Despite COVID-19 hitting the fashion industry hard, it hasn’t stopped young designers for marching on and making their mark. The latest brand to hit Dubai is ALKHEMY founded by Parson graduate Alysha Khemaney.
Her education and experience in London have shaped her approach as the creative director of a contemporary womenswear brand that celebrates eveningwear. As she unveils her first capsule collection IN FULL BLOOM that has been designed and handmade in Dubai, we chat about her idea of a modern woman and the challenges she faced as a new designer launching a label in the middle of a global pandemic.
What was your favourite subject at school?
My interest in creative arts took me to study at Parsons the new school of design in Paris, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Fashion Design. During my time there, my favourite subjects were textiles, 3D draping and pattern making. I enjoyed the process of taking my concept and translating it through different textile treatments or digital prints to help my vision come to life. Three-dimensional draping and pattern making were some of the most difficult yet rewarding classes throughout my time at Parsons. The skillset that I learnt helped set the foundation for my career as a fashion designer.
What was your first job?
My first job was at a London-based accessories brand, Charlotte Simone. My role involved working closely with the designer to create mood boards for the design process, helping to plan events and shoots, fulfilling orders for the e-commerce website and content creation for the social platforms. Working within a small company allowed me to gain insight into all aspects of the business, which has been extremely helpful now that I have started my own fashion brand.
What inspired you to launch ALKHEMY?
Since graduating from Parsons, it has always been my dream to start a fashion line of my own. I noticed a gap in the market for accessible evening options and decided to use the knowledge I learnt in university to form ALKHEMY. My vision is to create a womenswear brand that combines couture construction techniques with luxurious fabrics at an accessible price point.
What are the key elements of your role?
As the founder and creative director of ALKHEMY, I am involved in every aspect of the brand from the creative process and manufacturing to the marketing and sales. I conceptualise and design each collection and sample every silhouette myself before it is produced. I then oversee the production process and quality control the garments before they are sold.
Another aspect of my role is to work closely with my marketing team to create content and develop weekly strategies for our social platforms. To build our online presence, I designed and overlooked the development of our e-commerce website www.alkhemystudio.com.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Being an entrepreneur is difficult and has many challenges – you are bound to face obstacles. It is important to always be flexible, stay positive and turn your mistakes into lessons learnt.
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Which fashion brands can we find in your work wardrobe?
As most days are spent in my studio, comfort is a priority when it comes to my work wardrobe. Items such as Levis jeans, vintage T-shirts and a pair of sneakers are my go-to. A few other brands that are constant in my wardrobe are American Vintage, Theory, Iro, and of course, my ALKHEMY separates.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Always surround yourself with talented individuals who can complement your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses and strengths, know what yours are and that truth will only benefit how you structure your business.
And what is the worst?
The worst piece of advice I was given was to not start my fashion brand because it is ‘too difficult and there is too much competition’. My opinion: If you are truly passionate about what you’re doing and believe in your vision then you owe it to yourself to try, despite whether or not it may be successful.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
One of my challenges was moving to Dubai and having to source the right suppliers and manufacturers in a new city. Consistency and quality are integral to the success of my brand so finding the right partners was essential.
The biggest challenge that I faced was launching my business during a worldwide pandemic. Due to COVID-19, my launch timeline was significantly delayed and I had to pivot my sales strategy to focus more attention on my e-commerce website. That being said, I am fortunate enough to have a great team and a strong support system who contributed to the successful launch of ALKHEMY.
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Images: Supplied, Instagram