Although she doesn’t consider herself a fashionista just yet, Maddie has big plans for her future in the clothing industry. She has always had a talent for making things and was always considered the creative one in her group.
“I dug up a handbag recently that I had made completely out of my dad’s old ties, and even though it’s really embarrassing to see now, Mum kept it all these years and thinks it’s awesome.”
While at school Maddie really enjoyed materials technology and photography, but found it frustrating that there were so many creative restrictions. As a result, Maddie attended weekly classes at Inverlochy Art School after school, which allowed her to take charge of her own work and unleash her creative side.
“Basically all it was, was a group of sewing machines and you could just go in and make whatever you wanted. There were some really experienced tutors there who helped you if you asked, but mostly it was self-taught and really allowed me to just practise the practical side of things without having to delve too much into the importance of certain fabrics and so on.”
Although creativity is obviously an important trait to have as a designer, Maddie quickly realised that the fashion world was very competitive, and it does, in fact, pay to understand the various qualities of certain fabrics. She then completed a Bachelor of Creative Technologies at WelTec and turned her focus to starting up her own business.
“I often found myself drawing a lot, and so the guy I was dating at the time thought that we would be cool if I printed some of the designs on some shirts. Eventually we decided to start up our own clothing brand, which is called United Souls or US.”
After initially just printing designs on T-shirts, Maddie decided to make use of her sewing ability and began altering the shirts and singlets so that each had its own unique edge.
Starting a fashion label takes more than creativity alone, however – it takes money, and lots of it. Maddie subsequently began work at a retail outlet with a good reputation for the brands they supply and the quality of clothing they stock.
“The store that I work for is really supportive of aspiring designers and so a couple of us who work there have pitched our ideas to the owners and they have agreed to stock a few of our designs, which I hope will get [our name] out there.”
Despite the gradual progress, Maddie hopes that one day United Souls can be held in the same regard as brands such as Huffer or I Love Ugly, but until then she continues to create for the love of the art and, of course, for occasional costume parties.
“Creativity is always great to have but I’ve definitely learnt that, especially with going out on your own, it’s a big risk and the fashion industry is really quite hard to break into. I’ve been given good feedback though from other fashion designers who I hold in high regard, and persistence is key to success, so hopefully it will all pay off in the near future.”