The longer I’m in Dubai, the more women I come to admire. Every day I hear about another female that’s following her dream and making it a success. And so, I’ve created a “Women to Admire” series where every month I’ll interview someone who’s doing it on her terms and loving it.
Women to Admire
Kicking it off, is English designer, Deborah Henning. Known for her androgynous look, Deborah began her career in Dubai teaching at Esmond and London College of Fashion. She launched Shoreditch Muse, which promoted and supported emerging homegrown brands before relaunching her fashion label. Today, she divides her time between family and friends, teaching and her eponymous label, Deborah Henning.
What made you want to start your own label?
I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer and had a burning desire to run my own label. After years of training through college and university, I learnt on the job with several brands such as Alexander McQueen, Sass & Bide and Ghost before starting my own label in London in 2007.
After moving to Dubai in 2010, I worked for several fashion institutes teaching fashion design, before relaunching my label in 2014.
How do you find working in Dubai compared to the UK?
Dubai is the land of opportunity! Being much smaller you can make a bigger difference to your industry’s landscape in a shorter period of time. For me, it’s been a great place to start and build my business. Especially with my background as the market is less saturated. So you get golden opportunities that you would wait a life time for in the UK.
What do you love most about Dubai?
The sun, the lifestyle and the pace.
It’s great to go to work every day in the beautiful sunshine and don’t have to think about the rain and coats! I love what there is to do, in terms of exploring nearby destinations, and the pace is fast so you can achieve things very quickly. I love the combination of these elements.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, and what would you advise to another female looking to get into the fashion industry or start their own company?
‘Figure out what you are good at and do that, delegate the rest.’ This is something I learned from one of my mentors in London. It is essential for start-ups as they try to take everything on. If you want to grow, you need to focus on your strengths and give yourself a break from the things that are too much to handle, or you can’t learn.
I would also always advise learning from other brands as much as you can before setting up on your own. There are so many aspects of running a business that designers are unprepared for. So, if you are serious about establishing a brand and selling into stores and being International, you need to have a head for business as well as creative.
If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?
- My wedding bands, I love them and the story behind them – I also had them custom-made from my design, so they are very special.
- Laptop – literally my whole life is on my Mac Book.
- The Nutri Bullet – I absolutely LOVE it, best thing ever and I use it every day for breakfast smoothies.
- A sketchbook – I always have it with me, I collect things, photos, ideas, notes – anything that might inspire me.
- My trainers – Nike Fly Knits – good for work and the gym. I could live in them.
What Inspires You?
Most of my inspiration comes from architecture, geometry, art, and travel. I love the use of mathematics in fashion. It is so fascinating, and it’s seen throughout various architectural work, which I can relate back to fashion. I absolutely love to travel. Being in new cities and soaking up the vibe gives me creativity and inspiration.
What do you feel most proud of?
What I’ve managed to achieved in Dubai in 3 short years. Most designers dream of this. Being stocked in stores like Harvey Nichols has been a dream come true. And being selected by Design Fashion Council to showcase at London fashion Week is the highlight of 2017 so far!
What does a perfect day look like to you?
Perfect Work Day: Up at 6:30, in the gym by 7:00, home by 8:15. Having breakfast in my garden with a lovely coffee and 20 mins to sit and prepare myself for the day.
I’m at the office by 9:30 and work till around 19:00 – hopefully doing something creative. But honestly most days I’m running the business or organizing events and planning shoots etc. I enjoy it when I get to do a mix of these things but would love to have more time to draw. When I get home, I like to see friends, go out with my husband or simply walk around the lakes or go to the pool near our house. I try to have at least an hour before bed with no TV or phones as I’m constantly on a screen at work. So if I can squeeze in a bit of yoga or meditation, it’s the perfect end to the day.
If it’s my day off then gym comes later- around 9:00. Then I usually meet friends for a late breakfast and good coffee! A lazy day at the beach relaxing followed by a BBQ at home with all our friends is my favorite type of day, spending the late afternoon till early morning catching up and laughing lots.
And finally, you’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?
Coral, it’s my favorite colour. Which is weird because all I wear is black, white and gray!