Spotlight on Pippy Downs
At Spotlight, we got the opportunity to talk to Pippy Downs, owner of VIII Lemon Pips. She spoke about starting a business, her top tips to anyone starting out and her inspiration.
My name is Pippy Downs and I am the founder of an independent womenswear brand called VIII Lemon Pips (@8lemon.pips). I have always been interested in fashion and studied Fashion Design at UCA Rochester achieving a first-class degree and a place in London’s Graduate Fashion Week 2019. After graduating from university I knew I wanted to make something out of my passion. I felt a strong feeling that I didn’t want to work for someone else. I wanted my passion to come from my own business and thrive from being a business owner. I started to research ‘how to create your own fashion brand’ and came across my Fashion Brand Consultant, Elizabeth Stiles (Instagram @elizabethstilesuk). From there I contacted Elizabeth by writing a very long email explaining how I could never see myself doing anything else and needed the help and guidance to start my own brand. I soon signed on with her for a 6-month mentoring course where I launched my first collection by the sixth and final month. During my first few weeks, I came up with my brand name. I always knew I wanted it to feel personal in some way but didn’t want to directly use my own name. My family and close friends have always called me ‘Pip’ for short and felt this would be a great thing to integrate into the name. I was born on the 8th May, hence the number within the name, and I decided that lemon pips sounded the most catchy and straight away stuck with it. I immediately started to work on a logo and created an Instagram page for my brand.
Since I was young my nan, Beryl has always been sewing with me. She was the woman that initially taught me to sew and she’s been my biggest supporter ever since. My Great Grandmother was a seamstress and created all the family wedding dresses so I have always been surrounded by it. I always thought how amazing it would be to have a job that you considered a hobby when you were young.
I think the biggest thing for me is self-belief! This has always gotten in the way of what I think I am capable of. I remember even at university I never thought I was good enough to get selected for Graduate Fashion Week and when it happened I realised I should’ve believed in myself way more. I think every time I do something new I am not as confident as I should be. I always try and reflect back on moments where I have achieved something I am really proud of. This helps me to remember that I doubted I could achieve what I already have. My biggest drive to succeed was knowing that I could make my whole future by being persistent in doing what I love every day.
Do your research before understanding where your brand sits in the market. I spent months understanding who my customer was and how it would fit in with my collection and aesthetic. Now when I look at my collection and Instagram my aesthetic is very clear making the whole vibe feel complete.
I would say if you get excited about the idea of waking up to do it every day, then the sooner you can start the better.
Always believe in yourself (manifestation and a healthy mindset can change your whole experience)
Don’t be afraid to celebrate your achievements and shout about something you are passionate about
Highs and lows
The best part of my job is that I get to do something every day that I am proud of. I get the opportunity to look back on what I have created for myself and it makes me excited for what my future holds. However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I miss the sociable side of going to work. My whole business, for now, is a one-woman show so it can be lonely. I also miss bouncing off of other people's creativity.
I think the biggest trick is consistency. If you continue to own your business the way you want others to view it then you will thrive no matter what.