This fortnight Brisbane editor Lani interviews fashion designer Chiquita Searle about her label ‘Chi The Label‘. You can follow Chiquita on Twitter here.

Where does your passion for fashion design come from and what keeps it going?
There is a strong creative element to my personality which I feel is only ever fully expressed through creating and showcasing my own sense of style. I think each person has their own unique sense of self, and clothes, in my mind is a perfect way to express this. Establishing my own fashion label and sharing what I believe to be timeless and classical pieces with other women, was a natural progression in my own sense of self and expression.

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in your industry?
Black Milk Clothing. What they have done is phenomenal. They are a local business here in Brisbane and even though they are still a relatively new company being only two years old, they are selling 500 units a day. It’s all produced locally in Brisbane and sent to all corners of the world all via their Facebook page and website. It is marketing at its most brilliant.

What was your first job?
The ultimate first job – “Check-Out Chick” at Woolworths.

What’s the biggest misconception about the fashion industry?
That there is such a thing as an “overnight” success. Generally there are many hard years of work behind any fashion sensation. In my opinion, a combination of perseverance, knowing your target market and having an innovative concept is the way set yourself apart from others.

What’s the biggest opportunity and challenge in setting up your own label?
There are many opportunities which come with owning your own business. The ones that resonate with me is the ability to be my own boss, being in a position to help all women everywhere feel beautiful in the clothes they wear to work, partnering with other like-minded women in business and knowing I can overcome any challenge that comes along. The biggest challenge I see would be monitoring cash flow and converting interest into sales which is generally fairly standard for any start up business.

What are some local upcoming events you recommend?
Get Dressed for Success on 19th June at Ice Works in Paddington! It is an event for real women and the Fashion Show will feature “real” women of all shapes and sizes as opposed to your traditional size 8 glamazon. We are partnering with charity Dress for Success which aids disadvantaged women re-enter the workforce. The women involved in this event are all women business owners who have come together to put on a fabulous event for any woman who enjoys some pampering, on trend fashion, champagne & mini cupcakes!

What’s next?
Chi designs for the “real” women and the average woman these days is size 14 – 16. Corporate Divas come in all shapes and sizes and the Chi Team feels that all women are beautiful regardless. We want to make all women everywhere feel beautiful in the clothes they wear to work so are expanding into bigger sizes and will be producing all designs from 8 – 16 . All designs are available for purchase on the Chi website.