A chance meeting lead to 3 friends designing a girls range for a skate clothing company in the early noughties, what happened? All that remains; a few samples, a couple of catalogues and many memories...
Here's the story from my perspective.
How Electra began
At the opening of Audio nightclub, Brighton 2004 with dear friends, Emma Sola, Laura Kelly. Emma knew this guy who owned a skate clothing company, he'd always asked her to design a girls clothing range. Fuelled with possibility we chatted him up and convinced him he should let us design him a collection. We made him sign the back of fag packet to seal the deal. We were in business, originally named Electric, but it was taken so Electra was born, thanks Mrs Kelly.
We were so excited!! Our meetings were always in the pub after work. People joked it was more like a drinking club. The Electra nights became quite notorious. We'd meet at a pub, The George was a favourite. We'd talk about clothes, make some drawing and collect images we liked, chat Electra stuff for a bit then we'd just stay in the pub having a chat and laugh, maybe pop to a club, rolling in at all hours. Our boyfriends phoning each other to see where we were. We were having loads of fun!
Our backer and production man didn't realise what he'd let himself in for and probably regrets ever going out that fateful night. He was charming alas laden with many issues. We should of known early on. There were always problems, no samples, production, delays, everything was so slow. The UK factory he used was going bankrupt due to an unpaid bill from another company. He didn't tell us and the collection moved back a year to 2006. I think he really wanted it to happen, but just didn't know how.
Electra graphic designers
Electra was very graphics based, we had fabric designed, a range of tee shirts and bags. We were lucky Emma's boyfriend at the time, Ed Templeton, owned a graphic design company. We will always be thankful to Ed and Aninna Gunter who designed our logo and all the prints. Red Design helped us so much and will always be thankful, they never got paid, no one did.
Electra 1st collection
The collection was for Spring Summer with skate girls, in the back of our mind. A mix of dresses, tee shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, shorts, culottes and bags. We loved fairground art and inspired by the seaside.
We had our own fabric printed in silk with carousal horses and swirls, it was beautiful. Made for the kimono dress. We were so excited to see the finished dress but massively disappointed as the dress was made with the print inside down! A ridiculous production mistake, we only had enough fabric for one dress.
We shot a catalogue at a friends beach front house. David Ellis the photographer, Ed Templeton designer, models Vanessa, Cara and Kim. Styled by Emma, Laura and I.
We had a great day and the 1000 catalogues looked amazing.
The Electra Spring Summer 06 catalogue
The big deal
My friend Jenine Hull, a buyer at Top Shop at the time came to Brighton to look at the collection. She loved the clothes and wanted to order 15,000 pieces. We were so happy. Jenine was mostly interested in the dresses, particularly the vintage Liberty print wrap dresses. We turned to our production man to call Liberty to order the thousands of meters we'd need for the order. They refused as we didn't have license to use Liberty fabric, rightly so, they are very particular with their collaborations. Production man suggested we copy the print and make them, that felt wrong, who could copy iconic Liberty prints?
We needed to £50,000 to make the order. Emma phoned Dragons Den, they called back, very interested in us appearing.
In the mean time we arranged a meeting with the head of fashion at Brighton University for some serious help. We told her our story and she advised us not to fulfil the order. We had no fabric or production, if we missed our deadline TopShop wouldn't pay us. We were out of our depth and Electra collapsed. We never went into production on our 1st collection and never designed the amazing autumn/winter 06 collection inspired by folk drawings. A few of the samples left and a couple of catalogues, most went to recycling.
I loved the experience of Electra and the absolute fun and amazing bonds I have with Emma and Laura.
But Electra is one of the biggest disappointments of my life.
Cazza creative projects
So many creative projects have ended this way, never having the right team and focus. I'll write 'Cape Town', one day, that's a good story... And lots of others I could probably make a top 10 definitely a Top 5 maybe I will one day. I'm hoping to change this pattern of failures, I'm working on it...
My advice on running a clothing business
Tread carefully, get your team right, do your research, be professional, work hard, believe in yourself and I hope you will succeed.
Electra was so much fun and can't leave sad memories, I feel lucky to have this story.
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Electra Forever - beware glitter rock.
Love love love,