Interview with Ana, founder of The Second Runway
September means back to school but also back to business! Today we are travelling all the way to Australia to meet Ana, the talented designer behind The Second Runway and upcycled fashion brand Fernanda Covarrubias.
Hi Ana! Thank you for participating in this interview. Could you tell us about yourself? You do a lot of things. You’re a designer, a stylist, you sell preloved fashion, you run workshops… how did it all get started?
Everything started since I was a little girl. I grew up surrounded by sewing machines and fabrics; as one of my closest aunties is a seamstress. I actually enjoyed doing fashion
sketches and making dresses for my dolls. For when I was a teenager, I already knew that Fashion was my passion, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. After completing secondary school, I enrolled in The Design School, and I have to say, it didn’t feel like going to school at all, I simply enjoyed so much creating and learning everything related to Fashion. After graduating from the Fashion School, I worked in different clothing factories, which gave me the experience and knowledge in the clothing manufacturing process, from swimwear to jeans, etc.
A few years after gaining experience in the fashion field, I decided it was time to launch my own clothing brand label, which was made of Deadstock fabrics and was 100% locally made
It was until my first trip to the USA, when I was shocked by the number of clothes that end in Second Hand Shops, most of the time clothes in great condition, just because they are not considered “on-trend” or, because they are not in perfect condition anymore but people just don’t have mending skills. Then, when we moved to Australia and found out, Australia is just below the USA regarding textile waste I decided I didn’t want to contribute to the problem, instead I would create a solution. And it was how I started introducing “Upcycled” fabrics and preloved garments in my collections, not only deadstock.
I always got questions about where I got my outfits from, and I loved how people get surprised anytime I said: Oh, it is just from the Opshop or, I transformed it from a preloved curtain or top, etc. And it was how the idea of having a blog promoting everything related to “Slow Fashion” along with my career as a designer, came to my mind. Along with that, the opportunity to run the workshops came to me in Geelong; as well as having my space where I can still help people finding their own personal style, in a more sustainable way, by spreading the love for preloved Fashion, everything happened organically, of course, I have worked so hard to make it happen, but everything has been falling into the right place at the right time.
You have launched your brand, Fernanda Covarrubias, and the concept behind it is very innovative and unique. Can you explain how your designs come to life?
I’ve always loved looking into different fabrics and materials, I guess the inspiration comes from the fabrics. Working with deadstock and preloved materials is challenging because is not as simple as doing sketches and then going to the fabric store and buy brand new fabrics. It is in fact the opposite, I have to look at what is available and then work around the materials, sometimes it is hard because you can find an amazing piece of fabric but, it is so small that I’m not able to make even 2 garments, but at the same time is what makes my creations more unique.
That’s why most of my pieces so far, are One-Off pieces.
What’s the best part about what you do?
Hmm, that’s hard to tell! I guess it depends on my mood that day, I really love doing the whole process of creating, looking for materials, sketching, sewing, etc. But I also love going through the preloved goodies I got for my stall. Making styling videos is so much fun as well! I guess the best part, is that I can do what I love, and just to be me, knowing that I’m helping people in finding sustainable options and making them feel good!
And of course, I have to ask what feels a bit more difficult?
Oh! everything has a challenging part of course! For me, I think was the language barrier, as 7 years ago I didn’t speak English at all. Having to learn everything related to Fashion and how to express myself in English has been hard but, I feel like I’m getting there.
I think your versatility will be key to your success. What is your goal for the upcoming years?
I try to reach and help more people every day. Making them feel amazing in a sustainable outfit, rather if is preloved, locally made, or from sustainable sources is priceless to me. So, I would say, definitely reach more people and keep spreading the message on a bigger scale is my goal.
And finally, if you could give one advice to someone who wants to start a business, what would it be?
Never give up! Sometimes unexpected things happen. We often get frustrated because of the things we cannot change; like when early this year my latest collection launch was canceled due to the Covid-19. But, when you stick to your dreams, you make everything you can, to make them become reality, you work hard and try different things, you don’t stop, because it’s your passion, it is what keeps you going, and when you do that, no matter what happens around you, you are successful! So, definitely never give up!