For The Uninspired Woman: To all my beautiful aspiring fashion designers who tend to lack motivation on a weekly basis. Fear not because your dreams just like fashion Designer Rebecca Tembo can also come true. Meet the Black 21-year-old female from south-east London, who by the age of 18 created a small business designing and making pieces for private clients. She now has an online business, Each piece is designed and made by Rebecca herself in-house. Every garment made will be specifically for you by inputting the required measurements in your order on her website.
Can you describe one pivotal moment in your life that shaped you into the woman you are today?
I feel like there has been a lot of moments but the most important one was reading a book called “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday – an amazing book which teaches you how to turn obstacles into opportunities and how breakthroughs can only come through breakdowns. It was brutal but it was needed. I was a very self-pitiful person and never took responsibility for anything, I would blame others and circumstances but that book taught me that I am in control of my future at the very least. Yes, things will happen, but I am responsible for my reactions. Cry for five minutes then get up and go.
Who is your favourite designer and why?
I’d be lying if I said I had one so first would be Tamara Ralph from the only British couture house in the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, Ralph and Russo. I admire this brand a lot because of the detail which goes into every piece, some dresses take 600+ hours to create and wedding dresses usually start around £300,000. Tamara also started by designing and making dresses for people, then socialites and celebrities so hopefully my career can lead in a similar direction. Secondly would be Self Portrait – they create affordable luxury whilst maintaining high-quality standards. Their aesthetic is a reflection of my personal style for smarter casual looks.
What excites you most about fashion?
I’m more excited about what designers have created in the past and how they will be interpreted for modern fashion. I’m not into trends so I often look at older design houses for inspiration and techniques. Consumers are also becoming more aware of how their clothes are made, we are starting to spend more on quality pieces because fast fashion seems to all be the same and masks our individual authenticity.
How do you unwind and chill out?
I never chill out, even when I tell myself ‘okay, watch one episode of Hollyoaks tonight as a treat’ I’m on my phone responding to inquiries or researching things on google. But it doesn’t bother me, I enjoy the feeling of knowing I’ve worked hard. I, of course, hang out with my friends every now and again, but luckily I am surrounded by like-minded individuals so we use that free time to constantly inspire and uplift one another.
How long did it take you start your business?
I started the business by accident, I uploaded a photo of a dress I made onto Instagram and snapchat and people just seemed to like it. Ever since then, I was getting orders for custom-made pieces. However, I would say it has taken me 3 years to get the business to a level I’m okay with which is where it is now – an online made-to-order line whilst also doing custom-made pieces too. I am nowhere near where I want to be though, I still have a lot to achieve before I’m purely satisfied.
For women who don’t have the hourglass body shape will your clothes look flattering on them?
Of course. Everything I make is made to each clients measurements. Not all of my clients have hourglass body shapes, everyone is different and your body shape doesn’t define your beauty. There are things which flatter some, and things which don’t. That is why people spend money on having designers create pieces for them because we can help you make something which you feel confident in and enhances your best features. As opposed to visiting a tailor who doesn’t always have your best interest at heart.
Do you have a team in-house?
No, I do everything from branding, customer service, marketing, designing, and sewing all by myself. But as things are getting busier I’m outsourcing freelancers to help maintain running the business efficiently.
What defines a beautiful woman to you?
Work ethic. You can have the most perfect face and body but if you don’t work hard nor have any ambitions, to me that’s a real shame. We are living in a time where we don’t have to fight as hard as our ancestors or the suffragettes did for equality (still need to fight, but not as hard). So it’s such a waste of their efforts and lives to not take advantage of that. Clothes, makeup, Instagram likes mean nothing, it’s about the legacy you leave behind and the impact you have on people – that’s what makes you beautiful to me.
Where do you see your brand in 10 years?
In 10 years I want to be a monopoly brand in the niche market of custom-made and made-to-measure womenswear. I see the brand having studios in London and LA, on the red carpets, selling at a higher price point and breaking glass ceilings.
What do you want your legacy to be?
As much as I love fashion, I want to be first known as a businesswoman. I want to be an example to the world that a black woman from South East London can make it in a cut-throat industry and touch the hearts of plenty. I want to encourage diversity, not segregation and help people achieve their full potential. I don’t plan on retiring so I hope my predecessors share the same vision.
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