Join my next workshop – Introduction to Selling on Amazon >

Helen Barker is the co-founder of Fika. Helen’s aim is to create a positive impact in the fashion industry through my slower paced, sustainably conscious brand.

We talked about the fashion industry as a whole, and some of the issues that Helen sees with the industry. We discussed how Helen is trying to change this Fika focusing on slow and sustainable fashion. From how she sources material sustainably, to her first trade show, Helen shares lots of fascinating details about setting up and launching a fashion brand.

Listen in to hear Helen share:

  • An introduction to herself and her business (01:17)
  • The current issues with the fashion industry, and how Fika is addressing these (01:41)
  • What slow fashion is (05:04)
  • How to source and produce clothes responsibly (07:51)
  • Finding suppliers (11:00)
  • Their design process (13:43)
  • How they do true to fit sizing for their clothes (14:46)
  • Why true to fit clothing matters (16:07)
  • Launching a fashion brand (18:38)
  • Doing their first show (23:32)
  • Getting stocked in shops (25:47)
  • Finding stockists at Trade Shows (26:47)
  • Setting up a website (30:11)
  • Her number one piece of advice for anyone looking to set up a fashion brand (32:57)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Fika Edit Website

Fika Edit Instagram

Fika Edit TikTok

Fika Edit Pinterest

Moda

LET’S CONNECT

Join my free Facebook group for product makers and creators

Find me on Instagram

Work with me

Transcript
Speaker:

Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast, practical advice

Speaker:

and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products.

Speaker:

Here's your host, Vicki Weinberg.

Vicki Weinberg:

Hello.

Vicki Weinberg:

Today I'm talking to Helen Barker, the co-founder of Fika.

Vicki Weinberg:

Helen's aim is to create a positive impact on the fashion industry through her

Vicki Weinberg:

slower pace sustainably conscious brand.

Vicki Weinberg:

So Helen and I spent lots of time talking about the fashion industry

Vicki Weinberg:

as a whole and some of the issues that Helen sees with the industry.

Vicki Weinberg:

And what she's doing as the co-founder of Fika to change that.

Vicki Weinberg:

So we talk a lot about slow fashion, sustainable fashion, as well as how

Vicki Weinberg:

to start a fashion brand from scratch.

Vicki Weinberg:

So whether you are interested in starting a fashion brand, whether

Vicki Weinberg:

you're just interested in fashion in general, or perhaps neither, I

Vicki Weinberg:

honestly think you'll, you'll find this episode really interesting and

Vicki Weinberg:

fascinating, um, as Helen is really open and she has lots to share with us.

Vicki Weinberg:

So hi, Helen.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for being here.

Helen Barker:

Hi.

Helen Barker:

Thanks for having me.

Helen Barker:

I'm so excited.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, me too.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, so can we please start with you giving an introduction to yourself, your

Vicki Weinberg:

business, and what you sell, please?

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

So I'm Helen.

Helen Barker:

I am co-founder and owner of Fika, which is a responsibly

Helen Barker:

sourced fashion brand for women.

Helen Barker:

And our aim is to really create a beautiful range that empower

Helen Barker:

women, make them feel amazing, but also give them those key pieces

Helen Barker:

that they need in their wardrobe.

Helen Barker:

It's, it's quite a different model.

Helen Barker:

We're kind of trying to slow things down a bit, which, which

Helen Barker:

I know we'll go into a bit later.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, it would be good to talk about that actually.

Vicki Weinberg:

But I think before we go into what Fika's looking to do, um, maybe we'll

Vicki Weinberg:

talk about, a bit about the fashion industry in general, because I know

Vicki Weinberg:

from, um, speaking to you before that the kind of reason behind Fika is that

Vicki Weinberg:

there are some issues that you guys see with the fashion industry as it is.

Vicki Weinberg:

So do you want to talk a little bit about that, about the issues you're seeing and

Vicki Weinberg:

then what Fika is doing to address that?

Helen Barker:

Yeah, definitely.

Helen Barker:

So, um, just to give you a bit of background, Fika means to slow down

Helen Barker:

and appreciate the good things in life.

Helen Barker:

It's a Swedish term, so that's kind of where it all started in a pandemic

Helen Barker:

when you know, everyone has stopped.

Helen Barker:

Um, and it really gave me and my business partner time to really

Helen Barker:

reflect on the industry, what's going on, and what really needs to change.

Helen Barker:

Everyone sat back and thought, okay, there needs to be a big change.

Helen Barker:

I think the big problems at the moment is fast fashion.

Helen Barker:

As a, as a nation, we've got used to wearing things once,

Helen Barker:

throwing them away, and that's become like almost like a culture.

Helen Barker:

And so in return, things are being mass produced quickly, quickly, quickly.

Helen Barker:

And also consumers are used to receiving those products really

Helen Barker:

quickly next day, sometimes same day.

Helen Barker:

So there's this kind of quite difficult cycle that has kind of been

Helen Barker:

born and it's really not sustainable for the future in terms of, you

Helen Barker:

know, where our planet is going.

Helen Barker:

And also in terms of the people making the, you know, the

Helen Barker:

factories and things like that.

Helen Barker:

It's just not a sustainable model, um, to keep kind of producing in that way.

Helen Barker:

So at Fika we really wanted to do something different,

Helen Barker:

make a real statement.

Helen Barker:

It was really scary to put it out there because, I don't know many

Helen Barker:

people that have kind of done it this way and um, through talking

Helen Barker:

to people, people are very excited about it, but it is quite a different

Helen Barker:

way, thing, to get your head around.

Helen Barker:

So we are really promoting slow fashion and really considering those purchases.

Helen Barker:

So our range is really designed to kind of be worn for season

Helen Barker:

after season, year after year.

Helen Barker:

We show people how to look after their clothing.

