Designer Habibe Acikgoz tells us how she started in fashion and about setting up shop in Twickenham…
When and why did you start your business?
I was a student in London in 2003, working in a clothes shop to pay my way. That gave me the idea to start my own design business, especially for women who can’t always find the right sizes.
What challenges did you face when setting up?
Financially it was difficult because I started from nothing. I worked long hours and my bedroom was my showroom by day and my workshop by night.
What do you love most about running your own business?
The smiles and happy faces of my customers who have found clothes they want. I’m proud that all my designs are unique and made from high-quality natural materials like Irish linen, Italian wool and French silk.
What valuable lessons have you learned?
The way to create a loyal clientele is to design clothes that are distinctive and make them feel good – and of course good value for money.
Is there anything you would do differently if starting out again?
I don’t think there is. My business has grown steadily and I now have a shop in the middle of Twickenham where everyone can see the clothes that I make!
What’s your most popular service or product?
Made-to-measure clothes for women and men and an alterations service.
What advice would you share with other small businesses or those thinking of starting out?
The most important rule in business is to believe in – and to deliver – quality. Cheap materials and hasty work will never earn you the respect of customers.
What are your plans/hopes for the future of the business?
I’m planning a follow-up to my pattern book, Bold and Beautiful, that highlights my designs. I would also like to widen my market by selling to high-end London shops.
Name some other local independent businesses that you like to support.
I love eating and cooking and I always support my two neighbouring shops, Umi in York Street and Twickenham Charcoal Grill. I like the new Turkish shop Mediterranean and I often pop into the independent coffee places.
What do you love about our local area?
I think the people of Twickenham are rather special. They are friendly and have always made me feel welcome.
Tell us a little-known fact about yourself.
I once cooked a Turkish feast for 50 people on a friend’s 50th birthday. I also like playing tennis, swimming, and eating out with friends.
56 Heath Road, Twickenham TW1 4BX
Tel: 0208 867 2707 | M: 07786 996 707
Compiled by The Word Sanctum,
Copywriters for small businesses.