Last week I went and had a catch up with Celine Chapman, designer of Celine Rita. She showed me through her new summer range, which is hitting stores at the end of September. I asked her a few questions whilst enjoying a tea and melting moment with her and Flo (her gorgeous puppy).
I started Celine Rita in 2009, but I definitely still consider myself a new designer. I am still growing and developing my skills, and still learning so much. There is only a little niche that knows about Celine Rita, there's a lot more CR love to be spread around!
You have been in business for three years now Celine, Do you still consider yourself a young/new designer?
Hopefully my designs and beautiful garments have had a wee bit to do with the CR success thus far! I have a really amazing group of of loyal customers who I am so proud to dress each season. A lot of focus is placed on customer service and looking after each of our CR girls really well. We have Wine O'Clock the last Friday of every month in our boutique as well as numerous in-store events throughout the year for all of our customers to come along to. We also have Social media to thank for a lot of our growth and success. As well as the traditional word of mouth referrals thanks to an amazingly support crew of Family and Friends, Facebook (and twitter, instagram, pinterest) have been great for us to interact directly with our market all around the world! Pretty cool really!
Why do you think you have been so successful?
I get inspiration from everywhere- books, travel, history, music, movies, people, pop-culture throughout time... The list could go on and on! It's really important for me to have a real passion behind the inspiration to each of my ranges. It gets me excited and helps me to design more interesting pieces. SS1213 is called Jaqueline, inspired by Jackie Kennedy during JKF's presidency. She was such an incredible woman And had her very own look. I'm currently designing next winter, which is inspired by travel I did at the beginning of the year to Europe- the buildings, history, people... Just blew me away, especially in Italy and France. So much inspiration!
What inspires you?
What matters to you most as a fashion designer?Creating beautiful, commercially successful garments that my customers fall in love with time and time again. I love seeing my dream grow
Do you have time for yourself?It's important for me to make time for myself as I have found I work better. Sometimes it's really hard, especially with deadlines lingering at certain times of the year. But even at these busy times, its better to get out of the workroom- even if it's just dinner with the girls, escaping to my parents in Karaka, or taking Flo to the park. Balance is key!
Last year's fashion week was really successful-I got some buyers from Hong Kong who love Celine Rita, as well as some great publicity. However, it is very hectic and very full on! Especially as it's just me working on most things, it means everything else in the business has to go on hold for a while while everything is organized for Fashion Week- there is so much more involved than just designing and making a collection! So I decided to focus on growing my label this year. But look forward to returning with more experience and knowledge to own the catwalk next time!
Why did you choose not to show at NZ Fashion Week this year?
More motivated. I started Celine Rita during a recession, so I would have a different view of retail compared to others who shave been around for years, when the economy was booming. I have come in around this new generation where online shopping and social media are a part of our everyday lives. With technology changing and evolving all the time, it's crucial to my business to stay up to play and move with the times too. It's all about working smarter not harder!
Retail is struggling at the moment, does this scare you or make you more motivated?
What do you see long term for Celine Rita?
A cute wee retail store in Auckland where more girls can learn about and fall in love with CR garments. An international presence. I love the thought of stylish ladies around the world rocking Celine Rita in their own unique ways- Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Paris, New York, Milan....
And finally, what advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?Get work experience in different workroom's- different levels, sizes, types etc. That is the best way to learn more and find out what you are most interested in. While at uni I did work experience for Juliette Hogan and Stitch Ministry. It really helped to clarify for me what I wanted to do in the industry. You also have to LOVE it. Fashion is not the easiest career path so you have to completely love what you are doing in order to be motivated. It is really 80% business, which you need to be aware of.
Thanks so much Celine, all the best with your new range-I certainly will be coming in to buy a piece.Amber from H & F.