Helen Barker:

I know it sounds, you know, ridiculous, but actually if you look after

Helen Barker:

things properly, you know how to do that, then you know, those clothes

Helen Barker:

can be worn and worn and worn.

Helen Barker:

We really want to want people to keep their clothes for longer.

Helen Barker:

We want to try and send out, but basically the opposite message to fast fashion,

Helen Barker:

and I think that is where the industry kind of has to go in terms of the future.

Vicki Weinberg:

That really makes sense.

Vicki Weinberg:

I mean, I know for myself, I've definitely got to a point and I don't know whether

Vicki Weinberg:

it's a point in my life or just, I don't know, but where I definitely

Vicki Weinberg:

would rather spend a little bit more money on something that's good quality.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I also consider purchases a lot more.

Vicki Weinberg:

If I'm not going to wear something you know, week in and week out.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, maybe you don't wear things that often, but if, if you can't, if I

Vicki Weinberg:

can't see myself wearing something that often I think, do I actually need it?

Vicki Weinberg:

And I do think that maybe there is getting more of a shift

Vicki Weinberg:

in that direction, perhaps.

Helen Barker:

Definitely.

Helen Barker:

I think, I think the pandemic has been a big part of that shift.

Helen Barker:

I think without that I don't know whether we would be seeing such a change.

Helen Barker:

I think we really are at an interesting and exciting

Helen Barker:

turning point in the industry.

Helen Barker:

Not just fashion, but many other industries as well.

Helen Barker:

I know lots of other people that are starting small businesses, um, kind

Helen Barker:

of during and after the pandemic, and I think there's a lot of more

Helen Barker:

that to come, which is great.

Helen Barker:

I think I'm really, really looking forward to seeing what everyone else does.

Vicki Weinberg:

So you've mentioned quite a few things

Vicki Weinberg:

that Fika are doing differently.

Vicki Weinberg:

Let's, let's talk about some of those, if that's okay.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, when you talk about slow fashion, and for anyone who doesn't know, you

Vicki Weinberg:

know, is not aware of the term, how, how would you define slow fashion?

Helen Barker:

Um, for us it's, we use a made to order model.

Helen Barker:

Um, so it's about a three month turnaround, which, uh, you know, it's

Helen Barker:

quite a long time for people to wait, but, um, we do all that work in advance.

Helen Barker:

So we do it three months in advance of when it kind of

Helen Barker:

needs to be in for that season.

Helen Barker:

So, um, we, we want the range to be multi-seasonal, so it's

Helen Barker:

going to be worn across a season.

Helen Barker:

We're showing people on our Instagram how to style it, how to layer it.

Helen Barker:

Um, so yeah, that's kind of.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, I see.

Vicki Weinberg:

So, so it's not that the consumer orders and waits three months, it's the, from

Vicki Weinberg:

the time that you place that order.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

So we'll do it in advance and then it'll come in, you know,

Helen Barker:

that seasonally appropriate time.

Helen Barker:

Most of our stuff can be kind of worn throughout the year, but then there

Helen Barker:

are a couple of, you know, like coats.

Helen Barker:

And high summer dresses that need to be worn at certain times of the year.

Helen Barker:

But apart from that, um, yeah, we make sure that what we do is we get wholesale

Helen Barker:

orders at the moment, and then for Fika, the Fika brand, we go on the back of that.

Helen Barker:

So we don't create anything or make anything additional that hasn't been

Helen Barker:

bought by our wholesale stockists as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that's really interesting and we'll talk a bit more

Vicki Weinberg:

about how, so either, so obviously you're getting the orders and then,

Vicki Weinberg:

and then making it, that that is a really different way of doing it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I've.

Helen Barker:

Yes.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Am I right thinking that usually in the fashion industry,

Vicki Weinberg:

brands would make a whole load of different products and different ranges?

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

And then trying, and I guess that's why you see some of

Vicki Weinberg:

the High Street brands have these huge sales where they're really

Vicki Weinberg:

discounting things into the season.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

I worked in the, um, fashion industry for the last 15 years for a supplier,

Helen Barker:

so I was an account manager, so I did all of the selling, but all of

Helen Barker:

the creative side with the sign team and we work with a lot of big brands.

Helen Barker:

So I think that's where I've learned a lot of what I want to do differently.

Helen Barker:

And not necessarily, it's quite a traditional, you know, people do things

Helen Barker:

in a certain way in the fashion industry in terms of what season stock go, stock

Helen Barker:

goes in, um, and just the whole process.

Helen Barker:

And I was like, well, we don't have to do it like that.

Helen Barker:

We can do it, you know, the world is changing.

Helen Barker:

The climate is changing outside.

Helen Barker:

You know, we're here in November and the sun's shining and, you know, it's, it's,

Helen Barker:

um, we just have to be really adaptable.

Helen Barker:

And again, that's another thing that I took from the pandemic and also having

Helen Barker:

had so much experience in so many different brands, you know, from sort

Helen Barker:

of supermarket brands to more high, high end, global high street brands in the UK

Helen Barker:

and also America and things like that.

Helen Barker:

So it's kind of clubbing all that information together and really thinking,

Helen Barker:

okay, how can we use all of these tools that we, we've kind of previously seen and

Helen Barker:

put it to the absolute best kind of use.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, that makes sense.

Vicki Weinberg:

And and you mentioned then, as we talked about you, you have a

Vicki Weinberg:

three month, sort of order time.

Vicki Weinberg:

So let's talk a little bit about the sourcing and production.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I know that you source responsibly, so can you maybe talk

Vicki Weinberg:

a little bit about what that means and then talk a little bit about the

Vicki Weinberg:

production process, if that's okay.

Helen Barker:

Yeah, of course.

Helen Barker:

So, um, responsibly sourced is the main ethos of our, of our brand is,

Helen Barker:

um, you know, ensuring that we're using sustainably sourced fabrics.

Helen Barker:

Um, at the moment we have kept it quite tight and quite small.

