What does it take to be a fashion designer? Anslee, the talent behind Savannah Red Curvy Couture, can tell you all about it. She started off by sewing clothes for herself, and eventually turned that into a full time gig. Anslee has done a great job making fashionable plus-sized dresses and skirts. Based out of Austin, Texas, Savannah Red was part of this year’s Full Figured Fashion Week and Austin Fashion Week.
What inspired you to go into fashion?
I’ve always been a fashionista at heart! Even when I was little, I would create my own sense of style. Growing up as a plus size adolescent and teenager, I would try to find clothes that not only fit, but also expressed my personality. It was really difficult, so when I moved to Austin and started sewing, I decided to take matters into my own hands and go for it – become a clothing designer myself!
What was it like to start your own shop?
I have had a unique experience of starting a shop with other designers, and that has really been a blessing. Instead of footing the costs all by myself, having other people share rent and resources has been really beneficial for all of us. It can be so costly, but having the support of others who design as well has made the experience so amazing! The only obstacles we have really run into are finding an affordable space and staffing the store during really busy times like Austin Fashion Week or during the holidays.
Best/worst part of being a small biz owner?
I love being a small business owner because I’m the lady in charge! I like having my own control over my products, my procedures, my merchandizing, etc. The worst part is having to do everything myself, but that’s changing soon when I hire an assistant.
Describe your typical day.
My days are pretty atypical, but I spend most of my time at my studio sewing or meeting with clients. My day begins around 8:30 or 9, and goes until about 7 or later depending on how many orders I have at the time. Most of what I do is custom work, like wedding dresses, so those take extra time and care.
Where do you get your inspiration for your clothing designs?
I pull my inspiration from anywhere I can! My designs are largely drawn from vintage silhouettes, so I try to look at classic lines and adapt them to current styles. Sometimes, I will go for a theme like my latest Native Swing collection. I used Native American and 1920′s inspirations. It was really fun, and I enjoy challenging myself by just picking 1 or 2 ideas to try to stick to. My next collection will be more 1920′s-40′s, so I’m excited to start working on that soon.
How has using upcycled materials influenced the way you design clothing?
Not all of my garments are made from upcycled materials, but most of them are. And, of course, I use upcycled materials whenever possible for custom orders. Using upcycled materials has enhanced my creativity because I am working with either an existing garment that I get to make better or I am working with a fairly small amount of fabric that I have to figure out how to make the central piece of the garment. I really love old lady dresses because, well, it’s just fun to say that my newest hot, little dress came from some grandma’s closet!
In an industry driven by looks and waistlines, what’s it like to work as a plus-size fashion designer?
It’s empowering, really! I love my job, and I love being able to offer fashion to an under-served market of women who want to look and feel just as sexy – if not sexier – than regular women. At first, I wondered if I was taken seriously since plus fashion is still on the rise and it hadn’t been fully accepted then, but I see the change that we are having on the industry and I’m really happy to see the acceptance.
What was FFFWeek (Full Figured Fashion Week) and Austin Fashion Week like? Do you have any more shows on the horizon?
These shows were amazing! FFFWeek was a big deal for me, and it really allowed me the opportunity to step up my professional level. Showing in NYC was a dream come true, and I learned so much through that experience that it actually prepared me for Austin Fashion Week. I’ve been doing Austin Fashion Week for the past 3 years, but this last one was the biggest one for me. Having a show at the Driskill was another dream come true, and these 2 shows marked huge milestones in my career. As for other shows, I have some coming up this month, but I’m planning on taking it a little easy for the rest of the year to focus on my Fall 2013 collection.
What are future plans for Savannah Red?
In the next year, I plan to open a Savannah Red Boutique. I’m extending my line to include all sizes, so I will offer designs in ready to wear in sizes 0-26. I also plan to open boutiques in the top 15 cities in North America, and then go international in the next 5 years. Next year, I intend to be apart of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, FFFWeek 2013, and Austin Fashion Week 2013 as a featured designer again, with other fashion week appearances around the country as the opportunities arise.
Outside of Austin, where can people find your clothing line?
Right now, I am working on putting my clothing online on my Etsy shop. Until then, I am doing custom work and they can contact me by phone or email.
Thanks for being part of my Driven series and for sharing your story with us, Anslee. You are truly a talented and inspiring person!
Want to know more about Anslee and Savannah Red? Find them on Facebook.