There are no limits to what you can do
don’t let anybody tell you otherwise
Alfred Nathaniel Turner 1931-2010
That’s my dad, his words of wisdom, and my mantra for life and business.
I didn’t know at the time how profound this statement would be, and for anyone in business, starting a business, or thinking of starting a business embrace the concept.
My passion for the craft of fine sewing (known as couture) and designing has been with me since my mum deemed it safe for me to hold and use needles, pins, scissors, sewing machine and fabric from the tender age of 5 this is my story…
Aged 19 armed with my varying secretarial certificates, I left my home in Manchester to pursue the streets of London lined with gold. It was all happening in London, which turned out to be a huge culture shock, stand to one side on the escalators, and who queues for buses!?
Secretarial work was another shock all the theory and college training did not match the reality of working in an office. I didn’t know it at the time but, I had this pattern of working for a company for a couple of years, and then I would leave to pursue other avenues, from publishing to telesales executive, recruitment consultant, PA, wardrobe assistant in television, my parents would despair that I wouldn’t settle down.
1995 was to be a huge turning point in my life. I had finished a contract for the Big Breakfast and there was a pilot course entitled ‘The Business of Fashion’; it was there that I also met my friend and fashion guru Eudes Labadie who would later be the fashion illustrator for my brochures.
From this course I made a decision to pursue my passion of fashion designing, and then a brick wall in my mind was built, ‘am I good enough?’
In order to pursue this work I would have to go back to college part-time to fund my studies, I decided to work freelance, I had the good fortune to meet, Dr Irwin Stelzer an American economist and writer for The Sunday Times, Dr Stelzer’s wife Cita became my first major couture client she was brilliant.
The American Chamber of Commerce would host evening events for their UK and US sponsors I was given the opportunity of hosting my first fashion show for PA’s and Secretaries in association with Revlon at the Hilton Hotel Park Lane. My parents attended the event and were so proud, they totally understood the passion that had been my constant companion, plus they could also sleep easier at night!
In 2000 I had the opportunity of travelling to the US and meeting with Betty Halbriech author of ‘Secrets of a Fashion Therapist’ and style consultant for Bergdorf Goodman; a formidable women. Her advice was I had two choices: I could work on becoming a major fashion brand; or be a micro label that embraces the artisan techniques of old.
The following years I was still working freelance for other companies (one being a luxury fashion brand), studying, and saving. 2006 Sewing World Magazine wrote a feature on my work naming me a ‘couture queen’ then I had my first experience of selling my work retail: A company specialising in selling the work of designers. However, their commission fees kept changing and financially it didn’t make good business sense, thus it was back to the drawing board.
At this point a private client suggested that I specialise slightly and I looked at the work of Anne Fontaine white shirts, and Diane Von Furstenberg the wrap-over dress.
My Eureka moment: I had to host an event.
I had made myself a jersey dress with its own unique fit and design, the compliments and enquiries convinced me I was on the right path. Concept in place now the research, business plan and business workshops; a retail outlet was not the way for me initially due to costs. I researched on-line boutiques which was more viable as a sole trader.
If you build it they will come!
Building the website – this is what I learnt, when you call a web designer they will take their own ‘sweet Fanny Adams, supermodel time’ to get back to you; however when faced with the severe snow of last year they will return your phone calls, which by this time for me was too little too late.
Mr and Mrs Synchronicity intervened in the form of my mate and former work colleague Vernon Grandison who had returned from his self-imposed exile. Vernon would later be renamed the Web Wizard, listening to Vernon and Mick Lowe the graphic designer discussing logo’s and layout in computer talk, the words ‘lost in translation’ spring to mind.
December 23rd 2010 the first signs of a website coming to life started to take place, yet there was still loads of work to do. What happened to the brick wall of my mind? I removed those bricks one by one at first, and then took a sledge hammer to the remainder! It was a realisation and revelation that next to the love for my family and fantastic supportive friends, my heartfelt passion is the creative process of producing exquisite, individual hand-crafted garments that you can’t find anywhere else.
February 23rd 2011 the website finally went live, I felt a huge sense of achievement and exhaustion all at the same time.
April 20th 2011, the first garment ‘Rafaella’ was sold to a lady in Scotland, as with all of my garments they are a labour of long hours and dedication to the craft, it felt fantastic.
What I would like to share with my fellow business women entrepreneurs, is that the clichéd phrases we have read along the way are true and valuable, a major one is:-
Belief in yourself and your abilities is the life-blood of your business.
Wishing you all continuous success on your journey…. www.coralturner.co.uk.
About the Author:
Coral Turner is the Founder of Coral Turner Couture, encompassing Coral Turner Exclusive Originals, and Coral Turner signature black label. As a designer and couturier, Coral is responsible for all aspects of her ready-to-wear, one-of-a-kind Jersey Cocktail collection, showcased on her website. In addition Coral also works directly with private clients on bespoke pieces. Working with different fabrics, textures, designs and colours Coral Turner Couture produces beautifully finished garments which enhance individuality and are a pleasure to wear. For more information visit http://www.coralturner.co.uk, or call 020 7732 7528. You can follow Coral on Facebook, Coral Turner Couture, and Linkedin, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.