Helen Barker:

We use a lot of organic cotton, recycled polyester, and then ecovero.

Helen Barker:

That's kind of the main things that we use.

Helen Barker:

Because as a small brand it is really difficult.

Helen Barker:

Obviously our quantities are really small and it's really difficult to make that

Helen Barker:

work with a, you know, a manufacturing unit that's quite established.

Helen Barker:

Um, so we've kept it tight, but we've kind of made sure the styles are doing

Helen Barker:

different jobs within our range for that, for those different types of customer.

Helen Barker:

Um, and I, you are quite lucky because obviously having that experience and

Helen Barker:

having contacts in the industry have pulled out a lot of favours and a

Helen Barker:

lot of people have come to help us.

Helen Barker:

So, um, we produce in Vietnam.

Helen Barker:

Um, I've worked with Vietnam for a long, long time, and I've been there twice.

Helen Barker:

Been to the factories, absolutely love the kind of setup that they have there.

Helen Barker:

It's one of the only countries that I've visited that has an amazing skill

Helen Barker:

for multiproduct within one factory.

Helen Barker:

A lot of factories have, um, you know, specialized, you know, especially

Helen Barker:

with things like denim, they have a specialized factory and outerwear

Helen Barker:

because they're so technical.

Helen Barker:

Um, but in Vietnam, The level of the, the, the skill of the

Helen Barker:

multi-product is just incredible.

Helen Barker:

And it really kind of, I fell in love with it, fell in love with the

Helen Barker:

people and the kind of the whole, it's very established out there.

Helen Barker:

Um, so I just felt like for us it was kind of relatively easy to get

Helen Barker:

going, but still find finding those key factories that would support

Helen Barker:

us when we're smaller as well.

Helen Barker:

I think that is kind of the biggest hurdle that we've had to

Helen Barker:

overcome, but we've got there.

Helen Barker:

I think that's the main thing is to keep going.

Helen Barker:

Um, and you know, it all kind of works out in the end.

Helen Barker:

But yeah, one of the, the many kind of hurdles that we had to enjoy.

Helen Barker:

But yeah, I can see that must be a challenge finding someone who wants

Helen Barker:

to work with really small quantities.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

I'm lucky that I kind of, yeah, managed to have those contacts, that support,

Helen Barker:

have been absolutely incredible in supporting, um, me and the brand.

Helen Barker:

So yeah, very, very lucky to have that.

Vicki Weinberg:

And with the three months all the time, I mean, I, because

Vicki Weinberg:

I honestly don't know this for the fashion industry, is that short or long?

Helen Barker:

Short, yeah, short.

Helen Barker:

So we, we normally work a year in advance, so when I was working for

Helen Barker:

suppliers, um, you know, the, the High Street will be working a year in

Helen Barker:

advance and they normally bring things like outerwear in, in sort of July,

Helen Barker:

September time, um, traditionally.

Helen Barker:

Um, so.

Helen Barker:

You know, they keep, they bring them in earlier.

Helen Barker:

They sort of tend to keep them in for longer.

Helen Barker:

I think that's changing a little bit now because of what the world's doing.

Helen Barker:

But I know a lot of retailers still kind of stick to that longer lead time.

Helen Barker:

They buy and bulk.

Helen Barker:

Um, and then obviously then they have to try and kind of, they get a better

Helen Barker:

cost price, but then they need to hopefully sell it and then kind of yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

So was that challenging as well from the point of finding suppliers?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because obviously they'd be working to much shorter time

Vicki Weinberg:

scales than they used to.

Helen Barker:

Yeah, I think for us, um, we did a lot of work on the fabric.

Helen Barker:

A lot of, lot of time.

Helen Barker:

The fabric takes a long, long time to make, you know, to source it and make it.

Helen Barker:

We did all that up front.

Helen Barker:

So when we were sort of creating the brand, we really honed in on

Helen Barker:

those key fabric bases that we really wanted to concentrate on,

Helen Barker:

and we made sure that they're there.

Helen Barker:

So that's why we've managed to kind of, although it's still quite long

Helen Barker:

for the consumer in terms of the fashion industry, it is quite quick.

Helen Barker:

Um, and we're lucky that we're working with factories that we're

Helen Barker:

actually doing them a favour.

Helen Barker:

So we've managed to, so when they're in their quiet, quieter periods

Helen Barker:

of time, they necessarily probably wouldn't have anything on the line.

Helen Barker:

They're slotting things, slotting our, our goods in there and making them.

Helen Barker:

So actually we're kind of helping them out and they're helping us out and it's

Helen Barker:

kind of worked really well because at, at times, factories can have really busy

Helen Barker:

times of the year because of the buying pattern of UK and global retailers.

Helen Barker:

Um, and then they have these really quiet times of year when

Helen Barker:

they, they don't have anything on.

Helen Barker:

And um, that's actually a really big cost for the factory to try and maintain

Helen Barker:

when they don't have as much going.

Helen Barker:

So they'd rather take these sort of smaller quantities, put on a bit of

Helen Barker:

a smaller line, um, and help us out.

Helen Barker:

So yeah, that's, it's taken a lot of planning, but obviously, because you

Helen Barker:

kind of know how it works that it, it's falling into place now and we are now

Helen Barker:

kind of getting into a groove with it.

Vicki Weinberg:

I love that.

Vicki Weinberg:

It's just so good that like everyone wins.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really good.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

I always wanted to, to kind of, my dad's got this saying and that he always wanted

Helen Barker:

me to sort of start my own business.

Helen Barker:

And he said, always do the right thing.

Helen Barker:

And so throughout the process of starting to think, I was like, right,

Helen Barker:

it's kind of my little motto in my head.

Helen Barker:

He kind of comes into my head, it's like, what is the right thing to do?

