Keeping up with Kiara-Bella Designs
What does a day in the life of a young, female fashion designer look like during COVID-19? The Creative Issue chatted to Kiara-Bella Moore about her label, Kiara-Bella Designs, her humble beginnings and how she is getting creative with her business during quarantine.
The Creative Issue: How long have you been in the fashion industry, selling clothes and participating in fashion shows and events?
Kiara-Bella: I’d say probably a year and a half. I started really just launching into events and industry stuff in the last year. But probably two years before that I was building myself to where I am today.
TCI: Where do you draw your inspiration from for your designs?
KB: I absolutely love drawing inspiration from nature and flowers. Just natural beauty from the world. I just get in zone and surround myself with nature. When I’m in a happy place, things just tend to come to me.
TCI: How would you describe your brand to someone that hasn’t seen it before?
KB: I’d say it’s very feminine, very bright. I try to radiate this in my life, just surrounding myself with things and people that are bright and beautiful. Very flowy and a bit classy/boho.
TCI: When did you decide to start your business?
KB: I decided at the end of grade 12. I found the end of high school a really hard time for me in my personal life. So that inspired me to just jump right into my passions and just launch my brand. To start from nothing and just make something over time.
TCI: Were you working all through high school building ideas up of designs?
KB: All through high school I was mainly drawing and then I started to build my own skills and learnt how to make some of the ideas that I had. When I finally made it to the end [of school] I’m like, okay, I can start trying to do this as a business and bring my drawings to life. It’s been a lifelong progression. I’ve always wanted to do fashion since I was tiny. I would draw dresses from when I was three years old, all the way up until now.
TCI: So, it’s really been your whole life?
KB: Yeah, my entire life. From when I could hold a pencil, I have just loved drawing dresses. And fashion, I have always been obsessed. My preschool teacher was at my graduation and she said, “I remember when you were in preschool and you used to come with several outfits, so you could change throughout the day”.
TCI: Has your business grown much since you’ve started?
KB: Yeah, I’d say it’s a slow process to build that authentic clientele. It’s definitely grown so much since I started. When I started, it was literally a little Facebook community and now I’ve been able to do a website, events and just have people recognise me in my Brisbane area. It’s definitely been able to get to a point where it’s not just like a little social media hobby, it’s more so a registered label. It just keeps growing over time as you just build into it. It’s definitely not easy and it’s not sudden, it’s something that takes time.
TCI: Do you feel like there’s a lot of competition in the industry or is there a lot of support amongst other labels similar to yourself in the Brisbane fashion scene?
KB: I definitely find a lot of the like-minded, young designers with me have been able to connect really well, it’s been a really positive interaction. But the industry itself, I find it’s extremely competitive and hard to keep up, especially with fast fashion as opposed to a hand-made, customised label. It’s very saturated and hard to compete. But at the same time, you have just got to stay true to your niche and trust that you can build that, and people will appreciate it.
TCI: What did a regular day in the life of Kiara-Bella look like before COVID-19?
KB: I find it’s not too much of a difference given I’m home based. I do work from a home studio; I don’t have an on-site store or anything like that. Basically, I sew during the day, I’ll work on my website, I’ll create and draw up new ideas, and play around with fabrics. I’m the kind of person who has a million things going on at once and has so many ideas, so I just have to piece it out throughout the day. On the social media side of things, it’s all very home based during the day. Just working on different ideas, projects and orders.
TCI: In the business aspect has anything changed regarding collaborations with photographers and meeting other designers through events which have ultimately been cancelled?
KB: I’d say not so much in my work life, but definitely in the connectivity of events and participating in community-based fashion, interaction activity and networking. I haven’t been able to work with any photographers, models or events. It’s been hard to branch out in that sense. It’s been definitely more a time to come back into my creative space and try to start working on new ideas in preparation for when things do start rolling again.
TCI: Has your sourcing of materials been affected by the COVID_19?
KB: Yeah it has. The supplier I have in India has gone into lockdown, so I haven’t been able to access them. I’ve recently just found a new one based in Egypt, which is a relief, because my biggest stress was not being able to access new fabrics. Everyone’s in the same boat with things lately. You just need to not put too much pressure on yourself when circumstances are drastic. I’ve just been trying to make do. Whatever I can do in this time, I’ve been doing it. I’ve got my local fabric, which is still going and that’s good, but it’s been good to find a new one that’s functioning too.
TCI: Have you seen like an increase or decrease in sales since this has all started happening?
KB: In my swimwear, I did do an Easter promotion and that resulted in an increase in sales because I think more people have been online. But overall, it’s definitely been a decline in the custom-made clothes as people aren’t going to events, and it’s not required. People aren’t spending as much money on handmade fashion in that price margin. I picked my niche for this time, which was swimwear and can run sales, so there are people that are spending in certain areas of fashion. I targeted swimwear because people can go to the beach and be at their pool.
TCI: I saw that you were selling face marks as an extension to your brand and current product line. How has this been? Was it successful?
KB: Actually, that was probably one of my most successful drops. Everyone really jumped at them. It was quite a controversial topic because there were different opinions on whether they were effective or necessary. But at the end of the day, I did my research and it’s better than nothing. Yeah, it isn’t P2 Grade, but it’s that barrier of extra protection and it is there to prevent you from making hand to mouth and hand to nose contact. They are pretty as well.
TCI: What can people do to help and support small businesses like yourself during this time?
KB: Even if you aren’t in the financial position to physically buy anything from designers, I think it does help to just share on social media and tell your friends. It’s just that word of mouth support and sharing, that’s a big way to help local creatives. Obviously, if you can buy their products that’s great too. But I think it’s giving that support and encouragement to other creatives, whether it be photographers, designers, models, just keep the spark alive.
TCI: Is there anything else that you’d want to add?
KB: I’m working on new things ready for new collections. This time has been good for people to just re-evaluate what their values are. I’ve definitely had some new ideas on how I can make my label a bit more broad and versatile. I’m thinking of mixing some block colours in with the florals, to make things less full on for some people. I think a lot of stuff is just shifting, because we are so blocked off from other countries we are having to really come into our own and support locally and buy locally.
Keep up-to-date with Kiara-Bella
Instagram (Business): https://www.instagram.com/kiarabelladesigns/
Instagram (Personal): https://www.instagram.com/_kiarabella/
Instgram (Drawings): https://www.instagram.com/studiokiarabella/