Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with Sarah Ashcroft, the founder and CEO of SLA The Label, who launched an exquisite fashion brand that transcends the world of sparkles and has been making waves on social media for its unique material and occasion ready sets.
As an early adopted in the world of bloggers and content creators, Ashcroft saw the gap in the market for high-quality, off-duty attire that is affordable and true to the desired sizing. Hence, she launched SLA The Label in 2019. Each creation reflects her own personal style and commitment to bringing out the best in the SLA woman.
Overall, this premium occasion and ready-to-wear brand specialising in clothes to make memories in.
While the label is making a mark in the fashion industry, it wasn’t an easy journey. To understand more, Emirates woman spoke to Sarah Ashcroft on how it all began.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I loved anything creative, however, I really enjoyed textiles. I have loved fashion since a young age and I knew it was the direction I wanted to go in early so that’s why I loved my textiles classes because I had a genuine passion for it.
What was your first job?
My first job was in retail. I worked for a small independent clothing boutique in my local town.
What inspired you to enter the fashion space and launch SLA The Label?
I have always loved fashion, so when I left school I went to the Fashion Retail Academy in London for a year. I knew I didn’t want to go to university but I wanted to do a short diploma course that would help me start a career in fashion. After leaving in 2013, I decided to go for a job in Fashion PR, where I got asked in multiple job interviews if I had a blog because most requirements of the entry level jobs were to manage the agencies and brands’ blog. That’s when I decided to launch my fashion blog That Pommie Girl in 2013. I used my blog as somewhere to share my everyday outfits and fashion finds. Adter six months I started to earn money from blog and so decided to do that full time. The popularit of The Pommie Girl grew every year along with my social following and six years later in June 2019, I launched SLA The Label as it was always my dream to have my own clothing brand. By then I had grown an amazing community of loyal followers so it just felt like the perfect time to create my own brand.
Talk us through the pieces and the latest collections?
At SLA we design clothes to make memories in. Clothes that make you feel special, confident and make a statement. We love sparkles and they are at the core of everything we design. I think fashion should be fun and expressive and we love that the SLA customer can embody that when they wear our pieces. We are most known for our three-piece glitter suit made from our viral flitter fabric, that is really magical. Known for its glow, it shines under the lights at night time without getting old, you are sure to receive compliments when you wear it. We just launched our Sparkle Season collection which is our biggest drop of the year as we really see Q4 as SLA season. The collection is a real mixture of styles and fabrics and we this it’s something for everyone. I personally love the new Margot dress which is made from a luxe super soft stretch fabric embellished with dimantés. It hugs the body in all the right places and is in the most beautiful, rich Chocolate brown colour.
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What are the key elements of your role?
I really do a bit of everything. I am heavily involved in the design process and the creative behind the brand. I also am across the everyday running of the brand but I have an amazing team to support all the different elements that make up SLA.
Talk us through your daily routine.
Everyday is different but I am based in the SLA office three days a week. An office day normally includes a morning routine before heading into the office. The day varies depending on what the priorities are that week, it can range from fit meetings to design meetings, social strategy planning or creative brainstorming. We also do a full shoot day every the to three weeks for new collections and have content focused days where we create TikTok’s and Instagram content.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
It would be to just start. I feel like people get so worried its not going to work out that they don’t even try but you will be so surprised by what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. You don’t need a lot of money or resources to start a clothing brand, especially if you find a supplier with low minimum order quantities and sampling costs. I think you see a lot of the same these days so I do think the most important thing is originality i.e a unique product and a good creative vision.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.
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And what is the worst?
It’s not really a piece of advice but not listening to your gut instinct. I think it’s such a powerful thing because you can really feel it when something doesn’t feel right.
What’s the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
Honestly starting a brand was such a challenge and it is hard work. I have so much respect for anyone who owns a clothing brand or their own business. In the beginning I really had no clue what I was doing and everything was unknown. A LOT of lessons were learnt in the early stages and there were so many moments that I felt like giving up but I stuck with it because SLA really is my passion. It gets easier and you learn so much. The hard times also make the good ones even more rewarding and now I feel like I have found my ﬂow so I am so glad I stuck with it. However don’t get me wrong… we still have weeks were everything feels like its going wrong but I have learnt that its just the rollercoaster of owning your own business and now I have a better understanding of how to deal with the lows.
What’s planned for the future of the brand?
To keep evolving and creating more unique designs. I also would love to expand our product ranges, a dream of mine would be to launch denim. We are launching a much bigger bridal/hen do range in 2024 after the popularity of this years which I am super excited about as the designs in the collection are so beautiful. We are also working on our global growth and expanding our logistic centres to make SLA more accessible to everyone.
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