Helen Barker:

You have to build those, you know, we have this business because we've built

Helen Barker:

it and created those relationships for so long and I'm really, you know,

Helen Barker:

working with a small group of people, but I want to keep it with them, you

Helen Barker:

know, hopefully as we grow, we can grow with them and they'll grow with us.

Helen Barker:

And I think that's such an important part of the business.

Vicki Weinberg:

That really is, and I think it's, you're right, those

Vicki Weinberg:

relationships are so important because hopefully they're going to be long term.

Helen Barker:

Yeah, definitely.

Helen Barker:

Definitely.

Helen Barker:

I'm all about, uh, relationships, so yeah, it's really important to us and

Helen Barker:

yeah, we want to do the right thing and support manufacturing and also the

Helen Barker:

communities around it, um, as a business.

Vicki Weinberg:

And it's really interesting what you were saying about

Vicki Weinberg:

the fabric as well because one thing I noticed when I looked at your look

Vicki Weinberg:

book, which I loved by the way, was you do a lot of, um, sort of, so I

Vicki Weinberg:

was, I don't know how to call it, I would call it fashionable yet classic.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yes.

Vicki Weinberg:

But one thing I noticed that I loved was you would do like a, a like one beautiful

Vicki Weinberg:

top in lots of different colors, but I'm assuming that's the same fabric and

Vicki Weinberg:

it's being designed that way to help.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

Exactly.

Helen Barker:

Throughout the design process I've got two designers I've worked with

Helen Barker:

again for a very, very long time in previous roles, and I worked

Helen Barker:

really closely with them throughout.

Helen Barker:

I wanted it to be, what are those key pieces?

Helen Barker:

There's like well made really beautiful fabric pieces that people

Helen Barker:

need and want to wear year, you know, like a strip t-shirt and a

Helen Barker:

gorgeous bit that's really flattering.

Helen Barker:

You know, I'm quite a curvy girl myself, so I'm really particular about

Helen Barker:

how things fit and little details.

Helen Barker:

So we've really used that throughout the process to make you know.

Helen Barker:

Basically what I feel like I've been missing for a long time.

Helen Barker:

And also, you know, friends and family, been a massive inspiration.

Helen Barker:

You know, I'm 36 and a lot of my friends, um, have come up to me and

Helen Barker:

said, we can't find anything, you know, you need to do something about it.

Helen Barker:

And so I was like, oh, right, okay.

Helen Barker:

Um, but you know, Fika is, it's aimed at 30 plus, so anything,

Helen Barker:

you know, my sister is 40.

Helen Barker:

I wanted her to be able to wear it.

Helen Barker:

My mum's nearly 70.

Helen Barker:

I want her to be able to wear it.

Helen Barker:

And we have had that feedback from people, which has been

Helen Barker:

brilliant and also from younger.

Helen Barker:

So it really is a brand, brand for everyone.

Helen Barker:

Hopefully.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

And you touched on sizing then a moment ago.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I know one of the other things that that Fika does is true to fit sizing.

Vicki Weinberg:

Can you talk a little bit about that?

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, so what it is and how you achieve that.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I cannot get my head around how for any fashion brand, um,

Vicki Weinberg:

I was not, say for any fashion brand, they might close the fit.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I have to say there are lots of fashion brands in my opinion, make

Vicki Weinberg:

clothes that don't actually fit that well or don't fit consistently anyway.

Helen Barker:

Exactly, exactly.

Helen Barker:

That's, I mean, it's been what?

Helen Barker:

It's a minefield.

Helen Barker:

It absolutely is.

Helen Barker:

Because, you know, having worked with many different retailers, every retailer

Helen Barker:

has their own, you know, pattern and fit and look that they want to achieve.

Helen Barker:

I think for us, I wanted it to be more fluid.

Helen Barker:

So our sizing, apart from our denim, our denim is single size, but everything else

Helen Barker:

is extra small to extra, extra large.

Helen Barker:

And we've done that because we wanted it to be not just a size

Helen Barker:

eight, not just a size ten.

Helen Barker:

I wanted it to be more fluid within that.

Helen Barker:

And we've also designed the pieces to have comfort in them.

Helen Barker:

So we have, you know, on our formal trousers, we've got a little panel on

Helen Barker:

the back that's elasticated because you know, some people have curvy hips and

Helen Barker:

smaller waist, and some people, you know, are more conscious of their tummy areas.

Helen Barker:

They want a bit of give round there.

Helen Barker:

So, It's not just about the actual sizing, it's about creating breathable fabrics

Helen Barker:

and, you know, kind of movement within the garments so they can kind of fit as many

Helen Barker:

different body shapes as it possibly can.

Helen Barker:

Um, so our size is, you know, sort of like an 8 to 10 or

Helen Barker:

12 to 14, 16 to 18 and so on.

Helen Barker:

Um, it is more fluid in that way.

Helen Barker:

So I think, um, we want people to feel, to feel good and comfortable in clothing.

Helen Barker:

There's so many things that I've bought in the past and you know, it just hasn't

Helen Barker:

been representative, and you're right you know, it hasn't been consistent.

Helen Barker:

So for us, consistency is absolutely key.

Helen Barker:

We've done a lot of work on the patterns, um, you know, getting the fit right

Helen Barker:

and making that right, but also in terms of the pattern and making sure

Helen Barker:

that the wastage as a sustainable, responsibly sourced brand, the wastage

Helen Barker:

is all being kind of minimized and we're utilizing any wastage that comes

Helen Barker:

from outside the pattern as well.

Helen Barker:

That's all part of the process that we've put into, um, the fit as well as making.

Helen Barker:

So yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, wow.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I love those little details.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

It sounds like you put so much into this because I think there were so

Vicki Weinberg:

many brands out there that, you know, you can buy one t-shirt and you an 8

Vicki Weinberg:

and another T-shirt and you have a 10.

Vicki Weinberg:

And it's really, and I'm assuming that's because, um, they use different

Vicki Weinberg:

factories and different fabrics and.

