Freelance Alliance Spotlight: Fashion designer Helen Welch

Q: Tell us a bit about what you do, when you started out and what drives you. 

***image6***I am a freelance fashion designer who is open to any challenge or opportunity. I have worked in the fashion industry for about 12 years and freelanced for 5 years. Curiosity drives me, finding how to get the best product designed and produced for a variety of visions and concepts. I have a background in sport fashion, working for Diadora, ElleSport, sweatyBetty, Manuka, Runbreeze and Marks and Spencer.

I have a strong belief that fashion and style doesn't have to stop for fit for use active garments. This has led me throughout my career trying to keep fashion and fun in my designs whatever the brief. I have designed more ranges for new start-up companies with niche markets and briefs. Ethical lifestyle company, curvy business shirts for women with different shapes and maternity wear

Q: How do you find clients? Do you market yourself to any particular types of client, if so why and how?

I use various options to find clients. I have a website - www.helenwelch.co.uk - with a brief description of my work. I am also active in social media with a linkedin account which helps me keep in contact with previous colleagues. 

Freelance Alliance has helped me a lot to contact with new clients, with a lot of enquiries from new start-up companies. These can be exciting but if you are working with non-fashion industry people you need to guide them through the strange development cycle that is part of the fashion industry.

Q: What lessons can you pass on, to those starting out, regarding finding the 'right' clients to work with? ***image1***

I think you have to be clear with your communication so all parties involved have a clear idea what the work entails. Also, at key times of the design and development cycle, check you are both in agreement with regard to how things are going. Good communication always helps keep everyone happy, meaning you’re then less likely to have queries over payment. 

If someone is difficult over payment and will not come to an agreement you can always settle in the Small Claims court. Not really what you want as good relations are always best but it is there at a reasonable price if you need it. In all the time I have freelanced I have only had to resolve payment problems with one client there and hopefully that is the last.

Q: Businesses have been through a tough time recently, how has yours fared? Plus, any tips for others?

I am now working part-time as I have a son who I try to keep up with and look after the rest of the week. I find it hard to keep everything going and organizing client meetings that are not in my area, but where there is a will there is a way, and many of my clients are very understanding. My Iphone has been a saviour, as I am able to keep in contact with clients and deal with emails even if I am up a climbing frame or crawling through a tunnel at a soft play area!

Once again communication is the best way to take you through the harder times, including networking and always looking for new ventures. Freelance Alliance has been great to market myself outside the fashion circles I move in.

Q: When it comes to deciding to place a brief with an agency or a freelance, what benefits does a freelance creative offer clients?

A closer, more personal service. Once you have decided on your freelance and both of you are singing off the same sheet, I think you work together to create the vision, whereas an agency are more likely to take it away and then present back their idea of what you want, with a risk of diluting your initial vision.

It all depends on what you want in your service and it is quite personal.

Q: What have you been working on recently? ***image5***

I am setting up my own babywear label, Flamingos and Dominoes; bright colours and unisex prints that can be passed down to siblings, with a fantastic castle gift box that can be played with after the gift is received. I am waiting for my fabric so I can get the factory in Oldham, UK to produce the garments and currently building the website.

I am also working on a new ethical yoga, casual lifestyle brand ‘From Clothing’. Lovely soft flattering shapes and colours, on trend shapes that suit your lifestyle and an organic and kinder production route to the environment. www.fromclothing.com are launching later on this year.

I have also worked on a new ladies’ formal shirt company to suit different shapes for real women.

Q: What's in store for your freelance business next and any plans for the rest of 2011?

More of the above, great existing clients - with good communication and interesting ideas, finding new clients and helping them to create their visions, plus launching Flamingos and Dominoes to the masses while supporting British manufacturing.

Q: In 15 words or less, what makes for a happy freelancing lifestyle?

New ideas, good communication and waiting to see what exciting challenges are around the next corner.

For more information on Helen Welch and to contact her, please visit her Freelance Alliance profile.

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11th May 2011

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