How this top SA fashion designer became successful

Image source: Supplied
Suzaan Heyns is a Johannesburg-based label. The brand was launched in 2008 and has since quickly amassed a following amongst fashion conscious men and women. The brand's signature can best be described as having an architectural sentiment that has a feminine twist, with concepts derived from avante garde ideals and classic silhouettes.

Here, Suzaan tells us more about her job:

How did you end up working as a fashion designer?

I won a bursary through Elle Magazine to study fashion at LISOF design school in Johannesburg. From there I started doing fashion illustration for the advertising industry and spent a couple of years styling as well.

This afforded me the opportunity to slowly build my label in my free time with the bit of extra money I was making by freelancing. In 2010 my business partner, Moira Jensen, joined the business and we built it into a company in which I could then design and produce garments full-time.

They opened up our first shop in Melville in 2011 and moved to Melrose Arch in 2012 where the flagship store is currently situated.

What is a normal day like for you?

We start the morning in the studio with a production meeting discussing deadlines for clients, clothing drops for the shop and planning around ranges or Fashion Week. Everyday is completely different.

I might be doing interviews, shoots, client fittings, patterns, cutting, grading or attending a work function. I am very hands-on in the studio and do all the master patterns and sign off on each garment myself.

We also experiment with various techniques and materials in the run-up to a show and the studio can get quite messy and chaotic at times.

What are your biggest work challenges?

Being a small and experimental label, we constantly change the systems that we work in to accommodate fabric shortages, time-frames and other obstacles. Fashion is not an easy industry and still relatively touch-and-go regarding resources in manufacturing and supplies.

Sometimes every day can be a challenge, but luckily in our case we can make snap decisions to work around them.

What is the best part about your job?

There are many aspects of my job that I love. Working with clients on wedding dresses and special occasion-wear and seeing the transformation is always satisfying.

I also love the experimental nature of the fashion shows and art projects that I am involved in, which constantly push my creative boundaries. The fun part is that I get to play on a daily basis.

Follow Suzaan Heyns on Twitter @suzaanheyns

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