Helen Barker:

Exactly, yeah.

Helen Barker:

And some of the, the you know, well cost effectiveness or cheaper brands,

Helen Barker:

they tend to kind of, the sizes can get smaller sometimes if they kind of have

Helen Barker:

a certain size of, um, width of fabric, they may try and squeeze a few more into

Helen Barker:

that panel of fabric than, than needed.

Helen Barker:

Whereas we overorder our slightly overorder our fabric so

Helen Barker:

there's more than enough room.

Helen Barker:

And then for our cotton example, we, um, are donating it so it can

Helen Barker:

be recycled into things like paper and cardboard and things like that.

Helen Barker:

Um, But it's, you know, you have to donate quite a lot of fabric, so

Helen Barker:

we're kind of collecting it all up.

Helen Barker:

Um, but yeah, it's kind of, it's, there's lots of things you can do.

Helen Barker:

It's just making it all work and meeting the right people.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I never knew that that's the reason because there were definitely some brands

Vicki Weinberg:

out there and I won't name any on here.

Vicki Weinberg:

There were definitely some brands out there though where you

Vicki Weinberg:

know, you need to go up a size.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, I know, yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

There was a couple of brands where if I go to there, I need to go up a size,

Vicki Weinberg:

because everything always is small.

Vicki Weinberg:

I didn't know that was why.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's so interesting.

Helen Barker:

I know it's bit naughty, but um, yeah, for us, I kind of want

Helen Barker:

people to be able to come to buy, especially with being an online brand.

Helen Barker:

You have to, you know, people need to know, you know, they bought that

Helen Barker:

t-shirt and they love that fit.

Helen Barker:

They want that to be the same, the same again.

Helen Barker:

So, um, yeah, it's continuity and transparency for us.

Helen Barker:

You know, I, having worked in the industry, I just want to be transparent

Helen Barker:

and real about what Fika is about and you know, what we're trying to do.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

And you must mention then about, um, being an online brand and in a little

Vicki Weinberg:

while we're going to talk about where people can actually buy fi from where

Vicki Weinberg:

you're stocked and how you are binding stockist and, and that kind of thing.

Vicki Weinberg:

But, so I'd love to know a little bit more about the process of sort of designing

Vicki Weinberg:

and launching the brand because, um, so, what, two and a half years ago

Vicki Weinberg:

maybe that you came up with the concept.

Vicki Weinberg:

Can you talk us through a little bit of what it is, and I know

Vicki Weinberg:

like it's, it's massive and you've gone into lots of details already.

Vicki Weinberg:

I just think it'd be really useful for, of course, particularly interested in fashion

Vicki Weinberg:

to kind of have a sense of the stages you need to go to, go through, sorry.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, yeah, no, definitely to launch, whether it's a fashion brand or

Vicki Weinberg:

just a one off fashion product.

Vicki Weinberg:

Because I'm assuming there were some key steps that you need to go through.

Helen Barker:

Yes, definitely.

Helen Barker:

Um, it's quite, you know, it changed a couple of times.

Helen Barker:

The first thing that obviously we did was research.

Helen Barker:

So research the market, what was out there, um, how we could do something

Helen Barker:

different to what was out there already.

Helen Barker:

I mean, I think following the pandemic in the last couple of years in the industry,

Helen Barker:

you know, the market's completely changed.

Helen Barker:

There's a lot of really well established brands that are not

Helen Barker:

there anymore or joined other brands.

Helen Barker:

So for us it was to see what was already out there, um, and really think

Helen Barker:

about who our targeted customer was.

Helen Barker:

So we did want it to be kind 30 plus, um, because we felt like that there wasn't

Helen Barker:

a lot out there for that age bracket.

Helen Barker:

Um.

Helen Barker:

And then the next thing we did was, which really was difficult, took

Helen Barker:

a long time, but really helped me, was to pinpoint our core values.

Helen Barker:

And almost like a mission statement, because I just think it's so important

Helen Barker:

to have that focus as a brand because you are creative, you're getting

Helen Barker:

all these different ideas, you're seeing all these different things.

Helen Barker:

You're meeting all these different people, you're getting all, you know,

Helen Barker:

it almost gets a little bit much.

Helen Barker:

So when you really hone into kind of your customer, who you're targeting,

Helen Barker:

um, and what those core values, what you really want to achieve,

Helen Barker:

and what our long term goal is.

Helen Barker:

You know, hopefully one day Fika will be able to expand into other areas,

Helen Barker:

you know, become more of a life brand.

Helen Barker:

I don't know if that will happen, but that was all part of the mindset

Helen Barker:

and I think it's really important to have that in your head as well.

Helen Barker:

Um, and then in terms of designing the product, we really went back to basics.

Helen Barker:

You know, having previously we would've, you know, looked at inspiration, looked,

Helen Barker:

um, you know, anything from things like art galleries to what people are wear,

Helen Barker:

actually wearing their street style.

Helen Barker:

Um, what other people are doing.

Helen Barker:

We kind of went everywhere and immersed ourselves.

Helen Barker:

We actually did a, um, we attended, me and the design team a seminar on

Helen Barker:

colour and how it, within sort of fashion and textiles and how certain

Helen Barker:

colours can sort of evoke certain kind of emotions and what colours would

Helen Barker:

do that and why they would do that.

Helen Barker:

So we kind of took that along with some of sort of seasonably

Helen Barker:

fashionable colours because we want be to be a happy, positive brand.

Helen Barker:

It's quite colourful.

Helen Barker:

Um, So that was really interesting.

Helen Barker:

And I actually, I loved doing things like that where you can really, and you

Helen Barker:

know, when we've done shows and things, people, you can see it come through

Helen Barker:

and people and they feed back to you.

Helen Barker:

So that's great.

