In our second Meet The Maker feature we chat with Manchester clothes designer Sarah Louise Richards from Dolly Dripp!
A graduate of The University of Lancashire in Fashion Design, she worked for the likes Miss Selfridge, Topshop & River Island before setting up her own clothes line.
Now based in the North-West her 1950’s rockabilly style has attracted her famous fans including Sophie Ellis Bextor.
We asked her what its like launching your own clothes brand and her favourite things about the North…
*All photos are copyright of Dolly Dripp
Tells us a little about you…
I’m Sarah Louise Richards, a fashion designer and owner of Dollydripp. I am originally from South Wales but my family moved to Cornwall when I was eight. We then moved up to the North West when I was a teenager. I did my fashion degree at UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire) and moved to the South East to work as a high street designer in London. I moved back to the North West just over a year ago and I’m happy to be back!
Cute sassy clothing.
What is the story behind your business?
I was made redundant from my design job in 2010, right in the middle of the recession. High street fashion brands were struggling and suppliers were going bust making it even more difficult to find a design job. I couldn’t even get a retail job although I had plenty of retail experience. I was out of work for nearly a year, totally fed up and I just decided to create my own job. I always dreamed of having my own clothing business but didn’t think it would become a reality. I did The Princes Trust’s Explore Enterprise course which was a great starting point and I learnt so much from that and having a business mentor through them.
When I look back now, losing my job wasn’t such a bad thing! It gave me a shove in the right direction.
I’m pretty organised and tidy. I couldn’t work under a mountain of paper work and it would drive me nuts if I had to search for zips and buttons all the time.
What is your favourite piece of craft kit. What do you like most about it?
It’s a bit boring but it would have to be my semi-industrial sewing machine. Until last year I was using (and abusing) my trusty old domestic Husqvarna machine but my workload was getting a bit too much for her and she’s gone into retirement. My new machine is amazing! It’ so fast and has helped cut down my production time.
I do like my ‘True Love’ satin bomber. Not so much of a fan of making them as they are really time consuming but they do look great on.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
The designers who inspire me the most are Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Rodarte. Even though their styles are nothing like my own brand, I just adore how beautiful their clothes are.
I’m also inspired by people like Debbie Harry and Gwen Stefani, I guess they are my style icons.
What is your favourite colour?
If it had to choose it would be some kind of teal or turquoise. Not that you know that from looking in my wardrobe, it’s full of black and burgundy!
What do you like about the north? Where is your favourite place in the north and why?
I know it’s a cliché thing to say but Northerners are a pretty friendly bunch! I struggled with how rude people were in London, especially on the tube and trains. I know public transport can bring the worst out in most people but it’s another level down there! Being shoved out of the way everyday by business men who should know better is not fun.
Another thing I like about the north is how easy it is to get to other cities like Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, even Edinburgh or Glasgow. It’s great to be connected to such vibrant places.
There are so many beautiful places up here, especially the Lake District, but I think my favourite place is probably Manchester. I also love Liverpool but I spent so much of my early 20’s in Manchester going to gigs, Afflecks Palace and the Northern Quarter, it holds some pretty special memories for me.
What fellow designers and crafters from the north do you admire?
I’m a big fan of Lily and the Lamplight. Steph sources some amazing vintage prints for her garments and she’s also a fellow UCLAN graduate. I also love Darkenrose Jewellery. Liz creates some gorgeous Gothic and Art Nouveau style pieces. One of my most recent purchases is a beautiful snake ring from her.
What would be your advice to anyone wanting set up their own craft business?
Go for it, you have nothing to lose! I spent a long time coming up with reasons why I couldn’t start my own business, mostly to do with lack of money or funding. Really I had everything I needed to start, sewing machine, overlocker, pattern cutting equipment and fabric, I was just afraid as it’s quite a scary thing putting your work up on display for the whole world to see!
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s the best way to learn. I am embarrassed when I think back to my first product photos because they looked so awful but people still bought my products and it pushed me to learn a bit more about photography and seek out photographers and models to collaborate with.
Has anyone well known bought or worn any of your stuff? What was it?
I’ve had one celebrity customer that I know of. Sophie Ellis Bextor ordered some customised versions of my tattoo cushions a few years ago which was pretty special as I hadn’t been in business long. I was so shocked and flattered to think that my work is in her home!
What is the most recent thing you’ve made?
My mini Valentine range which has just been released. I had an amazing photoshoot for that and I’m excited to share the images. I’m currently working on my new samples for 2015, I can’t say much about them at the moment but they are a bit different to previous styles.
What do you plan to make in the future?
I’m trying to move away from the stereotypical pin up/rockabilly look this year. As much as I love the style, I don’t want the brand to be just that as it’s not really a true reflection of me. I don’t just stick to one style, I have an inner pin up girl, hippie, Goth and rock chick all competing with each other!
I’m also looking to expand my accessories range to include brooches, earrings and tote bags. I’d also like to try and incorporate my fashion illustrations into my work, maybe making prints or postcards of them.
Do you have any New Years resolutions?
To draw more. I’ve loved drawing since I was a kid. I was always happiest with some scrap paper and pencils. One of my favourite part of university projects was drawing up the final designs and presenting them in a way that really showed off the overall look and feel you were trying to create. I don’t seem to have the time nowadays, I still sketch but it’s only to quickly get ideas down so I’ll be making more time to get some illustrating in.
Check out the full range of Dolly Dripp clothes at www.dollydripp.com
Keep up with Sarah and her designs at her blog HERE.