Tell us about you and your business?

My name is Hester and I grew up in the Midlands, UK. I’ve spent the last 15 years working as a fashion designer for various brands, retailers and suppliers. For most of my career I was based in Hong Kong where I met my now husband.

I have always dreamed of starting my own business, I just never knew what that business should be so when we moved back to the UK I started to think more about what I could do.

Throughout my career I witnessed the significant issues in the fashion industry – the lack of transparency on where fabrics are made, in what condition garments are produced and how much wastage there was in creating these raw materials. Let alone seeing unwanted garments be burnt, sent to landfill or shredding stations. Seeing for myself as I travelled the world visiting factories and fashion offices it was clear that I didn’t want to bring these issues into my brand, I wanted to create something different but I still wasn’t sure on what the products should be.

My friends all started to have babies, and they would keep telling me how there were no decent maternity clothes out there and even less breastfeeding friendly clothing so I started to have a look around myself and there really wasn’t anything other than stripey tops and floral wrap dresses that I’m sure you would definitely want to chuck out as soon as you weren’t pregnant anymore! I needed to solve this problem for them and all other mum to be’s, so I set out designing functional, stylish and long lasting clothing that could be worn for pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond!

In October 2019 I spent a week in a remote farmhouse in the mountains of Spain. With no other distractions, I listened to podcasts, (a lot from MIB) and read various articles which really inspired me to give it a go and this was where the work behind Breast Dressed really began! Covid hit March 2020 and I was put on furlough from my full time job, having all this time on my hands, Breast Dressed became a great distraction from what was going on in the world and I managed to launch in June 2020.


How has your personal background impacted Breast Dressed?

I have always had an interest in functional fashion, designing clothes that had a purpose and solved a problem. My final collection focussed on clothes that were adaptable and could be worn in all weathers, climates and seasons. It was a no brainer that my brand was going to use sustainable fabrics and trims and everything was going to be ethically made in the UK as I wanted to keep my supply chain close and my carbon footprint down. It was important to me that Breast Dressed garments were long lasting and wearable throughout all stages of motherhood – they needed to support you through pregnancy, have subtle breastfeeding access should you need it and be wearable well beyond pregnancy too.


What would you say is your main goal for the brand?

I wanted my collections to make women feel amazing at a time in their lives when they can feel so vulnerable and not themselves. Our collections allow you to dress as you, they can be styled and layered in so many ways so that your personality can always shine through. We don’t follow fast fashion trends or seasons, instead we focus on flattering yet stylish silhouettes that suit a multitude of body shapes and can be worn all year round.


What have been the biggest challenges so far?

Launching during Covid was a challenging time, I needed to build up a trustworthy supply chain but I wasn’t allowed to go out and visit anyone! During this time there was a lot of Zoom calls, a lot of dropping fabrics on pattern cutters and seamstresses doorsteps but it worked. I was living in East London at the time and I quickly made a great network of local freelance women around me, they had time on their hands and were grateful for the work so we became friends very quickly.

Challenges since then are basically every day, I have no experience in how to run a business! My background is design and manufacturing so that side of things I feel comfortable with however all the other hats I have to wear have been a big learning curve – building a website, running social media, marketing, managing finances, networking the list goes on and on. I am also a self funded business so I am trying to learn to walk before I can run and really decide on what to prioritise.


What are your best tips for sustainable dressing?

It’s so difficult when we are constantly faced with options of things to buy, over consumption has almost become a habit, an addiction in society! I have a rule where if I see something new that I like, if I am still thinking about it a week later then I might buy it. I try to make sure that I shop from small brands who are transparent about their products and supply chains and aren’t greenwashing like some of the big High Street retailers. I also love a gleg through second hand clothes (hello Vinted) from Charity shops or Vintage shops. I also share a wardrobe with my husband so if that ever gets too full we donate some items to local charity shops.


Favourite item of clothing that you own?

A kimono jacket with lots of very clever pattern cutting, I wear it with everything! I bought it on a work shopping trip in Seoul years ago and it’s still my favourite go to piece. I’m actually thinking of bringing out a version of it for Breast Dressed.


What would you dream / hope for your business in the next five years?

My dream for the next 5 years would be to grow the brand, be stocked in some big retailers and small boutiques and to be a well known maternity go to for new mums and mums to be. I would love to be in a position to be able to grow the team too, currently it’s just me, myself and I doing everything. It would be amazing to maybe have a business partner to help bounce ideas off and share the load with. Up until now I have worked on breast dressed in my spare time so evenings and weekends whilst juggling a full time job and having a baby. Just before Christmas I quit my full time job and I am now focussing on breast dressed full time, so super excited for the year ahead.

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