Helen Barker:

Um, but we went back to basics and we literally, we would normally do it on a

Helen Barker:

computer, but we sat down, we had loads of images, we had a big, like a mood

Helen Barker:

board, like a physical mood board, and we literally just like pinned images on

Helen Barker:

there, fabrics on there, colours on there.

Helen Barker:

And that was our real basis of where the first range kind of started and

Helen Barker:

we had it in front of us all the time, and it was just so good to have it

Helen Barker:

in that really simple and plain way.

Helen Barker:

Because again, I think you can get really kind of confused about,

Helen Barker:

is this the right thing to do?

Helen Barker:

Is that the right thing to, especially when you're a small team as well,

Helen Barker:

you're second guessing everything you're doing when you're doing

Helen Barker:

it for the first time as well.

Helen Barker:

Um.

Helen Barker:

So it really kept us sort of in line and I was, I really wanted to create

Helen Barker:

that, you know, what is that capture wardrobe that that woman wants and

Helen Barker:

what does she want to update it with?

Helen Barker:

Um, and then it was kind of time to sort of, when we got that all together,

Helen Barker:

we made, obviously the samples and things like that, that took quite a long

Helen Barker:

time to get right, get the fit right.

Helen Barker:

I did that all in advance.

Helen Barker:

Whereas, you know, as a supplier, you would submit a sample and then

Helen Barker:

the kind of retailer would fit it.

Helen Barker:

But we did all of that beforehand because I just wanted to

Helen Barker:

reduce that lead time later on.

Helen Barker:

Um, and then we kind of went into the branding, which was super exciting.

Helen Barker:

We worked with a company, um, to help us on that because I, for me, I felt

Helen Barker:

like hope, it was a really important part of the brand that I was happy

Helen Barker:

to invest a little bit more money in.

Helen Barker:

Um, because I do see, hopefully the brand being going into

Helen Barker:

other avenues in the future.

Helen Barker:

And I wanted a, a logo and an aesthetic that that would work

Helen Barker:

on different, different things.

Helen Barker:

And, um.

Helen Barker:

That as well really helped the brand come to life.

Helen Barker:

But that was a big process.

Helen Barker:

I mean, you know, just getting, getting it all right, but it did all fall into place.

Helen Barker:

You know, all those things.

Helen Barker:

Um, obviously took quite a long time, so I'm whizzing through it a little bit more.

Vicki Weinberg:

No, that's fine.

Helen Barker:

But yeah, it, all of those kind of things came together

Helen Barker:

and then, then we did a show in Birmingham early in September.

Helen Barker:

That was our first show, and we kind of put the brand out there and

Helen Barker:

everyone loved it and it, that's where it all kind of started.

Helen Barker:

How it happened.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, so your show you did in September, is that where you found

Vicki Weinberg:

your first stockist for the brand?

Helen Barker:

Yes, yes.

Helen Barker:

Yeah, we did really well.

Helen Barker:

To be honest, that was really a show for us to create brand awareness and get

Helen Barker:

real kind of feedback on, on the range.

Helen Barker:

And, you know, there's nothing like in real life getting

Helen Barker:

someone's real reaction to things.

Helen Barker:

And it was absolutely, it was more than I could have ever, have asked for in terms

Helen Barker:

of feedback and meeting people just, you know, familiarizing yourselves with

Helen Barker:

people that have their own businesses, that have their own independent boutiques.

Helen Barker:

They're actually doing really well at the moment, which is brilliant.

Helen Barker:

You know the UK High Street, I know that times are tough and for everyone at the

Helen Barker:

moment, but you know, these independent businesses are doing really well, which

Helen Barker:

is great to see, and everyone's really kind of pulling together and supporting

Helen Barker:

each other, which is really nice.

Helen Barker:

Even the other sort of fashion brands, everyone's doing their

Helen Barker:

own thing, um, and supporting each other, which I think is really nice.

Helen Barker:

Because there is enough space for everyone.

Helen Barker:

Everyone's so different.

Vicki Weinberg:

Definitely.

Vicki Weinberg:

So was this a trade show specifically for the fashion industry?

Helen Barker:

And so it, well, it was Moda, so we did Moda, which has got,

Helen Barker:

um, yeah, bottom fair on it as well.

Helen Barker:

So yeah, we were in the fashion bit, obviously next to the catwalk, and we

Helen Barker:

got, you know, some things on the catwalk.

Helen Barker:

They came over, they loved it so much, said, oh, can you get

Helen Barker:

some things on the catwalk?

Helen Barker:

And we were like, yes, of course.

Helen Barker:

Um, so that was incredible as well.

Helen Barker:

And you know, industry, people from the industry, like Drapers

Helen Barker:

magazine, they came and loved the brand and did a whole feature on me.

Helen Barker:

So just having that awareness for us, you know, when we just

Helen Barker:

launched was, was incredible.

Helen Barker:

Really saying getting orders, which obviously is the main, main reason we

Helen Barker:

were there, which I didn't, I didn't really, didn't expect on the first show.

Helen Barker:

I was kind of prepared for it to be a little bit longer, so that was great.

Helen Barker:

No, that is great.

Helen Barker:

So it sounds like you, you were there with the intention of getting some

Helen Barker:

feedback maybe and around awareness.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

And then people were like, so can we buy?

Helen Barker:

And I was like, uh, yeah, of course you can.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

So that was, I mean, it was amazing.

Helen Barker:

That's absolutely incredible.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's brilliant.

Vicki Weinberg:

And is, well, are you able to tell us any of the places you stock first of all?

Vicki Weinberg:

Are there a few that you can tell us?

Helen Barker:

Yeah, we haven't gone in yet.

Helen Barker:

We're going in, um, to a couple in December.

Helen Barker:

So there's one called Moo which is based in Leamington Spa and one in North Wales,

Helen Barker:

which is, I don't think she's opened yet.

Helen Barker:

Um, she's actually opening on the 1st of December herself.

