Every week, we’re shining a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homewares and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware and accessories, we’ll be bringing you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week we chat to Helena Davis, founder and designer of her eponymous slow-fashion brand.
How did the brand come about?
I launched my brand end of 2016 after taking the leap of faith to leave my job in a fashion company. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer, be my own boss and have that creative freedom. So I thought what better time to start.
My brand has been on a very big journey and has undergone many changes throughout the years. I decided to refresh and relaunch my brand in 2020 during the first lockdown, as I ended up having a lot more time on my hands to really pour my all into it and create a brand that I love. I built it around my hand-embroidered designs and it’s blossomed from there.
What three words would you use to describe the Helena Davis aesthetic?
Joyful, playful and characterful – my little brand motto is ‘If I can make you smile = my job done!’ It’s been a tough year for everyone, so I wanted to create designs that would spark that little bit of joy.
Who is the Helena Davis customer?
Someone who truly cares about shopping slow fashion and knowing where their clothes come from. Someone who appreciates quality over quantity, not chasing trends but searching for something they can wear and treasure forever. They’re also not afraid to try something a little different but still be comfortable in what they’re wearing.
Where does inspiration come from for your designs?
Really and truly, anywhere! In terms of the embroidery designs, more often than not I’ll see something completely random, like the fried egg sweets from a packet of Haribo, and think that would look cute as an embroidery design. Then the ideas just stem from there. In terms of the garment design itself, I normally just think about what I would like to wear and design around that.
Tell us a bit about your design and making process.
So everything within my brand is done by me in my little at-home workroom. I get a lot of help from my lovely pattern cutter mum, who works on the garment patterns with me, but other than that, I’m a one-woman team. Everything is completely made by me.
So I start with the design idea and sourcing the materials, which then goes into the trial and error stage. I’ll make the pattern, cut it out of the material and sew it up. Sometimes this will take a few trials before the fit is perfect but once I’ve finalised the fit, I start testing out the hand-embroidery designs to see what works and what doesn’t. From there I grade the patterns for the different sizes.
Is the brand striving to be sustainable?
Yes! I’m trying to make changes as I go along to become more sustainable, even if they’re just the smallest changes. I’m a strong advocate for slow fashion, so all my garments are made to order by me, so there is no mass production or wastage. The fabric I use is Oeko-tex Standard 100 certified, which means it’s free of harmful chemicals and substances.
I also changed all my packaging last year to recyclable boxes, tissue paper and thank you cards. I still have a very long way to go but I will continue to research ways to become a more sustainable brand. For instance, I want to look into what to do with the small scraps of fabric I always have leftover from cutting the garments as it doesn’t feel right just throwing them in the bin.
Which piece is your favourite?
I’m going to have to say it’s my brand new sweatshirts I’ve just released. I released a stunning lilac one with the embroidery ‘take it ‘over’ easy’ and a little fried egg and a super cute powder blue one with the embroidery ‘daydreamer’ and clouds. I am over the moon with how they came out. They are made out of the softest material and have a slightly oversized and relaxed fit, so are super cosy and comfy.
Anything exciting planned for the brand this year?
So I’ve just released the new sweatshirts, which I am very excited about, but I’m always thinking of new designs and where to move forward. I’m hoping to release a wider variety of things this year and branch out to other garments, like dresses etc. Last year I also did a couple of online markets, which was incredibly fun and it made me excited for the possibility of doing some ‘in real life’ markets this year.