Angelys Balek is a successful women's fashion label, set up in 2013. We look back to an interview that we had in the run up to their UK launch, showing what it takes to get a label up and running...
Describe your typical working day.
‘When I am in the zone designing my collection, I will work all night long and time loses all relevance. I am very much a night owl so researching, creating, sketching – that’s more of my typical working night. But on a typical working day, I’ll go fabric shopping in New York’s garment district and have a meeting with the mills. My work is split between New York and Bangkok – New York is where I research my designs and Bangkok is where I bring them to life in production.’
How did you get to the point you are today?
‘I work 24/7. I never stop thinking about my designs and my company. I am the first to get into work and the last to leave. I treat each collection as though it is my first collection and I give it my all.’
What advice would you give someone trying to break into your industry?
‘You need to know someone with deep pockets! Starting a fashion label is not easy and it certainly isn’t cheap. You need a lot of cash upfront to buy the fabrics and put the line into production, so having investors on board at the start are key. Also be realistic and be ready to change your life. You need to have incredible determination to succeed and this is going to require a lot of sacrifice in your personal life – but if you love what you do, it’s easy to give up the work/life balance.’
What did you want to be when you were a child?
‘A designer. Always. My mother wanted me to be Miss Thailand, but when she’d put a crown on my head and lipstick on me, I’d always tell her that I was going to be a fashion designer.’
Tell us your five-year goal.
‘In five years, I would love to be accepting a CFDA Fashion Award at the Lincoln Center – that is my dream! I would also like to have expanded Angelys Balek, so it includes footwear, jewellery and designs for the home. I want to create a full lifestyle brand.’
Who inspires you?
‘My father is my biggest role model. He taught me to work hard and never give up – the best advice for a fashion designer. My role models in the fashion world are Giles Deacon, Peter Pilotto and Miu Miu.’
What skills do you look for in new employees?
‘First and foremost, I look for loyalty in my employees. There is a lot of copying of designs in the industry and I look for employees who want to protect the designs and the brand. I also look for those who are hard-working and have the same work ethic as me, so we can burn the midnight oil together. And thirdly, I look for creativity – the more imagination and eccentric thinking the better – I like to work with a team who see things differently from everyone else.’
What do you do to unwind after a tough day at work?
‘I go to the spa and have a Thai massage. I also love to play with Pandora – my chocolate brown Pomeranian.’
Do you manage to squeeze a workout into your day?
‘I swim 100 laps every day. I use an underwater iPod case and just keep going. In New York I love speed walking around Central Park to clear my mind, and in Thailand I do yoga three times a week.’
How would your colleagues describe you?
‘I am a bull. I’m a fighter and I don’t give up.’
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
‘Don’t just give it 100 per cent, give it more – much more! And stop dreaming and start living.’
in association with Cointreau and Next. A one-day event on 23 April
2016, featuring advice, tips and inspiration from incredible speakers.