Helen Barker:

So she's bought a really big Fika range.

Helen Barker:

Um.

Helen Barker:

Which is amazing.

Helen Barker:

And there's one called Domestic Science, which is based on the Cotswolds.

Helen Barker:

We've got some things going a little bit later for them.

Helen Barker:

But again, they, they've got three stores.

Helen Barker:

So for us that was just brilliant.

Helen Barker:

Um, and then, um, and Dream On, uh, which supports, um, women that are um,

Helen Barker:

recovering from cancer, which is something really close to my heart personally.

Helen Barker:

Um, so when she, I met her at the show, and you know, what the, what they do

Helen Barker:

for, for women is just incredible.

Helen Barker:

So we really wanted to be a part of that as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And a trade show is the main way that you're finding stockists?

Vicki Weinberg:

Because as a new brand, I guess it must be quite hard to, to get

Vicki Weinberg:

stocks and I guess if people can see your clothes and feel your clothes,

Vicki Weinberg:

it must make a huge difference.

Helen Barker:

That's exactly what it is.

Helen Barker:

I think when people actually saw it and could feel it, they were like,

Helen Barker:

okay, this, this is worth, you know, this, this money sort of thing.

Helen Barker:

You know, we were trying to be a fair price.

Helen Barker:

We're not super expensive, we're not super cheap.

Helen Barker:

We're just somewhere in the middle.

Helen Barker:

We're trying to kind of give people really great quality for a fair price.

Helen Barker:

That's really what I'm really passionate about achieving.

Helen Barker:

Um, and yeah, it, it definitely.

Helen Barker:

Trade shows at the moment was probably something I hadn't thought about.

Helen Barker:

My business partner, he has a home fragrance brand, which I know, you

Helen Barker:

know, and he has done quite a lot of these trade shows and I helped

Helen Barker:

him for a day on a couple of them.

Helen Barker:

And I think that's what really inspired me, seeing everyone have their own

Helen Barker:

little niche, their own little business.

Helen Barker:

Um, I thought actually this is a really great way of, you know, I'd

Helen Barker:

never kind of seen that kind of thing.

Helen Barker:

So I'm in such a different world.

Helen Barker:

So for us, it has just been incredible.

Helen Barker:

I'm actually doing three more, one in January and two in February, um,

Helen Barker:

just because they're a brilliant opportunity to network and meet people.

Helen Barker:

I mean, it's just, yeah, it's great.

Helen Barker:

It's really, I'd really recommend it if you're a new brand.

Helen Barker:

It's really worth it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, I actually met your business partner, Demi, at a trade show.

Vicki Weinberg:

They are great.

Vicki Weinberg:

I'd never been to one.

Vicki Weinberg:

It was my first one I attended, and I just think they're brilliant because

Vicki Weinberg:

as you say, you just get, and it, because I think this, particularly with

Vicki Weinberg:

fashion, I mean I think it's probably the same for lots of other products.

Vicki Weinberg:

So Demi was there with his candle brands, and I felt thinking that's

Vicki Weinberg:

a product that you need to actually be able to smell because it's not.

Helen Barker:

Definitely it makes such a, and people were trying things on

Helen Barker:

and, uh, we didn't, we made a bit of a mistake because we didn't take a mirror.

Helen Barker:

We took, I took everything else.

Helen Barker:

I literally had, I thought I had everything and I thought, well I don't

Helen Barker:

know if people want to try things on.

Helen Barker:

I don't know.

Helen Barker:

I thought that, and you know, obviously they did.

Helen Barker:

So we would, you know, luckily the guy next to us was lovely and his

Helen Barker:

stand and he had one we used, but um, yeah, the feedback was great and

Helen Barker:

they just, it's really nice to meet people in real life and just talk to

Helen Barker:

people and, you know, some things.

Helen Barker:

Or does they come from?

Helen Barker:

They might and they haven't come from, and they might come later.

Helen Barker:

But you know, just meeting those people and having, you know, they've got that

Helen Barker:

awareness of you, um, is really great.

Vicki Weinberg:

Especially, I think it is, it's, it's fantastic.

Vicki Weinberg:

And especially when your brand currently is online as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, yes, so I think, and I know that you've got a great Instagram and as

Vicki Weinberg:

you said, I've been on your Instagram.

Vicki Weinberg:

I can see you've got some great styling tips and you're sharing a lot

Vicki Weinberg:

of your, your outfits, but there's no substitute really is there for

Vicki Weinberg:

actually seeing something in real life.

Helen Barker:

Yeah, totally, totally.

Helen Barker:

And I am the same.

Helen Barker:

I know, I, I still like seeing things in shops and things like that when I can.

Helen Barker:

Um, and that's what's really nice about, you know, partnering with, um,

Helen Barker:

smaller boutiques and things for the wholesale route because you, enables

Helen Barker:

your brand to get out there, um, in different parts of the country that

Helen Barker:

you wouldn't normally have there.

Helen Barker:

And, you know, we, we really want Fika to be in the right places and

Helen Barker:

I'm so happy with the, the brands.

Helen Barker:

The companies that we've partnered with so far because they have very similar kind of

Helen Barker:

ethos to what we are trying to get across.

Helen Barker:

You know, they're trying to reinvent the high street and change things and

Helen Barker:

you know, I think the more that we club together, they're kind of stronger

Helen Barker:

that will be and will make a change.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, definitely.

Vicki Weinberg:

And is your plan just to sell wholesale or do you have other plans going forward?

Helen Barker:

Yeah, so we started with a wholesale route because, you know, to get

Helen Barker:

some more money coming from a cash point of view, it kind of made sense for us.

Helen Barker:

And again, getting that brand awareness, um, was really important.

Helen Barker:

We have gone on the back of anything that's, we ordered, we ordered a small

Helen Barker:

amount for our website, which is kind of currently being worked on, and G2

Helen Barker:

B, which is another whole complication process, but it's, um, yeah, due to

Helen Barker:

go live kind of hopefully beginning of next year, um, if not before.

