativity and its great getting so much positive feedback and seeing what people like.

I have also had help from Emily from Good Media and Jacqui from White Deer Graphic Design to help create all my branding and online presence. Honestly I would have no idea where I would be without those women. They are amazing!!!

What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own business or change jobs to an industry/role that they’d love? 

Just go for it!! As I said previously you can talk and plan and dream as much as you want but at some point you just have to go for it. I honestly think that if it’s what you truly love and are willing to work hard you will never regret giving it a red hot go.

What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?

When I am out on the town I really love to dress up and go all out and be playful with my style. However when I am at home in my studio I am almost always in trackies and a t-shirt. Somedays I may not even get out of my pajamas.  Comfort definitely outweighs fashion when I’m in the studio.

What does your ideal day look like?

Generally start by checking all my social media accounts and just see what’s happening in the world. Then I head out to my studio, chuck on whatever is trending on Netflix and start working.

I generally work on a couple of different projects during the day to mix things up. So I may do some pattern making work in the morning and after lunch I will focus on sewing. I usually also schedule fittings or consults during the afternoon. Then around 4:30 – 5:00 I will post some content to my social media platforms as I have found that quite a popular time of day.

As I work from home I will also often chuck a load of washing on and I generally count that as a very productive day if I get that done.

What’s one of your favourite quotes?

Now this is a really hard one as I have so many. But I would have to say my favourite is from my mum - “The scariest things we face in life turn out to be the greatest things we ever do.”

Who or what inspires you? 

My mum has always been such an amazing inspiration to me as she was the one who first taught me to sew. She has also always pushed me to achieve my best and has always encouraged me to do something that scares me. She would always say “just do it before you think about it too much.” Because of that I now always get excited by new opportunities and so many good things have come from that frame of mind. I wouldn’t be half the women I am today if it wasn’t for her. She is my biggest support.

Anything you’d like to add?

I am just so excited to be a part of such an amazing support system for not just business owners but women in general. I think a great strength and power comes from when women support each other and I cannot wait to meet and be inspired by amazing, strong women.

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