Saturday, 10 November 2012

My interview with Katrina Doran

Katrina Doran says herself that she has Fashion in her blood: “Ive always wanted a career in it, and my uncle owned a factory in the 60s and 70s that made Burberrys iconic trench coats,” she tells, “My mum and aunts all worked there on the elite sewing team.” This set her up nicely towards her future successful career as a stylist, and creative director of 

Sugahfix is a Northern Ireland based fashion and beauty website, single-handedly set up by Katrina. It was set up in order to address the gap in the market that she thought was so glaringly obvious: “I love fashion magazines, but up until a few years ago, many brands featured in the major magazines were very London-centric and not available in Northern Ireland. Some of the local magazines buying in their fashion shoots from London so they were still featuring designers and brands that were only available in the mainland.”  

For someone that loves fashion it was understandably frustrating that there were no fashion magazines exclusive to Northern Ireland, but there were other reasons for this: “I always worked in fashion and beauty marketing, and trying to target women here is very difficult unless you have a budget for TV advertising.” 

Katrinas career path to fashion didnt start out by her studying fashion, so she had quite a roundabout way into the industry. She chose to study Psychology at Queens University Belfast: “I absolutely loved it. But I never stopped studying fashion as I lived on toast for a week as Id spent my weeks budget on Vogue and Elle, But it was money well spent!” 

Although she never officially studied fashion, the ambition has always been there, she grew up surrounded by those strong family influences, and her mother passed her sewing skills on to her from a young age: “I used to draw a sketch of what I wanted and then wed go and pick the fabric and make the clothes together. I was sewing since I was allowed a needle and thread.” But the designing of clothes wasnt the career that spoke to her the most: “I was given my first copy of vogue when I was 10 and although I had no idea then what a stylist was or that I could be a fashion writer, I knew I wanted to be that person that came up with the ideas for the photoshoots.” and so Sugahfix was born. 

While Katrina is confident, she is definitely not a typical representation of a woman working in fashion. She set up FABB, a network for Northern Ireland based fashion bloggers, so that they could help each other out and attend events together, but mainly so that she could make friends with people who were doing the same thing as she was: “I was thrilled to find other fashion and beauty bloggers in Northern Ireland as it can be quite a lonely business, especially working from home. I think it started out with 10 or 12 at the time and thought there might be 20 altogether, but now there are 32 members, its amazing!”  

This desire to make connections and friends within the industry makes her stand out from the usual industry professionals. She has become a well-respected figure in the local fashion industry and gets invited to all the major events. But she constantly tries to help new faces in fashion.  

So although she has already worked up to big things, Katrina has recently started to expand her website, and she recently started hiring new members of staff, so it seems the future can only get better for her.

Katrina’s Top tips for aspiring fashionistas. 

  • I get contacted by girls who say they love fashion and would like to shadow me to see if they’d like to be a stylist, but No-one can teach you to be a stylist – it is everything you’ve absorbed over the years that informs how you put an outfit together or how you come up with a theme or concept for a photo shoot.  
  • Everyone loves fashion – but enjoying going shopping or wearing fabulous clothes is not the same as really knowing fashion. 
  • For fashion writers, the history of fashion is so important, as you need to be able to spot historical references in the current designer collections so you can write about them in an informed way.  
  • To be able to describe a garment you need to understand the technical elements from the cut to the fabric. So make things – the reason I know what a raglan sleeve is or the difference between a gored skirt and a flared skirt is because I’ve made them! 
  • You never stop learning in Fashion, every season there are new collections and new designers and you need to study the international catwalks so you can understand how things filter down to the high street.

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