Helen Barker:

So, yeah, we've kind of decided to do a little bit of both.

Helen Barker:

And also, I mean, I'm probably being a bit cautious, but I

Helen Barker:

quite like to take things slowly.

Helen Barker:

So, you know, just ensuring that our setup and our process I've built in

Helen Barker:

probably way too much time in terms of the production time and getting it here

Helen Barker:

and then getting it back out to our, our new stock is just making sure that,

Helen Barker:

you know, for this first run, keeping it quite small is quite a good thing for us.

Helen Barker:

Just making sure that our processes are completely as they need to be.

Helen Barker:

You know, and really want to be able to deliver well, what, what we've said we, we

Helen Barker:

were going to do, which, um, touch wood, at the moment it's still going to plan.

Helen Barker:

So, uh, it's exciting.

Helen Barker:

Really exciting.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's amazing.

Vicki Weinberg:

And I do see that then it probably does need to be so much thought

Vicki Weinberg:

that goes into it because I mean, especially if you start, when you start

Vicki Weinberg:

selling on your website, it's self ordering and fulfillment and storage

Vicki Weinberg:

and yes, there's a lot, isn't there?

Helen Barker:

There is.

Helen Barker:

There is a lot.

Helen Barker:

And you know, we're a small team, you know.

Helen Barker:

Two designers, which are incredible.

Helen Barker:

And yeah, they do more than just, than designing.

Helen Barker:

They kind of help me with, they help me at the shows, they'll help me

Helen Barker:

back end when the stock comes in.

Helen Barker:

So, um, yeah, but it's still, you know, you think, oh gosh, before I

Helen Barker:

started, all three people, that's loads of people and loads of time.

Helen Barker:

But actually because you are right, there's so much to kind of think about

Helen Barker:

and do it every process, every point.

Helen Barker:

Um, It's a lot of hard work, but I do love it, so that's great.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, it's good to know that you love it.

Vicki Weinberg:

You have to do so much.

Helen Barker:

Yeah, that's part of the problem actually when I started, was

Helen Barker:

kind of changing, making sure that I had time to myself and time for the business.

Helen Barker:

Obviously the first sort of year or so has been quite intense.

Helen Barker:

I haven't really stopped, but more recently I've really tried

Helen Barker:

to, um, segregate my time better.

Helen Barker:

Manage my time better

Vicki Weinberg:

it definitely sounds though like I'm not, I'm not saying

Vicki Weinberg:

there's not any hard work to come, but it definitely sounds like you put in a lot

Vicki Weinberg:

of work sort of prior to the launch, which hopefully has set you up really well now.

Helen Barker:

Yeah, I hope so.

Helen Barker:

Yeah.

Helen Barker:

Fingers crossed.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, thank you so much for all that you've shared Helen.

Vicki Weinberg:

I have one final question, if that's okay?

Helen Barker:

Yeah, of course.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, and I ask if I ask, well I ask everyone a variation

Vicki Weinberg:

of this question, not the question, um, but what is your number one

Vicki Weinberg:

piece of advice be for anyone else looking to start a fashion brand?

Helen Barker:

I would say to understand the market and how it is changing

Helen Barker:

constantly and making sure that your brand is adaptable because fashion

Helen Barker:

is just, it's changing all the time and, um, the world is changing.

Helen Barker:

I think that you need to stay true to your brand as well, so you know,

Helen Barker:

whatever your thing is, make sure that you shout about it and that you stay

Helen Barker:

true to it throughout the process.

Helen Barker:

Even at times, if it's really hard and you know, have those, as I said before,

Helen Barker:

those core values and that strategy really clear in your head and in place.

Helen Barker:

And one of the, sorry, I'm giving you like five things here, but one of

Helen Barker:

the other things I would say is just ensure that you understand all the

Helen Barker:

elements of clothing manufacturing.

Helen Barker:

Beause there is so much that goes into it, you know, not only from a fit point

Helen Barker:

of view, but from a fabric point of view, from a technical fabric point of view.

Helen Barker:

Um, there's just so much that it's a, it is a complicated process, which I

Helen Barker:

think a lot of people don't realize.

Helen Barker:

Um, so just make sure that you are really clued up and you know, ready

Helen Barker:

to kind of take whatever comes.

Helen Barker:

Because it is hard, but it is, it is wonderful.

Helen Barker:

So, Yeah, that's my main piece, I think.

Helen Barker:

. Vicki Weinberg: Well, thank you.

Helen Barker:

No, that's really great advice, and I think you're right when I think, I've

Helen Barker:

only spoken to one other fashion brand on here a while ago, and I was a bit blown

Helen Barker:

away by having to think about seams and stitching and a lot of those things that

Helen Barker:

as a consumer, you just don't consider.

Helen Barker:

There's so many things you know, when I, I mean my design team

Helen Barker:

get it because they, they're the same but you know, we get excited about, you

Helen Barker:

know, what buttons we put, you know, new button shape we've got or a new

Helen Barker:

button finish or you know, the depth of a waist band or something like that.

Helen Barker:

So, um, yeah, there's a lot that goes into it, but if you're determined

Helen Barker:

enough, anyone can do anything.

Helen Barker:

So.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's brilliant.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much.

Vicki Weinberg:

And as, what a lovely positive way to end.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much Helen.

Helen Barker:

Oh no, thank you so much.

Helen Barker:

It's been lovely

Vicki Weinberg:

I'm just.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for listening right to the end of this episode.

Vicki Weinberg:

Do remember that you can get the full back catalogues and lots of free resources

Vicki Weinberg:

on my website, vicki weinberg.com.

Vicki Weinberg:

Please do remember to rate and review this episode if you've enjoyed it,

Vicki Weinberg:

and also share it with a friend who you think might find it useful.