Deconstructing Entrepreneurial DNA with a Bent of Fashion!
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Success stories are not written overnight. It takes years of invincible faith, spirit and perseverance to do something great and extraordinary in the long race of life. Not everyone’s journey is alike but the aspect of struggle remains a constant.
Raishma, a woman entrepreneur has a short name but her work speaks volumes. Her designs have been showcased in London, New York, Marrakesh, Paris Couture Week, Middle East and a long list that follows. Raishma opened her fashion house under the self-name in 1996 and she has since dressed over 2,000 brides, members of the British Royal Family and A-list celebrities.
The Journey Started Early On
Being the eldest among four children, Raishma very early on understood the virtues of duty and responsibility. However, she was a girl of dreams and her aspirations were brimming very early on in life. “My love for fashion started at the age of 11, I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she recalls with nostalgia.
However, her parents like other traditional folks thought that she might just get married and thereafter spend the rest of her life making dresses, “To their dismay, I wanted a full-time career in fashion. I studied fashion at the Chelsea School of Art and De Montfort University.” Not someone who could be stopped from spreading her wings and taking on the world, Raishma got trained under Elizabeth Emanuel, a name famous for designing many outfits for Princess Diana.
This training has helped her give new dynamics to her designs. She shares, “I learnt how to use corsetry and create boned bodices, which is Elizabeth's specialism. I then went onto creating boned garments in fusion styles well before the rise of this trend in the early 2000s. She had a great eye for detail and fit, which I hope comes across in my own designs!”
At 25, she opened her own store, retailing, fusion eveningwear and bespoke bridal wear. She has dressed everyone from Princess Eugenie to Goldie Hawn.
The Challenging Road Ahead
Even though Raishma brand was established 20 years ago as a pioneering label in the British Asian fashion world, it has only in the last 4 years blossomed into a mainstream brand within the UK and internationally. Why? “Because I put my life on hold to have children who both had health issues in their early years and as a result, my family was my sole focus throughout my thirties,” she replies.
Motherhood, the duties and responsibilities that come along with this role are difficult to fathom. Women have, since infinite past, struggled with work and family balance. The key is to give your best in all spheres of life. She says, “Once they were older and in better health only then did I re-evaluate the business. This is when I broadened my focus and decided to develop my brand.” Rising like a phoenix from the depths of challenging circumstances, Raishma rose once again from her circumstances because she was driven by the passion and hunger to achieve the dreams she had been clinging on to since childhood, “That realisation was the drive I needed and now, the brand I created is a successful business and has grown to a level I once believed would never happen.”
Drawing inspiration Within and Without
From where does she draw the inspiration to design? “I look at key trends for the season, then relate these to history and nature to build a story for my collections.” There are no boundaries for inspiration. It could be a painting that inspires the colour palette, or a pattern that influences an embroidery. “My cuts are tailored and versatile in style, a canvas to colour and detailing, be it an embellishment or a print.”
Let’s Talk Women!
Her designs have been showcased throughout the world. There is no dearth of fame. And then focus comes on women. I ask Raishma what she feels about issues related to size and shape women face and she comes with a witty response. “Which woman is happy with her body, whatever her size?” The only way out of this vicious circle of self-doubt is to embrace oneself. “We all have body issues so the more we can help women to regain their confidence, the better.”
As a brand, she fully supports increasing awareness on this topic, which she believes affects the majority of women. All women, perhaps.
Quick 5 with Raishma:
You have showcased your collections and designs all over the world. What is the common aspect that women look for in fashion all over the world?
Women want to feel and look beautiful in whatever they wear. They need to feel good and be true to themselves. Clothes let you show your individuality and who you really are.
Which is your favourite designer and why?
Ellie Saab and Zuhair Murad. I love the elegance and grandeur of their designs and how they pull their collections together. Their silhouettes are inspirational.
One fashion myth you would like to bust?
That you have to be skinny to look great in a dress!
A fashion advice you would like to share with women across all age groups, sizes and ethnicities
Make the most of your figure by wearing the right cuts to flatter your shape and enhance your best features.
A Staple piece in every woman’s wadrobe should be?
A blazer is a great staple piece for every wardrobe, should you wish to dress up or down with jeans or tailored trousers.