Have you had the same dream since you were a little girl? Dressing up your toys and pretending you were a world renowned fashion designer?

One woman had this dream, and through perseverance and hard work, it is now a reality. Isatu Harrison, creator of Izelia Fashion, built her company in the UK after escaping the civil war in Sierra Leone where she grew up.

Izelia, inspired by her daughter’s name Izellah, draws on her heritage and showcases a modern and sophisticated range of ready to wear.

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In 2001, Isatu arrived in the UK to study a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology, and consequently left the fashion industry to work in several management roles in HR, including Transport for London. However, Isatu knew in her heart that her real passion lay in designing and as her daughter’s career in modelling started to take off, so did her designs.

As a child she grew up watching her single mother not only raise four children alone, but build a business for herself, designing clothes using traditional West African tie-dyed prints.

“She loved pieces from the 50s and I was inspired by how she interpreted fifties fashion”, she says.

A great part of her designs are inspired by her mother, but also from her cultural heritage, antique fashion handbooks and her own travels.

Isatu enjoys exploring with different textures and materials, but the best part remains seeing the end result of her creations and how it all comes together.

She has always admired Christian Dior, for redefining women’s fashion in the 50s and whose hourglass shapes opened up a new era of femininity, as well as Zac Posen for his determination and work ethics.

“He created crowns for the likes of Naomi Campbell from his first studio in his parents’ living room.”

Isatu’s designs are unique, she wants to make an impression in stylish and colourful outfits with high quality fabrics and structured tailoring.

We sometimes shy away from bold colour, but in a society where neutral colours are the colours of elegance, wouldn’t it be nice to completely stand out and bring a new palette to town?

As her brand grows in the UK, Isatu is also looking at expanding in Sierra Leone, where she would like to establish a strong manufacturing and production base, to support the growth of the country and create more job opportunities.

“I am proud to be among a growing crop of entrepreneurs who are creating employment opportunities and bringing economic growth to our countries”, she says.

She intends to inspire and assist women in rural areas, be a voice for them and young creative minds.

Harrison shared with us her three most important tips when pursuing your passion and taking a leap of faith:
• Build a network of support around you. The more people you know and trust, the more it helps you believe in yourself.
• Spend 5-10 minutes every day meditating on your business, your idea or your dream. Visualize yourself and your business the way you want it to be. Your mental picture has a powerful effect on your actions or behaviour. The way you see yourself on the inside, largely determines your performance on the outside.
• Develop the “Three Ds” of a new habit formation: Decision, Discipline and Determination.

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On 24 November, they will be opening up their first Boutique concession store. This new concept by Izelia targets established and up and coming designers and allows them to sell their wares in London’s high streets.

The company will also be installing training facilities in the same space, such as sewing classes, pattern cutting, illustration, textile production, apprenticeships and work experience.

It’s the perfect place to learn the tricks of the trade and cover your basics to start launching your own fashion business.

You have to start somewhere, but soon enough you could be just like Isatu, waking up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning, and then making your way to your very own design studio.

Don’t just be a face in the crowd, stand out and don’t be afraid to pursue your passion!

Contact Izelia:
Instagram: @izeliafashion
Facebook: @izeliafashion
Twitter: @izeliafashion
website: www.izelia.co.uk


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