Leading Ladies: Stories of Success - Chapter One

Posted by Rebecca Rhodes on

Welcome to ‘Leading Ladies: Stories of Success’; an interview series where we sit down with a nominated woman and delve into their world. We’ll be discussing how they got to where they are today, what drives them and ultimately, get an insight to the world as it is from their perspective. 

Our guests are asked to nominate another woman at the end of the discussion. The aim is to get guests in from all walks of life, all industries and all different experiences, yet united by womanhood. We want to share stories and get women talking, as well as inspired. In a society that often tries to challenge successful women - we want to celebrate them. 

Who better to start off to start this series than our very own Rebecca Rhoades? 

We sat down with Rebecca in our Leeds Studio and kicked off the start of what will be a very exciting new series…

What were your first steps into the fashion industry?

I have always made clothes since I was 10 years old; my first “business” I started whilst at university was called ‘Beautiful Girl’, (also the name of my degree collection), which I sold into two stores in Leeds, over 20 years ago now. 

How did you get into making your own brand? 

I have tried many times before the Launch of RR, under a few different names, ‘Beautiful Girl’, ‘Boutique’ and finally, after a 6 year break, I started RR again. At the time, I was working full time in a design job in London but started to create the brand in the background. I worked day and night, including every weekend, alongside a very demanding job. I used to have fit meetings with the factory in the pub next door at lunch time, all because I was so focused on being able to build the brand and finally leave my full time work. I made an exit plan to leave at Christmas 2016; I ended up leaving 4 months earlier because it had taken off. 

How has your design process changed from when you first started?

It’s still my favourite part of the job, although admittedly it is possibly the part I get the least time to do as I’m running a fast-paced, growing company. Even though we live in a digital world, I still draw with pencil; I feel it’s more authentic and helps my creativity. The biggest change is that now I have a team to develop, and sew the samples, but when collections are due and time is pressing you’ll still find me jumping on when I can. It is very hard to stay away from a machine when it’s incredibly creative being able to bring your designs to life with your hands. 

What drives you?

I have an unwavering work ethic that was instilled in me from a very young age and I refuse to give up. I know the potential of my designs and the strength of the brand; RR can be a huge success. I have also always wanted to make my mark on the world and to impact people’s lives in a positive way. What better way than giving women confidence through their clothing? That is what drives me and also my love for fast cars! There is a 911 waiting somewhere with my name on it. 

Do you feel any pressure as a woman in this industry?

Yes, I am under a huge pressure, but I would say the majority of it is what I put on myself. Something I find challenging is that everyone wants a piece of you. I think people can forget that you are an actual human being behind the brand. I manage a team of 8, the customer service, accounts, wholesale, the list goes on! It’s incredibly challenging to wear that many hats in one day. 

As your brand is growing, you are more in the spotlight. Do you feel more under pressure to be seen in a certain way? 

I feel nervous at the thought of appearing on our social media, but I understand how important it is for a brand to be authentic and for people to fall in love with you. It is something I feel incredibly challenged at. 

What are your overall goals for the brand?

To grow the brand worldwide online and also in retail. To launch our in-store retail concept of semi bespoke and bring something to the high street that is different and completely unique. 

How does it feel to see women in your designs? 

It is one of the best feelings; it makes me incredibly happy. I feel a sense of achievement every time someone buys a dress. It’s a feeling that never gets old. 

Who do you nominate to be interviewed next?

Melissa Di Donato.

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